When it comes to getting a manicure, Ann Cannariato gets one every few weeks. But Ann claims a couple years ago, she got a nail infection.
"Worse is the fact knowing that I have this fungus and you're taking those instruments now and using them on the next client," Ann said with disgust.
She says that's how her nail bed became permanently damaged.
"I have physically witnessed a technician come and pick up the implements on the client sitting next to me and carry them over to use on her client," she explained.
But in a special I-Team investigation, we found Florida's Board of Cosmetology has written up less than 100 salons locally for serious citations with fines ranging from $50 to $500 for unlicensed workers, the most serious offense.
"Unlicensed activity is one of the most important things that we pursue," said Sandra Rentfrow, the Regional Program Administrator for the Division of Regulation.
Rentfrow says working in a salon without a license puts the public's health at risk and therefore serves up the harshest penalty.
Blowbar Express Styling Salon on South Dale Mabry in Tampa was hit with that steep fine in August of last year after inspectors found an unlicensed cosmetologist working inside.
When we reached out to the owner of Blowbar Express she said, "We are in full compliance with all state requirements."
And records we reviewed show other disciplinary citations around the bay area.
Scroll down to find tips on what to watch for on your next salon visit.
On November 26, 2012, Regal Nails inside the Walmart on Commercial Way in Spring Hill was fined $250 for multiple violations, including not using an E.P.A. registered disinfectant as required by law.
"If they don't have it, that tells us they're not practicing proper sanitation," said Rentfrow.
"And what does that disinfectant do?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.
"It kills bacteria." Renftrow explained.
"So it's not spread to the next client?" asked Ryan.
"Exactly," Rentfrow responded.
During that same visit, inspectors cited Regal Nails for not properly cleaning its pedicure chairs and not keeping a cleaning log.
Regal Nails responded in writing. See the entire letter at http://wfts.tv/10hbgJC .
"They do have to take the foot plate off and they have to take the filters off. They also have to take the jets off and they all have to be immersed in an E.P.A. registered disinfectant," Rentfrow explained.
And when it comes to waxing hair, state rules are clear.
"If I go in and have a waxing done, everything they use on me has to be disposed of," Rentfrow said.
But on September 17, 2012 Shellak Nails on South Dale Mabry in Tampa was cited for not changing applicators after every client.
It's a serious violation, since bacteria can spread from person to person.
The owner of Shellak Nails, Tom, who did not want to give us his last name, says everything has been corrected.
"We can't stress it enough how important it is for public safety for these people to be in compliance," Rentfrow said.
Florida salons are only inspected once every two years and Ann feels the state needs to crack down harder on those clearly in violation.
"If they can get away with it, they're going to get away with it. So it really comes down to the state having to step up the pace," Ann said.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR AT YOUR NEXT SALON VISIT:
- 1) STATE INSPECTION REPORT SHOULD BE POSTED IN PUBLIC VIEW AT THE FRONT OF THE SALON.
- 2) EVERY NAIL TECH OR STYLIST SHOULD HAVE THEIR LICENSE POSTED AT HIS OR HER STATION.
- 3) MAKE SURE THE IMPLEMENTS COME OUT OF A CLEAN, ENCLOSED CONTAINER AND HAVE BEEN DISINFECTED FROM PREVIOUS CLIENT.
- 4) NEAR THE PEDICURE CHAIRS, THE "CONSUMER PROTECTION NOTICE" SHOULD BE POSTED AND IN VIEW OF ALL CLIENTS.
- 5) ALL PEDICURE LOGS MUST BE POSTED AND IN VIEW OF THE PUBLIC. THE STATE RECOMMENDS READING THE SALON'S PEDICURE LOGS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE CLEANING THE BATH REGULARLY.
- 6) LOOK FOR AN EPA REGISTERED DISINFECTANT. IT'S THE ONLY THING THAT WILL PROTECT YOU FROM BACTERIA SPREADING..