SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Getting your nails done is considered a treat for many women.
But could the appeal of being pampered be putting your health at risk?
KSLA Investigates went to the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology to learn how safe the nail salons are in Northwest Louisiana.
Ten inspectors are responsible for ensuring that nail salons throughout Louisiana are clean and following state rules.
"They do eight to 10 inspections a day. It can be done. But they have to move; they really do," said Steve Young, the cosmetology board's director.
"It's a matter-of-fact process of going from place to place checking licenses, checking sanitation, seeing if there's any problem and moving to the next place."
The job isn't easy. Each inspector is responsible for inspecting 500 to 600 businesses at least twice a year.
Young says his inspectors do the best they can with what they have.
And the budget does not allow for more inspectors to be hired.
"We receive no state funding," Young explained. "Our funding is through our license fees and any fines that we may collect.
"We make our own money, and we have to live within that budget."
At $25 a year, a Louisiana cosmetology license is the least expensive license in the state. The amount of the fee has not been changed in 22 years.
"We certainly would like to see a $10 increase; it would help us immensely," Young said. "But that's up to Legislature."
Until something changes, inspectors will continue to face an overwhelming responsibility in the name of public health.
It's no secret that the sheer number of nail salons they're required to inspect leaves them at a disadvantage.
And if handled improperly, Young said, one small mishap can put others in danger.
"It would change the game because, if there was blood-borne pathogen or disease, then we would have to call in the help of the Department of Health.
"And, of course, we would have to then take inspectors out of one region and put into that region for ultimate quick inspection of everything," he continued. "It would be a process that we've not had to handle. Thank goodness, we've not had that. I hope we don't."
KSLA Investigates filed a public records request to review the most recent inspections of nail salons in District 1, which includes Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Red River and Sabine parishes.
With the help of the cosmetology board, KSLA Investigates reviewed all the reports from 2017 through March 2018.
A number of the nail salons passed their inspections.
A majority of them were marked for seemingly easy fixes, including having unlabeled bottles and not having tops on trash cans.
And those appear to be recurring issues.
"I guess they just take it for granted that that day, no one is going to come in and see that the tops are off of the can or if you don't have a label on the bottle," Young said.
"It could also be that they are not buying standard brands, that they may be importing 5-gallon cans of some disinfectant from somewhere that is not something that is used," he continued.
"That's why it's just absolutely mandatory to have inspectors as much as possible."
The inspection reports also show that a handful of District 1 nail salons were marked for not replacing towels between clients and not having a cleaning kit for blood-borne pathogens.
"It's mandatory that all the equipment is cleaned after each client; that's mandatory," Young said.
"It very quickly could go downhill if it's not cleaned properly after each client."
Overall, he said, the board rarely sees major violations in District 1.
"It's very good actually. We've had a good inspector up there. It seems that everyone is trying very hard in Northwest Louisiana.
"It's wonderful; so be proud of that," Young said. "Otherwise, you would have found many violations; and you didn't, so that's good."
He can't say the same for other parts of the state.
"There are violations of health and sanitation that we find," Young said. "There are violations of unlicensed people doing the services."
At the end of the day, the money you pay to feel pampered should not put your health at risk.
There's no excuse for poor sanitation.
"Everything must be cleaned after each client," Young explained. "So you never use the same towels; nothing is used twice.
"It just goes without saying, the cost per service includes cleaning the towels. Everything that must be used is included in the price. So don't try and cheap; do it right."
Young noted three things you should do when you walk through the door of your nail salon.
1) First, look for the salon's and individuals' licenses. They should be posted in plain sight.
3) Young also recommends doing a walk-through of the salon. If it isn't clean or kept tidy, it's probably in your best interest to go somewhere else.