Orange County Spa Nail Safety and Sanitation Enforcement

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New policies have nail salons on their toes

Cleanliness and hygiene counts, when possible health risks may occur

Dirty foot spas in Orange County nail salons have sparked concern among consumers, causing the creation of new regulations.

The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) is cracking the whip by enforcing a new regulation that allows any representative of the board to temporarily suspend an establishment’s license immediately if unsanitary conditions exist.

For Naomi Iberri, 28, of Anaheim, a trip to the nail salon is no longer a relaxing treat.

She said she believes she received a fungus on her toe last September from a Santa Ana nail salon.

She now looks for specific signs of cleanliness.

“I try to look for places that have sterilizers for their utensils, but if I don’t see any, I usually rely on the shop’s cleanliness,” Iberri said. “I look at the walls and check if everything else looks clean.”

New regulations protect the consumer, ensuring nail salons uphold a clean and healthy environment.

A nail salon can have its license immediately suspended temporarily if pedicure foot spas, basins, tubs and manicure or pedicure implements are dirty, according to the BBC Web site.

If debris is found in jets, foot-plates or impellers upon the removal of screens from foot spas, a license can be suspended.

Having insufficient cleaning material for disinfection and sanitation of equipment violates BBC regulations. The absence of pedicure cleaning logs also results in license suspensions.

The BBC also has the right to immediately suspend an establishment’s license if there is a history of repeat equipment violations.

Immediate license suspension is granted without first holding a hearing, according to the BBC Web site.

When an establishment’s license is suspended they have the right to due process and can appeal the suspension within 30 days once they are in compliance.

Lucy Cheng, a customer who frequently visits Professionail and Spa in Fullerton, pays close attention to the cleansing process in each salon.

She said she has watched employees at Professionail and Spa scrub foot spas with a powered-crystallized solution after every customer.

“I’ve seen them use new files for each customer and sterilize their instruments in a blue solution after each use,” the 25-year-old said.

Employees at Professionail and Spa, located at East Chapman Avenue and State College Boulevard declined to comment on their cleaning process.

Spokesman Russ Heimerich for the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which handles public relations and is an administrative umbrella over the BBC, said new regulations stemmed from a recommendation by a “foot spa working group.”

The group formed to investigate recent outbreaks of microbacteria in whirlpool foot spas, Heimerich said.

The group included industry professionals, members of the BBC, DCA and county health departments.

“This regulation gives authority for board members to take immediate action when health conditions are non-compliant,” Heimerich said.

The type of microbacteria found in outbreak cases results in a scarring skin infection that is disfiguring and occurs only when unsanitized equipment is used, Heimerich said.

Iberri’s incident did not involve this same type of microbacteria, but Heimerich said such fungus is the result of the same unsanitary conditions.

Some salon owners agree with the new regulations and said it was necessary to have strict guidelines.

“You’re dealing with health issues, so it has to be strict,” said Bobby Trinh, owner of Victoria Nails and Spa in Orange. “Same thing if you went to a doctor’s office — You want to make sure they have strict regulations as well.”

Trinh has been in the industry for six years and has been the owner of the nail salon located near the intersection of East Katella Avenue and North Tustin Avenue for three years.

“If you are doing everything you are supposed to, you won’t have anything to worry about with these new laws,” Trinh said.

The state requires logs to be taken where the client’s name, foot spa number and time are documented. Once foot spas and utensils are sanitized, each manicurist initials the log.

The log is available for customer viewing upon request, Trinh said.

The establishment license and cosmetologist’s license must also be visible, according to the BBC Web site.

Trinh has come across customers who are skeptical because of violations by other nail salons they have seen reported on the news.

He said he always offers to show his log to concerned customers, as they have the right to this information.

Trinh’s salon uses state board-approved Americlean liquid solution to cleanse foot spas after each customer.

The solution soaks in the spa for 10 minutes before rinsing. Utensils that are indisposable also soak for 10 minutes in a solution for sterilization. These procedures are required by the BC.

Victoria Nails and Spa recently was nominated as one of the top five nail salons in Orange County according to the MyFoxla Web site.

Many salons have adopted the mentality of cleanliness and customer service.

Happy Nails, at the Mainplace Mall in Santa Ana, a franchise with over 40 locations, takes pride in a “clean environment and keeping the customer happy,” receptionist Jennifer Nguyen said.

Employees at Happy Nails were trained by the corporate office to follow all state board requirements, she said.

“It’s important to be honest with the customer. If they ask how we clean our equipment, we tell them,” Nguyen, 23, of Cypress said.

Consumers should ask questions about a salon’s cleaning process, Heimerich said.

“If there are any doubts about cleanliness, the best thing to do is walk out,” Heimerich warned. “The least expensive is not always the best way to go.”

Consumers should also keep from waxing or shaving their legs before having a spa pedicure.

Those with lupus or diabetes should consult their doctor before using a foot spa, Heimerich said.

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