HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Nail salons are often the luxury go-to place for many women and some men who want to feel pampered and posh.
“I like my hands to look beautiful for my husband of over 20 years,” nail salon customer Kathy Keith said.
Keith has been trusting the nail techs at Posh Nails for several years.
“The fact that these guys have such an array of color, as well as the types of nails that they do, the dip, which is what I get, or gel nails or regular nails,” Keith said.
But she admits that in the past, she hasn’t had the best experiences at nails salons in the Horry County area.
“I’ve been to salons in Myrtle Beach that haven’t been so clean,” Keith said.
She said it even put her health in jeopardy.
“One of the concerns that I always have is ingrown toenails,” Keith said. “I like to go to the right place, to the right technicians, to make sure that doesn’t happen because they hurt.”
Just like Keith, many have had unpleasant and often painful experiences at nail salons across South Carolina.
Whenever a customer has an issue or sees a problem at a specific salon, they can file a complaint with the State Board of Cosmetology. In many of those cases, a state inspection will occur.
According to the state board, most complaints are made against an individual licensed person rather than a salon.
From January 2018 to August 2018, state records show there were a total of nine complaints made against licensees in the Myrtle Beach area. We’re told seven of those were referred for inspections.
Two complaints were closed because there was not enough information provided by the complainants to determine if the board had jurisdiction to proceed.
WMBF News reached out to the State Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to find out more about the specific details of those inspections, but they declined to do an interview.
WMBF News also found violations for at least three salons in Florence. One was for operating without a license, another for failure to maintain salon equipment and failure to maintain sanitary and safety rules.
Keith said violations like those are red flags.
“I first look at the water in the foot, pedicure area. If that’s not clean, leave,” Keith said.
TeeTee is a nail technician who has been in the business for nearly 10 years. She says it’s important for her to stay on top of the latest trends and practices for her client’s sake.
“I’m taking classes, online, and talking to other techs and watching videos, everything to stay on top of trends in this industry,” TeeTee said. “It’s just not sitting here doing nails, it’s more of a personal experience, especially for me. Each and every one of the clients I touch it’s an experience, it’s not just about nails, it’s not just about, ‘Please go pick out your color.’”
The city of Myrtle Beach reports there are 26 nail salons with business licenses in the city. In 2018, the state board reports there were 157 inspections at cosmetology salons in Myrtle Beach.
WMBF also found out there’s only one inspector assigned to this area. State inspectors are usually assigned to make at least two visits to each salon in a year. Some say that doesn’t always happen, which is why customers should do their own inspection.
“First I would look around, see how clean the nail shop is, look at the staff, are they put together, look at do they actually care about their appearance, because that actually says a lot about how the work is going to be, or what type of salon you are in,” TeeTee said.
Another thing customers should look for is that each technicians should have their license in plain view for everyone to see.
Also look for the tools and equipment that should not be used. Under South Carolina and North Carolina law, any razor-type, callous shaver cannot be used during a pedicure.
UV sterilizers are also not allowed. State law says this type of equipment is not considered an acceptable infection control device.
“At the end of the day, it’s making sure we’re delivering the best and making sure our client feels and understands that their health and safety is our number one priority,” TeeTee said.
Customers who have a problem with a nail salon or a technicians can file a complaint with the State Board of Cosmetology.