Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Information for Estheticians

By Karrie Osborn

The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be central to moving forward and reopening your practice when the time comes. There is currently a shortage of PPE, with most supplies being redirected—rightly so—to frontline workers and health assistance staff (nursing homes, home health aides, etc.) who are still operating without the proper supply of equipment they need to work safely. ASCP believes it’s professionally unethical to divert supplies from this delicate supply chain for non-emergency equipment requests at this time. Consider other options for face coverings for you and your clients in the interim.

Following is more information about PPE from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For a full overview of ASCP's guidelines and considerations, go to

Facial Protection

There are three types of facial protection, as defined by the CDC:

1. Cloth face covering. “Textile (cloth) covers that are intended to keep the person wearing one from spreading respiratory secretions when talking, sneezing, or coughing. They are not PPE, and it is uncertain whether cloth face coverings protect the wearer.”

2. Face mask. “Face masks are PPE and are often referred to as surgical masks or procedure masks. Use face masks according to product labeling and local, state, and federal requirements. FDA-cleared surgical masks are designed to protect against splashes and sprays and are prioritized for use when such exposures are anticipated, including surgical procedures.”

3. Respirator. “A respirator is a personal protective device that is worn on the face, covers at least the nose and mouth, and is used to reduce the wearer’s risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles (including dust particles and infectious agents), gases, or vapors. Respirators are certified by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, including those intended for use in health care.”

  • The much-talked-about N95 face mask is in this category and is necessary, and currently scarce, equipment for those treating COVID-19 patients in medical settings.
  • If a client is asymptomatic but unknowingly has COVID-19, wearing an N95 face mask should protect the esthetician. However, N95 masks are not available to the general public at this time.


Nonsterile, disposable gloves, which are used for routine patient care in health-care settings, are appropriate for use in your facility. Gloves can be used to make taking payments safer for clients and practitioners. You might also consider using them during sanitation protocols and if administering any facial work during your sessions with clients.


Disposable gowns are used to protect health-care providers when working with patients in isolation, when delivering aerosol-generating procedures, and when delivering high-contact patient care activities like dressing, bathing, or transferring patients.

For hands-on modalities, having a standard uniform top, or scrub-like attire that can be changed between clients is a logical approach while working with clients during this time.

Eye Protection

For health-care providers, this category would include goggles and face shields. According to the CDC, “Personal eyeglasses and contact lenses are NOT considered adequate eye protection.” If using eye protection in an esthetic setting, remove the goggles before leaving the client room or care area. According to the CDC, “Reusable eye protection (e.g., goggles) must be cleaned and disinfected according to manufacturer’s reprocessing instructions prior to re-use. Disposable eye protection should be discarded after use unless following protocols for extended use or reuse.”

“Donning and Doffing” of PPE

The value of wearing PPE is only as good as the protocols and quality control around putting it on and taking it off. The CDC offers very regimented guidance on these procedures. Following are some aspects of those protocols to be aware of:

  • Per the CDC, a reusable cloth mask should be washed after each wearing, whether that’s per client or per day. Have several cloth masks available for use throughout the day for yourself and clients.
  • Once your face covering or face mask is on, don’t touch it. According to the CDC, if you must touch or adjust your cloth face covering, you should perform hand hygiene immediately before and after.
  • When you take off your mask, fold it in half to contain the inner secretions and deposit it into the lidded laundry bin, if you aren’t able to wash it immediately. These can be washed and dried with other laundry.
  • Protocols for reusing single-use surgical masks are crisis-based; health-care workers are storing their masks in paper bags and then reusing them. Conserve any PPE you might have stored in your practice and reuse until supply chains return to normal. This advice from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives governance on PPE conservation strategies.

Additional PPE Information

  • Here are CDC guidelines for cleaning PPE.
  • Here is your risk, with and without wearing PPE: It is important to understand the risks you are taking, even when wearing PPE. The CDC offers this risk assessment with various PPE scenarios, and assuming that health-care personnel are working with COVID-19 patients.
  • PPE for employees: Guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration state that employers are obligated to provide their workers with PPE needed to keep them safe while performing their jobs. Find the document here.
  • Here is information from the CDC on how to make a mask.

This is information you can share with clients regarding the use of homemade masks and directions on how to easily make your own. Make sure homemade face masks cover both your nose and mouth in alignment with updated CDC guidelines.

For more information, visit the CDC at

Learn more about protection for professional estheticians with liability insurance.


This is something I have been concerned about since I stopped working because of Covid-19. I have been working may hours to get PPE which I found some lightweight uniform covers that can be washed. I bought 8 so I can launder between clients. So I can save on the expense plus save some space in the landfills. Also they are white so they can be bleached. Going back to disposable sponges and adding some disposable face towels. Also I  always used a waxing protection sheet that can be sanitized and covered with paper between waxing clients. I have two waxing protectors for proper disinfecting time. Also purchased a sanitizing table protector and disposable table covers instead of a bottom sheet. I will have three sanitizing soaks for waxing to assure implements  soak for the proper amount of time between clients. I will not use a steamer during this. I may use my Dr. Lucas. I have mask, gloves disinfectants, and face shields. However, with 25 plus years of being and esthetician I keep playing in my mind how this will all work. With an underlying heart condition, my biggest fear is that clients will have the same respect and diligence to protect my space. So appreciate everything that was said. So when the lock downs are lifted I will look forward to seeing clients, my passion will not change but it will look drastically different. Stay Well all my fellow Esties. Please continue to share your support and experiences with all of us.

Thank you for this valuable information

I would like to go back to work but need to know where i can buy proper ppe including n95 masks is there a trusted source for beople in our field?

I appreciate any information prior to going back to work for instituting new practices to keep my client and myself safe from the COVID-19 virus.  While some things seem obvious small changes make a world of difference.  

Thank you

Anyone else concerned about our contribution to land fills with all of this disposable PPE?  I feel like a single facial is not worth the amount of garbage that we are producing...isn't there a better way?  What about bed linens?  Part of the joy of the facial is laying in that comfortable, fluffy bed with clean sheets & seems outer bedding will need to be eliminated or washed between clients along with a gown, my own cloth drape, with all towels & sheets.  I also wonder about the pillows, do they need to be in a plastic package that we would wipe down between clients or if it is under the bedding, it is ok?

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