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Dr. Elwyn Narvaez and his team suit up for safety

It is almost impossible to provide personalized or customized care without close, one-on-one interaction. In beauty, using the sense of touch, and engaging the other senses, comprise a pampering session. Still, in an atmosphere of avoiding contact at all costs, and with more strict health and safety protocols continually added or adjusted, beauty professionals don’t have a lot of wiggle room.

Leave it to the beauty (and fashion) folk to be creative, resourceful, and resilient. They find the best ways to cope with Covid-19—applying best practices to provide care for patients, and protecting both patients and personnel—all while sustaining some form of business, in one way or another.

Aside from beauty companies, glam teams and beauty clinics that provide personal services through face-to-face interactions are hard hit. For these professionals who work closely with clients and give service with their hands, operating in a time of a pandemic naturally poses problems. But adapting to survive is the name of the game, and the industry is doing everything that it can to fight back and find their footing.

Narvaez Skin Care Clinic, owned and headed by cosmetic surgeon and skin expert Dr. Elwyn Narvaez, prepared for the worst when news of the virus and its stealth transmission came about. “I was already expecting the lockdown before it was even announced,” he says. “First thing that came to my mind was—until when? Then, how do we prepare for both patients’ safety and ours? How will this pandemic affect our industry? As the owner and medical director, one of my concerns was also how to deal with all the expenses if there would be no income for at least a month.”

Pre-lockdown, the clinic already encouraged the use of masks, while strict hygiene and disinfection for procedures were in place as extra-preventive measures.

Business (not) as usual

Survive before you thrive—beauty experts and businesses know that now more than ever, safety is the priority. It is unwise, if not irresponsible, to risk health over profit. In the end, being negligent during a pandemic has a price.

As the GCQ (general community quarantine) commenced on June 1, Narvaez Skin Care Clinic prepared in advance for reopening. The new normal in the clinic includes: (1) no walk-ins—visits will strictly be by-appointment only, (2) appointments will be spaced, (3) no mask, no entry policy will be enforced, (4) mandatory rapid testing will conducted for all incoming patients, (5) mandatory safety equipment will be used, (6) there will be disinfecting before and after each patient, (7) there will be the use of various disinfectants and sanitizing machines, and (8) full PPE will be worn while treating patients.

“We have to protect our safety and the welfare of our patients,” Dr. Narvaez says. “All our procedures are elective. Therefore, we can refuse treatment for those who don’t comply with our safety protocols.”

Part of the necessary guidelines for clinics to operate safely is installing sanitation and sterilization machines. Narvaez Clinic has air purifiers with High-efficiency Particulate Absorbing/Arrestance (HEPA) air filters for controlling contamination, UV-C lights to prevent harboring harmful microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, molds, or pathogens, and fog machines to disinfect hard-to-reach areas.

Treating skin involves being in close contact with a patient. Hence, there’s no such thing as being too careful during these times. “We will have to implement very strict rules on protective equipment since we mostly deal with the face,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Even the simplest facial services would require close contact, so we have to see to it these safety measures are done all the time.”

According to Dr. Narvaez, he and the nurses will have two to three sets of PPE each, and will change after each patient is seen and/or treated. PPE include hazmat suits, booties, goggles, medical-grade face masks, gloves, and face shields.

Whether the clinic operates fully or not, safety systems need to be followed, “This will be the new way we operate until a vaccine has been created and confirmed to be effective,” he says.

I think the use of tele-consults would be for planning and history-taking. The question and answer will be done so that once they come in for a procedure, we can minimize the time that they will be staying in the clinic.

Virtual Visits

As several clinics are now using, or looking into, remote consultations, aka tele-consults, Dr. Narvaez admits that the possibility is challenging. “For the field of aesthetics, it would be very difficult to do just plain tele-consult. Our practice is mostly hands-on. Sometimes, we would be needing multiple procedures in order for us to achieve our goals,” he says. “I think the use of tele-consults would be merely for planning and history-taking. The question and answer will be done so that once they come in for a procedure, we can minimize the time that they will be staying in the clinic.”

While virtual visits may not be enough, it is a good place to start. Offering skincare products to at least maintain basic skin health, in the absence of a regular facial or derma visit, is one of the earliest efforts of most skincare clinics, including Dr. Narvaez’s. “One of the first moves we did during the lockdown was to offer our products online, through social media.”

Grim or growing?

“Things will not be back to normal. Right now, I don’t know if the demand for aesthetics will still be the same,” says Dr. Narvaez. “On the other hand, there might be a possibility that upon opening, our patients will be all excited to go back. Of course, there will [still] be some who wouldn’t want to go out even after the quarantine has been lifted.”

In terms of how the beauty service industry will fare globally, Dr. Narvaez sees that “every clinic will actually slow down.” He also thinks that there will be changes in terms of prices of the services offered due to the cost of safety measures.

When asked if the future of beauty is grim, or simply growing new opportunities, like most beauty experts, Dr. Narvaez is hopeful. “I think that post-pandemic, the aesthetic industry might slow down a bit probably due to the logistics and the adjustments we will be making,” he says. “But still, the demand will always be there. We just have to do all the necessary adjustments so we can still cater to the needs of the beauty industry.”

Narvaez Skin Care Clinic is located at 48 Lipam’s bldg., President’s Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque. Instagram:@narvaezskincareclinic, Facebook:; phone (02) 7756-0080.

Source: Manila Bulletin (