I-Team: Red flags at nail salons


From unlicensed salons to dirty tools, 8 News Now is taking a closer look at nail salons in the Las Vegas valley and their cleanliness.

The I-Team is uncovering what the biggest problems are and what you should look for next time you book your appointment.

Maya Cohen is a regular customer at Nail Society in Las Vegas but she has frequented other salons prior.

“There’s just a lot of it doesn’t feel right,” she said.

“The biggest thing is protect yourself,” said Leah Easter, Nevada State Board of Cosmetology. “If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t right. Go somewhere else.”

Easter is the compliance coordinator for the cosmetology board.

“Every time you get a pedicure, they should have a license by us,” she said.

The I-Team found many salons as well as nail technicians, are operating without licenses.

In March, Top Nails near UNLV received two $1,000 fines for allowing an unlicensed individual to perform services.

Several other salons faced the same citation.

The I-Team obtained a list of statewide citations from the first six months of 2018. The most common problem among nail salons was the re-using of instruments. The I-Team found nearly 60 citations for that in southern Nevada alone.

“So, big signs for us would be nail files, buffers, if they’re showing any sign of wear and they’re anywhere but the trash can, it’s a big red flag and it comes with an immediate hundred-dollar citation,” Easter said.

Other violations: Failing to apply infection prevention.

The cosmetology board has a list of infections which customers claim they’ve received at salons but Easter says none have them have been traced directly to a business.

“You know there is a large number who probably have gotten some sort of bacteria or fungus from being at a salon,” said Erika Kimble, who is a nurse practitioner who also runs her own skin store.

She says she frequently sees patients with nail fungus caused by manicures and pedicures.

“Fungus is really hard to eradicate,” she said. “You can also get bacterial infections, yeast in the toenail around the skin area, and that typically is due to like the damage they are doing with the instruments.”

Easter warns customers to pay attention to the tools in use such as the foot file.

“If they’re wider, almost like you would see with a cheese grater, you want to stay away from it because it’s scraping your skin. Just generally, you know use a brush.”

The advice is to bring your own tools or ask your nail tech like Stephanie Ullrich how their tools are cleaned.

“It takes about 15 minutes and then our tools are completely sterilized,” said nail tech Stephanie Ullrich.

The recommendation is to look for a machine like the autoclave for tools.

“Sanitation is the lowest level of bacterial cleanliness in a salon. Sterilization is the highest,” Ullrich said.

Easter says you should also pay attention to the liquids in use.

“There’s two types of liquids we run into. Ethyl methacrylate, EMA and methyl methacrylate, MMA. MMA should not be found in your nail acrylic. EMA can be found in the acrylic,” she said.

MMA is used in medical and industrial settings and exposure should be reduced. While it’s prohibited in nail salons, some places are still using it. Ullrich says she frequently finds it on new customers.

NEVADA STATE BOARD OF COSMOTOLOGY – Find inspection reports and file complaints 

“We suggest a soak off and removal,” she said. “Soak it in acetone. It’s almost like slime coming off the nail. It takes a very long time to get it off because it’s dental grade.”

Staff at Nail Society says they’re spending as much as $200 per bottle on nail liquid while a bottle of MMA costs around $40. Sometimes the product is moved into a smaller container. Customers can always ask about the product and to see the product’s container.

Easter says all complaints made to the board are investigated.

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