Special Report: Salon Secrets

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Some say the feeling of a pedicure is priceless, but we've uncovered what could be the ugly truth, behind this price of beauty.

We talked to a salon owner who says there are things you don't see when you go in for that foot soaking and scrubbing.

For example, a filthy, filter screen. It's on jetted or whirlpool tubs and in some cases has to be unscrewed to be cleaned.

Despite state regulations mandating such sanitation procedures, we spoke to a salon owner who didn't want to go on camera for fear of retaliation, who says while you may see techs wiping down the tub, even the tools, many salons don't take the time to actually clean the filters, inlets, foot plates or any jet components.

We asked officials at the State Board of Cosmetology if inspectors specifically checked for this.

A spokesperson replied "The inspectors can inspect the salon and equipment, tools, and implements used to perform cosmetology services."

We also wanted to know how often salons get inspected.  The answer may surprise you.

"Salons are inspected if a complaint is filed against the salon and on a routine basis. There is no requirement that they be inspected on any particular schedule."

So we decide to find out what else salon owners may be neglecting or state inspectors could be missing.

We sent out hidden cameras to random nail salons in Columbus.

At one location, the customer says her biggest concern was the cleanliness of the tubs.

At another salon, our customer says she was concerned that dead skin was falling on the floor as the tech filed her feet.

At another, our customer asks the tech to open the filter, the tech complies and our customer says the good news is, she only saw what was left behind from her feet.

"You're hoping that everybody's following those rules and implementations and you can only hope for that," says Alap Shah, DPM.

Dr. Shah is a podiatrist and co-owner of Footique in Columbus.

A salon he says has been built on the concept of safe and sterile foot care.

"We're going through a heavy sanitation process in regards to all our equipment, in regards to our furniture, as far as our basins and that type of thing."

Shah says they don't use jetted or whirlpool tubs, each client gets their own bottle of polish, plus instruments pulled from a sterilization packet.

Once used, the tools go through an autoclave, a machine that offers a hospital like steam, sterilization process.

"And that kills the spores, bacteria, viruses, you name it," adds Dr. Shah.

Bottom line, no matter where you go to get a pedicure, it seems the safest practice is to put the care of your feet, in your own hands.

For example, you can also check a salon's latest inspection report.  It should be posted in a visible location.  The ConsumerWatch team dug through a year's worth of inspection reports, and we found everything from local salons being fined for unlicensed workers and equipment not properly sanitized, as well as one location that had a pet at the salon.

You can also purchase your own tools.  We found a pedicure kit at a local beauty supply store for about $13.00.

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