Is a reduction of infection causing microorganisms appealing to you? Or would you prefer total elimination? Learn why a medical grade autoclave is part of our safety standards
It is about time I gave you the skinny on sterilizing. I know, this isn’t exactly a sexy topic, but you know what else isn’t sexy? Having to get toe surgery because you got an infection from tools being used by a nail shop that doesn’t properly sanitize! In my humble opinion, losing a toenail is a whole lot less sexy than taking the time to make sure that the place you get your nails done is following the proper steps.
So here’s the deal, we use autoclaves but many nail studios use UV “sanitizers.” I put “sanitizer” in quotation marks because I use the term lightly, very lightly… they’re practically easy bake ovens (see the picture below)! A UV sanitizer reduces but does not eliminate microorganisms by way of ultraviolet light. Sadly, many salons that have UV sanitizers don’t correctly use them to even reduce infection, and in even more cases, they’re strictly there for show and never turned on. I mean, if you really think about it… does it make sense that a lightbulb would sterilize the tools?
Autoclaves on the other hand are used in medical settings -- think doctor’s offices, dentists, operating rooms, etc. -- and therefore are the top of the line when it comes to infection control. Autoclaves sterilize and therefore eliminate microbiological organisms. They used to only be used in the beauty industry by those OCD types who some may call, “a little too worried about germs.” Turns out, that was the right idea. Autoclaves -- which use super hot steam under high pressure to decontaminate tools -- are now becoming more popular because it is the only way to truly disinfect. If you ask me, they should be required by every nail salon BUT as you’ve probably learned from previous posts, even if they were required by law, the likelihood that a salon would go unchecked and therefore never truly need to utilize one is extremely high.
That brings me to my next point, autoclaves -- while effective and totally important for nail salons -- are quite expensive. Medical grade autoclaves can cost over $4k, and that doesn’t include maintenance (a yearly servicing costs anywhere from $200 - 500), and operating costs such as the distilled water needed to run the machine and sterilization pouches (each of which are one-time use). Some machines also have long processing times (around an hour), and technically take quite a few steps BEFORE you should even sterilize the tools in the autoclave. Many -- err most… -- salons aren’t willing to put the time or money into running an autoclave and therefore are putting their clients at risk!
Here is the multi step process that Charme Nails and Skin Studio completes with all tools for each use on a client (and if you missed the short video at the top of this post, you can see what a true medical grade autoclave looks like):
Scrub tools -- including foot files -- with soap and water removing any debris
Hand dry the tools
Bag tools into one-time-use sterilization pouches
Place pouches in autoclave
Run autoclave -- which heats up to almost 300 degrees -- for 30 minutes
Allow tools to dry then use
Did you get tired just thinking about all the steps? It is quite the process. And we do this for every single set of tools we use on a client. In addition, we use new nail files and buffers for every service and either toss in the garbage at the end of appointment, or send home with the client. Some clients have asked if they could bring back those same buffers and files to their next appointment, and while we totally appreciate the thoughtfulness, we don’t even want those to return due to the possibility for bacteria growth. It is our commitment to our clients to provide safe -- and sterile -- services, never risking the health of our customers.
So while shops will lie to you… ugh I know I sound so cynical, but it’s true!... do your homework. Ask questions. Make an educated decision when you get your nails done. Don’t turn a blind eye or choose to “not think about it” as I’ve heard many times before, because in reality you NEED to be thinking about your health and safety. Find a shop -- like ours -- that prides itself on the measures taken to ensure a sterile environment, while still feeling like a relaxing getaway. Every time you sit down in one of our zero gravity chairs, I’m certain you’ll be able to relax knowing you’re truly in good -- and safe -- hands.