Addressing Contraindications within your Beauty Business

Beauty treatments are one of life's little luxuries. They are a time for clients to relax and leave the worries of their daily lives at the salon door.

Beauty treatments can however hide a mine field of potentially damaging problems to the unsuspecting client, and at the end of the day it’s the Beauty Therapist’s responsibility to protect the client by ensuring the treatment booked is suitable.

We use record cards in salon treatments for several reasons such as keeping clients’ address and phone details and record of past treatments. The most important reason for these record cards is the attachment of a medical questionnaire that they have filled in prior to any treatments commencing, no matter how small those treatments are.

This questionnaire should be re-visited whenever a client books a different treatment.

It is in both the Therapist and the Client’s best interest to make sure that the medical questionnaire is answered honestly and is kept up to-date.

Don't rely completely on the answers the client gives you as sometimes you may encounter a contraindication during a treatment, for example noticing a fungal toe nail infection after removing nail varnish during a pedicure.

One thing that concerns me as a Trainer & Assessor are newly qualified “Therapists” that have done a “crash course” in beauty treatments which sometimes can be as short as 2 days!

It takes hours and hours of study and practice in training salons to even begin to absorb the knowledge of treatments and some of the dangers to the clients if they are contraindicated against them.

Here is a brief overview of some of the more common contraindications to treatments that you may come across on a weekly basis in a busy salon or spa.

This list could be in a book form as there are so many variations depending on products used or the client’s individual needs.

Skin infections

Referring back to your college training and recognising skin infections is a required skill every Beauty Therapist must master. Treatment will not be allowed to continue if a skin infection or problematic condition is noticed in salon and your client should be asked to seek medical advice.

Bp problems

Care must be taken in performing any treatments which involve stimulation of the blood system, such as massage, unless the client is undergoing treatment for the high or low blood pressure.

There is also a possible "collapse" risk when the client is changed from a lowered position on the treatment couch to an elevated one. This can cause a drop or a raise in blood pressure and the client may feel dizzy or faint.

Certain medications

Some prescription drugs can react to different treatments. For example, some acne medication can make the skin on the face very sensitive so facials would not be suitable.

Varicose veins

In some severe cases if a client suffers from very bad varicose veins it means they are contraindicated for a leg massage.


It’s so important to make sure before any form of beauty treatment that your client will not be likely to suffer an allergic reaction to the products used such as nut oils or some aromatherapy blends

Back problems

For some clients having a back condition will mean they won't be able to sit for long treatments such as manicures or lie flat on the treatment couch.

Also it will be in your best interest not to attempt massaging their back as it could aggravate their condition, although if they have a doctor’s letter it may be allowed.


Care must be taken whenever your clients have been lying flat and returning to an upright position

this is because with vertigo conditions or other inner ear problems the potential risk of dizzy spells when standing is very high and the client could suffer a fall when getting up off the treatment couch.

Nail infections

During your training to become a Beauty Therapist one of the first lessons taught in manicure is how to recognise a nail or cuticle infection.

If you are working in a busy nail salon you may come into contact with clients that have these on a weekly basis. The best thing to do is keep your training notes handy to refresh your memory on how to spot potential problems.

It's of the utmost importance that NO nail treatments of any kind should be carried out on a client with a nail infection or inflammation.

You will not be working in your Salon’s interest if you do.

Always make a note on your clients record card if a nail condition is suspected (this will ensure you can refer to it if the client decides that it was you that was to blame and wants to seek compensation -  trust me this happens!)

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy

In this day and age of palliative care Therapists are performing more and more treatments on clients who are going through treatment for cancer.

We have to be very careful not to perform any therapy which may have a detrimental effect on the treatment they are already receiving.

For example massage can be a wonderful and relaxing treatment  for a cancer patient and can often be advised by their medical team BUT if the chemotherapy  treatment for their condition is still active in their body I.e. recently been administered, then  any form of beauty  treatment which affects the lymphatic and blood system, such as massage,  could speed up the way the medication is absorbed or utilised in the tissues thus possibly (and it's a very big possibly) affecting the treatments outcome....

Now this is still a very speculative and cautious approach but it's always wise not to do any treatment before gaining written permission from the client’s oncologist.


Many Beauty salons offer treatments tailored to suit pregnant ladies using suitable products which will not enter the bloodstream (such as certain contraindicated aromatherapy oils).

Pregnant ladies can safely have most treatments available in salons but care must be taken if they have oedema of the limbs etc as this is a contraindication to massage.


This is a big no when it comes to most beauty treatments, especially waxing. Also, going on a sunbed the same day as a wax is also a major mistake allowed by many salons trying to keep their treatment columns full.

I cannot stress enough that it is a major contraindication to waxing.

Basically you are applying a heated wax onto the already “cooked" skin’s surface. This can easily remove a layer of epidermis and cause a scab to form which results in a deep pigmented scar.

So please don't let your client’s sunbathe or sunbed the same day as a wax.

I think the main rule is with all treatments from brows to massage is when it comes down to client safety and a good treatment outcome, "if in doubt, do nowt!"

And even if you have to refuse to perform a treatment based on contraindications, your clients will have you to thank, at the end of the day, for being professional and taking their well being seriously .

Back to listing