Tips for a Safe and Long Lasting Manicure
A trip to the nail salon should be an occasion to sit back, relax and pamper yourself. However, you need to be aware that without proper vigilance, you can be exposed to quite a range of hazards, even in the most attractive and inviting-looking spas. Before you walk through the doors, you should be aware of what to look for, in order to be sure of a safe manicure.
One of the most common health hazards in a nail salon is infection, fungal, viral and bacterial. Research has shown that it’s by no means uncommon for even serious infections, like E.coli and hepatitis, to be transmitted between clients in a salon. This happens when manicure instruments aren’t properly sterilized.
- Paronychia is an infection round the nail, causing red, swollen skin. It’s usually caused by excessive cutting of the cuticle, or use of infected instruments.
- Warts are caused by the contagious HPV or human papilloma virus. This spreads from one person to another if the virus makes contact with a break in the skin. Warts can be spread if the manicurist uses the same pumice stone for more than one client.
- Fungal nail infections spread through contaminated or inadequately cleaned instruments, or if a manicurist’s hands have not been sanitized between treatments.
Another obstacle to a safe manicure is the fact that nail salons routinely use a wide range of chemicals, which pose a risk to health.
- Nail polish remover largely consists of harsh acetone.
- Pots of new colors contain dangerous organic solvents.
- Primers contain methacrylic acid.
- Nail hardeners contain a wide range of chemicals, including formaldehyde and acetate.
Many of these chemicals can cause contact allergies — not only round the nail, but over the face and neck. Similarly, some ingredients can irritate the nail, and sometimes cause it to separate from the nail bed. The chemicals can also dry out the nails and make them brittle.
Acrylic and Gel Nail Treatments
These new styles of nail treatment are becoming hugely popular, but they can leave clients vulnerable to rashes, skin infections and even skin cancer. Acrylic nails are false attached to natural nails with acrylic glue, but can only be removed through aggressive scraping and filing. This can lead to permanent damage.
Gel manicures involve a colored gel being applied to the nail and hardened under UV light. It is then removed with acetone a few weeks later. There have been cases of clients developing skin cancer through the exposure to UV light.
How to Ensure a Safe Manicure
Nobody wants you to stop going to the nail spa. But there are steps you need to take to ensure a safe manicure.
- Check for a license. It’s compulsory for both the establishment, and each individual manicurist, to have a license from the State Board of Cosmetology, and the licenses must be prominently displayed.
- Most experts advise taking your own manicure instruments. These must be thoroughly cleaned after each treatment.
- If you don’t take your own, check the procedures for sterilizing instruments between treatments — preferably in an autoclave.
- Check the cleanliness of the salon, and ensure the manicurists sanitize their hands between treatments, or even better, wear latex gloves, with a new pair for each treatment.
- If going for a gel manicure, use a broad spectrum sunblock on your hands, or try to find a salon which uses LED lights for drying instead of UV lights.
If you encounter a salon where adequate cleanliness is not practiced, don’t be afraid to suggest to the owner what should change. If things don’t change, or if you develop an infection or other condition from a manicure, report it to your state Cosmetology Board. Speaking out may make you feel awkward, but ensuring a safe manicure for yourself and others makes it more than worthwhile.