Pedicures are one of the true joys for both men and women. It is a luxurious service that is not only pampering but very health minded. In the summertime, everyone wants to sport their cute sandals and look great at the pool or beach, showing off their beautiful feet and even getting unique artwork on their nails. But is your pedicure provider safe? Many people find themselves with injuries or long lasting conditions resulting from getting pedicures, manicures or other salon services. Here are suggestions from an industry professional to learn how to choose your provider and what to expect from them.
Is it clean?
Sanitation is, first and foremost, the most important thing to look for in your salon. Do you see tools being used that have obviously been used on someone else? Do you see the pedicure chairs being washed, rinsed and cleaned with a product that will kill viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens between each client? Do you see thick filings and clippings from other clients lying on tables, floors or pedicure chairs? Please do not have services here. If your salon is touting “sterile” implements which have been autoclaved, that does not necessarily mean the salon is clean. Autoclaving instruments really does nothing in a non-sterile field. Some salons throw instruments right into the autoclave without even cleaning them first with soap and water, and the autoclave is improperly maintained. If you see nail dust covering floors and/or work surfaces, you are being exposed to anything the prior clients might be carrying. Find yourself a clean and well maintained salon, with or without an autoclave, as long as the instruments used are being correctly sanitized or they are being disposed of after each client. And don't be afraid to ask. A true professional is proud of their sanitation methods and is happy to show you the lengths to which they go to protect you.
Do we speak the same language?
No prejudice intended here at all, just an attempt to make you see how important communication is in receiving the service you want. If they can’t speak English, could the mandatory State Board Exam be passed? No, they don’t have different versions for different languages, only English. So please do give some thought to this as you choose your provider for your nails, waxing, or any other service. Do they ask you what you want, and can you communicate with them effectively to see if they do hold a license, if they are sanitizing properly, and if they understand which particular service you desire. Even something as simple as nail art requires an exchange of information. It is imperative that a clear line of communication is established.
Is your provider licensed?
In the United States, service providers in the beauty industry must hold a current license in the state in which they practice. To obtain this license, they must satisfy the educational requirements of the number of hours set forth by the state. Once that is achieved, they must take the State Board Exam. Nail salons have been tagged with bad reputations by having service providers working on clients with no license, no training, and no skills. This results in improper use of the electric file, improper sanitation, use of improper tools, illegal products being used, and so on. It is mandatory that the operator’s license be displayed in a location you can easily see. Look for it. Is it current? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The last thing you want is to be injured by unskilled, unprofessional people who don’t know what they are doing. Additionally, many services are being performed that the operator is not licensed to perform. Example, waxing. Nail licenses do not include waxing. You must be licensed as an aesthetician, or as a cosmetologist to provide waxing services. When the stick is used to pick up wax, it must not be used again to pick up more wax. This contaminates the entire pot of wax with anything that was on the skin of the person receiving the service. The heat makes a perfect environment for breeding of bacteria. Have you been burned by wax that was too hot? Have you had skin lift because an unskilled person did your service? Leave the waxing to someone who knows what they are doing and is licensed to perform this procedure. What about electric files? Have you been burned or cut by an unskilled user? These are very safe and immeasurably useful tools in the hands of a skilled user, but horrible in the hands of those who do not. Professionals who love their work constantly pay and travel to take classes to improve their level of service. Ask about classes they’ve taken, seminars they’re attended, networking events they’ve participated in and so on. They will be happy to tell you about them, and glad to show their license and other certificates of achievement.
Are illegal tools or products being used?
Have you ever had “the razor” used on your feet to remove callus? It looks like a cheese slicer and contains a razor blade. Did you know this tool is not legal in the state of Tennessee? It isn’t, and if you’ve ever seen the horrific injuries caused by these tools, you would understand why. Not only is it illegal, but how often have you seen the blade changed? Did they pull it out of a drawer and start using it? Please don’t allow this to be used on your feel. You are opening up the door to serious injury and an extremely difficult recovery. Ask before you sit down if it is used. If they say you don’t have to have it used during your service, consider this; if they disregard the law disallowing the use of this implement, what other laws might they be disregarding? If you want to purchase a tool of this nature and use it at home, that is your decision, but it should not be used in a business by anyone, professional or not. Additionally, if you have enhancements done on your nails, i.e. acrylic, many non-industry standard salons use products containing a substance called MMA. Methyl Methacrylate originated in the dental industry in making crowns and Is also used by orthopedic surgeons as a bone cement during joint replacement surgeries and other procedures. It is meant to be used in specific situations by a trained and certified individual, but was not designed to be used on skin or nails. When used in other applications the substance has been correctly cured, dried or fired,. Manufacturers of nail products are prohibited from using MMA is products, as the FDA has determined it is not safe for that purpose. It becomes much too hard, making nail injury more likely, and damage to the nail occurs many times during application as the nail needs to be “roughed up” to provide ridges and tears for adhesion. This also makes it extremely difficult or many times impossible to remove. Your nails should only be very lightly buffed prior to enhancements and only to remove the shine. No more. Please check out tools and supplies used by your provider and make sure of what is being used on you. Don’t open yourself to injury.
Do you want a fast 30 min pedicure? Or would you like an indulgent experience lasting more like an hour? Many times you can get the more indulgent, hour long treatment with premium products for little more (or maybe even the same price). If you want a quick service, tell your provider you’re rushed and how much time you have to spend. Most places allow you to choose from a menu to determine exactly what you want and the services for which you have time. Discuss it ahead of time to avoid confusion.
These are just a few points to ponder before going for your next service. You might have to pay a little more for a high quality service, but it is money that is very well spent when you have not only peace of mind that you aren’t being infected or injured, but you will be happily surprised with the level of service you receive and the care with which your service is performed. Don’t be victimized because of the lack of knowledge. Check out your salon before you have that service by calling or going in to ask questions, checking out the salon’s web page, and just doing a general look around to get a feel of the maintenance of the place. It is far better to be proactive and do a little checking ahead of time than to risk injury and the possibility of a disability in the future.
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Renee Parnell is a licensed nail technician and asthetician in her home state of Tennessee. She is a master educator for Elite Beauty Supplies, teaching classes for licensed professionals. She has received Advanced Certifications from Physicians’ Care Alliance and provides professional skin care services, skin care products, nail care, nail enhancements, professional waxing services and products, and cosmetics and cosmetic artistry at her private salon, Me Time Skin and Nail Studio (www.metimeskinandnail.com), in Ooltewah.