Nail Salons: Is Your Manicure Worth the Risk?
Getting your nails done doesn’t seem like a risky thing to do. In fact, it feels more like a treat than anything. Many women visit nail salons at least twice a month to get their bi-monthly manicure, pedicure, or other procedure such as a wax or eyebrow thread. Ladies get to relax, sit on a massage chair, have their arms and legs massaged, and their nails painted a lovely shade of OPI or China Glaze. Besides the occasional cuticle pull and confusing banter between nail techs, getting pampered twice a month never seems like something to stir concern over…. Right?
A Hub for Microbes
Unfortunately for frequent salon go-ers, getting your nails done may be more hazardous than you think. According to Dr. Robert Spalding, podiatrist and author of “Death By Pedicure,” about 75% of salons in the US do not follow sanitation protocol. That means that those nail clippers, drills, and even foot scrubs are not cleansed and sterilized properly after each person comes in contact with them. According to Huffington Post, tools like nail files and other commonly disposable tools should be discarded after EVERY use. Sadly, you’re probably having your nails filed with a tool used multiple times. Nasty, huh?
Totalbeauty.com quoted Spalding’s disturbing input, including that some of the disinfecting products are actually swapped out to reduce costs, like replacing Barbicide (that blue disinfectant liquid) with Windex. Kind of crazy to think that those nail clippers are being “washed” in the same stuff that you clean your windows with.
Even if the correct product is used, US News reports that the treatment is only effective after 20 minutes of soaking, and even then, the cleaning products may not be 100% effective in killing all viruses and bacteria. In the off that chance that you could be exposed directly due to a hefty cuticle clip that results in tears in the skin or an open wound, totalbeauty.com’s states that the nail tech’s generally aren’t trained/licensed to “work in the presence of blood,” so they probably won’t follow the correct preventative strategies. Exposing yourself to such unsanitary environments can unfortunately put you at risk for contracting a multitude of infections, some of which being: Hepatitis, MRSA, fungal infections, athlete’s foot, and HIV.
A Cloud Of Toxins
Ever heard someone tell you there’s a reason nail tech’s wear safety masks when applying nail color and acrylics? Well, there definitely is. According to US Department of Labor, over 10 toxic chemicals fill the chambers of each nail salon. That nail polish remover contains acetone, butyl acetate, ethyl acetate and isopropyl acetate, all of which combined are linked to irritated eyes, nose and throat, sleepiness, headaches, and dizziness.
Those fake nails contain ethyl methacrylate, which can be the cause of asthma and possible pregnancy complications. In some states, some artificial nails may even contain methyl methacrylate, which is highly toxic and illegal in most of the country. Lastly, the ever-so popular nail polishes contain ridiculous amounts of harmful chemicals, some of which including: formaldehyde (possible cause for allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, and even cancer), dibutyl phthalate (can cause serious problems after long term exposure), and toluene (which can cause damage to the kidneys and the liver).
What You Can Do
You can only find out so much from one visit to a salon, and you can only get as invasive as possible. But, there are some precautions and easy look-outs that you can take on to scope out your future mani-pedi spot in order to prevent risk. First, definitely check out some online reviews before stepping through those doors. Once there, make sure that your future nail tech is certified, the venue is clean, the tools they use are properly sanitized, or even bring in your own tools for extra protection. Also, keeping a watchful eye at all times for sanitary workplace and hygienic practice from the nail techs will make you more apt to identify what is and is not okay.
Your health should definitely trump nail color in your list of priorities. Don’t let one common hobby become the source of a serious infection.