Category Archives: Manicure/Pedicure

What you don’t know about salon hygiene

What you don’t know about salon hygiene

I feel so compelled to start this blog, as yesterday I experienced something so shocking whilst having a pedicure. Having been in the skin and beauty industry for over 25 years, worked, managed and owned salons, I feel more than qualified to start this blog and share my knowledge.

So, this all started when a good friend of mine suggested I join her and her friend for a spa
pedicure. What a great idea? Being in the industry, I certainly don’t treat myself enough.
My friend insisted that this place was really clean and that they were fast — and cheap!
So I gave them a call to see if they could accommodate me as well. How bad could it be?


Located in the best street in an exclusive Melbourne suburb, surrounded by designer wedding boutiques & antique emporiums and the best coffee shops!

When I called, the staff rambled the salon name and told me yes they could fit me in.
All they asked for was my first name. No phone number or deposit needed.

Very excitedly, I arrive at my allotted time. The salon is packed, absolutely packed.
Rows of pedicure spa chairs. Rows of manicure tables. Rows of polish bottles. Rows of unknowing, innocent clients.

I say hi, introduce myself. I am asked upfront for the $30 for my pedicure. I am then told to choose my polish colour. Fabulous collection of colours. Not asked for any further information or to fill out any health, history forms.

As I tell the staff that I am waiting for my friends, I am told to go to one of the many vinyl massage chairs. So I guess that meant I should make myself comfy and sit down.

The lovely lady in the chair next to me with her feet bubbling suggests I immerse my feet in the foot spa.

I gingerly place my feet into the warm bubbly not so clean looking water.

Uh-oh! I notice that the pedi spa is oily looking; not clean! Not a great feeling when you can see floaters of dead skin in the water and you know it’s not yours!

The salon owner comes along and throws a blue powder into the water and walks off. Oh, so that must be spa salts or maybe, hopefully disinfectant.

I start to relax and my two friends arrive. The massage chair has started doing its work.
The pedicure girls are doing their thing, running around with face masks and rubber gloves. Yes, it does look very hygienic!

I hear in the distance one of the clients ask her operator not to cut her toenails too short, she was worried about ingrown toenails.

My feet are still bubbling away, it’s now been 20 minutes and the lovely lady next to me is finally being attended to. Her feet are gently taken out of the bubbling water and placed on a nice clean towel.
Oh God, Horror – she has a fungal nail infection, obvious for all the salon to see! At this point, I cannot breathe.


The salon operator, with her rubber gloves and face mask, is protecting herself. But only herself!
She picks up a grubby looking nail file from the plastic container of communal nail files and starts filing this lovely lady’s fungus infested toe nails. I stare in absolute disbelief!
Now, I really cannot breathe, I want to vomit! Will she throw out that nail file after filing those infected toenails? No not a chance, the file goes straight back into the communal plastic container with all the other nail files.

Then the cuticle and nail clippers start working. At this point I cannot take it any more.
Where will they go after she’s finished clipping off the lovely lady’s dead skin and hang nails?
Straight back in the container and given a quick wipe for me, or the next unknowing client. I did not see an autoclave or even a jar of hospital grade disinfectant for soaking instruments.

All my years of experience and expertise told me to ‘run’ and I did!
I politely excused myself from not wanting to pick up tinea, a plantar wart or a fungal nail infection. My friends thought I was crazy. They didn’t quite understand the seriousness of my exit.
And why would they? How could they possibly understand?
All those trusting clients, all at risk of picking up an infection.

Fungus breeds in warm water. The little ‘spray and wipe’ of the pedi spa basin will not kill fungi, viruses or bacteria.

Feet should be checked or examined first by the operator for any fungal diseases or infected toenails or plantar warts, verrucas, whatever you want to call them. It is contraindicated, against health regulations, to treat ANYONE with a contagious foot disease. Disposable files and emery boards for all nails and foot files and pumices for the removal of dead skin should be opened new for each client, or BYO.

And what if the client is diabetic? He or she should never have their toenails cut.

Feet should be placed on disposable paper towels, unless towels are boiled, bleached and disinfected between clients, to properly clean them.

Always take your own bottle of polish, the thought of painting those fungal infested toenails and then the little polish brush put straight back into the bottle for the next trusting client.

The most surprising thing about this salon was that there were certificates on the wall claiming that this salon passed all the councils hygiene codes of practice.

First impression for anyone walking into a salon like that is that all the staff were wearing gloves and masks: you would have to think it was clean and hygienic. Well, it’s not. I really implore you to take note when you next have a manicure or pedicure.

Do not be afraid to ask them how they sterilise or disinfect their tools if you are concerned about the hygiene.

Infection in the salon is very real and very contagious, and it’s disgusting that these types of salons can operate without the general public realizing what a health risk they are.

Paula Abdul and Victoria Azarenka were onto something. They learnt the hard way.