We’ve devoted plenty of column space on this blog to the potential dangers of nail salons. Unclean equipment can leave you vulnerable to infection. Salon technicians who remove your cuticle leave you vulnerable to infection. And if those techs trim your nails too short, or in the wrong shape? You can end up with an ingrown toenail.
How can you know if your favorite salon is giving out unsafe treatments? Unfortunately, it's often hard to tell, which is why home pedicures are the safest options. Still, there are some clear warning signs that should send you running out of that salon, ASAP. And here they are, to help keep those pretty toenails safe and healthy.
Warning Signs of an Unsafe Spa Pedicure
When should you avoid a salon pedicure? Almost always. But especially if you notice any of these major red-flag warnings.
1. Things don't look clean.
Notice an overflowing garbage can or lots of dirt and dust on salon surfaces? If the spa staff isn't making even basic cleaning efforts, you can bet they aren't taking more important, but less visible, sanitary precautions.
2. There's no plastic covering on the foot-soaking tub.
It's almost impossible to fully sanitize a spa tub basin. So the only way to be sure your feet won't be exposed to other people's germs is for spa technicians to use disposable coverings for every customers' soaks. If your salon isn't taking this precaution, get your nails painted elsewhere, please.
3. Clean hands are a distant dream.
Before giving you a pedicure, your nail technician should wash his or her hands, or put on a fresh pair of gloves. If that's not happening, don't be afraid of getting up and getting out of that special spa chair.
4. Pedicure instruments aren't coming out of a sealed, sterile bag.
Unlike at home pedicures, the ones you get in a salon will be performed with tools that have touched other people's feet. And the only way to prevent those tools from transmitting infections is for your technicians to carefully sterilize them between customers. Even if that's done properly, though, the instruments could still pick up germs from shared surfaces. So the only way to be sure the pedicure tools aren't vehicles of infection is for technicians to place them in sealable bags after sterilization. Always look for that care as a sign the nail salon takes safety and hygiene seriously. And if they don't? You guessed it, it's time to take a hike!
Once you consider all the potential risks—not to mention the costs—associated with getting a pedicure at the salon, you may be rethinking your current beauty routine. And that’s where our special tips can come in handy. Just check out this quick and easy plan for scoring the perfect home pedicure—with special thanks to Yahoo! Lifestyle for the inspo.
The Perfect Home Pedicure in Just 7 Steps
Step 1: Take off previous polish
If you’ve got some old color on your toes, use polish remover and cotton balls and gently rub it away. Stay away from products with acetone, as they can damage your nail. If you notice yellow spots on your nails once the polish is gone, trying rubbing the spots with cuticle oil. Or, better yet, leave the nails unpolished for a week or so to allow the nail to breathe and the staining to disappear on its own.
Step 2: Get wet
After removing all old polish, treat your feet to a warm soak. Fill up your tub with warm—not hot—water—then add in body wash and Epsom salts to the water. Soak for 15 minutes, to help reduce any foot swelling, eliminate nasty odors and kill any bacteria that may be lurking on the surface of your skin.
Step 3: Trim or file your nails
Now it’s time to start in on your nails. Grab your manicure scissors and gently trim the nail, being careful not to remove too much nail, and working straight across to help prevent ingrown nails. If you have any sharp outgrowths at the corners, simply file them down—never cut nails in this area.
Step 4: Lotions and oil
You should never remove your cuticles—they help form a barrier between your nails and nasty sources of infection—but you can gently push them down to help prevent hangnails. At this stage of the pedicure, you can moisturize the cuticle with cuticle oil, then go ahead and moisturize the rest of your feet, too! When the pampering is done, dry the areas between your toes to prevent fungal growth. Then, separate the toes using separators or woven paper towel strands, so toes don’t rub against each other and smudge your polish.
Step 5: Make a base
Prop up your foot and paint on a strengthening base coat. Position your brush in the middle of your nail, just above the cuticle and swipe up from base to tip. Repeat with stripes on the left and right side. Allow the base coat at least two minutes to drive before moving on to the polish.
Step 6: Apply the polish
Now it’s time to get colorful. Use the same technique as you used for the base coat but, once again, be careful about the product you choose. Many polishes contain very harmful chemicals—that’s why, in our office, we carry Dr. Remedy’s line of polishes. Not only are they free from harmful chemicals, they can actually help strengthen your nail while making it pretty!
Step 7: Dry time
Nails typically need a solid 20 minutes to dry if you want to avoid smudging. Don’t have that kind of time on your hands? No worries. You can choose to apply a fast-drying top coat. Or, if you prefer, grab your blow dryer and aim it at your toes and feet on a low setting. Bonus: if you go the hairdryer route, you can ensure no moist spots were left behind after the soaking and moisturizing steps, which means you’re getting rid of any spots that would be ripe for fungal growth! And, in this podiatrist’s mind, that’s a win for everyone!
Need more help keeping those feet and nails happy, healthy and looking their best? We're here to help. Reach out today to schedule an in-office appointment!