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How to Find a Safe Nail Salon Part 1

You want to get your nails done and you want to be sure that the salon you are going to is a safe place to be. You google nail salon near me and have options, what are some things you can look for or do to make sure your hands, nails, and feet are safe in that space? Over the next few weeks let’s take a look at a few basic check points you can see with a quick salon tour before you make an appointment, then delve into some things to watch out for during an appointment!

Safety Step 1 The Tour

Call and request a tour and consultation. This is not too much to ask of a quality salon. If you are met with push back, that is a red flag. A safe salon is going to be excited about the opportunity to show you how they keep you safe, educate you about the standard of nail professionals they employ, and the standard of care they offer, whether it is a one person or twenty person enterprise. Have a small check list, with some questions to check off, during the tour and consultation to make sure everything gets covered. In the COVID climate be prepared to wear a mask and be respectful of time constraints and social distancing to other clients in the salon.

Safety Step 2 Sanitation/Disinfection/Sterilization

First you as a client should know the difference between these words when used in the salon so that someone speaking them to you can’t impress you by using them improperly.

Sanitation is cleaning with soap and water or other detergent (FYI every tool should be sanitized before going into the disinfectant or sterilization process!!). This means when someone is working on you at the nail table the tools should NOT be going straight into or coming straight out of a blue liquid. As soon as a used tool goes straight into the disinfection liquid without being cleansed first, the liquid is contaminated and no longer disinfecting the tools.

Disinfection is fully submerging all surfaces of a tool to kill 99.9% of all organisms (not just the tip) and the liquids can be rated high, intermediate and low level. The common blue liquid seen in most salons, while acceptable by state boards is a low level disinfectant, it must be dumped and refreshed daily. Look to be sure nothing is floating in it, as any debris is an indication that it is contaminated and not disinfecting the tools.

Disinfectant I found in a salon with floating debris and a fly!
Disinfectant I found in a salon with floating debris and a fly!
  • High-level disinfection kills all organisms except spores. High-level disinfectants are marketed as chemical sterilants (also called sporicides) and are regulated by the FDA.

  • Intermediate-level disinfection, according to the CDC, kills mycobacteria, most viruses, and bacteria. These disinfectants are EPA-registered and marketed as tuberculocidal.

  • Low-level disinfection kills many viruses and bacteria including all those that are common salon problems. These disinfectants are registered as “hospital-level” by the EPA.

Ask to see the disinfection process, if the salon chooses to use disinfection. This is a very effective method of cleaning the tools and provides safety when used properly. Here are the steps you should look for:

  1. The tools sanitized or cleaned with soap and water or other detergent method

  2. The tools rinsed and dried

  3. The tools fully submerged in the disinfectant liquid for the time allotted on the manufacturer’s instructions.

  4. The tools rinsed, dried, then stored in a labeled drawer or container.

Sterilization kills all microbial life. Please note that a box with a light in it is not usually sufficient sterilization in a salon setting as the light cannot reach all the surfaces it would need to in order to sterilize them. If a salon is going to claim sterilization, ask to see an autoclave and how it is used. Another item on your checklist should be how often they test the autoclave and the records kept of the testing, it should have spore tests performed weekly.

Safety Step 3 Clean Hands

Decide ahead of time what your personal preference is going to be when it comes to the PPE of the nail professional. Do you prefer for them to wear gloves or is it ok with you if the state/salon does not have a glove policy. If they do wear gloves make sure they are putting on a clean pair for you, if they’re not wearing gloves, make sure they’re washing their hands before doing your nails. You should also be asked to wash your hands before sitting down to receive your service no matter what. Be concerned about a salon that does not ask you to wash your hands before sitting down as this means everyone before you has not washed their hands.

Safety Step 4 Clean Surfaces

Since the spread of the pandemic there has been an increase in cleaning protocols, you know what they say about assuming though so ask what is done to clean between clients. At least the table surfaces should be wiped down. Ideally so should the chair you are sitting in and anything you would touch. If you are going to get a gel polish service, ask if the lamps are wiped between clients and how.

I will give you time to process this much before we delve into what to look for at actual appointments on the blog next week. Professional nail appointments can be safe, clean, healthy experiences if you choose to go to the right nail professional. My hope is that at the end of this blog series you will have the Salon Safety Steps to look up "nail salons near me", make that choice with confidence, and love your experience every time!

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