Hairdressing standards

The purpose of the Guideline on the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing (PDF 511KB) is to provide appropriate information to the hairdressing industry on such issues as infection risk, decontamination of equipment, disinfectants, operator hygiene and maintenance of cleanliness standards for hairdressing premises, to assist hairdressers in meeting their general duty under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 (the Public Health Act) to prevent or minimise any harm to public health resulting from their activities.

It is essential for hairdressers to know and understand the health implications of the procedures carried out and the precautions that must be taken to minimise health risks.

Where sterilisation of equipment is required, or where a hairdressing salon also offers skin penetration procedures (including waxing, pedicures and permanent makeup), the Guideline on the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing (PDF 511KB) must be read in conjunction with the Guidelines on the Safe and Hygienic Practice of Skin Penetration.

Inspections and Authorised Officers

Authorised officers are not expected to assess hairdressers’ technique. However, they can ensure that certain levels of hygiene exist.

Under the Public Health Act, Authorised Officers have the power to:

  • serve notices to the owner or other responsible person
  • enter and inspect the premises at reasonable times
  • make inquiries
  • ask questions
  • examine, inspect and test equipment
  • take samples
  • take photographs and videos
  • require records to be produced
  • examine and copy the records.

Inspections will generally be performed on a routine basis and additional inspections will occur if complaints are received or investigations are required. Random inspections may also be undertaken.

For full details, refer to section 2 of the Guideline on the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing (PDF 511KB)

Risk Minimisation

Operators must assume that all blood and other body substances are potential sources of infection. To minimise transfer of micro-organisms, operators must perform all procedures in a safe and hygienic manner, following all infection control techniques and procedures.

By adopting the infection control techniques and procedures outlined in section 3 of the Guideline on the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing (PDF 511KB), operators will minimise the risk of transmission of blood-borne and other infectious diseases to clients and themselves.

If poor infection control techniques and procedures are not followed, the infections can be spread which include:


Broken skin or infection on exposed parts of the body of the operator should be kept covered with a waterproof plaster or handy tape. Single-use disposable gloves must be worn if the procedure involves skin penetration.

Section 4 of the Guideline on the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing (PDF 511KB) provides information on other hygienic practices to use including:

  • hand washing techniques
  • general hand care
  • animals in hairdressing premises
  • checking for head lice

Cleaning, Disinfection and Sterilisation of Equipment

All equipment must be cleaned and or sterilised to a level appropriate for their intended use. Any item dropped on the floor must be cleaned and dried, or discarded.

Section 5 of the Guideline on the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing (PDF 511KB) provides a guide on cleaning requirements for equipment commonly used in the hairdressing industry.


Section 6 of the Guideline on the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing (PDF 511KB) provides detailed information on the environmental requirements as well the appropriate cleaning products, dilution and process for specified work areas. Mobile hairdressers and those that work from home must ensure that cleanliness of equipment and personal hygiene standards are also maintained.

Below is a summary of the environmental requirements:

Environmental considerations

Hairdressing procedures require the following environmental considerations:

  • Work area floors, floor coverings, walls, ceilings, shelves, fittings and other furniture should be constructed of materials suitable for the procedures undertaken and should be smooth, impermeable and easily cleaned.
  • A basin with hot and cold water supplied through a single outlet, plus soap or detergent, and disposable paper towels should be provided in the immediate area where hairdressing is undertaken.
  • Where drinking glasses, cups, dishes and cutlery are used, an efficient dishwashing machine or sink with hot and cold water should be provided. A suitable detergent for washing eating and drinking utensils should be supplied.
  • Clean and soiled linen must be stored separately to avoid cross contamination.


Cleaning is also essential in providing a professionally competent, safe and hygienic service which includes the minimum cleaning requirements. These include:

  • clean linen must be used on each client
  • capes should be cleaned at least once a week or sooner if dirty
  • linen used during perms and colouring should only be used once
  • soiled linen and other clothing should be cleaned in hot water and detergent at least once a week
  • routine cleaning of work areas is important to reduce transmitting of infections
  • appropriate management of blood spills

Waste management

In accordance with the South Australian Public Health (General) Regulations, a suitable rubbish bin must be provided for the containment of soiled tissues, paper, swabs, disposable products and other wastes.

The owner, operator or occupier of the premises must take reasonable steps to ensure that any refuse stored on the premises does not create a public health risk. It should be disposed of as often as appropriate for the nature of the refuse, but in any event at least once per week.

The owner, operator or occupier of any premises where a container for the storage of refuse is kept must take reasonable steps to ensure that the container is kept in a clean and sound condition.


Under the Public Health Act, operators must ensure that any sharps used are disposed of into a suitable sharps container and disposed of via a licensed contractor. Contact your local council for suitable containers and collection times.

Operators must always handle sharps with care to minimise the possibility of injury to themselves, clients or people involved in the collection of discarded materials and refuse.


If a person is accidentally cut by scissors, clippers or any sharp implement, staff must act immediately. Steps include:

  • applying pressure to the wound with a dry sterile disposable dressing until the bleeding has stopped
  • handle both the dressing and the contaminated implement carefully to avoid contact with blood or body fluid
  • carefully wrap contaminated dressings and place them into a general rubbish container
  • decontaminate or dispose of the implement
  • wash hands thoroughly
  • record the incident in a diary/logbook.