Among nail techs they have a lot of names. McNails is one of the more colorful; Chop Shops is one of the more accurate. You know the places I'm talking about, they're in every mall, have prices lower than a fast food restaurant, and air so thick with monomer vapor you get a high, or a headache, as soon as you walk in the door.
You'll never hear a good tech call them that though. Those are the names we use in the break room, or on the industry forums. For you, our clients, we call them Non-Standard Salons, or NSS, because to do otherwise would be unprofessional, and just not nice.
We hate those places though, and we can tell you've been to one as soon as we glimpse your fingers at our tables. We crusade against them, making sure you understand the damage that has been done to your nail plate, and the potential harm they can cause. Yet people still go, lured by the low cost of services, and the walk-in convenience.
I think at times when I talk to my clients about non-standard salons, their eyes gloss over, and I can't help but wonder if the terminology is partly to blame. What is non-standard, what does it mean? Non-standard prices? Non-standard employees? Perhaps all of us nail techs are just upset that they're stealing our business, and the fuss is just a way to try and get you to pay higher prices for the same product. What makes non-standard such a bad thing?
Non-standard, as it applies to nail salons, means that the salon in question does not conform to industry (and sometimes even state) standards for service and sanitation.
Sanitation is important, it's what keeps you from getting sick. How would you feel about a doctor who didn't wash his hands? Would you return to a doctor who re-used tongue depressors on different patients? No? So why go to a nail salon that doesn't wash and disinfect its tools, or uses the same nail file on ten or more people?
State and industry standards require that all reusable tools get scrubbed with soap and water, and then disinfected in a solution designed to kill any remaining microorganisms before they are used on another person. Items that can't be washed and soaked (files, wooden pushers, buffers, etc.) are to be thrown away after a single use. So here, non-standard means dirty, unwashed, used tools, and microorganisms. Sounds yummy, doesn't it?
Now I can hear you saying, "But Anne, it's just my nails. How bad can it really be?" The answer is bad. Really, really BAD. When I say microorganisms, what I mean is contagious pathogens: bacteria, fungal spores, and viruses, all of which can live, multiply, and be transmitted through your hands and nails. Does that sound extremely icky yet? Just in case it doesn't, let me continue.
The most common of these transmitted microorganisms is what people commonly refer to as a nail fungus or mold, but is actually a bacterial infection. At the NSS they will tell you that it's caused by moisture trapped under an enhancement, and they will tell you that they can treat it with an over the counter anti fungal treatment. In reality, it's an infection, spread by the use of dirty tools, that can only be properly treated by a doctor. It might clear up on its own (depending on the strength of your immune system), or it could rage out of control without prescribed antibiotics. If you develop dark brown, green, or black spots on your nails, please consult your physician. Only he, or she, can tell you how serious the condition is, and prescribe the proper medications to alleviate it.
These types of nail infections are the most common problem found at an NSS, but not even close to the most dangerous. As all nail students are currently learning in school: In 2006 a salon in California transmitted a bacterial skin infection to over 100 clients through the use of contaminated foot spas. This infection cased permanent scarring on the legs of most of the people infected, and even resulted in a few deaths.
That's right, deaths. From a pedicure. We're quickly progressing from gross to scary, and I'm not done yet.
I recently had a young friend come to me for enhancements. While I sculpted some beautiful acrylics for her, she kept marveling over the fact that I wasn't hurting her, which caused me to ask about her previous experiences with nail services. She told me about going to the mall to have a manicure, and leaving the salon with her hands bleeding in several spots. She believed it was normal, and in case you do too, let me clarify that it's not! You should never bleed during a nail service, and if a nail tech accidentally draws blood, all services should be stopped, the service area and tools should be cleaned and disinfected, and the cut should be cleaned and covered before the tech decides if he or she can proceed safely. In this day and age, with blood borne pathogens like HIV and hepatitis C, is it even necessary to explain why?
So Non-Standard Salon is really just another way of saying Not Safe Salon, and now is the point where you have to ask yourself is it really worth it? The money you save is money spent on disinfectant, and new files in a better salon. It's money invested in nail technicians who are certified to use an e-file safely, or forego it and instead use hand files to prevent harming your nail plate. The time you spend making an appointment, because a better salon doesn't take walk-ins, is time you can spend reassuring yourself that you made the right choice for your health, and knowing that the salon doesn't have time for walk-ins because they're booked solid with repeat customers who are totally satisfied with their healthy (non-bloody) hands, feet, and nails.
Now the next time you sit down at my table, and I see the rings of fire on your nails from where the nail tech at the local Not Safe Salon dug into your nail plate with their file, please understand that the friendly lecture I'm about to give you is not done out of a desire to pad my pockets with your money. It's because I care about you. I care about your beautiful hands, your beautiful family, and your wonderful life. I don't want you to be a case file in a nail school text book. I don't want to add your story to my next cautionary tale. You don't have to come to me, but please, go some place where they'll give you the care you deserve!
You only get one body, protect it as if your life depended on it!
TrackbacksTrackback specific URI for this entry
This link is not meant to be clicked. It contains the trackback URI for this entry. You can use this URI to send ping- & trackbacks from your own blog to this entry. To copy the link, right click and select "Copy Shortcut" in Internet Explorer or "Copy Link Location" in Mozilla.