Nail salon safety tips

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You're at the nail salon, getting pampered, loving your life.  So, what should you be looking for when it comes to your safety?

"Actually, you have to watch everything they're actually doing,” says Gina Morgan, an instructor at the

Elaine Sterling Institute in Atlanta.

Here, they teach budding nail technicians to be vigilant about infection control.

Hand washing before a manicure is a must for both the nail technician and the client.

"That is very important, that they wash their hands before they sit down and that the nail technician was their hands as well,” says Morgan. “That's just to keep from transferring any bacteria."

For pedicures, your nail technician should be wearing disposable latex gloves.  

And Morgan says tools should be properly sterilized. 

At Elaine Sterling Institute, she says, they use a high-pressure steam sterilizer called an autoclave to kill germs on metal tools like nail clippers and nippers. 

Morgan says your nail technician should be using tools that come sealed in a shrink-wrapped plastic bag.

"If they have them in a plastic container, or a plastic bag, that means they've been autoclaved,” she says. “And if they've been autoclaved, the bag should be distorted in some sort of fashion."

Morgan says some of the implements like single-use nail files and pedicure tub liners can’t be disinfected.

“And, if they cannot be disinfected, they have to be discarded,” she says. “You cannot continue to keep using them."

Most salons will let you bring in your own tools, which may be your safest bet.

And if you have a cut or a fungal infection, put off going to the nail salon until it heals.

"The key is making sure there is no open wound anywhere,” says Morgan.

So, what if you nail technician wants to cut back your cuticles? Is that safe?  Many dermatologists says no, because cutting can break the protective seal around your nail, which can lead to an infection.   Pushing back the cuticle is a safer option.

And Gina Morgan says getting you nails done should never, ever hurt.

"It should be a pleasant, relaxing experience,” she says.