- REUTERS/Erik De Castro
- Insider spoke with a manicurist and uncovered red flags people should be aware of when stepping into a nail salon.
- Clients should leave a nail salon that doesn’t follow government agencies’ guidelines for disinfecting foot spas and other tools.
- It’s also a red flag if salon workers dip clients’ nails in the same container of “dip” manicure powder, which can be unsanitary.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Insider interviewed Mabelyn Martin, the creative director at New York City-based Paintbox nail salon, who shared a few red flags that may indicate that you’re at a bad salon, from using drills to remove all types of nail polish, to using products containing certain toxic ingredients.
Keep reading for the warning signs that can indicate a bad nail salon.
Make sure the salon’s foot spas are disinfected between clients: not doing so can pose sanitary concerns
Customers should be aware of nail salon sanitation guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Foot spas at nail salons should be disinfected between each customer, as well as nightly, according to the EPA and CDC. The government agencies also recommend clients ask salon workers how frequently the foot tub is cleaned and the type of disinfectant used.
“The disinfectant needs to work for the full time listed on its label, typically 10 minutes, depending on the type of disinfectant,” according to a report from the EPA and CDC.
Martin said clients should speak up if they have a question about how tools have been sanitized at a salon.
“Clients should not feel bad asking about salon cleaning procedures or double-checking if something has been sanitized,” she said.
Watch to see if the salon uses drills to remove all types of nail polish
- Cristian Dina/Shutterstock
Martin also said that manicurists should only use drills to remove clients’ hard gel polish or acrylic nails. Using a drill to remove soft gel or regular nail polish can result in major nail damage.
“Hands-down, never let a manicurist remove soft gel polish with a drill. It’s more of a time-related thing for [salons] because not all salons want to allot 30 minutes to having the client soak their nails in polish remover to gently and properly remove the gel polish,” Martin said. “If you know you don’t have acrylic nails and someone is using a drill to remove your polish, that’s not a salon I would go back to.”
Martin said she recommends politely asking the manicurist to opt for the gentler method, meaning having your nails covered with cotton pads soaked in polish remover and wrapped in aluminum foil for about 30 minutes.
“If they insist on using the drill, though, I would not stay at that salon,” she said.
Check to see whether manicure and pedicure stations are clad with dirty tools
Martin said clients should not hesitate to express concerns about not only the methods nail technicians are using, but also how the salon cleans its tools. However, she said if cleanliness is an obvious issue, it might be best to leave the salon.
“If it’s so bad that you have to ask, go with your gut feeling that it’s probably not a salon you should stay at,” she said.
See whether your salon is making an effort to avoid products with toxic chemicals
The US Department of Labor advises nail salons to avoid products that contain a trio of hazardous ingredients – toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phlalate – as these can be damaging to both salon workers, who are surrounded by the products on a regular basis, as well as clients. “Whenever possible, [nail salons should] use less hazardous products,” it says.
Martin also stressed the importance of avoiding nail polish and products like nail strengtheners that contain hazardous chemicals, especially formaldehyde, which can cause severe nail damage and dryness.
She suggested that concerned clients should bring their own polish that is labeled as three-free, five-free, seven-free, or so on – which means they’re free of a certain number of potentially harmful chemicals. Clients should also feel empowered to ask about the ingredients in salon products if they’re concerned, she said.
“I wish more people were paying attention to what’s in their nail polishes, because you absorb anything you put on your nails,” she said.
Be wary of nail salons that use the same container of powder for clients getting “dip” manicures
Powder manicures, also called “dip” manicures, have become a popular option for those who love having their nails painted, but want a manicure that is longer-lasting and more resistant to chipping than gel polish.
- Neal Bryant/Shutterstock
In a previous interview with Insider, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Dana Stern said nail salons should practice sanitary methods for applying powder manicures by “either pouring the powder onto the nail, painting the powder on, or dipping the nail into individual disposable containers of powder.”
Nail salons that dip each client’s nails into the same container of powder can create sanitary concerns.
“If someone has some type of infection and they stick it in the powder and it stays there, and you’re coming 30 minutes later and using the same canister, and you stick your finger in there, there’s a chance [of infection],” Zaiac told NBC 6.
- Read more:
- A manicurist reveals the 7 biggest mistakes you’re making with your nails
- There’s one red flag you should watch out for at a hair salon, according to a hairdresser
- 9 surprising things that are ruining your manicure
- 5 signs you’re washing your hair too much – even if you don’t think you are