Nail bars

Nail bars are becoming more widespread due to the increasing popularity of acrylic nails. An investigation by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has reported that one in five nail bars could pose a significant risk to health because of dangerous procedures, especially:

  • poor hygiene
  • inadequate ventilation
  • the use of certain chemicals

If you‘re the owner/manager of a nail bar you do not need a licence, but you do need to be aware of these potential hazards and adopt safe working procedures. This will ensure cosmetic procedures on nails do not lead to health and safety problems for your nail technicians or your clients.

The table below outlines the main potential issues and how you can prevent them. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s guide to good practice in nail bars [PDF] may also be useful.


Details of issue

What you can do

Harmful chemicals, solvents, vapours and dust

Repeated inhalation, ingestion or skin contact, may lead to work-related illnesses including nasal and respiratory problems, asthma, and dermatitis.

Implement safe conditions and systems of work such as adequate ventilation.

Reduce the amount of chemicals in the air by keeping products in closed, marked containers and using dispenser bottles.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for using protective clothing such as paper masks and vinyl gloves.

Clean up any spills immediately.

Wash hands regularly to remove any chemicals and have employees check skin daily for any signs of soreness or irritation.

Musculoskeletal disorders

Caused due to working practices and posture during treatments.

Install ergonomically designed workstations with adjustable chairs. Where possible tasks should be rotated, with regular breaks.

Infection control

There is the potential for problems associated with client’s hands, and contracting bacterial, viral and fungal infections during cosmetic nail procedures.

Technicians and clients should wash and dry their hands before and after cosmetic treatment to reduce the risk of infection.

Equipment that is in direct contact with the skin or natural nail such as files, boards, etc should be both single use and disposable, or properly cleaned and sterilised between clients.

General hygiene is also important, as infection can easily be passed between clients and staff.


You’ll find further helpful information and advice on health and safety in nail bars via the following links:

HABIA Code of Practice for Nail Salons

HABIA Guidance for Nail Technicians and Nail Businesses

HSE Research Report RR627 – Health and Safety in Nail Bars

If you’re a client and have concerns about a salon you visit, we advise you to ask them about their procedures and whether they adopt safe work standards as described above.