Burns, scars and infections: How to avoid getting injured the beauty salon
Whether it's having your cuticles nipped by nail clippers, being burnt by too-hot wax or a sticky situation with false eyelash glue, most Kiwi women will have a story or two about beauty salon blunders.
Accidents at beauty therapy salons are on the rise - already this year several serious incidents have been reported by media, but most are not reported - considered by those affected as too minor or just the price to be paid for beauty.
Last year, ACC paid out nearly $1million in beauty therapy-related claims, with about a quarter of that from accidents in commercial or service environments.
The top four injury diagnoses were soft tissue injuries, burns, laceration or punctures and foreign bodies in an orifice or eye.
According to Kim Ryan, president NZ Association Of Registered Beauty Therapists (NZARBT), the reason for the number of incidents is that New Zealand has no government regulations on who can practice as a beautician or a nail technician.
"Basically there's nothing," says Ryan. "They see us as a trade, they don't see us as a profession.
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"We're dealing with the largest organ in the body, which is the skin, so why we're not seen as a profession, I don't know."
"What we want is our members to be registered like nurses and have a practice certificate - no practice certificate, you can't operate."
Ryan says the only way the industry is being regulated currently is through local body councils with varying degrees of success.
Many local councils, including Auckland Council (who introduced a new region-wide Health and Hygiene Bylaw in July 2014), have code of practice in place.
In February this year, Kiwi Nails and Spa Limited was fined $13,500 for using a banned substance after the salon was inspected by Auckland Council and WorkSafe and it was discovered the company was using methyl methacrylate to glue artificial nails onto customer's nails.
Methacrylate is a banned substance and is not allowed to be used as a component or ingredient in any cosmetic product. It is known to cause drowsiness, headaches and trembling hands if people are exposed to the fumes, and it can cause damage to nails and irritate customer's skin on contact.
"We have to get the government to realise there's a problem," says Ryan. "Like any government thing they wait till there's a crisis and then they act."
The role of the NZARBT is to connect beauty therapists and clinic owners with the public, providing education and a set of standards to the former, assurance to the latter, and information to both.
"We want safe practice."
"Anybody who belongs to our association has to have either NZQA qualifications, New Zealand qualifications from a college or internationally recognised qualifications," says Ryan.
The association also has a Code of Practice and a Code of Ethics, which ensure members provide a high standard of service to the public, protecting their clients, themselves and the reputation of the beauty industry.
Updated regularly, the Code of Practice gives valuable information on professional hygiene practices, while the Code of Ethics covers rules of conduct and ethical standards that members must follow.
They currently have 680 registered members across individual and clinics as well as 450 student memberships.
How many others out there are practising but not registered?
"A lot," says Ryan.
She adds that especially while waiting for regulation, the public do need to take some responsibility.
"If people go to a $5 nail bar, they have to question what they'll get. If they're going to places that look unsafe or unhygienic, why keep going?"
"If it's significantly cheaper than other places in that area, you have to ask the question - are they using safe practice and legitimate products?"
Ryan says the first thing people should do before even making an appointment is to check their qualifications, which should be displayed on a wall in the salon - or search the NZARBT online database for registered clinics in their area.
If something should go wrong, she encourages the public to contact the association immediately, whether the problem treatment was done by one of their members or not.
"If we get a complaint from the public about one of our members, we do then investigate them. On that investigation we will try to re-educate them and get them to start following the practices. If they don't, they're expelled."
"It's about providing an education process for the public and for therapists and nail technicians, and if we're showing that we are forging ahead then hopefully the government will recognise that and come to us and say, 'What can we do to tighten all this up…'"
Beauty salon chain About Face, has seven clinics across Auckland and is a member of the NZARBT. Director Marianna Glucina says they also have strict training policies in place for all staff - but would welcome regulation "as it improves the level of care in general.
"If there's no regulation you have the risk of, for instance, people buying a lower cost IPL [intense pulsed light] machine from overseas and operating it without the proper training and qualifications or using substances which are banned in New Zealand."
Glucina says those considering a salon beauty treatment should "firstly make sure they are a member of the NZ Association of Registered Beauty Therapists - look for the sticker on the door. You should also check that the council Code of Compliance is displayed and ensure the practitioner is a fully qualified beauty therapist."