This is my first blog! In the not-too-distant past, I may have found myself launching a blog about laser hair removal or paramedical tattooing since I am a licensed practitioner of both--and have a lot to say about these procedures! But a series of events has led me to focus on shedding light on the risks posed by pedicures, an important issue that doesn’t get as much attention as it should.
It all started when, after a routine visit to my nail salon a couple of years ago, I left with two results—pretty pink toenails, and a very nasty fungal infection in one of my toenails.
Finding a cure for the fungus was exhausting and daunting, but I was grateful that a cure was available. My infection was detected and treated early, so I chose laser as my treatment protocol. It would take multiple treatments and longer than the oral cure to resolve the infection, but it was a safe option, and the best route for my personal situation.
The nail infection cleared up after a long 11 months, but then I had to grapple with another problem. How could I protect myself from contracting another fungal infection—or something worse—if I went back to the nail salon for a pedicure?
I’m a research fanatic, so I got busy. I read what the doctors who see feet every day had to say about pedicures. And, I hit the jackpot when I found a book titled “Death By Pedicure” by Dr. Robert Spalding, a Podiatrist who has lectured and written extensively on the dangers posed by salon pedicures. After reading the book cover to cover in two days, I had the facts I needed to have a safe pedicure—free from cross-contamination of germs at the nail salon.
And, I now knew the questions I needed to ask, so I made a list of 6 salons in my neighborhood and started calling them. I asked the salon owners if they used an autoclave (the ONLY machine that can remove 100% of germs, according to Dr. Spalding) for sanitizing their pedicure tools after each use. I also asked if they used plastic disposable foot bath liners and disposable files and buffers. Everyone I spoke to quickly said no, so I called the next 6, and then the last 6. Every salon owner not only said no, they said it in a way that made me feel as though I was asking a ridiculous question, or a question that had never been asked before. The last salon I called said that they used NO sanitization methods!
Why did all the salon owners answer no to my questions, I wondered. Were they uninformed, financially stressed, or did they just not care about sanitary precautions?
The answer is simple: Regulations governing nail salons do NOT require the use of autoclave machines, nor do they require the use of disposable tools and foot bath liners.
I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in my lack of knowledge about the health risks associated with pedicures, and the weak regulations covering nail salons. After all, I have close to 30 years’ experience in laser hair removal and medical tattooing—both of which are governed by stringent regulations to protect clients from cross contamination of the microscopic biofilms that can easily sneak into our bodies from just the tiniest opening in the skin.
In my laser practice, for example, each client treatment requires that a sterilized end piece be attached to the laser’s hand-piece before the treatment. To accomplish this, I simply need to have enough end pieces in stock to use when the dirty ones are being cleaned—a 24 -hour process. Although the cleaning process for my practice is very different from the nail salon industry, since no bodily fluids are involved, it still requires a proper, hyper-diligent cleaning process.
I’m a bit of a germaphobe, so my clients will always see containers and spray bottles of medical- grade sterilization liquids and wipes in clear sight in my treatment room. I’m a “It’s better to be safe than sorry” kind of girl, but unfortunately I’m not the majority of business owners. That said, I felt pretty stupid that someone like me, who takes such care to protect my clients and maintain a sterile environment, failed to realize that I needed to protect myself at the nail salon.
So, I finally decided that if the nail salons could not protect my health and safety, I would.
I created my pedicure kit and made my appointment at the nail salon, confident that I was armed to have a safe pedicure. But what I wasn’t expecting was so many women asking me about my kit and where they could purchase it. Women I had never met shared their stories with me, some similar to mine, others far worse. And, they whispered words of encouragement for me to produce and sell my kit. At first, I laughed it off, but I continued to hear from so many women eager for a retail product that would make them feel safe at the nail salon.
I have practiced in the field of aesthetics my entire adult life, and know the importance of a safe environment, so I felt compelled to give women a safe way to enjoy a pedicure. Although I had the drive and the answer, I was hesitant about launching a new business, so I decided to pause for a minute. During the pause, I talked to my clients and friends about my product vision, my goals and my worries. They all listened, asked questions and then urged me to go forward. Their interest, and demand for my product was encouraging and supportive - it was just what I needed to hear!
On behalf of my amazing friends, clients, and women I met at various nail salons, I am so happy to offer women everywhere Veraluse, a quality product that will keep them safe—and in style!