After news broke that nail salons in Boston now need to comply with more stringent health regulations, we decided it was time for a refresher course on how to stay safe when you’re getting your nails done. We chatted with New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, to better understand the more critical health risks of going to your local nail place and how you can avoid them. Here are the top five things you need to know.
1. The fumes really are toxic.
There are many toxic chemicals in salons (both nail and hair, by the way) such as solvents, polishes, dyes, and glues, which can cause allergic reactions as well as respiratory problems. It’s always best to go to a salon that has good ventilation with fans and open windows to dilute the fumes.
2. Many salons don’t adequately sterilize their tools.
Bringing your own tools is, unfortunately, the only way to guarantee that you won’t leave the nail place with something other than pretty fingers. If the person before you had a fungal infection, you may develop one also, even if the tools have been cleaned. So…yuck.
3. Getting your cuticles cut is a really bad idea.
While it might seem necessary, cutting off your cuticles, even with the most sterile of tools, increases your risk of contracting both bacterial and viral infections—even the really nasty ones like herpes simplex. It’s much safer to just have your cuticles softened and pushed back.
4. Foot baths should be properly cleaned before use.
If the bath isn’t cleaned with bleach, there’s a chance that germs are swirling around the water in which your feet are soaking. Ask how the pedicure baths are cleaned and don’t be shy about requesting that your manicurist clean it in your presence if you’re worried about cleanliness (just thank her profusely and tip well afterward).
5. Gel manicures can be harmful.
These manis are set with the same UV light that can cause skin cancer. While your hands are only exposed for a short time, you have to think of the cumulative damage of repeat exposure. Always apply a broad spectrum, waterproof sunscreen with an of SPF 30 before each gel manicure.