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A nail salon or nail bar is a specialty beauty salon establishment that primarily offers nail care services such as manicures, pedicures, and nail enhancements. Often, nail salons also offer skin care services. There are approximately 200,000 nail salons (2010) in the U.S., up 23% from 2007. Manicures are also offered by general beauty salons, spas and hotels. People who work at nail salons are usually called "nail technicians or manicurists or 'Nailists' (the well-known appellation of nail technicians in Japan and some Southeast Asian countries)."
Nail salons offer a variation of options for nail care. This includes acrylics, silk or fiberglass wraps, French manicures, polish, pedicures, etc. Some nail salons are offering one-stop beauty services. In addition to nail services, these one-stop nail salons offer facial treatments, waxing, and skin care.
Generally, those working in Nail Salons are called Nail Technicians. In some areas throughout the UK and USA, districts require nail technicians to have formal, state recognised qualifications in order to be able to grant licenses to the salons.
Currently, the industry estimates that almost 40% of nail salon technicians in the US are Vietnamese women. The highest density of Vietnamese nail technicians is in California, where it is roughly 59%-80%. The majority of these women are Vietnamese immigrants. There is speculation as to why this particular demographic population dominates the industry. Perhaps it is due to the fact the training required for nail salon work is short and inexpensive, the work does not require high English proficiency, and the work hours tend to be flexible enough to allow immigrant mothers to attend to family obligations.
Nail Salons offer the following services:
The Nail Salons that offer these treatments generally charge between £25 and £40 ($55 to $85) per treatment.
Concerns about the work environment quality of nail salons can be discussed in conversations about Occupational safety and health, as there is some evidence that suggest nail salon workers are subjected to potentially unjust, hazardous working conditions. Occupational safety and health concerns is a component of environmental justice. In surveys conducted of Vietnamese-American nail salon workers, many responses suggest that the work environment may be setting the space for negative health consequences. According to Standard 62-1989: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Quality of the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, Air Condiitoning Engineers, adequate supply of outdoor air should be about 20 cubic feet per minute per occupant. This necessitates multiple pathways for air to enter and exit the room. Such pathways include, but are not limited to windows and doors. However, the study showed that one-third of the surveyed shops had only one single door for ventilation with no secondary air pathway.
Due to the the nature of salon work, many nail technicians are required to wear masks and gloves. Other surveys also conducted on similar worker populations yielded results of 90% wearing masks and 70% wearing gloves to work.
Typical responses by workers when interviewed were:
Nail technicians use beauty projects like nail polish, nail polish removers, artificial nails, adhesives, and disinfectants throughout the day. Compared to the average individual, they are exposed to the chemical ingredients the products contain on a much higher magnitude. Some of the more potent chemicals are toluene, formaldehyde, ethyl methacrylate(EMA), and dibutyl phthalate(DBP). Nearly all chemicals are reported to be eye, skin, nose, and throat irritants. Some, like toluene and dibutyl phthalatesare known endocrine disruptors. According to the National Insitute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine syste, which is regulated by hormones. These hormonal disruptors can potentially lead to tumors, birth defects, reproductive harm, neurological, developmental, and immune degradation. Research has suggested that endocrine disruptors pose the greates risk during prenatal and postnatal development.
The following table is taken from the survey Results from a Community-based Occupational Health Survey Of Vietnamese-American Nail Salon Workers. It lists the chemical ingredients found in nail salon products and associates them with potential health effects. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of all chemical compounds found for all nail products.
|Nail Products||Common Chemical Ingredients||Potential health effects|
|Nail polish||ethyl acetate||irritation eyes, skin, nose, throat; dermatitis|
|butyl acetate||irritation eyes, skin, upper respiratory system; headache|
|ethyl alcohol||irritation eyes, skin, nose; headache, CNS syndrome; cough; liver damage; anemia; reproductive effects|
|isopropyl alcohol||irritation eyes, nose, throat; CNS syndrome, headache; dry, crackin skin|
|acetone||irritation eyes, nose throat; headache; CNS syndrome; dermatitis|
|methyl ethyl ketone||see above|
|toluene||irritation eyes, nose throat; headache; CNS syndrome; dermatitis; dilated pupils, lacrimation; anxiety, muscle fatigue, insomnia; paresthesia; liver, kidney damage|
|xylene||irritation eyes, nose, throat; headache; CNS syndrome; corneal damage; dermititis; reproductive effects|
|dibutyl phthalate||irritation eyes, upper respiratory system, stomach; reproductive effects (fetotoxic)|
|toluene sulfonamide formaldehyde resin||dermatitis|
|titanium dioxide||lung fibrosis; potential occupational carcinogen|
|nail polish removers||acetone||see above|
|ethyl acetate||see above|
|butyl acetate||see above|
|artificial nails||ethyl methacrylate||irritation eyes, skin, nose, throat; allergic contact dermatitis; respiratory sensitizer (asthmagen)|
|methyl methacrylate||same as ethyl methacrylate|
|butyl methacrylate||same as ethyl methacrylate|
|methacrylic acid||irritation eyes, skin, nose throat; allergic contact dermatitis|
|methyl ethyl ketone||see above|
|Nail tips adhesives||ethyl cyanoacrylate||irritation eyes, skin, nose, throat; allergic contact dermatitis|
|artificial nail removers||acetone||see above|
|N-methyl pyrrolidone||dermatitis, reproductive effects|
|acetonitrile||irritation eyes, nose throat; asphyxia; nausea, vomiting; chest pain; CNS syndrome; convulsions; in animals: liver, kidney damage|
There are organizations and coalitions such as the National Healthy Nail & Beauty Salon Alliance that address these worker rights and exposure issues nail technicians face. These movements provide the platform for conversations about environmental justice.