First and foremost, it's a fact that not all nail salons and spas are created equal. They may look the same on the inside or outside, have employees with the same salary, and charge the same prices, but there are major differences. Think of the restaurants in your town - at least one of them probably has (or has had) a failing health inspection score that you're blissfully unaware of as you scarf down that plate of spaghetti you've eaten many times before. Well, the same holds true with nails salons and spas. You won't catch salmonella or see a health inspection score posted when you walk in, but there are standards that these places must hold up in order to safely serve their clients.
When going to a salon for a manicure or pedicure, be observant of the staff and your surroundings. After the completion of a pedicure, make sure the foot bath was drained and thoroughly cleaned using an anti-bacterial solution. Watch the employee to ensure that the bath was not just effortlessly wiped down, but scrubbed with a brush and cleaner. As luxurious and comforting as those warm foot baths may seem, they are an ideal residence for many types of bacteria when not cleaned properly. Not only do these footbaths harbor such infectious bacteria, but they also contain hair and skin pieces from previous clients. One reputable salon in California was shut down when women began experiencing large, painful boils on their legs after receiving a pedicure. This was found to be due to improper sanitation of the footbaths. With manicures, the instruments used (tweezers, nail files, cuticle sticks, etc.) should be soaked in a sanitizer to prevent the spread of germs from one client to the next. If a client is nicked during a manicure, it provides an entry for harmful bacteria and can be very dangerous if the salon fails to properly sanitize their equipment.
In addition to thoroughly cleaning their tools, manicurists should also ensure their workstation is properly cleaned between clients. This means that clean paper towels and a cleaning solution (such as Lysol or Clorox) should be used to wipe down the work area to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
Before you go get your next manicure or pedicure, there are some tips to follow to protect yourself. Ask around about the salon or spa you plan to visit and see if there any complaints about the service. Once you're there, ask to see the manicurist's license and look for disinfectant containers - be sure the solution is fresh and not old. It's perfectly acceptable to bring your own manicure tools, just to stay on the safe side.