Whenever I get a manicure, I'm always on the lookout for the telltale signs of a clean nail salon. Is there pre-existing white residue on the "clean" emery board? Did the manicurist wash her hands before touching mine?
Coming from a girl who witnessed a Los Angeles nail technician hide her tools in her purse when the salon got word that a health inspector was on their way in, I have a right to be wary. And guess what? You should be too. Especially after reading the secrets that nails salons don't want you to know, which both nail technicians and doctors advised me on. Check them out:
You are always at risk
Podiatrist Dr. Robert Spalding, author of "Death by Pedicure," states that "at this time, an estimated one million unsuspecting clients walk out of their chosen salon with infections -- bacterial, viral and fungal." And no matter which salon you go to, there is always a risk of infection. He claims that in his research "75 percent of salons in the United States are not following their own state protocols for disinfections," which includes not mixing their disinfectant solutions properly on a daily basis, not soaking their instruments appropriately, and using counterfeit products to reduce costs (for example Windex substituted for Barbicide), says the doctor. And the problem is that there is no way to really "verify an instrument has been properly soaked and sterilized" without watching the process.See alternatives to beauty salon treatments here.
They don't turn customers away
Like most businesses, most nail salons won't turn away paying customers. Which means that people who are sick, have nail infections or foot fungus are being worked on next to you instead of being referred to an appropriate medical professional.
Dr. Spalding says that the greatest danger of the nail salon is "The transmission of infection from one client to another." And, with "millions of people whose immune systems are compromised by diabetes, HIV, cancer, hepatitis and other infective organisms" booking services offered in nail salons, many are dangerously susceptible to infection, warns the doctor.
They swap and dilute bottlesIn her long history as a nail technician, celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi, owner of Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spas in New York City, says she has heard of many salons filling expensive lotion bottles with a cheap generic lotion. That way the salons can charge you more for the manicure by claiming to use prestige products, but in reality are just deceiving you.
Similarly, she says that some salons will dilute nail polish bottles that have become clumpy from old age or from too much air exposure with nail polish remover. This action compromises the quality of the polish, which will make the formula chip easier once on your nails. To ensure the life of your color and to protect any possible germ spreading, tote your own bottles.
Just because there is no blood, doesn't mean you haven't been cut
"Breaks in the skin can be microscopic or highly visible," says Dr. Spalding. They can either come in with the client via "cuts, scratches, hangnails, bitten nails, insect bites, paper cuts, split cuticles -- or be created in the salon," he says. "Nail techs using callus-cutting tools and nail nippers, files, cuticle pushers, and electric burrs and drills, can and do scratch and nick skin," sometimes drawing blood and sometimes not. But just because no blood is visible, doesn't mean these "portals of entry" aren't susceptible to infective organisms, the doctor advises.
If you've ever had your nails filed and it momentarily feels "too hot in the corner for even a second," then you've had the surface layer of your skin broken -- leaving it open for infection.
They aren't talking about you
Some narcissists or paranoid customers might think that nail technicians are talking about them when they speak to each other in other languages across the room, but they aren't. Apparently they don't care to share with each other how lovely your nail beds are or how gross your big toe is. "In general, they mostly gossip about their family and friends and the shows they watched last night," says Choi. Phew.
Not all disinfecting solutions are 100 percent effective
"Some infective microorganisms are easy to kill [and] some are not," says the doctor. And unfortunately, he has seen "industry-wide confusion about the definition of the term 'sterilize.'"
He says many nail techs think their instruments are sterilized, when, in fact, they "have no clue," because not all disinfectant solutions are powerful enough to kill all viruses. Therefore, when nail techs aren't informed of customers' pre-existing medical conditions, they don't know how to properly disinfect for particular viruses. "These are medical situations," says the doctor, which manicure and pedicure-licensed technicians aren't trained for -- it's not in their job description and isn't their fault as they are "neither schooled nor licensed to work in the presence of blood or to maintain a surgically sterile environment," says the doctor.
Popular Related Links:Is Your Nail Polish Color Sexy Enough? Q: Why are My Nails So Weak?