Are nail salons hygienic?

Is it safe to have your nails done in a salon? I’ve been warned about dirty equipment so feel a bit paranoid.

Many nail salons are well run, with technicians who have been rigorously trained in health and safety and taught how to use and treat all the chemicals correctly.

However, unfortunately there are some that pose a significant risk to health because of dangerous procedures, poor hygiene, inadequate ventilation and the use of certain chemicals.

The main chemical to watch out for is methyl methacrylate (MMA), which has been associated with various problems including skin allergies and had been banned from nail salons in the USA. In some UK salons it’s still used to affix nails (especially where treatment is very cheap), but should not be confused with polymerized MMA (PMMA), which is considered to be much safer.

Other chemicals and solvents used in nail salons can also cause respiratory problems if not handled correctly, so make sure the salon you visit has proper ventilation. Hygiene is also very important, as infection can easily be passed between clients and staff.

Habia, the beauty industry standards body, has published a Code Of Practice for Nail Salons and the Health and Safety Executive have issued a factsheet for nail salons. If you have any doubts about a salon, ask them about their procedures and whether they follow the guidelines in these documents.

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