With the summer months fast-approaching, people will soon be flocking to nail salons for manicures and pedicures, to hair salons for highlights and a summer trim, and to spas for a facial or therapeutic massage. While we all enjoy some level of pampering and usually find these experiences relaxing, it is important to remember that salons and spas deal with multiple health and sanitation issues, and are regulated accordingly. If stylists and manicurists do not take the proper precautions, clients can endure any number of serious injuries, such as chemical burns or serious and potentially life-threatening nail bed infections.

In Massachusetts, barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists, aestheticians, and massage therapists, are all licensed by the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure, an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Each profession is regulated by statute and corresponding regulations, which dictate the steps one must take to become a licensed professional. Cosmetologists (as well as manicurists and aestheticians) must complete varying levels of school and hundreds of hours of practical experience before they are allowed to apply for a license. Then, once licensed, cosmetologists must follow certain regulations within their salons in order to maintain a safe and sanitary environment. The hair salon regulations require, for example, that hair clippings be swept up after each customer, and prohibit neck dusters and common powder puffs to be used on multiple people. Simple regulations like these help prevent the transfer of parasites, such as ringworm and lice, and other potential infection sources in hair salons.

While the regulations for hair salons and cosmetologists are fairly detailed, the state regulations governing nail salons are not. The City of Boston and other areas tightened regulations however, after reports of customers contracting staphylococcus, MRSA and other types of bacterial and fungal infections at nail salons across the country. In January 2011 (effective July 2011), the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) began regulating all nail salons within the City of Boston, posing stricter regulations to help ensure the safety of the public and nail salon workers. While nail salons must still comply with the statutes and regulations regarding licensing and operations, the 2011 BPHC regulations focus on health and sanitation issues specific to nail salons that the general cosmetology regulations do not cover.

For example, the BPHC regulations define “single-use” and “multi-use” manicuring tools. Multi-use tools, such as clippers, scissors, combs and manicure bowls, must be properly disinfected after each use on a single customer. Single-use tools, however, must be discarded after each client, and include items such as gloves, flip flops, toe separators, pumice stones, non-metal nail files and emery boards, buffers, cotton balls, and tissues. The BPHC regulations also require that manicuring stations and foot baths be disinfected after each use. Certain bacterial infections can be life-threatening, and should not be taken lightly.

There are certain things that you can do to protect yourself while primping and pampering. Look around you. Do not be afraid to ask questions. What chemicals are being used on your face or scalp? Have you had a detailed conversation with your licensed professional about the service your going to receive and any health concerns you have? Are the nail technicians wearing gloves? Does the salon look clean? Did your manicurist take out new single-use tools for your manicure? Was the foot bath cleaned after the last customer? It is important to be vigilant and knowledgeable while being pampered. If the salon is clean and properly run, you will enjoy your service that much more knowing you are less likely to be injured or contract an infection.

Unfortunately, even with better regulations, these injuries still occur. SUGARMAN lawyers have experience handling claims relating to injuries occurring as a result of negligently provided salon services. If you or a family member has been seriously injured as a result of hair or nail services and wish to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys, please fill out a Contact Form, call us at (617) 542-1000 or e-mail info@sugarman.com.