Autoclave for the beauty salon – How to choose it, what to pay attention to?

The safety of cosmetic treatments depends on various factors, the most important of which include a high level of sterility of equipment and tools. Using the autoclave – the device that allows to meet the standards applicable to the sterilization of surgical instruments – will make it possible to provide highest level of hygienic safety.

Cosmetic treatments performed in beauty salons seem to be much milder interference in the tissues of our body than e.g. surgical procedures. In fact, however, just like unsterile surgical instruments pose danger to our life, also unsterile cosmetic equipment pose such a threat. This is why beauty salons staff should sterilize their instruments with an autoclave – a sterilizer that ensures the highest level of hygiene and safety. Let's find out what an autoclave is and how to choose the perfect device for your beauty salon.

Cosmetic autoclave – What is it?

Disinfection and sterilization are the basic activities that medical instruments must undergo, as well as those used in dental parlor, cosmetic parlor and tattoo studios. The autoclave is a device that ensures that tools are sterile. It is a kind of hermetically sealed, heated tank where due to chemical processes the instruments placed inside the device come out as sterile. The sterilizing agent in the autoclave is steam at a particular, strictly defined temperature. It destroys the proteins of pathogenic microorganisms, thus eliminating them completely. It affects not only active bacteria, viruses and fungi, but also their spore forms. The use of a steam pressure autoclave is the most effective and best known method for sterilizing instruments. Until recently, autoclaves were characterized by very high prices. Now, however, they are more accessible to everyone and fewer and fewer cosmetic companies are handing over sterilization tools to an outside company, which is time-consuming and expensive. All instruments used during beauty treatments that may come into contact with blood and body fluids should be sterilized. This rule applies both to small tools such as tweezers, files, scissors and cutter pliers, and to larger equipment such as cutters, heel saws and milling machines. The cosmetic autoclave is often the class S autoclave for sterilizing unpackaged instruments, porous, hollow and solid objects, or the class B autoclave, which is more versatile. This is the most advanced type of autoclave available on the market in which all types of packed and unpacked instruments can be sterilized, even those with the most complex structure. Sterilization of cosmetic tools with autoclave is very important for the safety of every client. We never know who had the treatment or even simple service done before us. Meanwhile, any discontinuity of the tissue, even with simple procedures such as eyebrow adjustment or nail decoration, and even more so during pedicure or podiatry treatments, may pose a risk of HIV infection, mycosis or hepatitis virus B or C.

Disinfection or sterilization?

The terms “disinfection” and “sterilization” are often confused with each other. Meanwhile, they define different processes. Disinfection is the process of destroying the vegetative form of microorganisms. As a result, their number is significantly reduced. The longer the disinfection is performed, the more microbes are eliminated. However, the disinfection effect depends on various factors, such as the environment in which the microorganisms live, their number, species and physiological activity. The disinfected instrument is not sterile. The aim of this procedure is to prevent infections and the spread of microorganisms. We distinguish between physical and chemical disinfection methods. Physical disinfection can be carried out using steam at 100-105°C (reduced pressure steam is used for disinfection of pre-treated equipment) or using a UV lamp. Sterilization on the other hand, aims to eliminate all forms of microorganisms – both active (vegetative) and in spore form. The instrument is sterile when there are no live microbes on it. Sterilization can be conducted with mechanical, physical and chemical methods, but physical methods are most frequently used.

The UK law does not require beauty salon to have an autoclave for reusable equipment sterilization. It is recommended to wash the equipment in hot water with soap and then provide disinfection using disinfectant solution. The only institution which establish requirements about hygiene in beauty salons is HABIA (Hair and Beauty Industry Authority). The British Government recognizes HABIA as the unit responsible for creating standards for beauty and hairdressing salons. People providing these kind of services are obliged to follow the rules written in Code of practice in nail services. This document embraces such issues as sterilization, disinfection, first aid and rules of equipment storage. Unfortunately these rules seem to not be enough. According to the surveys conducted in 2008, published by Health and Safety Laboratory, half of interviewees admitted that they use single-usage tools multiple times which means they do not abide basic rules of hygiene. One of the important principles of proper decontamination is to create a decontamination sequence, which means setting up decontamination facilities and equipment in such a way that all necessary processes (washing, disinfection and sterilization) are performed in the right order. The paths leading to the subsequent stages should not come into contact or intersect with each other so that, for example, there is no need to go to the autoclave through the contaminated zone. Let’s look at example of sterilization point, where individual decontamination points are arranged in a row:

  1. A section (top) of contaminated products with space for at least one disinfection container with a perforated insert and a sealed lid. This section must not come into direct contact with cabinets containing sterile goods.
  2. A section for washing products – machine or manual.
  3. Section (top) of clean products, where the products to be sterilized are examined and packaged.
  4. An autoclave section.
  5. A section of sterile goods.
  6. Hand hygiene section.

Cosmetic autoclave – How to choose it?

Different types of autoclaves are available on the market – therefore, in order to choose the right one for a beauty salon, it is worthwhile to get acquainted not only with the division of these devices into classes, but also with other properties of particular models. Features such as time needed for sterilization, drying time and even the size of the device are important elements in the decision making process. Let's take a look at the individual classes of autoclaves first. According to the European standard EN 13060 we distinguish three basic classes:

  • Class N autoclaves are designed to sterilize simple, solid instruments without packaging; this is the lowest class of these devices.
  • Class S autoclaves are used to sterilize hollow instruments, packed individually or in sets; they sterilize at 134°C.
  • Class B autoclaves are the most universal and most frequently chosen steam autoclaves, where you can sterilize devices of various designs, both packaged and unpackaged. They sterilize products made of various materials. They work at 134°C or 121°C. The autoclave of this class allows you to sterilize any instruments used at the salon.

After deciding on the class of the autoclave, it is good to look at other features and parameters of different models of these devices. Here are some of the attributes that are worthy of special attention:

  • The device is CE certified, approving the autoclave as a medical device.
  • The time needed of sterilization – the time after which the decontaminated devices will be ready for re-use. The Enbio S autoclave is the fastest sterilizer on the market, allowing to perform sterilization even in 7 minutes in case of unpacked instruments and in 15 minutes in case of packed instruments. We have to pay attention on total sterilization and drying time.
  • Working and maximum pressure, affecting the entire process.
  • Peripheral devices – for the purpose archiving data about sterilization processes in the office, it is worth choosing autoclaves equipped with printer outputs or other options for easy archiving. The Enbio S autoclave is equipped with a flash drive for data collection and storage.
  • The noise level generated by the autoclave – significantly affects the comfort of daily work with the device. The Enbio S autoclave generates sound of only 32 dB, which allows you to work comfortably.
  • Size of the device – the sterilizer requires a separate space for the sterilization process. Not every salon can afford to have a wide area for a large device. Enbio S is the smallest autoclave on the market, measuring 25 × 16 × 56 cm.
  • Attractive, modern design – safety and functionality are of course the most important things, but in a beauty salon, especially one that does not have a separate room for decontamination, the look of the equipment is also important. An autoclave with an interesting style and colour, and also neat in its form, indicates the modernity and professionalism of the beauty salon. It will serve as an element of decoration, not just an indispensable device.
  • Warranty – the purchase of Enbio S is a guarantee of uninterrupted operation, even if the device fails during the warranty period. The Cabinet does not have to stop working due to a broken autoclave – a two-year “door-to-door” warranty with 24/7 service is a guarantee that we will receive a replacement device for the time of repair or that a new one will be sent.
  • Price – high quality autoclave does not have to be a very expensive device. Indeed, until recently, professional sterilizers for cosmetic instruments were so expensive that many surgeries preferred to sign a contract for sterilization of instruments with an external company. The Enbio S autoclave has a price attractive enough that having your own device becomes more profitable – especially in the long term and due to the fact that it takes a lot of time to sterilize instruments by an external company.
  • Ecology - The Enbio S autoclave is also environmentally friendly. The maximum current consumption is 15 A, and only 80 milliliters of water are required for sterilization. The cost of its operation is also low, thanks to the lower consumption of electricity and water: the average cost of a sterilization process (electricity) of 5 packages is 0.028- 0.032 GBP (assuming the cost of 1kWh = 099 GBP), therefore, the cost of sterilization of one package is only 0.0059 EUR.

It is also worth to remember about such aspects as simplicity of use and installation (Enbio S is so easy to connect that a visit of a service technician is not required) and economic and ecological aspects. Electricity and water consumption of a small Enbio S device is low compared to other devices of this class. It is esteemed that every 1 per 350 persons in UK suffers from chronic form of hepatitis B. The infection leads to such diseases as cirrhosis, viral hepatitis, liver cancer. Globally, as many as 325 million people suffer from hepatitis B or C. These viruses, as well as HIV and other hygiene-related diseases can be easily spread with non-sterile instruments – even during manicure, pedicure, shaving and other procedures that result in a disruption of the skin and mucous membranes. This is why the purchase of a modern autoclave will provide the salon with a device available at all times to perform decontamination, while increasing the prestige and level of trust in the eyes of customers.