Reducing Inhalation Exposure to Nail Salon Products

If you understand how, it is easy to improve the quality of your salon’s air and minimize inhalation exposure to potentially irritating or harmful substances.   Yes, there are things you can do to avoid excessive inhalation of dusts or vapors.  By taking the right steps you can improving the salon environment for customers and create a safer, more pleasant workplace for salon professionals.
Reducing exposure can also help sensitive individuals avoid symptoms such as irritated eyes, nose or throat, headaches, difficulty breathing, nervousness or drowsiness.  All of these can be related to poor ventilation or ventilation that’s not appropriate for the services being performed in the salon.  What?  Even drowsiness?  Sure!   We normally exhale carbon dioxide (CO2) and if the ventilation is poor, levels can build up in the salon and make you feel tired, lethargic and can even lower your performance and decision making skills.   Poor ventilation increases the air concentrations of product vapors and dusts as well, which is also important to avoid.   For these reasons, I recommend that nail professionals and salons take the appropriate steps to ensure that they have proper and appropriate ventilation in the salon.

Just about every substance on Earth has both a safe and potentially unsafe level of exposure.  Salon vapors and dusts are no exception.  In general, the vapor levels in a properly ventilated salon are well within safe limits.  However, not all salons have proper ventilation and those that don’t, often do not understand its importance or they may not understand the correct steps to take or even where to begin.   Also, there is a lot of misinformation about salon ventilation.
For instance, it’s a myth that you can determine the safety of a nail product by how it smells.   Some salon professionals mistakenly believe that ventilation systems are solely for controlling strong odors, when in fact, odors are not the reason for ventilating.   The odor of a substance does not indicate whether it is safe or harmful.  Dirty socks and baby diapers provide great examples.  Although these may not smell very good, they certainly aren’t harmful to breath nor are their odors dangerous. Some vapors have very little odor, yet they should also be controlled and kept at safe levels. Fragrances smell wonderful, yet some people are sensitive to inhaling excessive amounts!  So, it is important to have a good understanding of these issues, as well as, to understand which steps to take to keep vapors and dusts under control and within safe levels.

One of my many responsibilities as Co-Chair of the Nail Manufacturer’s Council on Safety (NMC) is to work with other nail industry scientists and experts to create informational brochures that help nail professionals understand how to work more safely with professional nail products. Recently, I worked with a team of NMC and ventilation industry experts to create a significant new update to an existing NMC brochure.  This update provides some new and important information.  It’s entitled “Guidelines for Controlling and Minimizing Inhalation Exposure to Nail Products”.   This new version is printed in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese and each of these can be found on the NMC website,, as well as on my own website,

At the end of this Educational Update you will find a link that will take you to this informative brochure.  In it you will discover many useful ideas for improving salon air quality.  The brochure includes general explanations about the various types of ventilation systems available, as well as their usefulness in the salon, how to select and properly use dust masks and a list of other important tips and suggestions for minimizing and lower exposures to safe levels.  I encourage you to take the time to download and read this useful guide.  It’s an important way to help safeguard your heath and to provide yourself with the peace of mind that comes with having the right information needed to make wise choices that improve the quality of your breathing air.


“Guidelines for Controlling and Minimizing Inhalation Exposure to Nail Products”

2014 edition

Nail Manufacturers Council on Safety (NMC)

of the Professional Beauty Association