How to Improve Air Quality in a Beauty Salon | Indoor Air Quality Needs for Salons


Nail and hair salons alike both use a lot of products that release something called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs can make the air hard to breathe and even dangerous if salons are not careful with how many VOCs they have in the air.

People with asthma and allergies are even more prone to feeling the immediate negative effects of VOCs, however, there are long-term issues that everyone can develop if they are exposed to too many VOCs for too long.

Improving the air quality in your salon requires proper ventilation. An air purifier can further improve the air quality in your beauty salon. Additional steps like changing out your products for ones with less VOCs can further reduce the number of VOCs that are harming the air quality of your business.

Because all the VOCs in your salon can be so dangerous, agencies like OSHA have very strict rules and requirements for ventilation in commercial salons. Other agencies like the US EPA have further guidelines for VOC reduction, since they are known to be such an issue.

How to Know if You Need to Improve Your Salon’s Air Quality

As you might expect, there are ways that you can know if you have an air quality problem in your salon (VOCs represent an air quality problem). However, not every way is completely obvious, so I’ll outline some of the ways that you can tell if your salon’s air quality needs some help.

1. If You Get Air Quality Complaints

A surefire way to know if you’ve got air quality problems is if your customers and other visitors to your salon complain. They might say that it is hard to breathe, or just say that it smells bad/the chemical smell is too heavy.

In some more severe cases, people might even get sick from the VOCs that they’re breathing in. More on that in this article: Do Beauty Salons Need Air Purifiers? | The Number One Reason Why Your Salon Needs an Air Purifier.

I know you might want to brush off these complaints, especially if you don’t get sick or don’t notice them, but don’t. It’s surprising how quick our brains are to get to the point that they can ignore things, bad smells can be one of those things that your brain can learn to ignore–especially if you work around those smells all day every day.

2. If Fumes From Your Products Linger for a While

If the smells from the products you’re using linger for a while (maybe ten minutes or so), then that’s a good indicator that there might be a problem. For one, maybe you’re using too much of that product and you should use less. Or perhaps you’ve got a ventilation problem and you’re not getting enough fresh air into your salon. Either way, there is a problem that will need addressed.

(Fun fact, the right air purifier can cut down on lingering smells and VOCs, maybe that could be your best option! More on that later.)

3. If You or Your Patrons Have Allergy or Asthma Attacks

While allergies are easily ignored, they aren’t fun. There are a lot of people out there who will avoid businesses that trigger their allergies, and I’m sure you don’t want your salon to be one of those places.

Asthma attacks, however, are not something that can be ignored. In fact, they can even prove to be fatal, which is something you do not want happening on your watch or in your business.

If you, an employee, or a customer exhibit signs of an allergy flare-up or asthma attack while in your salon, then there may be an issue with the air quality (especially if that’s a common occurrence). Again, an air purifier and good ventilation can reduce the risk of that.

4. If You Have a Lot of Dust Accumulation

Believe it or not, air purifiers and good ventilation can really cut down on how much dust collects on the surfaces of your salon. (You can read up on air purifiers reducing dust here.)

Besides being a bother to clean, dust can be considered unsightly to customers. Those same customers might think that you do not care about your salon enough to clean it, which might make them think that you won’t care about them.

(Fun fact, an air purifier can reduce how much you need to dust your salon and home. Check out an article I wrote on that here: Do Air Purifiers Get Rid of Dust? | Do I Need to Dust if I Have an Air Purifier? Also, another fun fact: the picture you see that says dust is an air purifier’s filter. That’s all the dust it pulled out of the air after just four months!)

Besides that, dust can also cause allergy flare-ups and asthma attacks, which we already went through. (Read up on how air purifiers can reduce the risk of those here.)

5. If Your Windows Fog Up

This final sign that your salon’s air quality needs help isn’t something that you might think about right away, but it is something that can make all the difference.

Air that is excessively humid (and also air that’s too dry) can be uncomfortable and cause irritation. In fact, it can also impact the final product (or final look) of what you’re doing for a customer!

Excessive humidity can also encourage bacterial and mold takeovers of your salon, which is a health risk and something you don’t want to deal with. A change to your HVAC and ventilation can help with that, as can a proper dehumidifier.

And, if your air is too dry, then a humidifier can help with that.

If you aren’t sure if you need a humidifier or dehumidifier. check out this article I wrote: How Do I Know if I Need a Dehumidifier or a Humidifier? | What’s the Right Humidity for My Home?

6 And More Stuff…

I know, I know, it’s already a potentially overwhelming list of potential air quality issues. Alas, there are more things that might be wrong with your shop’s air beyond that as well.

It stinks, I get it, but what’s cool is that you probably don’t have a problem with all of these things. And, if you do, then just a few small changes can help to address them.

An air purifier, for example, can do a lot to improve the air quality in your shop. If you get a good air purifier that’s made for your particular set of needs, then you’ll really notice the improvement too–as will your customers.

If you’d like to read up on what you can do to increase the air quality in your salon, check out the list in this article: 9 Best Air Purifiers for Nail Salons and Hair Salons in 2022. In the same article, I outline the best air purifiers for salons as well, so it’s worth checking out.

But I told you that I was going to outline how to increase the air quality in your salon in this article too, so I will. Just know that there are things I outline in the other article that I might not touch on here.

So, with that said, onto the next bit!

Steps to Improve the Air Quality in Your Salon

As I’ve already alluded to, there are a lot of things that you can do to increase the air quality of your beauty salon. Here’s a short list of some of the things that you can do:

  • Hire HVAC professionals to redo your ventilation system. (Can be SUPER expensive, but may be necessary.)
  • Get an air purifier.
  • Get a dehumidifier or humidifier.
  • Open windows and doors.
  • Get fans going.
  • Change products to ones with less VOCs.

Those are just six things that you can do to increase the air quality in your salon but, again, there are others. I dive into them deeper in this article as well.

Now, I’m sure you’ve got questions about the fixes that I just offered, and don’t worry, I’ll answer them as best I can!

What’s HVAC?

That’s your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system, HVAC for short. It’s the system that is supposed to do the bulk of the air quality work in your building, but they don’t always measure up to what you need.

How much does an HVAC job cost?

HVAC jobs on commercial sites can cost between $15,000 and $45,000, according to Sanalife Wellness. I’m sure you don’t like the looks of that, but it might be required that you spend that, especially if OSHA is currently on your back.

However, if they aren’t, then maybe an air purifier is your best bet!

What is an Air Purifier?

Air purifiers are machines that filter the air.

The air purifiers that you will want for your salon will need a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. These aren’t too hard to find, but finding one that’s actually good and worth the money might be. Additionally, finding one that’s not incredibly expensive might be problematic too–but I’ve got you covered there. (Keep reading to see.)

Do I need to buy a commercial air purifier?

No, you do not need to buy a commercial air purifier for your salon. So long as you buy a good quality unit, it will work great and last a long time.

The only reason you might want to buy a commercial unit is if you have a really large area that needs its air cleaned (like well over 1,500 square feet), if you need REALLY clean air, or if you want a filter that lasts a really, really long time.

Besides that, just a normal air purifier will be able to get you super clean air, will last a long time, and its filters should last pretty long as well. Additionally, normal air purifiers (I’m talking about non-commercial ones) can service well over a thousand square feet if you buy the larger ones out there. However, I’m personally fonder of buying multiple smaller units as that can potentially be cheaper while potentially giving you cleaner air.

How much do air purifiers cost?

There are air purifiers out there that work great that can cost just 25-30 dollars, however, they probably won’t be the best fit for your salon.

The air purifiers that I recommend for beauty salons cost between 40 and 800 dollars. (Don’t worry, most of them are cheaper, the expensive ones are just for really big areas!!!) Most of the ones that you will likely be looking at, if you check out my recommendations, are between 40 and 180 dollars and, trust me here, the “Personal Favorites” are absolutely amazing and worth every cent–I own them myself!

And, on top of that about the personal favorites, the Levoit “Top Pick” is also the cheapest out of all my selections. While you might need to buy a few of them, they aren’t about to break the bank! (It’s the one in the picture to the left.)

(Sorry, I had to mention that because people who run blogs ALWAYS try to sell 200-300 dollar units as their entry level. That’s not necessary. It’s dishonest. It’s annoying. My recommended Levoit unit sells between 40 and 60 dollars and it’s my favorite machine.)

Anyhows, here’s a link to the article where I outline my top picks for salon air purifiers: 9 Best Air Purifiers for Nail Salons and Hair Salons in 2022. This list shouldn’t change much in the future, so if it’s after 2022, then it should still be good for you!

What are humidifiers?

Humidifiers are machines that put moisture into the air. They are really cool, and, if you’d like to learn more about them, you can check them out on my site using the search feature.

What are dehumidifiers?

Dehumidifiers are the opposite of humidifiers. Odds are that hair salons will need these more than nail salons might, since all the hair washing will create more steam and let off more water into the air. These are really cool too, and you can learn more about them on my site.

How does opening windows and doors help my air quality?

Indoor air is 2 to 5 times dirtier than the air outside. In fact, it might be as high as 100 times dirtier. (That’s according to US EPA findings.)

Because indoor air is so much dirtier, opening up your salon to the cleaner outdoor air allows you to air things out and get some of those VOCs and other pollutants out of your shop.

Alas, this might not work for you all year, which is why there are other options for you to take that I listed out!

How do fans help my air quality?

white and black desk fan

When air circulates it has time to have bad things precipitate out, to disperse, and to potentially get filtered out by some of the porous things like fabric in your salon. This is probably not the best thing that you can do on the list I provided, but it’s a good compliment to some of the other options, hence why it’s included. (Hint: mix and match the recommendations I gave you and you’ll have even better air quality!)

How does changing products help clean the air?

Some products release a lot more VOCs than others. As such, swapping out for ligher VOC products can help in the long run.

Oh, and a pro tip here, you don’t just have to change out your hair and nail products. The cleaning products that you use can often be swapped out too! Remember, with air quality, any step in the right direction helps! (Just some things might do more than others.)

That’s it!

That’s it for this article!

I know that you might still have questions, so feel free to check out any of my other articles on hair salons and other businesses and their air quality needs. Or check out just my general articles too! They might be geared toward general use or use in homes, but clean air is sort of a universal thing!

If you’d like me to send you off in a specific direction, here are some recommended articles for you (starting with a couple of my beauty salon articles that I’ve already referenced):

9 Best Air Purifiers for Nail Salons and Hair Salons in 2022

Do Beauty Salons Need Air Purifiers? | The Number One Reason Why Your Salon Needs an Air Purifier

Do I Need an Air Purifier in My Bathroom? | 6 Reasons Why You Should Get an Air Purifier for Your Bathroom

What Are Air Purifiers For?

Jonathon Silva

Jonathan Silva is our longtime Air Purifier Essentials author. He has been writing on air purification technologies for his entire professional career.

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