Not to take anything away from your pampering “me time” you like spending at your favorite nail salon, but it can easily turn into a nightmare if you’re not vigilant. Below, Robert Urfer, founder of Lucas-Cide Salon and Spa Disinfectant, offers seven tips for a safe and relaxing nail-salon experience.
1. Arrive 15 minutes before your appointment
Sitting still for 15 more minutes may not sound appealing to you, but Urfer says that’s the only way you can observe your salon’s sanitary practices. Try to see what extra steps the salon workers are doing to sanitize their equipment and tools. “If trash cans are overflowing and dust is collecting on shelves, do not trust that the foot baths and nail clippers are sanitary.”
2. Look for the salon’s license
It may be just a piece of paper, but this says a lot about a salon’s credibility and willingness to assume responsibility in case something unfortunate happens. This should be posted on the wall near the entrance where clients can easily see it.
3. Make sure the salon uses a powerful disinfectant for its tools
Some salons use UV sterilizers (devices that resemble toaster ovens), but according to Urfer, UV sterilizers do not kill bacteria that effectively. “Make sure they clean their tools with a powerful liquid disinfectant and that the solution does not appear cloudy or foggy. Also ask if they test it regularly with test strips.”
4. Check how the pedicure tubs are being cleaned
Are the technicians cleaning and disinfecting the footbaths after each use—and if they are, are they doing it properly? “Make sure the technicians use hot, soapy water to wash the tub,” he says. “Then it should be filled again with water with the proper amount of disinfectant. It should be run for at least 10 minutes before being emptied out and wiped clean.”
5. Make sure your nail technician’s hands—and yours—are clean
If you are getting acrylic nails or fillings, make sure your nail technician washes her hands before getting started. She should also apply an antibacterial spray or gel to your hands.
6. Don’t let the technician cut your cuticles
Cuticles provide natural protection against infection in your nail bed. So rather than allowing the technician to cut them back, ask the technician to either leave them alone or gently push them back. Cutting cuticles is dangerous because it causes skin to tear, increasing your risk of infection.
7. When in doubt, bring your own tools
To further reduce the risk of infection, some salons provide file bags for individual customers. Each bag contains the tools technicians use for manicures and pedicures, such as files, manicure brushes and buffers. The tools are placed in a bag labeled with your name and are used on your nails only. They are cleaned and sterilized or disinfected before and after use. If your nail salon doesn’t offer this service it’s probably better to bring your own manicure set.
Got concerns and complaints about your local nail salon? Call your state’s Board of Cosmetology. This institution is in place to look out for gross negligence, unsanitary conditions and unlicensed activities in nail salons.