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Safety in nail bars and salons

It is important that any nail treatments are done safely. This is 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, breathing in and ingestion of harmful chemicals and nail dust (artificial and natural)

Control the hazards by

  • Not smoking, eating and drinking in the salon
  • Be careful when treating the natural nail, cuticle and skin. 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 filter out 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. This can be done by keeping them in closed, marked containers. Use dispenser bottles with pressure sensitive bottle stops.
  • Technicians and clients should wash their hands before and after cosmetic treatments. This will 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 that touches the skin or natural nail should be single use or properly cleaned and sanitized between clients. This equipment may be files or boards, and includes the treatment table too.

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 disinfecting.

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

Gauze pads and cotton wool 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. For example 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 or haemophilia.
  • client has a history of skin cancer.
  • client takes medication that makes the skin photosensitive (important if the salon has UV 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.


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