After watching another 20/20 exposé about dirty nail salons several months back, it got me thinking about what we, as an industry, are doing wrong that this cycle keeps continuing. Are we not educating nail students on proper salon safety standards? Are we not giving new nail techs enough information at the beginning of their careers that would allow them to establish solid sanitation and disinfection protocol in their workplace? Are we not reminding veteran techs often enough exactly what is expected in the salon in case they’ve slipped into bad habits?

Like industry chemist Doug Schoon, I believe we need to stress proper protocol before we talk about higher standards. In my mind, we should be doing a better job educating all nail techs about the guidelines set up by Schoon and other industry leaders as part of the Nail Manufacturers Council (NMC) on cleaning and disinfecting your salon equipment and implements instead of pointing out what a handful of bad salons are doing wrong for everyone to see. That just reinforces a bad reputation for nail salons that we’ve fought long and hard to overcome in the consumer media. Instead of putting the blame on these so-called “bad” salons and scaring consumers away from salons altogether, our time would be better spent focusing on making sure we — as an entire nail industry — are following proper protocol.

At the very least, I want to encourage you all to step back and ask yourself an honest question: “Am I meeting all of the basic requirements to ensure a safe service for my clients?” Below is a list of questions to help you remember the basics in case you’ve grown complacent. I urge you to look at these questions and if you aren’t answering “yes” to every single one, please go back and refresh yourself on our proper industry protocols. (You can find the NMC’s “Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting Manicure and Enhancement Equipment” and their “Pedicure Equipment Cleaning and Disinfecting Procedures for Nail Technicians” online at

> Do you clean and disinfect all reusable manicure and pedicure tools in accordance with state regulations and industry best practices?

> Are you storing your cleaned, disinfected, and dry implements in a sanitary manner according to your state’s rules and regulations?

> Are you disposing of all single-use items (such as files) or giving them to your client to take home?

> Do you wash your hands and your clients’ hands before every service?

> Are you using clean towels and new manicure mats for each client?

> Are you following the proper cleaning protocols for your pedicure equipment? (There are protocols for after every client, at the end of the day, and at the end of the week.)

> Are you keeping a log of your pedicure cleaning schedule?

In addition to the NMC’s guidelines in our Handouts section online, we also have a pledge that you can print out and use in your salon. Download “Our Pledge to You: A Safe and Clean Salon” and make sure you’re meeting our industry standards. And lastly, I ask that you do your part to help us educate other nail techs and salon professionals you come in contact with. It’s up to all of us within the industry to ensure we’re setting the standards and covering the basics of proper cleaning and disinfection in the salon.

Are you following all of the proper cleaning protocols for a salon? Print and sign our pledge, snap a picture, and upload it to social media with the following: We pledge to you: a safe and clean nail salon! #nailsalonpledge

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