Things To Watch Out For At The Nail Salon

For much of the country, the weather is finally starting to warm up, which means open-toed shoe season is right around the corner. And that definitely means we’re ramping up our mani/pedi schedules. But it also means being vigilant about keeping an eye out for any sketchy practices at the local nail salon.

These are things that can hurt your nails, shorten the life of your manicure, or even pose a dangerous health risk. We talked to some of the top manicurists in the biz to find out what you need to watch out for, so you can walk out with 10 perfect fingers or toes — minus the yucky stuff.

If you see any of these things but are too afraid to speak up skip the manicure and just ask them to change your polish — then, walk out the door.

Filthy Workstations

Even a salon that appears clean can harbor dirty little secrets. So, if a salon actually looks unkempt? Well, that’s not a good sign. We all go into those corner nail salons, and there’s dust everywhere — on tables, in drawers. That’s stuff from other people’s nails. Glance over at the garbage cans, too. They should have a lid, not a visible, overflowing pile of trash. Bacteria, mold, and spores have to be contained, so just like in a doctor’s office, trash cans should always be covered. And, also just like in a doctor’s office, stations should be scrubbed between every client, and new coverings should be put down over the surfaces. I mean, how would you feel if your gynecologist reused the same paper?

Dirty Tools

In many states, the law requires that salons use a brand new nail file for every single client. But anyone who has ever been to their corner spot knows that’s rarely the case. It’s unsanitary to use a nail file on more than one client. If the person before you had a fungus, it can spread to you.

Along with nail files, anything that’s porous — think wooden tools, orange sticks, pumice stones, or buffers — can harbor and breed bacteria, so they should always be new, as well. Metal tools, such as cuticle nippers, can be reused, but experts say they must be disinfected with a hospital-grade disinfectant for at least 10 minutes between clients — or sterilized in an autoclave. But watch for ‘UV sterilizers,’ which are not effective for proper sterilization. A true sterilizer looks like a toaster oven or a crock pot and heats tools to approximately 400 degrees. They cost several hundred to thousands of dollars, compared to UV models, which are well under $100.

Using The Wrong File

Not only does the file have to be new, but it has to be the right one. Like sandpaper, files come in various grits ranging from ultra-fine (the best choice for natural nails) to super coarse (only okay for artificials). Unfortunately, many manicurists tend to use a generic file for everything, and it’s usually one that’s too coarse, which can damage natural nails. So how to tell if your tech is using one that’s too harsh? Listen to how it sounds on your nails. A fine-grit file has a higher-pitched sound and generally sounds more pleasant. A coarse-grit file has a deeper sound that isn’t as nice.

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