Manicures can add the perfect finishing touch to a person's well-groomed appearance, and as a consequence, are in demand locally as well as across the country.
Industry experts report that nationally in 1988, men and women spent $64 million on manicures, which involve trimming, shaping and sometimes painting the nails.
Along with the growing popularity of manicures has come an interest in strengthening sanitary regulations, and later this month, Kansas officials will take a step in that regard.
A public hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 12 at the Kansas state Board of Cosmetology conference room, 717 S. Kansas Ave., on proposed amendments to state regulations on manicures.
THE CHANGES, which center on instrument sanitation, were requested by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), which oversees the cosmetology board.
"These aren't new rules," Dr. Andrew Pelletier, acting state epidemiologist with KDHE, said in a telephone interview from Topeka. "These are just revisions to update those already in place.
"These revisions are more specific and stringent concerning sanitation."
If the proposed regulations are approved, they could go into effect in about a month, Pelletier said.
Health problems that can be caused by unsanitary conditions range from softening of the nails to the spread of bacterial and fungal infections.
THE COSMETOLOGY board grants licenses to manicurists and cosmetolgists in Kansas and inspects salons across the state.
Nancy Shobe, executive director of the board, said to qualify, a manicurist must have completed 350 hours of training in a state-licensed school.
"They are then tested by the board through a written and practical test," she said.
Cosmetologists must have 1,500 hours of training, Shobe said, and are examined for proficiency in all phases of cosmetology manicuring, hair styling, hair removal, massaging, cleansing and stimulation of the scalp, or other beautifying processes.
In Lawrence, Shobe said, there are 15 licensed manicurists and 388 licensed cosmetologists.
SHE NOTED, "It would be difficult to determine how many of these cosmetologists do nails, but it is believed to be a large number due to the fact that there is a large nail business in Lawrence."
Personnel at several local beauty salons said it wasn't unusual for patrons to asked for manicures, even though hair styling reamined the most requested service.
Casey Axtell of Joda and Friends, 3009 W. Sixth, said, "We see a lot of executive types. We don't do a lot of manicures here but whoever gets one, it usually has something to do with status."
Roselie Orr, owner of Foxy Fingers and Elite Boutique, 900 Ind., said manicures were most popular with women at her shop, and by far the most requested procedure with nails was sculpting, which involves making a fancy, artificial nail from a fiberglass mesh and gluing it onto the natural nail.
SHOBE ADDED that salon inspections were conducted regularly.
"Every salon must be licensed and inspected at least once a year," she said. "Individuals are tested and relicensed every two years."
One proposed amendment to the state regulations would require all supplies and instruments that come in direct contact with a patron and that cannot be disinfected be thrown away immediately after use. This includes items such as cotton pads and emery boards that touch the natural nail.
The state board now requires that each salon have at least one "wet sanitizer," containing a disinfectant solution ready for use at all times. Also, that instruments used on a patron be cleaned with soap and water and immersed in the disinfectant for at least 20 minutes before being used on another person.
ANOTHER PROPOSED amendment would require that the disinfectant solutions remain covered at all times and changed "at least once a week or whenever cloudy or dirty."
Common disinfectant solutions permitted include a 70 percent alcohol solution, or a solution of Lysol in water.
Orr said her shop already threw away used cotton balls and emery boards, and used two sterilization procedures.
"We use a 70 percent alcohol solution to clean clippers and an anti-bacterial soap in the bathroom," she said, explaining her operators asked patrons to wash their hands with the special soap before receiving their manicures.
"I have noticed that more emery boards are sanitizable," Orr said. "If we get anyone who looks like they have a problem with their nails, then we throw it away. If someone bleeds we're careful about throwing stuff away."
ORR SAID HER manicurists also used an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial spray on client's hands.
"When we're working with sculptured nails, where our instruments don't touch the natural nail, we can reuse the emery boards," she said.
Manicure patrons can do some consumer-style checking on salons' sanitary practices for themselves.
Following are a few tips:
- Ask if the operator is licensed by the state.
- Take a look around the salon. Does it look and smell clean? Are the floors swept?
- Ask if the instruments and surfaces are cleaned and disinfected between clients' use.
- Ask how instruments are sterilized, and how often.