Pursue perfection safely or pay the price

The day before my own wedding marked the first time I ever enjoyed a full manicure and pedicure. Unfortunately, it also marked the first time a stranger with butterfingers slipped and shaved a great big swath of skin off of my foot with an unsterilized tool. I was lucky enough to be wearing wedding day shoes that wouldn’t rub on the newly shorn wound (thanks French Sole!), but I can imagine that there are other brides who don’t get off so easily. Also, I was fortunate enough not to end up with some weird infection!

What a boooooring topic, right? Well, thousands of brides-to-be make manis and pedis a part of their pre-nuptial beauty rituals, and thousands of folks end up at their local MDs every year because of nail salon related infections. Two people even died in 2006! Now I feel extra lucky, because I really didn’t even think about anything relating to safety when I was sitting down in the spa chair and letting someone take what looked like a ginger grater to my toesies.

Erlanger recommends mani/pedi fans take the following rules to heart:

1. Ask nail salons about their disinfection practices. Only patronize salons that sterilize their instruments.

2. For instruments that cannot be sterilized, such as nail files and pumice stones, make sure the nail technician uses disposable versions.

3. Patronize salons that use “pipe-less” whirlpools with external impellors that can be easily accessed for thorough cleaning, very similar to physical therapy whirlpool tubs. Hidden tubing cannot be properly drained.

4. Clean, plastic soaking tubs or pans are generally safe and good alternatives to poorly designed whirlpools.

For added safety, you can always bring your own nailcare tools and polish with you to the salon. Don’t walk around with bare feet–bring your own flip flops if the salon doesn’t provide the disposable sort. Make sure your manicurist washes her hands, uses sterilized tools, and thoroughly cleans out foot spas after they’re used. If you voice your concerns and the salon staff balk, they’re not worth your time or money.

Like I said, I was lucky. The spot where an inept pedicurist scraped off my skin didn’t get infected. Heck, it didn’t even bother me on my wedding day, though it did smart for an entire week afterward. Now you tell me: What’s your worst mani/pedi story?

5 Responses to “Mani…pedi…safety”

  1. Nariya says:

    I have sensitive skin. The first time I had a manicure, my fingers were peeling painfully for weeks afterward. If your wedding is the first time you will ever have a manicure/pedicure, I’d advise going for a trial run a couple of months beforehand, to make sure it won’t disagree with your skin! Much better to have happy, healthy looking skin and nails than to have angry, painfully peeling hands or feet on your wedding day.

  2. Sarah says:

    This isn’t a really a bad “mani-pedi” story, but for about a year and a half a little while ago, I had acrylic nails. So, I was into the same nail place once every 2 (okay, let’s be honest – 3) weeks. At some point, one of the male manicurists took an interest in me… ick. For one thing, I was 18 at the time, when he must have been at least in his mid-30s, and for another, it made me very uncomfortable to the point where I had to stop going to that salon entirely!

  3. CinnyB says:

    Great post! More people need to be aware of the dangers involved with getting your nails done in a random shop by just anyone who happens to be available. Infections are very real and can be quite serious. Make sure your nail technician is licensed and don’t be afraid to ask questions about what they are doing and how they sterilized their nail implements and cleaned the foot basin. If you are not comfortable with the answers then get up and leave! Safety first!

  4. Toddson says:

    I go to a podiatrist who has warned me about infections and such from pedicures. He did say, however, that some of his patients come to him to have their feet cleaned up – toenails trimmed, all dead skin, calluses, corns, etc., removed with sharp sterile instruments – and then (waiting for any breaks in the skin to heal) go for a pedicure which only requires having the nails painted. More expensive, but it pretty much eliminates the risk of infection.

  5. Kristen says:

    Ask about spa chairs, especially if you are making the reservation over the phone to a place you have not been before! For my sister’s bachelorette party, we decided on manis & pedis, followed by dinner & drinks and dancing. Her new sis-in-law was to make the reservations for the manis & pedis, and when we got there, they had no clue what they were doing, were NOT set up to do the manis and pedis (or anything but cut hair, really) and proceeded to BURN my sisters feet in a plastic tub of scalding hot soapy water. We ran out of there! We were laughing because thankfully my sister was not hurt, but word to the wise: do your research first. Great post!