Make sure your salon is safe: danger signs and questions to ask


Between Salon Spy and Tammy's stories of dodgy practice in some salons you could be forgiven for being a bit wary about going back into a salon. But don't! Follow Tammy's tips to make sure your salon is clean and safe. And if you're not happy? Vote with your feet as dad says - make your excuses and leave.

Above all, don't be afraid to speak up. So here's some of Tammy's guidelines to make you feel more confident about what you should be looking for.

Being asked to fill out a client questionnaire to help the therapist assess if treatments are suitable for you is a good sign - this demonstrates professionalism.

A technician should wear gloves, especially during waxing, pedicures and even eyebrow tweezing.

Double dipping
This should never happen. Once a stick (applicator) has been placed into product and touched your skin, it should be thrown away. The stick should NEVER be put back into a pot of wax because it could contaminate the product, and then infect clients.

There should be a jar of sanitiser storing the manicure/pedicure tools at the manicure station. Tools can harbour bacteria and fungal infections if not sanitised correctly. Even the files should be cleaned between clients.


Must be changed and fresh paper given for each client. This should be standard practice. Measures should be taken to ensure that you are not on a dirty bed.

Patch testing for new products
Even if you have waxed or tinted for years you should still be tested to ensure that you do not have a reaction to any new products that the salon uses.

Now read on to get to know the danger signs in a salon that's not up to scratch

  • Things are a mess in general. Need I say more?
  • Shelves and containers are dusty. If they aren't doing the basic cleaning, are they really going to be following sanitation measures?
  • Implements are put back into a drawer or cabinet after use. There are items that can be sanitized after use, like metal tweezers, by being washed and soaked in a strong solution. If they use a tweezer and put it away into a drawer, then they aren't sanitizing it. Same goes for manicure tools if you don’t see a blue solution on the manicure table, chances are they aren’t using it!
  • Wax pots (heating units) have wax all over them. Waxing can be messy, but a good salon will ensure that the pots are kept clean, so there is no excuse. Likewise, if you see sticks in the pot it is a sign that they don’t dispose of them regularly. Ask how many applicators they will use. If the answer is one – RUN!
  • They don’t wear gloves for hair removal. If you have to ask them to wear gloves then it means that they don’t normally wear them. If they aren’t concerned for their own health – how could they care about yours!

So what can I do?

  • Examine the wax pots, manicure station, pedicure spa and the room before treatment
  • Ask what methods of sterilisation the salon uses for tinting brushes and manicure tools. (if they can’t answer you – they don’t have one!)
  • Don't shave your legs before getting a pedicure. Tiny razor nicks provide a pathway for bacteria. Don't let nail technicians cut into your skin or cuticles either.
  • Make sure the salon - and the specific technician- is licensed to perform waxing. Watch to see if the technician does a temperature test on his or her own inner arm before applying wax to you.
  • Make sure electrolysis needles are brand new for each customer. As in the medical field, dirty needles are a serious health concern.

Ask about the salon sanitation measures. If the therapist has a hard time explaining their sanitation measures remember: if they can't describe it, they're not doing it.

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