You may think that the swanky nail salon you visit is beyond reproach, but if the employees at the shop you frequent don’t follow proper hygiene measures you may be placing your health at risk. Everything from hard-to-shake fungal infections to life-threatening bacterial infections can be contracted at a dirty salon. Fortunately, there are some things you can look out for that can be good indicators that your salon takes hygiene seriously.

1. It Looks Clean

Of course, looks can sometimes be deceiving, but the first impression your nail salon makes can say a lot about its cleanliness. It’s not unreasonable for you to expect your salon to appear spotless; the less dirt and grime you see, the more likely it is that the staff puts a priority on hygiene. Don’t be afraid to take a close look at the nooks and crannies of your salon to be sure it meets your standards.

2. It Has An Autoclave

A quality manicure or pedicure involves the use of several tools and instruments, some disposable and some not. For those designed to be used repeatedly, such as nail cutters and cuticle pushers or nippers, you’ll want to be sure the salon uses autoclave sterilization for proper cleaning. An autoclave is a device that employs heat and pressure to eliminate the dirt, bacteria, and microbial gunk that can attach to instruments during normal use. Employees should put their used tools into the autoclave after every single client, as only doing so once or twice a day defeats the purpose.

3. Its Employees Dispose Of Disposable Tools

You might be surprised to learn that some less scrupulous salon employees reuse manicure and pedicure tools that are meant to be tossed after each client. Take a look into your technician’s toolbox; you shouldn’t see any tools that were designed for single-use, such as pumice stones, wooden cuticle sticks, or toe separators. Reusing any of these items can put clients at risk of infection, so if you don’t see disposable tools being disposed of, you may be right to be concerned about your salon’s practices.

4. Its Foot Basins Have Liners

As with the tools your salon’s technicians employ, the foot basins of every pedicure station should be thoroughly sanitized following each use. When you’re getting a pedicure, a new, disposable liner should be placed into the basin you’ll be using before you get your feet wet. Liners help reduce build-up between uses, making the basin easier to clean with disinfectant between each client. While not every state mandates the use of liners, if your salon uses them properly it can be another sign that they practice good overall hygiene.

5. It Has Clearly-Posted Safety Guidelines

Most states mandate that health and safety guidelines are posted for both employees and clients to read. While their absence may not mean that your salon doesn’t follow the regulations, it can call into question the importance that the salon owner places on compliance. Other signage is typically required in areas that only employees access, but if you visit the restroom and catch a glimpse of Department of Labor postings, that may be another sign that your salon strives to play by the rules.

By keeping your eye out for these five things, you’ll be able to feel more confident that the nail salon you visit is practicing good hygiene and that the employees are intent on keeping you healthy. If any one of these elements isn’t quite right, or something else about the salon seems “off,” don’t hesitate to speak to the owner or, to be as safe as possible, take your business elsewhere.

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