How to Avoid Unsanitary Nail Salons

Three Parts:Assessing the Cleanliness of the SalonEnsuring Your Manicure or Pedicure is SanitaryChecking Out the Salon Before You Go

Nail salons offer a helpful service for those who like to upkeep their finger and toenails. However, since so many people go through the salons, there is a possibility that there may be unsanitary conditions. If you want to go to a nail salon, you can learn to avoid unsanitary conditions to ensure your nail safety.

Part 1
Assessing the Cleanliness of the Salon

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    Check out the environment of the salon. When you arrive, look around you at the general environment inside the building. Check to see how well the salon has been cleaned.[1] Look to see if the floors, ceilings, and walls are clean and if the tables and work areas are tidy.[2]
    • For example, the floor should not have nail clippings or dead skin all over it; the walls and ceilings should be free from mold, dirt, and other grime; and the floors should look mopped. The tables and work stations should look wiped down and free from the remnants of past nail treatments.
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    Look into implement cleanliness. The cleanliness of the tools is extremely important in order to avoid getting infections from nail salons. When you walk in, look to see if there are nail clippers, files cuticle scissors, or other nail tools scattered around the facility. These should be cleaned and put away between patrons.
    • The clippers, files, scissors, buffing blocks, and other tools should be kept in air tight pouches after cleaning and opened in front of each patron.
    • Ask the nail salon workers how they clean their implements. There are two common practices, either liquid disinfectants or steam treatments in an autoclave.[3]
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    Watch the workers. Even in the facility is clean, the actions of the workers can affect the sanitation of the salon. When you walk into the facility, watch how the workers deal with their tools. Watch to see how they put the implements away. See if they wash their hands between patrons and after working with different parts of the body.
    • Make sure the workers are keeping their own stations clean by sanitizing the tables and implements between each patron.
    • Also look to see how clean they are themselves.
    • You can also see if your technicians wear gloves, which will help limit possible cross contamination.[4]

Part 2
Ensuring Your Manicure or Pedicure is Sanitary

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    Look for where the implements come from. When your manicure or pedicure starts, the salon worker will bring out the tools to do your treatments. Make sure that the implements come either out of sterile liquid or of airtight pouches. This will ensure that your tools are clean.
    • If they aren't, ask your nail worker to get different implements that have just been cleaned.[5]
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    Don't let the nail technician cut your cuticles. In order to avoid getting infections in your nails, do not allow your nail technicians to cut back your cuticles. Your cuticles provide protection against infections naturally. If they are cut back, you are more likely to get an infection.
    • If your technician wants to work on your cuticles, only allow them to be gently pushed back after they have been soaked and softened in water.
    • You should not cut your own cuticles or shave your legs before you go. These things provide perfect places to contract infections.[6]
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    Bring your own instruments. If you are worried about keeping extra clean at a salon, consider putting together your own set of nail instruments. Put together the files, buffers, clippers, brushes, and other tolls needed for your nails that you like best. You can bring this to the salon with you so you know where the instruments have been so you won't get infected.
    • The salon worker may not like working with equipment they aren't used to, which may make it difficult. However, you may be able to insist that they at least try to use them.
    • Make sure your keep your own instruments clean after you go to the salon so you don't accidentally spread infection to yourself.
    • You can bring your own nail polish as well to avoid the spread of fungal infections, which can stick around in the polish bottles.[7]
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    Use the right tools for calluses. When the salon worker needs to get rid of your calluses, they will likely use a pumice stone. Make sure the stone is clean and has been washed. Do not let your technician use a razor or chemical callus remover. These can irritate your skin, cut too deep into your skin and allow infection in, or even burn your skin.
    • If you are worried about the cleanliness of the pumice stone, you can bring your own.[8]
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    Check the pedicure tub. When you are getting a pedicure, you want to make sure the tub of water you soak your feet in is clean. The tub should be drained, cleaned, and refilled between each treatment. This will help get rid of any infections left behind by the person before you.
    • The same goes for manicures as well. Any water bowl you soak your hands in should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled between patrons. [9]
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    Go on less busy days. If you find a salon you like, try to go on a day where it isn't really busy. If the different technicians are rushing through treatments, they may not take every cleanliness precaution they do on less busy days.
    • You may need to call the salon beforehand or go by a few times before you find the least busy time that works for you.

Part 3
Checking Out the Salon Before You Go

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    Do online research on the salon. Before you go to a nail salon, do some online research to check out the salon. See if the salon has a website, if they have been reviewed on consumer websites, and if there are any negative reviews.
    • You can assess any comments about the salon to see if anyone discusses how clean it is or if anyone has gotten infections from the salon in the past.[10]
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    Ask preliminary questions. Before you pick the nail salon that you want to use, you can ask some questions of the staff and owner. This will help you make sure the salon follows safe practices and cleanliness standards as a general rule. When you choose a salon, call the salon and ask:
    • Does your salon follow the safety standards? Do you use liquid disinfection or steam sterilization for your equipment?
    • How do you cut calluses?
    • Are the nail technicians required to wear gloves?
    • Are there any nail technicians with advanced training?[11]
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    Check for licensing. In most states, nail technicians need to be certified and trained. You can ask the salon where their technicians were trained and certified to ensure that they will be able to adequately provide you clean service.
    • You can search the online listings of individual state requirements to make sure you know what is required of the nail workers in your state.[12]
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    Understand the hazards of nail salons before you use them. Nail salon workers work on many different people every single day. Because of the large amount of people, the workers come into contact with infected skin and blood, which puts them and the salon at risk for a number of infections. These infections include:
    • Viral infections, such as hepatitis, HIV/AIDs
    • Bacterial infections, such as Staph, strep, and MRSA
    • Fungal infections, such as tinea[13]

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Categories: Nail Care | Personal Care and Style