Safety in nail bars and salons

It is important that any nail treatments are done safely to avoid health and safety issues for the technician or the client.

Possible safety issues 

  • bacterial, viral and fungal infections. This includes possible exposure to Hepatitis B/C and HIV
  • skin contact, inhalation and ingestion of harmful chemicals and nail dust (artificial and natural)

Control the hazards by

  • not smoking, eating and drinking in the salon
  • treat the natural nail, cuticle and skin carefully. Any damage could lead to infection
  • ask for chemical safety data sheets from your supplier. They must provide these on request. Carry out a control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) assessment. Full details listed at the end of this advice
  • Use ventilated tables that have filters to reduce dust and chemicals in the air. Ideally the table should exhaust to the outside air
  • Ensure your salon is well ventilated. 
  • Reduce the amount of chemicals in the air by keeping them in closed, marked containers and use dispenser bottles with pressure sensitive bottle stops
  • Technicians and clients should wash and dry their hands before and after cosmetic treatment to reduce the risk of infection
  • follow manufacturers instructions for using protective clothing. Wearing gloves is not a replacement for washing hands

If a member of staff has allergic symptoms (on skin or breathing) they should tell their employer.

Equipment in direct contact with the skin or natural nail such as files and boards should be single use or properly cleaned/sterilized between clients. This includes the treatment table. 

Electric nail files should be used on artificial nail overlays only. They should not be used in direct contact with the natural nail, cuticle or skin.
Used drill bits must be cleaned between clients by first washing and then disinfected.

Metal rubbish bins with foot-operated lids should be used and emptied each day. Acrylic contaminated materials should be sealed in a bag before disposal.

Gauze pads and cotton wool that has been soaked in chemicals should be binned in a sealed bag.

Client records should be kept. The following list may show that a cosmetic procedure should not be done:

  • a history of skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema or sensitive skin
  • a history of allergies
  • poor skin or nail condition
  • client is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment
  • client has an existing medical condition. For example infection, blood disease, heart disease, haemophilia
  • client has a history of skin cancer or is on medication that makes the skin photosensitive (this is important if the salon has ultra-violet curing equipment)
  • client is pregnant

For any of the above, the client may need medical advice before cosmetic work is carried out. Clients should be provided with a written aftercare advice leaflet.

Training is essential. The Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority promotes national standards. Product placement or basic trade courses are often inadequate.