When you go into a nail salon the outcome you are seeking is to emerge with beautifully manicured nails or a fabulous pedicure. BUT, are you aware of the pitfalls and what to look for to ensure that the salon you are attending is going to look after you and make sure that you do not leave with any nasties that you didn’t come in with. We can’t stress strongly enough how important salon hygiene is to your health and safety.

Whilst the nail industry is not regulated in Australia anyone conducting a nail business must be registered with their local Council and there are some basics which must be followed under the Health Regulations Act 1990.

What do you need to look out for – If it is your first visit to a new salon or you are having doubts about the one you are attending, try arriving 15 minutes early for your appointment so you can sit and watch.

If you are having acrylic or gel nails done or a manicure, look out for the following:

  1. Did the tech wash her hands before you sat in the chair opposite her?
  2. Did she get you to wash your hands with an antibacterial gel or spray your hands with antibac before starting?
  3. While you were sitting there watching before your appointment, did your tech clean her files after the last client left? Files can be cleaned quickly by spraying with isopropyl alcohol or another antibac spray.
  4. Is the table clean of debri such as skin and dust?
  5. Is the floor of the salon clean?
  6. Is there any dust laying over equipment, desks or counters?
  7. Are their chemicals – liquids, powders etc on desks with no lids?
  8. Check to ensure the salon is well ventilated.

If you are going in for a pedicure, arrive early and watch.

  1. Are they disinfecting the whirlpool foot spas after each client leaves?
  2. Is the person performing the pedicures washing their hands after each client.
  3. Did the operator use a disinfectant on your feet before starting.
  4. Are implements and tools being placed in trays after use and not on the floor.
  5. Are there other techs sharing the same files and implements.
  6. Are files and implements being cleaned or replaced after each client.

If you have any type of infection on your fingers, hands or feet a good nail tech should refuse to work on you until the infection has cleared up.

If you answered yes or see any of the above going on… LEAVE!! You are putting your health at risk. An unclean salon is a breeding ground for tinea, ringworm, wart viruses, yeast infections, staph and more. There have been many reported cases in Australia of people contracting the above from nail salons.

Another way for salons to reduce risk of infection to you is to have file bags for individual customers, these files, manicure brushes and buffers are used on your nails only, cleaned before each use and cleaned after they have been used, put into a plastic bag with your name on it and used again at your next service. This bag should not be airtight in order to prevent bacteria growing in an enclosed humid environment.

The tech’s work area should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between clients, towels replaced with fresh ones, wooden cuticle sticks, used cotton balls or gauze should all be thrown out after use and replaced with clean ones. Ask the tech if the implements she is about to use on you have been sterilised or are new, remember, it is your health at risk here.

Foot spas should be emptied and filled again with water to which hospital grade disinfectant has been added, this should be let to sit for 10 mins and then emptied and wiped and dried using paper towels, which should be discarded. This needs to be done after each client.

Don’t think you are saving money because of the cheap prices at some of the salons, often prices are lower because they are scrimping in other areas, they are pushing clients through at a fast pace and salon hygiene becomes a time waster and costs them money because it means that time added up in a day could cost them 2-3 clients. The bottom line is, you are not saving money because eventually it is going to cost you a fortune in anti fungal and anti bacterial creams and doctors visits to try and get rid of the infection you will have contracted.

On a personal note, one thing I find distressing is seeing mother’s in a salon having their nails done with baby sitting right next to them in a pushchair. A nail salon is no place for children of any age for many reasons. They are breathing in toxic chemicals, touching things and spreading bacteria, may cause chemicals to be knocked over and more. Any operator worth their salt will protect their clients and not allow children into the area where nails or feet are being worked on. Mums, try and find a sitter for that time to protect your child from inhaling harsh chemicals and dust and you will also find having your nails or feet down more relaxing not having to worry about your child. Myself and one of our techs went to a training facility recently and we walked in while a training session was in progress, there was a nail tech training a lady who had a very young baby sitting right next to her in a pushchair, this child was screaming, it was distracting for both the mother and nail tech, they were using monomer at the time and about to move onto using an electric drill, we were horrified, but could say nothing. Needless to say this is one facility we will not be recommending to anyone to attend. The other issues we noted are another story…

This is what you don’t want your nails or feet to look like a few weeks after having your nails or feet done.

Ringworm nail infectionOnycholysis - Lifting of the nailNail fungus Toe nail fungus

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