Ensuring a Safe Manicure and Pedicure
Check out the salon for cleanliness and safety precautions. Don't be afraid to ask for a quick tour if you are considering a new salon, or asking the owner or manager of your current salon what steps they take to ensure safety. And take a look around. Does the salon look clean and sanitary? Is the trash container properly bagged and covered? Is the floor clean? Are the manicure tables kept neat and tidy? Is there good light? Look at the disinfectant containers and make sure that they are clear, clean, and free of debris.
Next, check the station where your service will take place. Ask if all instruments are cleaned and disinfected (even better: autoclaved) after each use, and if you need proof, have the technician show you the cleaning area or solution. Does he or she use fresh, clean instruments on each client? Make sure all files, buffers, and anything else that touches you is freshly clean before you allow the technician to begin. Also, the technician should wash his or her hands before and after each client, or wear fresh gloves. Clean towels should be used for every client.
Avoid having your cuticles cut. Cuticles serve a purpose -- they protect the nail bed from allowing infection to enter. If you like how your nails look with them pushed back, ask for cuticle softener, rather than cuticle scissors. After the cuticles are softened, the technician can wipe away, or gently scrape away, the excess with a fresh orangewood stick.
Pedicures can be a bit riskier because of the hot water and tub. Make sure the tub is thoroughly drained, cleaned, and disinfected between clients. The steps where clients typically step with bare feet also should be cleaned and disinfected between clients.
One way to avoid many of these concerns is to buy your own manicure or pedicure kit and bring it with you. Make sure you clean and disinfect your kit after each use, even if you are the only one using it. You also can bring your own nail polish, base coat, and top coat. Remove your old nail polish at home, or bring nail polish remover with you.
The salon and technician should both be licensed by their state governing board, usually the board of cosmetology. The licenses should be clearly displayed.
If sanitary precautions are not being taken at your salon, politely but firmly tell the owner what needs to change and what you expect. Contact your state cosmetology board if you develop a nail infection, fungus, or other condition as a result of visiting a salon, or if you see unsanitary practices.