NSS- (Non Standard Salon) NSS- (No Sh*t Sherlock)
Last week, not for the first time, I took a phone call from a distraught woman [lets call her Jane] who had received a, shall we say 'less than satisfactory' salon experience. I would like to note at this point that I will never name and shame any salon or technician, that is not what this is about.
In March a message was received to the mailbox of The Professional Nail Technicians Association Facebook page www.pnta.com.au asking: "Are you the people I speak to about making a complaint? I had a set of nails applied this week, and they are less than professional."
'Jane' had visited a Non Standard Salon (NSS). To clarify, you can find these salons all over the world, their custom is often gained through discounted prices or easy availability. NSS's are often cheap. NSS's are always in area's with foot traffic. NSS's often risk the health of nails, and therefore place a blanket of shame over our industry. Many don't differentiate professional salons from these 'factory style' establishments, so we all end up getting tarred with the same brush.
This got me thinking- 'are' we the people you contact with any concerns? Well who else are you going to talk too? The Mall help desk was lovely and listened to all her queries, she tells me, but as they explained, they can't interfere with the businesses they lease to, unless Mall rules are specifically being breached.
The appropriate City Council? They have simply not the money nor resources needed to look into these matters thoroughly, even though some of the bulk products being used are banned in many countries, with many health and safety breaches not being met, until a direct complaint proves negligence, it is almost impossible to take any real action. Last but not least, she could have called the salon that inflicted the damage, but she was scared they would offer to repair the damage, possibly making it worse.
'Jane' experienced her first set of nails early this year on a holiday in Australia. Her words- "They were great!" She couldn't believe she'd never tried this before, her hands and nails looked and felt beautiful. Once home, work, reality and the fact that she lives in outer/outer-Christchurch, led to her nails growing out. As it was a professional set, her nails were of course un-damaged, so that was that.
Until last week when she happened to pass a nail salon at the mall, that had many technicians waiting around to welcome her in. She was a little surprised at how different this was from her previous service in Australia, but once she was seated and work has begun, it was difficult to remove herself from the situation.
Alarm bells rang when non professional tools were being wielded, and at that point she take a closer look around the dark salon and realised it didn't look particularly clean. She consoled herself with the fact that there are many others getting nail treatments- how bad could it be?
Bad. After you make payment (cash is preferred) and leave the salon, you breath in and realise the last hour has been spent inhaling a pungent bitter sweet aroma that now fills your lungs. You breath out and hesitantly examine your new acrylic nails.
This is the picture sent to the association.
The main concerns were the fact that product was touching the skin around the edge of the nail, and after 'Jane' googled (as you do), she was convinced a bacterial infection could set in.
I made a time for 'Jane' to come and have a consultation in my salon. "Could I get a bacterial infection?" she asked, clearly worried. "Yes, you could." I didn't want to scare her, but I had to be honest. Actually, bacteria needs certain conditions to create havoc on your nail beds. And it's harder than you'd think to harvest pseudomonas (Bacterial Infections typically presenting as an unsightly green patch on the nail surface).
Product applied correctly to a clean prepped nail surface will adhere and form a seal, if that area is compromised during service it will lift. If the product lifts (and chances are, product that is butted up against or touching the skin folds will lift) bacteria may be attracted to the moisture forming in the gap between enhancement and natural nail bed. That warm damp space is just the condition bacteria thrives in. All it takes is a minuscule particle of dirt to become trapped and BINGO- bacterial infection.
Not the end of the world, a qualified technician knows how best to deal with this problem and get your nails back to prime health - but certainly a situation best avoided.
I let her know that as long as care was taken to gently remove the enhancements or to carefully buff away the excess from the sidewalls and proximal nail fold, eponychium and cuticle thus leaving them to grow out a little, they would be fine. Assuming (hoping) that the implements and files used during the service provided were of a sanitary standard. This is where it can get problematic. Removing nails that have been applied by a NSS can be difficult to impossible.
After our consult, I suggest we don't risk damage to the natural nail by over vigorous removals, often soaking off is not an option due to the nature of the products used in these establishments.
After inspecting her hands and nails, we decided together to remove the bulk of the product and give them a slightly more flattering shape. I thoroughly checked for any potential lifting and with kid gloves, buffed the edges of the enhancements so they were flush. After a little advice about aftercare and what to look out for I sent her on her way. She seemed more relaxed and her nails certainly appeared a little more 'wearable'. We will keep regular appointments and work out what the best way forward together. But this is only one example of why a lot of potential customers are 'scared off' acrylic or gel nail enhancements
A bad experience gets talked about more than a good experience, and even though the general public are now far more informed, sadly these NSS's are letting our industry down.
What can we do? Engage in safe practice and let it be known that you take health and safety seriously. Safeguard your integrity by staying up to date with all current legislations to do with our industry, keep up skilling and educating yourself and your staff. Educate clientele about what to look for in a professional salon. Join groups with similar ideas and be proud of being a professional operator.
There is no hate here. In some NSS's staff are overworked and underpaid. My mission isn't to form unhealthy relationships with these salons or to incite fear, it's to let consumers know to be aware of their rights as a nail client, and what to look out for. Some of the practices these salons (and frankly some so called professional salons) are using really need to stop, but we are not the law. Until problems occur or are reported through the right channels, nothing can be done, even then a lot of the issues seem to be swept under the carpet. Some points to remember.... In a professional salon with the right tools and safe levels of hygiene, pseudomonas are very rare. You may still provide services to a client who has a bacterial infection if all the correct precautions are being undertaken. As oxygen hits the infected area, healing begins and as long as the nail bed has been sufficiently cleansed and dehydrated, a layer of chosen product applied in a skilled way is absolutely fine. This is all dependant of course in the technician being trained and experienced. Cross contamination is common, so employ best practice to avoid this. Get rid of table towels and files used in procedure and be aware of contaminated dust along with all other precautions. Bacterial infections can also occur on a client without enhancements, or even under polish or gel coatings. Bacterial infections are not to be confused with fungal infections. Fugal (mould) infections are extremely rare on fingernails, whilst common on the feet. This is a good example of when a client should be referred to a doctor.
Some points to remember....
In a professional salon with the right tools and safe levels of hygiene, pseudomonas are very rare.
You may still provide services to a client who has a bacterial infection if all the correct precautions are being undertaken. As oxygen hits the infected area, healing begins and as long as the nail bed has been sufficiently cleansed and dehydrated, a layer of chosen product applied in a skilled way is absolutely fine. This is all dependant of course in the technician being trained and experienced. Cross contamination is common, so employ best practice to avoid this. Get rid of table towels and files used in procedure and be aware of contaminated dust along with all other precautions. Bacterial infections can also occur on a client without enhancements, or even under polish or gel coatings.
Bacterial infections are not to be confused with fungal infections. Fugal (mould) infections are extremely rare on fingernails, whilst common on the feet. This is a good example of when a client should be referred to a doctor.
In an unprecedented case, a New Zealand salon was fined this year for the use of a banned substance.
["Kiwi Nails & Spa Silverdale was found to be using a product that may cause irritation, dizziness, and deformed nail growth. The Auckland salon was fined $13,500. Said salon appeared in the Auckland District Court for sentencing, pleading guilty to a charge laid by WorkSafe under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. Health inspectors had noticed an unusual solvent-like smell when they visited the company's salon in Silverdale, North Auckland in 2016"] Source: stuff.co.nz
The above sentencing will hopefully make salon owners more aware of the risks involved with unhealthy practices. Stay aware and be vigilant when it comes to the safety of your valued clientele.