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The arrival of warm weather means it’s time to trade your heavy shoes for some summer sandals. And for many consumers, the start of “flip-flop” season also means a trip to the nail salon.

Manicurists, along with cosmetologists and aestheticians, and the salons where they work must be licensed by the state Board of Registration of Cosmetology and Barbering, under the Division of Professional Licensure. Licensing assures that the salon has met the Board’s sanitary requirements and that the manicurist has met certain minimum requirements for competent practice.

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Tips for Consumers

Manicuring is the practice of cutting, trimming, polishing, tinting, coloring or cleansing the nails and the applying of artificial nail products for any person for compensation. There are a few things consumers should look for in a salon before getting a manicure or pedicure to help ensure safe and satisfactory service:

  • Ask to see the salon license and the license of the person providing the service. (For security reasons, personal licenses are not required to be posted at individual stations.)
  • Observe the overall condition of the salon. It should appear clean and neat.
  • Be sure the manicurist washes his/her hands before starting each new client and properly sanitizes the workspace between each client.
  • The manicuring tools MUST be properly sanitized between each client and the sterilizer (a container filled with a disinfectant solution for sterilizing manicuring tools) should be visible on the table.
  • Salons must be properly ventilated. If you smell a strong chemical odor, the salon is likely not properly ventilated.

Advertising and Pricing

  • The price list for all services must be posted in a conspicuous place in the salon.
  • Gender-based pricing for cosmetology services is prohibited by the Massachusetts Public Accommodations Act. Prices must be based on factors such as nail length or difficulty of design.
  • Check for “a la carte” pricing. Many manicuring services are offered “a la carte” (i.e., application of nail strengthener or moisturizer may be an additional charge over the price of the basic manicure). Tell the manicurist what you want and ask what it will cost before having the manicure.
  • No salon may use any advertising which is misleading or inaccurate or misrepresents any materials or services, terms, values or policies. If a service is advertised at a specific price, the advertised price must include the cost of all operations necessary to complete the service.

Filing a Complaint

While the majority of licensees conduct themselves professionally, the Division of Professional Licensure will take action against those who fail to maintain acceptable standards of competence and integrity. If you have a serious complaint against a licensed manicurist or licensed salon, call the Division’s Office of Investigations at (617) 727-7406 or submit a complaint form.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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