At a staff meeting last year, the team of NAILS editors gathered to watch a recently aired national news story that focused on everything wrong with nail salons, notably their sanitation practices.  Throughout the entire show, we groaned about the inevitable backlash.  It seems that every one of these programs airs, our readers have to spend a lot of time reassuring clients that getting their nails done is NOT taking their life into their hands.

But when this particular segment was over, we simply looked at each other and said, “Too much of that was true.  WE should have done that story.”  Granted, many news reports are lopsided, unfair, and sensational, but let’s face it: There’s a real problem in the nail industry with sanitation, unlicensed activity, and unsafe chemicals.  If it’s the state boards’ job to protect salon consumers, then what are they doing about these issues?  If it’s OUR job to inform our industry, what are we doing about it?

We wanted to see why some salons don’t comply with even simple board rules, whether the inspection process and fines keep salons honest, and whether salons and consumers have any recourse when they have a problem.  So we set out on a long project of reviewing the state boards of cosmetology.

This month’s installment (the first of two) covers salon inspections.  We gathered information from all the state boards on their inspection process, frequency, fines, follow-up, and salon closure rate.  We sent editors out on ride-alongs with inspectors so we could see firsthand what the inspectors faced.  Our report should serve as a call to action for our entire industry.  Please forward any comments you have on what we found.

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