Mani-pedis, to many, are the next best source of relaxation to a full-body massage. A nail salon is a haven where you can allow your worries to be filed, buffed, and polished out—not to mention the mini massage each person gets to their hands and feet during treatment. And when your session is over, you should walk out with confidence. There is something, a transformation of sorts, that occurs when your fingernails and toenails are properly manicured. They are clean, trimmed, glossy and colorful, making you feel put together.
But not all nail salons are alike and provide high-quality services that ensure you are in the best care and are not at risk for infections. During the grooming process, micro-traumas can occur due to filing or cutting the cuticles. If you are not visiting a salon that uses best practices, those micro-traumas can lead to infection.
Here is what you need to look for in a nail salon to lower your risk and ensure you continue to enjoy your salon experience.
- Overall cleanliness: Your nail salon should be clean and orderly at all times. A good salon will have someone on hand to sweep the floors and disinfect/wipe down stations (including chairs) between each service. The floors should appear mopped, and everything from above (e.g. ceiling) to below should be free of dust, cobwebs and any other forms of dirt and debris. Chairs, stools or otherwise should be intact, with no tears or unreasonable signs of wear and tear. A nail salon that takes pride in itself and wants to create an aesthetically pleasing environment for their clients will make sure that the furniture, and even the tools/devices its technicians use, are up-to-date and comfortable.
- Well-ventilated: Every nail salon uses products with chemicals—from the nail polish to the acrylic gel and the nail polish remover to the disinfectant they use to clean their tools. There is no getting around it. But a great salon is well-ventilated to safeguard its clients. Inhaling chemicals in an unventilated or underventilated area can cause nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms. And, over the long term, that inhalation can have effects on a person’s overall health. So, make sure your salon uses fans and has windows/doors open to let air flow in and out. Some may even use air purifiers and special ventilators, which is a plus.
- Organized work stations: At your station, any and all containers should be labeled. It lets both you and your nail technician know what product or tool is what. There is no confusion or mix up, and this only works to serve your best interest. You wouldn’t want your technician using a disinfectant on your nails instead of a polish remover, for example. So clearly labeled containers are key. Plus, when a tool or product is in a container with a closure, it lessens the chance that it is exposed to outside elements, ensuring its overall integrity.
- Properly disinfected tools: To avoid an infection, tools should be properly disinfected after each use. To do this, salons have a special disinfecting solution on hand; often it is green, blue or bluish-green. Metal tools like the cuticle nipper, cuticle pusher, nail clipper and such should be placed in this solution for about 20 minutes to guarantee all bacteria are killed, according to Robert Spalding, a Tennessee podiatrist and author of “Death by Pedicure.” Do nail technicians wait 20 minutes before their next client? No. So your technician should have additional tools that have been previously disinfected and waiting for use.
- Does away with disposable items: Disposable items should be tossed after each client, and new ones should be used in their place. Often, this means nail filers, buffers, Q-tips and other such items. As it specifically relates to filers and buffers, these tools collect dead skin and matter, as well as dirt. Reusing these items could lead to infection and a spread of bacteria.
- A professional and knowledgeable staff: Your salon technician should want you to have the best experience possible and should be concerned with your needs, as to render the service that suits you. Before carrying out any service, your technician should have a consultation where he or she asks a list of questions that will help them learn what your expectations are and what you are seeking to get out of your salon experience. It is also a time for you to air concerns and for them to address those concerns.