Nailed – When a Salon Gets Caught With Less Than Perfect Nail Hygiene

It is scary to think that when nail technicians use sharp metal instruments on sensitive areas like the nail cuticle, that some of them aren’t following the strictest policies and standards of health and hygiene. This article is a report on the statistics about the number of salons that might be skimping in this important area, and an informative suggestion on how to pay the right amount of attention to this important issue when you next get your nails done.

Recently, there was an interesting report on what happened when an investigative “shadow shopper” visited a number of fifteen or so nail salons, get their nails done there, and report on the hygiene levels. At first it seemed like it would be fun, even LUCKY to get my nails done for free like this. In fact there is no end to the daydreaming about what it would be possible to order if it were “sky’s the limit” on ordering treatments that you didn’t have to pay for….

Maybe a French manicure, perhaps a full set of acrylic nails, maybe some Nailart, or a “Natural” manicure. WAIT!!! DEFINITELY a pedicure….. Or I’ll “go crazy” and order some fancy Hollywood nails, nail tattoos, or other expensive additions. Yeah, and MAKE SURE that you give me the nicest, most expensive polish while you’re at it, because I’m not paying. How about that “Timmy Tailor” stuff? This is exciting…

But, as any dream ends, I woke up. Because the reality is that many salons, even for FREE, aren’t the nicest places to visit. In fact not only are there places that are bad to go to if one is paying, they aren’t even the greatest to go to if they are free, because some of them are way too unsanitary, even NASTY, to visit even when someone else is “footing” the bill, so to speak.

Anyway, according to the “hidden shopper” report, over fifty salons were visited secretly, and about a third of them were unsatisfactory when it came to the shopper visiting a place that wasn’t even clean enough to want to go to for free. That’s pretty bad, huh?

There was a standard routine. The person wanting their nails done was go to the salon, ask for a certain service (such as say they had never gotten their nails done before at all), and tell the technician that they hadn’t ever received it before. After they were done, the customer filled out a questionnaire about the product, service, cost and overall whether they were satisfied.

In the questionnaires, there were some standard problems that arose. Often clippers were operated without use of gloves, even if there were cuts or other problems on the stylists hands. Often other materials that should have been disposal were not. They were told that they were cleaned really well, though this is substandard. Some dirty items were even kept in the cash drawer between clients, and in general many work surfaces/stationed were not cleaned properly.

There were some particular quotes that were fairly alarming:

“The technician picked up the metal scissors… used on someone else’s feet… she used them to cut some skin from around her own nail. She then went to use them on me.”
“This salon had an overpowering smell that burnt my throat and made me feel ill.”
“The technicians washed the hand towels in the foot spas.”
“Counters and floors were dirty, instruments reused and technicians did not wash their hands at all.”
“The technician had open wounds on her hands. I asked her to put gloves on.”

There is one problem to look for, and that’s the presence of heavy fumes. That may indicate lack of ventillation. And the chemicals that are often used when acrylic nails are used are unsafe when breathed in high levels. If there is a very strong unpleasant odor, it is usually Methyl Methacrylate (MMA).

There are some ways to manage these potential problems when frequenting an nail salon.

1. Often if you are a regular client you can ask for items to be reserved for you and you alone, and you should ask for this service.

2. If you have recently shaved your legs you shouldn’t use the footspa, as there is the possibility of infection.

3. All implements that aren’t disposable should be clean and dry.

4. All services should be adequately explained to you.

5. All chemicals should be kept in clearly-labeled containers.

6. All metal implements which could penetrate the skin should be fully sterilized.

7. Don’t be shy to ask any questions about any procedure, particularly acrylic nail application and the chemicals used.

8. The salon should be obviously clean and tidy, with towels and hair strips replaced between each client.

9. Be sure to ask how to maintain each procedure at home,

10. Make sure each salon and stylist has proper licensing and accreditation.

Overall, you should have the standard that the salon not only pampers you adequately, when you go for that hair cut, nail service, massage or other service you feel that you are given the service you deserve. The atmosphere should be clean and tranquil, or how are you going to relax? And if you aren’t given adequate information, you won’t be assured that you are getting the best possible treatment for you or that it is something you are going to understand or know how to integrate into your lifestyle. You deserve the best when you relax and take care of yourself, so make sure you insist on it!