With nail salon regulations not being strictly enforced, some women may go into nail salons seeking beauty and leave with potentially life-threatening infections.
According to a local dermatologist, if you get a break in the surface of the skin, whether on the hands or feet, and there are unsanitary conditions at the nail salon, there would be potential for infectious agents such as bacteria, fungus or virus. There are many ways that infectious agents could get through the surface of your skin if you have a cut. For example, when you get a pedicure and they give you a foot bath: If that water was contaminated with bacteria or if the same thing is true with the instruments, you can get an infection.
To prevent the spread of disease, there are a few precautions that should be taken. According to the New York State Division of Licensing Services of Appearance Enhancement, utensils should be sanitized in between customers, using a hospital-grade disinfectant such as an autoclave. Finger bowls and footbaths should be washed after each client.
“Nails are a part of your body and if people want to care for them, nail salons should be just as sanitary as when you go to the doctor’s office,” says Commack High School sophomore Rachel Siegal.
After visiting three Commack nail salons, it was visible that none seemingly followed state regulations while there.
At one Commack nail salon located on Larkfield Road, it had been obvious that the emery board, which is used for filing nails, had been used at least once, if not several times before. After using it, they placed it back in the drawer to be used again. This disregards the health code which states that the reuse of emery boards is prohibited. They then used the same foot file on one customer and then on the customer sitting next to them immediately after the first pedicure. In addition to this, the nail salon kept the cotton balls in a dusty drawer instead of a closed container or sealed bag as mandated by New York State.
Another Commack nail salon located on Commack Road failed to follow state guidelines. They, too, reused emery boards. While they used a sterilizer, they would only leave the supplies in it until needed for the next customer, regardless of whether it had been in long enough. Supplies need to be left in these disinfectants for a minimum of 10 minutes in order to be sterilized.
The third Commack nail salon, also located on Larkfield Road, ignored certain regulations determined by New York State as well. Several customers came in and out before the footbaths were cleaned. Footbaths are supposed to be cleaned between each client.
These unsanitary practices may persist because there are too few inspections carried out. Without regular inspections, many nail salons are able to get away with being lazy by not following the practices expected of them.
“There is just not enough people coming in to check [that rules and regulations are being carried out],” says area nail technician Linda Haddad. “I’ve been in the business for 30 years and I have never seen a state inspector come in and check, and they are the people designated to do these things. Also, the general public themselves have to ask questions and use common sense to make sure things are clean. So it is a combination of, No. 1, not enough state inspections, and two, the general public not questioning whether the supplies are clean.”
Customers should be entitled to sanitary treatment that does not put their health at risk. Inspections would help enforce these guidelines so that those who do go to nail salons do not contract any diseases or infections.
“They should inspect nail salons more often because you can get infections if the place doesn’t keep stuff clean. I know family members who have gotten infections from nail salons,” says sophomore Brooke Halloran.
Customers can protect themselves by being aware of what to look out for in nail salons. By failing to see whether or not the practices of their nail salon go against those mandated by the state, they are putting themselves at risk.
“If I’d known more about the regulations I would’ve reconsidered going to nail salons,” says senior Marissa Levy.
In order to reduce the chance of infection people have the option of purchasing their own supplies, such as the “Mini Professional Manicure Set,” available at Target for $12.99. People may bring this purchased set with them to the nail salon and request that the nail technician use the new supplies.