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Salon Safety: It's Grosser Than You Might Think

Salon Safety: It's Grosser Than You Might Think

I hope you're not eating, because I've just come across a somewhat gruesome story about salons. We already know that working in nail salons isn't so healthy and that estheticians work hard for relatively little pay. On top of that, your health could be at risk.

In Massachusetts, officials ticketed one out of four nail and hair salons for code violations. This isn't your run-of-the mill stuff, either: Some technicians were unlicensed, while other salons hadn't changed the Barbicide—you know, the bright blue disinfectant for hair tools—in more than a week. (Barbicide is supposed to be changed at least once a day.) To discover what can happen at this sort of place,


This kind of violation can lead to some pretty gross consequences. One woman talks about a throbbing in her thumb that began after a manicure. The cause? An infection from having her cuticles trimmed with dirty instruments by an unlicensed technician. Her doctor prescribed two courses of antibiotics, but a surgeon eventually had to remove her thumbnail. A year later, she's still in pain and has an incomplete, discolored nail. "It's so nauseating to look at," she says. "I have to wear a Band-Aid around it when I go out."

Ugh. This is why I usually paint my own nails. And it's not just the cheapy joints, either. Even if a place looks ritzy, it could be unclean. Don't believe me? A few years ago, I was getting a pedicure at a swanky Chicago spa-lon just off Michigan Avenue. The woman next to me was talking about how she was training for a marathon, and after looking at her feet, I believed it: She was missing a toenail, had bruised and bloody toes, and had thick, yellow nails—a sign of toenail fungus. After her pedicure, I fully expected to see the workers Lysol and perhaps incinerate the tub in which she'd been soaking her feet. Nope. They just wiped it down and brought in the next person.

Yech. Would you want to be the next person who put her feet in that tub? This is why I recommend bringing your own tools, including nail files, clippers and a plastic liner for the tub. Yeah, it's a little out of the ordinary, but a bit of prevention is worth it, wouldn't you say?


Join The Conversation
PinkiePinkie PinkiePinkie 9 years
i have my own instruments which i take to the nail salon ...
MisterPinkNoTip MisterPinkNoTip 9 years
This is why I ALWAYS do my own nails.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Wow. For a nail salon you should definitely change the barbacide more than once a day. That is so gross everyone's germs are floating around in there together.
chatnoir chatnoir 9 years
The salon my mom goes to has little boxes with everyone's personal tool in it. I saw a girl just grab and use someone elses because they were out of new boxes to offer new customers. Gross. The salon I go to just toses their nippers and files in the carry along thing and they don't make it in the barbesol. EW.. I haven't been back since I saw that.
Alisha_Stiletto Alisha_Stiletto 9 years
I go to the salon weekly, but my girls do not play. I have a box of my own stuff - including my own cuticle scissors and such. As well, they disinfect everything. Its scary how people dont take enough care in these places. Disgusting.
gigill gigill 9 years
Ewwww....I've never had a professional manicure/pedicure and this article makes me never want to get one!
lms lms 9 years
While I know some places aren't clean, I have never had a problem at any of the spas/salons that I have gone to.
cliu810 cliu810 9 years
This is so gross. Makes me so glad that I don't go to nail salons.
ames3560 ames3560 9 years
Eeek... the place I go... I can SEE them lysol and scrub the pedicure tubs. Even still... scary!
veronicaraye veronicaraye 9 years
yikes! scary
nomerz nomerz 9 years
I ONLY go to my friend Sarah who's a nail tech ... only person that I trust!
tmmkitten tmmkitten 9 years
i have never had a prof. manicure or pedicure. this is part of the reason. i have had horror stories happen to family, and i do better job than most salons. (seriously, i have people begging to know where i go. i just mix my own polish, and have a very steady hand.)
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 9 years
walmart WOULD have spas.... I do it myself!
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Wal-Mart has spas? Wow, had no idea.
Pixie462 Pixie462 9 years
I will never get a discount pedicure. My friend got one at WalMart and they pulled a big chunk out of her cuticle and there was blood gushing everywhere. Then they put her foot BACK in the whirlpool thing with blood still on it where other people put their feet. When we were at the register paying her toe was still gushing blood and she was standing in a pool of it and they wouldn't let her leave until it stopped. They didn't even offer her a refund and tried to ignore that there was a problem. I will never go there. I don't think I could get a pedicure at a place you can get your tires rotated and buy groceries at the same time anyways. I can't imagine the bacteria in places like that.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
Even if you watch them wash out the foot tub, it isn't enough. There are filters in those tubs that are supposed to be changed every week. Most places change them once a year, if at all. So all the nasty that gets caught in those filters is free to circulate once the tub is turned on again. I always do my own a microbiologist, the thought of nail salons makes my stomach churn.
omilawd omilawd 9 years
I read this article about a woman who went to get her nails done, and a few days later, she had a couple warts on her hands. She didn't think much of it until she went back to the nail salon and saw the woman who did her nails with a bunch of warts on HER hands. My friend works at a salon, so she makes sure I get cleaned instruments and stuff, but either way, a lot of stuff that happens behind the scenes is gross.
emalove emalove 9 years
At the place I go to for pedicures, they give you a box full of "nail tools" when you go. After they use them on you, they put your name on them and file them in the back. The next time you go, they get your box from the back. I think this system works well and I've always thought it seemed very sanitary.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
I've been wondering when people were going to realize how gross nail salons are. Even when you take all of your own things, there's no way they could get rid of all the bacteria and germs that's in those basins, and I hardly ever see any of them wearing gloves.
ckeller825 ckeller825 9 years
My best friend and I went to a nail salon a couple years back to get a pedicure. The salon was really nice and looked pretty clean...but to our dismay, the next day her big toenails started peeling off. It was the most disgusting thing we've ever seen. Thankfully nothing happened to my toenails, but that was the first AND last time I will ever step foot in a nail salon.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Yea, I like to just do mine at home. As much as I like getting pampered, I think some nail salons are SO gross AND a waste of money. Plus the "JUST ME" time I get when I do it is always nice :)
Pink_Lipstick Pink_Lipstick 9 years
Wow, that's gross and bizarre. I always do my nails myself and this makes me glad!
leanneluvsu leanneluvsu 9 years
I want to find a salon that isn't so gross. None of the ones I've been too puts a big effort into health.
talrocks talrocks 9 years
That is Nasty!
em1282 em1282 9 years
That is truly disgusting. I'm weird about letting other people touch my feet and hands (unless it's a massage) so I guess that quirk is a good one to have in this case. Blech!
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