It’s summer. Time for sandals, open toes, and noticing who looks after their nails.
I’d like to think everyone should be able to enjoy a pedicure. The benefit of a good, leisurely one, with its careful attention and treatment to your toes and feet, including those pesky dry heels, plus a wonderful lotion massage of your legs, and then the soothing application of a hot towel, is almost impossible to describe.
Sadly, things don’t always turn out well with those mani pedi treatments. While writing this I became aware of a violent altercation in one of the mainland salons in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
I’ve only ever had three pedicures. The first was a couple of years ago. It was fun, as my adult granddaughter was with me. I wriggled and squirmed at this unused to firm treatment of my feet. They were used to the occasional scrub from me, and I’d never tried out nail polish. It lasted some weeks, then the nails grew too long, I clipped them, and thought no more of it. My feet are usually in some old gardening shoes anyhow.
Time passed. A month ago I was due to go for a CT scan at the hospital. Suddenly it seemed a good idea to do something different, to treat myself to a pedicure before I went. I was the first customer in that morning. It was a bright, professional looking place.
The foot baths each sported a big sort of open plastic bag in them, so in a clean establishment gone are the days when you’d unknowingly be swilling your feet in other folks foot leavings, an unfortunate result of those tiny pipes being unable to be cleaned. Now, in a good place, your feet are fully contained; attention is paid to sterilization and other grimy details.
Yesterday was the big day. I was the first customer again, although the salon filled very quickly with women longing for this pampering experience. It was so good! I didn’t even squirm too much with the very sweet little Vietnamese technician. She was superbly skilled at her job, and I was happy to see she was wearing gloves.
Right next to us was a male technician. I noticed he was wearing a face mask, and wondered why, as I couldn’t really see why that would be necessary. Clueless me.
The downside to pretty
Those manicures and fancy pedicures can be brutal to the workers in that environment. I’d just never been aware of the downside to the primping and polishing of nails before.
I noticed the male technician, still wearing his mask, suddenly stand and step back. Immediately a young woman was there with a broom, sweeping a large pile of powdery nail trimmings around, until she could capture them on a dustpan. She did not wear a face mask. I was immediately aware that stuff would be in the air we were all breathing. “Why not a vacuum?” was my overriding thought.
But the answer is obvious. It would be disturbing for the clients. The need for pampering overrides the need for health.
There are special vacuums for this very purpose right on the tables of nail technicians. Is noise again what precludes their use, again endangering the health of the workers, and the clients?
The nitty gritty of nail polishes
- Your nails do absorb toxins.
- Nail polish has some really bad, harmful ingredients. Stuff you’d never normally never dream of applying for your body to absorb.
- Studies now show nail polish can harm you many hours after applying it.
- Be courageous and sensible. Read the ingredients on the bottle - if you can find them. Most companies don’t specify them.
- One study was carried out on women who used nail polish regularly. It was proved that the majority of them had positive results after testing for a toxin called phosphate triphenyl.
- It affects the brain and nervous system, and also the digestive system. It controls your endocrine system and causes hormonal alterations.
- That color you love can contain formaldehyde, a chemical compound considered in nature as carcinogenic. Carcinogenic substances increase the development of cancerous cells in the human body.
- Another very harmful substance is toluene, an aromatic hydrocarbon. Toluene gets directly into mother’s milk during lactation and it can have a harmful effect on infant development.
- If you develop a sore throat about 10 hours after application of nail polish, know that might be a side effect.
On the positive side
- There are some natural nail polish alternatives to prevent these effects and help manicurists and their clients avoid allergies, cancer, and hormone disruption. It might be worth your while to check online for them.
It's good to know however that some salons are taking care to improve their environments.
I will return for a pedicure. I’m glad I know more about the hidden dangers. I’m grateful to have a clean place for it.
But I will stop short of the nail polish.