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Can Coronavirus Contaminate Your Nail Products?



We were recently asked if it’s possible for the coronavirus to contaminate your nail products like acrylic powder, nail liquid, and nail polish? While we make no claims to be scientists, our response is that it’s highly unlikely. Cleanliness and sanitizing is a main focus of nail services. It’s something that we do best. It’s the crux of state Cosmetology Board exams. Now is the time to make our best practices known.

At the time of this original discussion in late May 2020; we just don’t know enough about the coronavirus because there are so many variables. Everyday there are new studies and new headlines from around the world to support a myriad of positions. Here is what we do know, it spreads easily through coughing, sneezing, or speaking from person to person via droplets expelled through the nose and mouth. These droplets can be inhaled by someone in close proximity or transferred from a contaminated surface by touching their nose, mouth or eyes.

The best way to kill the virus is with basic hand washing for at least 20 seconds with two pumps of soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Respiratory and hand hygiene has never been more important. Make sure to pay attention to the palms, back of hands, between fingers, fingertips, thumbs, thumb webs, and wrists. If soap and water are not readily available; reach for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer/hand rub. We referred to these formulations when we started manufacturing our YN hand sanitizer which exceeds CDC, FDA, and WHO recommendations at 86% ethanol alcohol. Review the regional guidelines on your own to understand the most effective formulations of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and the benefits of masks and social distancing in the salon.

Nail products (things like powders, nail liquid, gel polish and nail polish) because of their overall chemical makeup are inhospitable environments for most bacteria and viruses to thrive in; yes even the coronavirus. As you may already know, the most welcoming environment for bacteria, viruses, and microbes to grow is anything water-based. No matter how germ friendly or unfriendly nail products might be, as professionals we still have to be extremely cautious about the actions we take to keep ourselves and our clients safe. You must become extremely obsessed about sanitization and keeping up good hygiene protocols. Take for example dip powders, although the industry has been literally dipping fingers into the pot; consider our preferred pour over method. No one likes a double dip situation, now more than ever. In California, nail techs are not allowed to work out of the pot. Yuck! You are supposed to dispense and work out of a smaller vessel. Emphasize your battle against germs at your nail station. Make it part of your presentation and marketing communication so your clients are aware of what measures you are taking for their safety.

Sanitize your client’s hands completely, thoroughly, meticulously. Practice a three points defense. First, ask clients to wash their hands before you start work. They must soap up for at least 20 seconds. The second go around happens with your prep- sanitize hands, cuticles, and nails beds. In a typical prep process, the nail is cleansed with Swipe. A product like Swipe is a 99% isopropyl alcohol/acetone mix to dehydrate the nail plate. This is also the magic ingredient in most hand sanitizers. Lastly, remember to take our own hygiene and disinfecting routine very seriously. Create an easy checklist on your work space to make sure you go through all the steps. Between each client, sanitize your hands. Always work with a fresh pair of latex gloves and sterilize all implements. All files and arbor bands will be single use to prevent cross-over contamination. Offer the file to your client for their own personal uses a bonus or discard in front of them. Even with the possibility of product contamination already being very low; dispensing powders into separate containers per use (as required here in the state of California) is a good practice.

It’s a lot of work, but these steps will go a long way to prevent having to shut down businesses all over again. No one wants that! Everyone in the salon should wear a mask, both the client and nail tech. You’re just too much in each other’s space/face not to. High-traffic touch areas like door knobs, pens at the cashier, table tops, chair seats and seat backs need to be sanitized. Control all possible points of surface contamination.

All implements should be scrubbed, washed, and disinfected with barbicide. Disinfectant is clear and should not be cloudy. All file bits are also sterilized beforehand. Multiple sets of implements will come in handy here to help with your client turnaround. All these single use items like files/gloves/masks have a cost. No time like now to actually calculate your cost per service. Add the cost of the file into your service. It seems like a little thing, but little things add up to a more substantial thing.

In today’s day and age, the cleanliness of your salon space is a new luxury marker. We love the idea of contactless payments or a mini-autoclave sterilizer for implements and maybe even for your clients’ phone/sunglasses (dirtiest things around). We love individually wrapped implements and presenting them to clients. Clean is a new community ritual we should all get behind. If the look and feel is clean; it will set your clients’ mind at ease. Start talking about your health and safety protocols right now. Create posts on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook showing the ways you’re making your salon a safe space. If you can start the discussion now, there will be less of an issue for misunderstanding and potential scenes. Lay out the plan of what clients can expect of you and what you will expect of your clients; plexi dividers, mask requirements, text on arrival, outside waiting space, social distancing etc. Demystify the cleaning process and you will minimize any worries.

**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, BIZ TALK: CAN CORONAVIRUS CONTAMINATE YOUR NAIL PRODUCTS?

***Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full discussion: