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Artificial Nails


Are you thinking about getting artificial nails?  Did you know that this type of nail enhancement will require care and more follow up appointments with your nail technician?  Did you also know that before going into the salon and after leaving the salon, there are certain things you should know?  Not being aware can result in infection.


  • Check with your employer as there may be a work place policy preventing the use of artificial nails. If you are a health care worker or a food handler, artificial nails have the potential to trap bacteria and other organisms underneath and around the nail bed that can be difficult to remove during regular handwashing. There have been outbreaks of infections that were traced back to the artificial nails of a health care worker.
  • Ensure the salon has been inspected by the local health unit. In some areas inspection results are posted for public viewing. If there isn’t such a sign posted and the nail technician doesn’t want to show you their copy of the last inspection report, this could be a red flag.Contact the local Health Unit to ensure they have the salon in their data base and find out if the salon in question has passed their most recent inspection.

    Public Health Inspectors are required to conduct once a year inspections of these salons. Part of the inspection is to ensure that the salon, tools and equipment used are properly cleaned and disinfected between customers. If you see any concerns at a salon including the cleanliness of the equipment/ tools that are being used, please contact the Health Unit as soon as possible.

  • Ask family and friends for recommendations. Some nail technicians are better skilled, experienced and knowledgeable than others.  In Ontario there are no requirements for persons providing manicures or pedicures to have a certain level of education or knowledge. There are no apprenticeship or testing requirements before someone begins practice.  Some nail technicians may have taken an on line course while others may have taken a longer more detailed course.

Improper application of the nail enhancement or aggressive technique by the nail technician can result in nail damage and/or infection.  Only the surface oil on the nail plate requires to be removed so that the artificial nail can adhere properly.  As an example, should you change your mind halfway through the removal of the surface oil on the nail, the nail technician should be able to buff the natural nail back to normal.  If your nail looks damaged, the nail technician removed too much of your natural nail and you can be at risk for infection.


  • Artificial nails are only applied to healthy nails.
  • Both you and the nail technician should wash your hands before the process begins.
  • Some people may be allergic to the nail product or glue. If you are unsure, have the nail technician try the nail enhancement for the first time only on one nail.
  • If an artificial nail becomes loose or damaged, return to the nail salon for a repair. Without repair, these areas could now trap dirt, bacteria and water in between the artificial and the natural nail.
  • Ensure to return every 2-3 weeks for “touch ups” or “maintenance” as your natural nail grows. If you don’t, you’re at risk for infection where the gaps and lifting of the artificial nail will occur.
  • When washing your hands, take extra time to also clean gently around your nails using a soft nail brush.
  • Refrain from activities that could tear or damage your artificial nails as well as your natural nails. Never use your nails as tools.  For e.g. avoid opening flip top cans using the artificial nail.
  • When washing dishes, cleaning and gardening, wear gloves to protect your nails. The products you use can cause the artificial nail to loosen.
  • Should you make the decision to have your artificial nails removed, do not attempt to do this yourself. Return to the salon and have the nail technician remove them safely and properly.
  • If you think you may have an infection which can include swelling, redness or green/black nail discolorations, ensure to see a doctor as soon as possible.


American Academy of Dermatology.  “Artificial nails require care to keep nails healthy .”    Last accessed 2016/02/11.

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.  “Infection Prevention and Control Best Practices for Personal Services Settings ( ).” January 2009.

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