Working Healthy

You Are Now Entering the Breathing Zone: Salon Ventilation Guide

The invisible beachball-sized sphere of air that surrounds your face in all directions is a great place to start implementing efficient salon ventilation. NAILS walks you through all of the things you need to know, from what to look for in a ventilation system to how the components work to a few tweaks you can make in your day-to-day habits for extra protection. Get ready to breathe easy.

Obstacle #1: Financing

Solution: Getting a comprehensive system will likely cost you a few thousand dollars. Most ventilation companies offer no-interest payment plans, making the payments manageable. Salon Pure Air also just launched a lease-to-own option, which charges interest but lets you split payments up over several years. Salon owner and nail tech Iryna Giblett suggests raising your prices a small amount (telling your clients it’s for your and their health) so that over time you can make the money back.

Obstacle #2: Noise

Solution: It doesn’t sound like a hair dryer. It’s closer to the sound of a fan. Nail techs we interviewed told us it’s no problem to talk over a source-capture system. If you’re in a serene spa where people talk in whispers, then you may find it annoying (and you’ll need to make a decision for yourself whether atmosphere or air quality is more important).

Obstacle #3: Maintenance

Solution: To keep the system working, it’s crucial you change out the activated carbon and the dust filters on the manufacturer recommended schedule. (Otherwise, they will simply stop working from being too full.) Many manufacturers offer convenience plans by which they’ll automatically mail you the needed filters and carbon on time. So when you get replacements in the mail, change them. And make sure you turn the system on every time; that’s just a matter of creating the habit.

Obstacle#4: Explaining It to Clients

Solution: Whether they’ve mentioned it to you or not, your clients have probably noticed the odors and the dust. The nail techs we spoke to said their clients were as enthusiastic about the new ventilation system as the tech was. Steve Wallace, vice president, sales, marketing, and business development at Medicool (which makes the Mani-Vac by Medicool) says it’s easy to explain to clients why you installed ventilation: “In light of the potential for both myself and my clients to have breathing issues caused by airborne dust particles as a result of filing acrylic and gel all day long, I have decided to protect us both by investing in a system to remove the harmful dust particles out of the air in this salon.” And manufacturer Aerovex Systems even offers a window decal (shown) to market your salon as a “Three-Zone Protection Certified Salon.”

Obstacle #5: Space

Solution: The floor footprint of most systems is smaller than an old vinyl record. Also, if your salon has two tables within a few feet of each other, ask about a two-inlet system (shown). Building a custom table that hides the system away in a cabinet is another option, but that takes design expertise.


Salon Ventilation Systems' Buyers' Guide

Aerovex Systems

Air Impurities Removal Systems/Salon Pure Air

Aircare Europe Limited

Alfalfa Nail Supply



Euro Fashion

Electrocorp Air Filtration Systems

Erica’s Advanced Technical Abrasives

Filtronic Filter Systems




Thank you to these industry experts for helping with the research and background information for this story: Len Roulier III, president, Air Impurities Removal Systems/Salon Pure Air; Jeff Cardarella, president, Aerovex Systems Inc.; Doug Schoon, chemist and author,, Nail Structure and Product Chemistry; Steve Wallace, vice president, sales, marketing, and business development, Medicool.   

Related Links:

Curious about how much of a difference a source-capture ventilation system can make in a typical nail salon? We have a video on NAILStv that shows the measurement levels of common salon solvents in the air, both with and without ventilation:

Read about several salon owners’ success stories with installing ventilation systems on NAILS' From the Editors blog: 3 Ventilation Success Stories

Guidelines for controlling and minimizing inhalation exposure to nail products by the INTA/NMC (PDF):

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