Scary Truths You Need To Know About Manicures

Aly Walansky
Nail Salon

Image via E+

Choosing the wrong polish shade isn’t the only danger when visiting the salon for a manicure. Just like any salon you go into (waxing, hair or otherwise) you should always be on the lookout for cleanliness when it comes to your nails – potential for infection could await if the salon you go to doesn’t properly take care of their equipment, and you. Below we talked to some experts in regards to certain scary truths that you need to know when getting a manicure, so now you can be safe  and avoid potential dangers at the salon.

Say no to cutting cuticles:
It’s actually illegal in some states – including New York (see nail licensing examination documentation) –  to cut cuticles; it’s considered a surgical procedure. “Cuticles should be pushed back only – you can train your cuticles to stay back by pushing them with your finger out of the shower. Cuticles are necessary to protect your nails and keep them healthy,” says celebrity manicurist Pattie Yankee.

MORE: Nail Art: Everything You Need to Know for Gorgeous Nail Designs

Beware toxic chemicals:
“Toxic chemicals are used at nail salons. Several of them are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which you can be easily inhaled because they evaporate quickly,” says Dr. Luz Claudio,  an environmental health scientist in preventive medicine. The vapors can cause asthma, headaches and other problems. Most of the concern with these chemicals has been focused on people who work in nail salons, but customers do get some exposure from visiting the salons regularly.

Sterilization of tools:
These days most nail salons are ripping open sterilization packages and taking out their implements (cuticle nipper, nail clipper and cuticle pusher). What most people don’t know is that just because it is in a sterilization pouch, doesn’t mean it was sterilized! “The sterilization pouches can easily be purchased from any supplier and tools can be sealed in them without having been sterilized. The way to know if your tools are sterilized is to check the pouch’s indicator strip,” says  President and Founder of Bellacures, Samira Far. Using the same file on more than one person is like sharing a toothbrush – it needs to be disinfected in between each use or one file per client. If you see any disposable products that have nail polish, dents or staining, this means they were previously used.

“If you don’t wash tools before they go into a disinfectant solution – excess skin and debris has to be scrubbed off,” says Yankee. Yes, SKIN. If not, the whole liquid will be contaminated. Similarly, if it’s not rinsed after taking out of the solution, it can an allergic reaction.

MORE: Fake It Until You Make It: The Perfect Manicure

Whirlpool spas:
Often, manicurists will spray a few sprays and wipe down a spa chair’s foot tub in preparation for you. However, the real bacteria doesn’t come from what’s sitting on top of the bowl, it comes from what’s stuck in the pipes and drains. “Particles of skin, nail clippings, hair and other feet mildew gathers in the pipes of the jacuzzi spa chair and the water that is being pumped out is pumping out bacteria infested water. One tiny cut on your foot or recently shaved skin, can lead to an infection,” says Far. Using removable and disposable plastic inserts is a great way to make sure the water is clean and bacteria-free!

Callus files:
When scrubbing the bottom of your feet, pay attention to what your manicurist is using. Is it a pumice stone? A rock? Another kind of stone? A drill? Be careful! Reusing a callus file can lead to skin infections when sharing tools. Be sure you are receiving a brand new tool that is scrubbing the dead skin off the bottom of your feet.

Pumice stones:
Think they feel awesome? Think again. Pumice stone can’t be disinfected because they are porous – harbors a ton of bacteria.

Avoid the Credo:
Credo knives are also illegal in many places – not only that, but you’re actually not doing your skin a favor by getting this done.”Your skin will grow back thicker as it is building up scar tissue. As a tip to keep feet in top form, buy a buffer block to use at home and first use dry, outside the shower, then wet in the shower – double duty!” says Yankee.