ICK: The Really Gross Things Happening In Your Local Salon

Booked in for a blowdry, or popping in for a pedi? Brace yourself ladies, cos there may be horrors lurking in your local beauty biz.

blonde woman in hair salon

“Can I make an appointment for a haircut, please? Just checking you wash the towels in there?” Eh, what?

There’s nothing like the thrill of a trip to the salon. Even if it’s for a mundane waxing appointment, just being there, in the lovely girly atmosphere, the smell of scented candles and oils, stacks of magazines to read as you wait, and if you’re lucky, a cup of tae. Ah, bliss.

But what if some nasty buggy critters were also chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin all cool in there too, living (and multiplying) in the warm, snug folds of damp towels, swimming around in the eyelash tint pot and setting up shop in the bristles of wands and brushes?

This still happens, and as far as we can tell there’s no regulation around hygiene procedures in salons. It’s up to the owners and managers to make sure the premises, and the practices, are squeaky clean.

So before you settle into the chair or hop up on the bed, make sure:

The towels have been washed and not just tumble dried

This shocked team STELLAR. It never occurred to us that our wet hair, or naked bods, could be sharing fluffy flannels with another. Not so according to reader Nicole: “I’ve heard that some places don’t bother putting them in the wash, the drier is quicker, especially on Saturdays when the appointment book is chocka. I got a suspiciously smelly towel in the hairdressers once, and I never went back.”

Double dipping is definitely off the treatment list

Public outcry (okay, we’re exaggerating a little) put paid to double dipping wax (using spatulas more than once and putting them in and out of the hot wax pot) a few years back, and thankfully it’s rare to come across it now. There is however, another treatment you should keep an eye out for, says salon worker Lynsey. “When I started in the salon I’m in now, the therapists were double dipping lash and brow tints. I went mad. Needless to say it doesn’t happen anymore.” #phew

Make-up brushes and mascara wands are for your face only

“It makes me gag if a make-up artist uses the mascara wand straight from the tube on my lashes. How many other people’s eye stuff is in there?” says salon regular Becca. Ophthalmic infections are a right Debbie downer, and last for ages, so mascara wands should be disposable. Repeat, mascara wands should be disposable. And as for the brushes, a casual question about the best brush cleanser should do the trick.

There’s no risk to fingers and toes

Mani and pedi bits and bobs require strict sterilisation between clients. This goes for everything from the footbath to the buffer. “I got a really bad fungal nail infection a few years back from a sloppy manicure,” reader Sara tells us. “My older sister is a pharmacist and she brings her own nail kit to all appointments, now I do too. They’re not expensive at all; you can get them in the salon supply shops.”

Guess we’ll be looking out for a few of these nasties when we head for our next appointment. Eek!