Santa Cruz Sentinel

November 12, 2000

Nail-salon infections: Customerís guide to salons

Sentinel staff writer

Customers have to use their heads when visiting nail salons or any other grooming establishment, beauty professionals said.

"A lot of people are afraid to ask questions, but itís your right to go in and ask for a clean instrument. Itís your right to ask for a clean drill," said Karen Dyck, a local member of the California Cosmetology Association. "You should be as careful as going to a doctor or a surgeon."

Manicures and pedicures should not hurt or be uncomfortable.

Hereís what to look for in a nail salon:

The shopís establishment license from the state Bureau of Barbering and Cosmetology and a poster of the bureauís Health and Safety Rules displayed prominently, usually in the waiting area. The posted license must be the original, not a photocopy.

If itís not posted for all to see, just walk away, state officials recommend

  • Each manicurist also must have an individual license from the state Bureau of Barbering and Cosmetology in full view. To get that license, he or she must be at least 17 years old and have completed an approved course involving at least 400 hours of training.
  • Manicurists should wash their hands with soap before each touching a clientís hands, and should ask each client to wash their hands before the service.
  • Manicurists should lay a clean towel over their stations for every client. Pedicure clients also should get clean towels to rest their feet on, and whirlpools should be disinfected after each use.
  • All instruments, including files and buffers, should be washed in soapy water after each client and fully immersed in a disinfectant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for at least 10 minutes. Soiled instruments must be stored separately from clean instruments in labeled receptacles.
  • Instruments and supplies that cannot be disinfected, such as orange sticks and the sponges placed between the toes, should be thrown away immediately after use.
  • Never allow anyone to use a credo blade to cut away calluses on your heel or anywhere else. The blades are strictly illegal in California salons. Callus buffers must be cleaned and disinfected like other instruments.
  • The use of drills on the cuticles is legal, but cutting the skin is not. Manicures and pedicures should not be painful or leave your cuticles bloody and swollen. Drill bits should be cleaned after each client.
  • Containers should be clearly marked with the contents.
  • There should be adequate ventilation to remove fumes caused by nail products.
  • You have the right to get clear answers to your questions about procedures, materials being used and their contents.

ó Trina Kleist

Customer beware
For more information on the skin disease, call the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency at 454-4481 or see their Web site at

  • For information on what to look for in a nail salon, see the state Department of Consumer Affairs Web site at Click on the consumer guide button in the middle of the page.
  • To file a complaint, call Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210 or go to the complaints page at its Web site.

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