Our COVID19 Risk Reduction Plan (last updated 9/2/2020)

We’ve spent the last 3 months learning everything we could to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID19 to our guests and employees. There is no perfect solution and every service will come with risks, despite our best efforts. We feel confident that, short of staying closed, we are doing everything within our power and we’re confident our guests will serve as our partners in risk management.

We’re dedicated to staying up-to-date on the latest developments in COVID19, including what we can do to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID19 to our guests and employees, and how we can best serve guests who are struggling with longer term effects of COVID19. There is no perfect solution and every service will come with risks, despite our best efforts. We feel confident that, short of staying closed, we are doing everything within our power and we’re confident our guests will serve as our partners in risk management.

Physical Distancing

This is a key to managing virus spread, but we won’t lie, this one tears at our hearts a bit. We went into these high-touch careers because we’re nurturers. We long for the “old days” when we’d spend a hectic Friday morning sharing treats (when will it be safe to offer someone a bite of your pastry again), laughing, and falling over each other as we set up for a day packed with our favorite guests. These days are temporarily on hold. Instead:

We’re temporarily unable to offer couple’s massages. While we know that couples are likely not distancing from each other, our employees are, and couples services make that tricky.

We’re limiting the number of employees who can work at a given time, though we’ve extended our hours and are temporarily open 7 days a week.

We’re limiting the number of guests in our spa at a time, and are adjusting appointments so check-in times are staggered.

We’re temporarily asking guests to wait in their cars and not bring others with them to their service to minimize the number of people in the spa at a time, in accordance with new guidelines for spas and Iowa salon rules.

We split our cozy nail room into two separate nail rooms. Only one guest and one provider will be in a nail room at a time. It’s actually pretty awesome, we’re very proud of the safety measures we have in place for nails. We anticipate this change will last well into 2021.

We are not able to accommodate parties or group bookings at this time.

We have a great webstore so customers who can enjoy our products with quick shipping or parking lot pick-up!

Managing virus spread in the air

Our biggest concern is that viruses can linger in the air so the best thing we can do to reduce risk is to reduce the risk of inhaling droplets. As such, masks are required of everyone entering our spa.

All employees will wear masks in public areas of the spa and treatment rooms. Guests and visitors to the spa are required to wear masks at all times, including during services, EXCEPT for in the treatment room during facials or lip/chin waxing when a removing a mask is necessary to perform the skincare service. If you need a disposable mask, we’ll provide one before you enter.

During facials, our estheticians will wear surgical masks, and face shields. For other services providers will all wear masks.

All of our treatment rooms are equipped with a HEPA air purifier to filter particles. Room air is completely exchanged about every 2-5 minutes. Our guests can be confident that in our treatment rooms they will not be breathing the same air as the guests before them.

We’ve installed plexiglass barriers at the desk and in the nail room at manicure and pedicure stations as an added barrier in addition to masks, especially as guests and providers will be in prolonged close face-to-face contact.

Hand hygiene and reducing surface contamination risks

We’ve always used recommended cleaning protocols and gloves for services where we could come into contact with mucus membranes or blood, but we’ve kicked it up for your comfort and we’ll be more visible about it.

We use hospital grade antiviral and antibacterial wipes that disinfect surfaces like head rests and our hot stones in one minute. As always, we soak all of our nail and skin care tools in barbicide and we never, ever double dip a wax stick.

We will continue to wear gloves when it makes sense (waxing, manicures, and facials) but we don’t plan to add gloves to massage. Proper handwashing and hand sanitizer is more effective for services where there isn’t a risk of coming into contact with blood or mucous membranes. If you’d prefer your massage therapist wears gloves, let us know. We certainly can, but we massage with our hands, forearms, and elbows (then properly wash thoroughly) so it isn’t really helpful.

Table coverings: We’ve added waterproof coverings to all pillows including body pillows, and to our table warmer. All can be thorougly sanitized with our disinfectant wipes. We switched out heavy blankets for heavy towels so we can launder them more rigorously.

The front desk area and common supplies like ipads and pens will now be cleaned with hospital-grade wipes regularly.

As always, our in-spa restroom and common area surfaces will be cleaned frequently.

We’ve got hand sanitizer everywhere you turn and guests will be expected to use it before and in some cases, during services. We will do the same!

We’ve always had an amazing evening cleaning employee, she’s back and continues to deep clean our treatment spaces each night.

Employees won’t work sick, please don’t visit us when you’re sick!

I can’t stress this enough, we’ll need guests to cancel when they are even a bit sick. We’ve always asked clients to do this, but it is a matter of utmost importance now. We are waiving cancellation fees for any amount of notice if guests cancel for COVID19 reasons.

If our employees are at all under-the-weather or have been exposed to COVID19 in or out of work, we will cancel or reassign their services until we have more information. We’ll be erroring on the side of caution, so please understand if this impacts your service.

We’ve got a detailed plan for testing, tracing, and notification if an employee is suspected of having COVID19 or has been exposed.

All guests must agree to contact us ASAP if they learn they may have had COVID19 at the time of a visit so we can follow our testing, tracing, and notification protocols while maintaining confidentiality.

We are temporarily asking all guests to complete a COVID19 intake prior to all sessions. We appreciate your patience as this quick form will help make everyone (including YOU) safer.

Understanding health risks after COVID19 recovery or with lesser understood symptoms

The last thing that’s kept us on our toes with our reopening preparation is reading up on potential contraindications with some of the vascular symptoms and issues caused by COVID19 and what that could mean for our services.

Our massage therapists will be asking additional questions of people who have had COVID19 to check for potential modifications they need to make due to blood clotting and other vascular challenges.

All of our providers will will be on the look out for skin changes and potential symptoms on the extremities and toes.

We are committed to continuing to read and research the latest information on how we can help people who have recovered from COVID19 in the safest way possible.

Thank you, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably as concerned as we are about health and safety. If you have any questions before or during your session, please let us know. We’re eager to serve you again and we are sincerely grateful for your patience as we start over and continue to fine tune our processes in this ever-evolving situation.

Predicting the future for our spa

I wish we had a crystal ball to tell us exactly what things would look like 3 months, 6 months, and a year from now for spas. All we have have to go by is ever-evolving information from trusted health authorities and advice provided to other other health professions. We’re closely monitoring countries that are further down the road in battling the COVID19 pandemic.

We’ve been doing the heartbreaking task of cancelling all appointments on our books through July (and will likely continue to do so further out.) Realistically, I’m not sure if we can open in any safe capacity by July. When we do open, the existing appointments on our books won’t match the new realities of our schedule. I promise, WE WILL REOPEN.

We aren’t sure of every safety measure we’ll need to implement, but these are a few ways the spa will be a bit different for awhile:

  • The biggest change: Two distinct teams that don’t overlap any shifts, providers, or receptionists. We see this in some essential offices like veterinary clinics. This ensures that if a team member is exposed to COVID19, we won’t need to 100% close our spa again. We can at least operate at half capacity, especially if widespread testing isn’t available.
  • We will offer longer hours to reduce the number of employees and guests in the spa at a time, increase the time between services, and stagger check-in and check-out times to keep you safer.
  • We won’t be able to book groups of more than two until the COVID19 threat is under control.
  • You can still shop online to save a trip into the spa!
  • We will require masks for providers and guests, which could pose a challenge for some services (facials, lip waxing) if can’t work around a mask.
  • We may have to do enhanced health screenings and lean into low-contact check-in/check-out (online intakes, cards on file, etc…) options.
  • We’re researching alternatives to table warmers. While they’re under multiple layers of linens, they can’t be cleaned in the way we’d like when facing a pandemic. We will not use them until the risk of COVID19 has passed or until we find a safe solution.

It isn’t all doom and gloom!

Check out this video I filmed with my dear friend, Tricia Rivas, owner of Trixie’s Salon and founder of the Dreamcatcher’s Foundation. When this is all over, you’ll see some positive changes in the spa and salon professions.

Spa professionals like massage therapists and especially estheticians have been named some of the professions with the highest risk of contracting COVID19 at work. I would rather wait to open until we have a better idea of safety modifications than put my employees, their families and guests at risk to make money. This might mean we don’t open the day we’re given the legal “go ahead.” I PROMISE we will be back and you can rest assured that when we return, it will be with a very comprehensive plan for safety.

Top skin issues and solutions during the pandemic

Stress, poor diet, lack of motivation for personal care (let’s face it, the Zoom videos are grainy!) are causing lots of skin issues. Providers on the front lines wearing N95 masks all day are faced with raw, irritatied skin. Don’t wait for spas to reopen, it will be awhile before we can safely perform facials. Fortunately, you can do a TON with a great home care regimine.

Stress, poor diet, lack of motivation for personal care (let’s face it, the Zoom videos are grainy!) are causing lots of skin issues. Providers on the front lines wearing N95 masks all day are faced with raw, irritatied skin. Don’t wait for spas to reopen, it will be awhile before we can safely perform facials. Fortunately, you can do a TON with a great home care regimen. Camille Arbegast, a Licensed Esthetician, shared a few solutions if you’re experiencing skin challenges right now.

Camille Arbegast, Managing Esthetician at East Village Spa
Camille Arbegast, Managing Esthetician at East Village Spa

Solutions for stress-related skin freak-outs

Camille suggests Rhonda Allison’s Mandelic Arginine Serum for a gentle, daily exfoliation to curb breakouts from stress and also help calm rosacea flare-ups.

With weather (slowly) warming up, it might be time to switch to a lighter moisturizer. Camille recommends the Mandelic Au Lait, which is medium weight and has ingredients that also help calm breakouts and reduce redness.

Outdoor must-haves

Socially-distant outdoor activities like gardening, long walks, or supervising kids in the yard, are stress-busting musts for many of us. Rhonda Allison has two great sunscreen options. 1. eZinc is best for those with concerns about breakouts or redness. It is light weight and doesn’t have that sunscreen smell or feel. 2. Daytime Defense is ideal for those wanting to get pro-youth antioxidants.

Beta Green Tea Cleanser is great for AM and PM and one of our most popular clenasers. It has a small amount of salycilic acid to deeply cleanse sweat and dirt without drying skin. For best results with any Rhonda Allison cleanser, start with dry skin (or just put a few drops of water on your fingers) and massage in your cleanser that way first, before adding water. You’ll get a better cleanse and your product will last longer!

The Arnica Therapy is a staple of the Rhonda Allison line and is a natural antibacterial cream. It is great for cuts, burns, wounds, or bug bites.

Medical-grade PPE relief

Our front line medical providers and support staff are heroes. Many of have seen photos of the raw skin caused by wearing N95 masks all day. Camille suggests a 3 step approach to ease pain from the irritation caused by these masks. 1. Rhonda Allison Creamy Milk Cleanser, a gentle and soothing cleanser. 2. Rhonda Allison Arnica Therapy, a barrier for skin before the mask goes on. 3. Rhonda Allison Drops of Essence, a soothing gel for after cleaning at the end of the day to help ease discomfort.

We took her suggestions and created a specially priced Face Mask Relief kit that you can purchase for a front line healthcare worker who is struggling with pain from their mask.

Rhonda Allison Skincare for face mask irritation.

Poor diet, dehydrated skin

Listen, we won’t tell you what to eat in times of stress and I pity the person who gets between me and my “secret” chocolate stash right now. We WILL gently suggest that you increase your water intake. All of those Zoom Cocktail hours and extra coffees are going to take their toll on your skin. Tired of water? Try adding some calorie free, sugar free, caffeine free Pure Inventions extracts to your water. For a delicious “mocktail” mix your favorite drops with sparking water and drop in a few frozen blueberries and a lemon wedge.

Blueberry Lemon mocktail at East Village Spa

We can’t wait to be able to give you professional facials and Hydrafacials again, but don’t neglect your skin while you wait for your esthetician to be able to safely provide services to you. Take control of your skin and start or continue good habits at home now!

Blog contributors: Camille Arbegast is the managing esthetician at East Village Spa, where she’s worked since 2012. Cassie Sampson, BA, LMT is the owner of East Village Spa.

Our COVID-19 response

To Our Amazing Guests,

We closed our spa to protect public health on March 16th. On March 17th, the Governor announced that health spas needed to close as part of the COVID-19 emergency declaration. We strongly agree with this. No amount of cleaning and caution can stop the spread of this challenging virus in a spa setting, especially with so many people asymptomatic, yet contagious.

I personally want to thank you for the kind words, online gift card sales, and support during this very strange and scary time. I can assure you that we will be back in business, as soon as we are allowed to AND as long as we do not feel we would jeopardize health of our team, guests, and community. Our providers are like family to me and each other. We’re chatting frequently and eating too many cookies. Our dogs are thrilled.

As people who are drawn to caring professions, it is a challenge when the best way we can care for others is NOT to provide services to them.

This is a temporary setback and the business was prepared (as well as we could be) for an emergency. I can assure you, we will survive this shut down. Please keep in touch with us while we are closed, we’ll pass on any well-wishes to your providers. We’re checking e-mails, texts, and voicemails on weekdays. Tune into our Facebook and Instagram feeds. We have quite a bit of time on our hands to create content we hope will make the time at home a bit easier for all of you! We’re working on building a webstore and making some other updates we’ve had on the back burner.

We wish you good health and moments of peace and calm. We’ll save some of our yummy chocolates for you to enjoy when we’re back!

Cassie Sampson, LMT

Owner, East Village Spa

East Village Spa Chocolates