We know you love to give your nails the TLC they deserve. But as enjoyable as it is to have the occasional mani-pedi, nail salons can harbour some gnarly germs and bacteria. If customers aren’t careful, they could walk out with a lot more than just a fresh coat of Coral. Before you turn your fingers and toes over to a nail technician, watch out for these signs of a not-so-sanitary salon.

The Salon Feels Dirty
Check around for a general air of cleanliness. Is the floor swept, or are there piles of dirt and dust bunnies? Are the bathrooms clean and tidy, or messy and out of soap? Are dirty linens and other debris kept out of sight, or are they lying around customer areas? Is there adequate ventilation, or is the space stuffy and full of noxious fumes? How the premises are maintained can indicate a lot about the salon’s hygiene standards.

No Between-Customer Scrub-down
As you wait for your appointment, watch how the salon cleans up after previous customers. Water should be drained from the pedicure footbaths and hand bowls, which should be disinfected before being reused. Linens should be changed, and the whole area (including the chair) should be treated with disinfectant. The technician herself should wash her hands before and after working on a client, and it’s a good idea for customers to wash their hands before a manicure, too.

Reusing Implements
Everything that touches your hands or feet should be either sterilised or brand-new. Salons should at least soak their implements in a germicidal solution, and it’s even better if they use an autoclave, an appliance that destroys germs with heat. Drill bits, some files, pumice stones, scissors, and clippers should never be used on two clients in a row; they should either be dipped in a tuberculocidal solution for ten minutes or heated in an autoclave between uses. Since they can’t be disinfected completely, porous implements, such as emery boards, orange sticks, and toe separators, should be discarded after use.

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