Failing to sterilize tools or sanitize foot spas, manicurists found operating with an expired license or no license at all, these are a few of the most common violations found at nail salons across the North Texas — and they are violations that could ultimately affect the health and safety of customers.
NBC 5 Investigates’ Consumer Unit obtained the inspection records for North Texas nail salons from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), the state agency responsible for regulating the industry.
By law, TDLR must inspect nail salons once every two years. However, if there are serious violations found, then TDLR may opt to perform more frequent inspections.
In the past four years, TDLR conducted more than 6,400 inspections in the Metroplex, including inspecting both the salons and the individual manicurists who work in the salons. Inspectors noted more than 4,700 violations with 831 resulting in fines. Of the salons slapped with fines, half were for licensing issues and the other half were for sanitation problems.
“The reports that we get and the violations that we see are just mind-boggling,” said Daired Ogle, an Arlington salon owner and member of the Texas Advisory Board of Cosmetology, which reviews inspection records and proposes rules for salons.
This year, Coppell Nails was fined $3,450 for performing services on a client when the licensee had reason to believe the client had a “contagious condition.” Exotic Nails in Hurst was fined $4,500 for not keeping a record of the foot spa cleanings. Dream Nails in Lancaster faced a fine of $2,250 for sanitary issues as well as using the salon “as living, dining or sleeping quarters.”
A manager at Coppell Nails said the salon has never had a problem like this in 17 years and the manicurists always sanitize the salon. They are cooperating with the TDLR. The owners of Exotic and Dream Nails were out of the country, but workers said they are cooperating with TDLR as well.
The biggest fine levied at any facility in the past four years was Texas Beauty College in Haltom City, a school that’s supposed to teach students how to be cosmetologists. The school paid $15,000 for violations in 2012 ranging from paperwork errors to poor sanitation.
"It surprises me, and it also disappoints me, because you hold the schools to a higher standard,” said Susan Stanford, TDLR spokeswoman.
The owner of Texas Beauty College said the school has worked hard to rectify the problems.
The TDLR has a huge task when it comes to salon inspections.
Right now there are eight inspectors responsible for all the North Texas nail salons, Stanford said.
And nail salons are booming businesses in North Texas. Their proliferation is no illusion.
Records show there are more than 1,400 in the Metroplex with about 25 opening every month.
But nail salons aren’t the only focus for the TDLR inspectors. They’re also responsible for other businesses like barber shops, towing companies, vehicle storage facilities and dog and cat breeders. Last year they performed 22,000 inspections, and Ogle believes the sheer volume makes it difficult for them to keep up with all the inspections.
“I think it’s impossible,” he said.
But Stanford insisted while it’s a daunting task, the agency juggles resources and can get the job done.
“We do keep up with it. We have the ability to bring inspectors from other parts of the state in to help out. It's a team effort,” she said.
Baylor Dallas Dermatologist Jessica Saucier sees patients with nail problems, commonly associated with a manicure or pedicure, on a monthly basis. These problems include salon acquired fungus, nail damage and infection.
“The right opportunity with dirty instruments will cause infection,” Saucier said. “If you don’t see good habits being practiced then how do you know what’s happening behind the scenes?”
Ogle hopes the industry can correct the problems and work to reduce the number of violations, but with the explosions of salons in Dallas-Fort Worth that may prove to be a difficult task.
“I don't know if it can all be cleaned up. I honestly do not think it will all be cleaned up," Ogle said.
Consumers can and should report any problems they see or experience at nail salons to the TDLR. Consumers can also look up violations at their salons. (Use the drop down menu to select “Cosmetologists” then put in your salon’s name under “Inquire by Company Name” and chose your city with the drop down menu under “Inquire by Location”)