After a long week at work, before a big event, or just because, millions of women visit nail salons to relax and feel pampered. But there is more to worry about than what color you are going to choose. Take it from an expert, Podiatrist Dr. Robert Spalding, author of “Death by Pedicure,” says that “at this time, an estimated one million unsuspecting clients walk out of their chosen salon with infections — bacterial, viral and fungal.” Look out for your safety and educate yourself on the proper procedures manicurists should be following to protect yourself. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, if they have nothing to hide, they won’t mind truthfully answering.
First you need to understand that running a nail salon is a business, and they won’t turn down a paying customer. Why is this important for you? Because the person who they last treated or is sitting next to you may have nail infections, foot fungus, or be sick. One of the biggest risks to you is the transferring of infection from client to client. How can this be avoided? By making sure that the nail salons tools are properly sterilized after each individual use.
To spot if this procedure is followed, look for a UV light sterilizer box. After each use, the tools that were just used on you should be placed in this device for five minuets to thoroughly kill harmful bacteria. Tools should also be sealed in plastic pouches that should be opened for the first time after sterilization IN FRONT OF YOU. This way you can be sure your tools are bacteria free.
Because sterilizers can only treat metal tools, this means that tools like pumice stones, emery boards, nail files, toe separators and buffers can’t be sterilized and need to be swapped after every use. Look to see if there is any white residue on the nail file, if there is, it has been used before. The best thing you can do if your favorite spot may be skimping on safety is to bring your own tool kit, that way you can sterilize the tools yourself and you know they have only been used on you.
Watch out for those whirlpool footbaths. They are very hard to clean and although most salons do disinfect before each use, some only rinse these tubs, which are harboring many types of bacteria. Ask salons if they disinfect and with what, or watch the process yourself.
Don’t be deceived! Some salons will fill expensive lotion bottles with cheap and generic lotion. They look like they are using the top products, and still charging you for it, when in fact you aren’t getting your money’s worth. Salons may also water down their nail polish bottles that have started to become clumpy or dried out, with acetone. This causes the quality of the polish to diminish greatly, which means your new manicure will chip easily. It is always safer to just bring your own color.
Salons may also try to hide costs from you. They aren’t always up front with extra fees, trying to get away with charging you more for a strengthening top coat, or long lasting base coat. A trust worthy salon will spell out all possible costs on their menu.
To shave or not to shave? Before a pedicure, don’t. The pedicurists do not care if you have some stubble on your legs- they have seen worse. By shaving before a pedicure you are only making your legs more prone to possible infections because your freshly shaved legs may have tiny open nicks you cannot see, and your pores are open and more susceptible to infections.
Not sure whether or not to opt for the callous removal your salon always seems to recommend. Consider this before you say yes- remember that there is an additional service charge. If you are an athlete you are going to want to say no. As an athlete the calluses on your feet will help your performance, and are important. If you do choose to get them removed make sure you choose scrubbing or a chemical remover. By having the pedicurists shave or cut them off, the calluses will grow back even thicker than before.
What I hope you learned is to not be afraid to ask questions: how do they sanitize their foot tubs, are their tools sterilized, will that cost extra, etc. When in doubt bring in your nail polish color and tools to ensure the safest treatment. Your health should be your priority. Don’t take any chances.
For even more information check out this video about nail salons from this Dr. Oz video.