Image shows the damage the chemical MMA can cause when applied to nails. After 10 Investigates looked into salons possibly using the banned chemical, we took a closer look at salon sanitation practices in general.
CLEARWATER, Florida- A trip to the nail salon for many is a way to feel polished and pampered. But few people ever think about potential dangers inside their salon.
"We've seen some pretty dirty things," said state nail salon health inspector Sandra Rentfrow with Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The agency is in charge of inspecting every nail salon in Florida and licensing cosmetologists.
10 INVESTIGATES: Nail salons fined for using banned chemical
"They're required after each client, to go through a cleaning process," said Rentfrow.
10 News reviewed inspection records for local salons cited and fined for not following state regulations. Not properly sanitizing equipment, especially those pedicure bowls, is one of the most common violations.
"You're getting someone else's DNA...It's...dead skin," said Doris Calhoun, a cosmetology instructor at Loraine's Academy in St. Petersburg.
Calhoun says salons are required to keep a cleaning log showing how often the pedicure stations are cleaned. When employees aren't following the proper procedures state inspectors can tell.
"You could see something like a black build up, you could see nail debris, you can see skin debris," said Rentfrow. "When you think about these things, that's why they need to be cleaned. This stuff has come off another person and you're next client that's sitting in [taht] chair- they're going to be sticking their feet in the same pedicure bowl."
10 News obtained records and photos taken during the inspection of Happy Nails and Salon on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater. The business was fined last June for not keeping an accurate cleaning log and for not properly sanitizing their pedicure stations.
"You're going in to be pampered. You're going in to feel good about yourself. You don't want two weeks from the time you go into this place to wake up and you've got a nail infection," said Rentfrow.
That's exactly what one woman says happened to her, so she filed a complaint with the state about her experience at Happy Nails. The report alleged she left the salon with a fungal infection after noticing an employee using "unsterilized equipment being stored on dirty trays." She says the nail tech "made her nails bleed then put the blood-stained clipper back into the box to be reused on the next patron."
"No it's not acceptable," said an employee of Happy Nails who insists those type of procedures would not be tolerated.
"We try to be as clean as possible because we like cleanliness," said Happy Nails' owner.
Happy Nails scored a perfect inspection on their follow-up in November and is now under new management. But on our visit we still found potential problems inside including what appeared to be a non-EPA approved disinfectant being used to clean the pedicure bowls. We also spotted what appeared to be used nail files and buffers on a cart with other equipment.
"If they've used it on one person, they should not be using it on you. And a lot of the nail files cannot be sanitized," said Rentfrow.
Check out the searchable database below which included all local nail salons cited by the state for alleged violations.
*Only salons with violations will show up in our 10 News database.
Beau Zimmer, 10 News