Image via iStock.
I have a favourite anecdote about nail salon hygiene – it’s not gory or terrifying (but I do have plenty of those). It’s my favourite because it’s the first time I truly saw things from the client’s perspective.
I’ll give you a little background first – I’ve been doing nails since I was 18, for 21 years. Before that, I helped out in my stepmother’s US beauty salon from the time I was 8 years old. Sweeping hair, folding towels, wiping down tanning beds (hey, it was the ’80s), and just hanging out. As a result, I spent a lot of years in the industry taking things for granted. Of course you sanitise your implements between every client. Of course you never reuse a wooden nail file. I mean, duh!
So when I would hear about clients getting infections from a discount salon located in the local shopping centre, I would think, “Serves them right! That place is obviously a hygiene hazard! How can they not see it when they walk in??” Way to victim-blame, younger-self.
Now, here’s how I was enlightened: several years ago, when I was working in a very lovely, clean, and professional nail salon in Melbourne, a new client came in for a manicure and pedicure. We began chatting away as I performed the service. She asked me several questions about our sanitisation process and I happily walked her through the various ways we prevented client cross-contamination. She was very satisfied with our procedures and then told me that before she found us, she regularly went to discount walk-in nail bars.
She said, “One day I was waiting for my pedicure when I looked around and suddenly I was seeing everything clearly. The pedicure spa-basins were simply being sprayed with Ajax. The table-towels weren’t being changed between clients. Steel cuticle nippers and pushers were just being wiped with alcohol. I was horrified! How had I not noticed this before? I’m an infectious disease specialist! I should know better! And I have a compromised immune system!” This client was in her third trimester of pregnancy. WATCH: DIY Zebra nails. (Post continues after video.)