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5 Signs of a Filthy Nail Salon

5 Signs of a Filthy Nail Salon

Allison Ford | Divine Caroline

October 01, 2010

It’s spring, and things that have been in hiding all winter long are starting to peek out and make themselves seen. The cherry blossoms are reappearing in our nation’s capital, leaves are sprouting on trees, and insects and animals are starting to show their faces once more.

People are putting away their heavy winter boots and coats in favor of airy garments and strappy sandals, meaning that our hands and feet are making their yearly debut, too. After we’ve shoved them into galoshes and gloves for months, we’re ready to step out with freshly pampered and polished finger- and toenails.

But as enjoyable as it is to have the occasional mani-pedi, nail salons can harbor some gnarly germs and bacteria. If customers aren’t careful, they could walk out with a lot more than just a fresh coat of California Coral. Before you turn your fingers and toes over to a nail technician, watch out for these signs of a not-so-sanitary salon.

No Licenses on Display

According to the International Pedicure Association (IPA), all states except Connecticut require nail technicians to be licensed, and most states require that those licenses be prominently displayed for customers. The licenses show that the technicians are adequately trained to perform the services they offer, and that they know proper hygiene procedures. If the salon’s license or the technicians’ licenses aren’t displayed or available for you to see, there’s no telling what kind of experience and/or education they have.

The Salon Feels Dirty

Check around for a general air of cleanliness. Is the floor swept, or are there piles of dirt and dust bunnies? Are the bathrooms clean and tidy, or messy and out of soap? Are dirty linens and other debris kept out of sight, or are they lying around customer areas? Is there adequate ventilation, or is the space stuffy and full of noxious fumes? How the premises are maintained can indicate a lot about the salon’s hygiene standards. It’s okay to be suspicious of any salon where the staff is eating lunch in the customer area, where spills or messes are allowed to fester, or where cleanliness just doesn’t seem like a priority. If it feels dirty, it probably is.

No Between-Customer Scrub-down

As you wait for your appointment, watch how the salon cleans up after previous customers. Water should be drained from the pedicure footbaths and hand bowls, which should be disinfected before being reused. Linens should be changed, and the whole area (including the chair) should be treated with disinfectant. The technician herself should wash her hands before and after working on a client, and it’s a good idea for customers to wash their hands before a manicure, too. Wearing masks and gloves isn’t a legal requirement, but it’s a good sign if you see salon staff taking these steps to prevent bacteria from spreading. If you witness salon staff reusing water, not taking the time to sanitize the area, or handling one customer’s feet or hands directly after handling another’s, don’t let them handle your own.

Next Page: Reusing Implements →

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