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On Your Side: How to spot a safe nail salon

11:15 PM, Dec 2, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you've ever had a manicure or pedicure, pay attention to this story.

First Coast News found several violations at area nail salons that might make you cringe.

Carrie Lantzy of Jacksonville said she gets her nails done about once a month

"Because A, it feels really good and everybody likes pretty nails," she said while getting a pedicure.

She said nothing has happened to her, but what she doesn't like are the stories she has heard.

First Coast News reviewed nearly 100 inspections from the past three years.

We found 10 cases where cosmetologists weren't licensed. Fourteen cases where cleaning and disinfection procedures weren't followed.

We found 43 cases where records weren't properly maintained.

FCN also found five cases where tools weren't disinfected as required

One of those places was on State Road 13 in Jacksonville. The owner, Joy Lee, would not go on camera but said the violations were quickly corrected. A Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation said the nail salon was fined $100 and paid $100.

Another place was in St. Augustine. Manager, Tony Lee, didn't have an explanation for the violations, but also says they corrected the violations right away. A Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation said that nail salon was also fined $100 and paid $100.

According to the DBPR, salons are inspected every two years. Our region saw 181 complaints and 31 citations last inspection cycle, which is down from the previous year.

"I'm going to make sure their work station is clean; that they do have implements that are stored in a closed container," said Sandra Rentforw, with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. "So, I know once they've been sterile, they've been closed away and not used on someone else."

This fiscal year, our area saw 5 cases of salons using the banned liquid methyl methacrylate or "MMA." That was one less than the last fiscal year, according to the DBPR.

"It causes damage to the nails," Rentfrow explained The odor of this particular chemical is very strong and can cause breathing problems."

The salons were simply told not to use it.

Monica Dotson owns Frenchy's Live Love Spa in Jacksonville Beach. Their last inspection was satisfactory. Dotson said a good salon should be clean.

"They should give you a tour and show you how they disinfect their instruments," she explained. "Not just instruments in a plastic bag."

Dotson recommends buying your own instruments for as little as $20 and bringing them with you. Also, ask the salon to sanitize the footbath. Dotson said there are some things that should raise a red flag when you walk in.

"Just look around. Is there nail dust on the table? Nail dust on the floors? Nail clippings? Things like that." she explained.

It's knowledge Lantzy said she already takes to heart when she gets her monthly mani-pedi's

"I go to places generally that I know the people and get to know the people," she said.

If you are going into any salon, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation said you should make sure your salon or cosmetologist:

1. Has a laminated license with a photograph posted at the work station.

2. Has a posted copy of their most recent state inspection.

3. Only uses tools that have been cleaned and immersed in a disinfectant between customers

4. Cleans footbaths between each use and keeps a log of all uses and cleanings.

5. Forbids the use of MMA (methyl methacrylate), a harmful compound used in the application of acrylic nails.

To report unsanitary conditions or unlawful activity, Call (850) 487-1395 or go to

At that website, you can file a complaint and verify a license.

First Coast News

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