December 2012

LeAnne Velona

The Beauty Professional| by Fred Jones


Salon and Nail Safety Insights

This month I interviewed another industry expert, Doug Schoon, of Schoon Scientific, to gain some helpful advice about important salon safety precautions and protocols. It is my hope that as you strive to reinvent or improve your salon's image and services, you will take into consideration Doug's important insights.

Fred Jones: What are some of the top safety challenges for modern salons?

Doug Schoon: Proper cleaning and disinfection is an important factor in maintaining a healthy salon. It is essential that all surfaces and tools coming into contact with a client's skin be properly cleaned; this must include removing all visible signs of contamination followed by proper use of an EPA registered liquid disinfectant specifically approved for use in salons. It is against federal law to use such disinfectants in a manner not specifically allowed by the label, so salon workers must carefully follow the directions and not deviate from disinfection procedures.

Powder or tablet forms of disinfectants are not allowed by the EPA for use on salon equipment, e.g. foot spas, hair/nail/skin tools, etc. Also, clients' feet or hands must never be placed in the foot spa/manicure soak which contains a disinfectant solution, since this is potentially harmful to the client's skin. I do recommend keeping a cleaning log book for salon equipment/tools, even if not required by your state board, since it pays to go the extra mile when it comes to cleaning and disinfection.

FJ: I have been hearing a lot about salon fumes that can be potentially dangerous to clients and beauty professionals. Any recommendations there?

DS: When start-up salons open for business in a space that was previously a travel agency, gallery or other office-type space, they should be sure to invest in additional ventilation equipment. Federal law requires appropriate ventilation for the work performed, and beauty services require greater attention to these matters than general office-building air systems.

As any stylist who performs coloring is well aware, beauty products can emit significant amounts of vapors. Dusts or irritating odors will usually require special types of ventilation to improve overall salon air quality, and to prevent contamination of salon workers' and clientele's "breathing zone" -- an invisible two foot sphere from which each of us draws our breathing air.

When an appropriate ventilation system is properly used, this will significantly reduce exposure to common salon air contaminants. Avoid low cost units designed for home use; they are ineffective for salons and a waste of money. Source capture ventilation systems (SCV) tend to work better in salons because they're specially designed to capture vapors and dusts at the source, before they can spread into the salon.

Several brands of SCV-type systems found on the internet are specifically designed for salons. Necessary features include; a HEPA pre-filter to capture dusts, followed by a minimum 3" thick vapor absorption filter, which is needed to ensure vapors are absorbed, rather than pass through the filter back into the salon, as is the tendency of thinner filters in less expensive units. Also, avoid systems that release "ozone" (a.k.a. "active air"); even at very low concentrations ozone is a lung irritant that only hides odors, NOT eliminates them.

FJ: Given a lot of recent attention on nail salons, can you provide a closing word about safety issues specific to those settings:

DS: Nail technicians should exercise great care and avoid damaging techniques when removing artificial nail coatings. Allow removal solvents enough time to properly perform before removing any nail coating. This will help avoid nail damage often related to picking, prying or scraping, even with a wooden pusher. Each of these actions can create large numbers of tiny pits that collectively give the appearance of surface "white spots" of varying size and shape.

Avoid using a nail file to completely remove nail coatings, since this may over thin and weaken the nail plate. Soaking the natural nail for even a few minutes in any solvent, e.g. acetone or water will temporarily soften the surface of the nail plate and increase susceptibility to damage; so treat nails with extra care for an hour after immersing in any liquid for longer than 60 seconds. Manufacturer's removal instructions indicate the "minimum" soak time for removal, NOT a "maximum," as some mistakenly interpret.

Various factors affect any nail coating's resistance to solvent removal, e.g. thickness, age, composition, curing conditions, etc., so nail professionals should lengthen the solvent removal soaking times, whenever needed, to ensure non-damaging removal. Explain to clients they must NOT attempt to pick, pry or otherwise remove the coating if they wish to keep their nails in good condition.

FJ: Thank you, Doug!

Fred Jones serves as Legal Counsel to the Professional Beauty Federation of California, a trade association singularly dedicated to raising the professionalism of the beauty industry. To learn more about the PBFC and receive further details about the subjects contained in his column, go to