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Personal Protective Equipment

Nail salon workers use products in their work which contains chemicals that may be harmful to their health.  These chemicals can enter the body in various ways: breathing in the chemicals or dust from the products they use; di​rect contact with the chemicals or product dust via skin and/or eyes; or accidentally ingesting th​e chemicals or dust. However, there are many ways workers can protect themselves.

Res​piratory Protection

​​Dep​ending on the situation, the​ following masks may help to protect a worker from various exposures: 

N95 Dust Masks help to protect against dust inhalation, but do not protect the wearer from chemical exposure. These can be helpful when a worker is buffing and/or filing nails or when using acrylic powders. This type of mask does not need to be worn all the time, only when a worker is working on a client. The owner and/or manager should supply employees with the OSHA Respiratory Prote​​ction Standards, which explain how to properly use this style of mask.
N95 Mask 
N95 Mask 

N95 Dust Masks with Odor Control
 help to reduce some chemical odors as well as protect against dust. They do not protect against all chemicals. These masks have an exhaling valve, which makes it easier to breathe. Like the N95 mask, the owner and/or manager should supplies employees with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standards, which explains how to properly use this style of masks.
Odor Control N95 Mask
Odor Control N95 Mask

Air Purifying Respirators
 are the only masks that will protect against chemical gases and vapors.  The type of cartridge the mask uses can vary, depending on what type of chemical is being used in the salon.  In order to use this style of mask, the salon owner and/or manager should develop a respiratory protection program. This should include ge​tting each worker fitted and trained on how to use th​is mask, as well as identifying which cartridge(s)​​ their employees should use.
Air Purifying Respirator 
Air Purifying Re​spirator
NOT RECOMMENDED: ​Surgical masks were designed to prevent transmission of bodily fluids (such as saliva, mucus, and blood) from the medical professional to the patient.​ They can also help block the spread of infectious droplets when the wearer sneezes or coughs. However, surgical masks​ were not designed to protect the wearer from inhaling dust or chemicals, as are found in a nail salon, so this type of mask is not adequate protection for a nail salon worker. surgical mask
Surgical Mask
​Skin Protection
Nail salon workers can protect their skin through proper hand washing, wearing gloves, and covering any open wounds on their exposed skin.

Hand washing: Nail salon workers should wash their hands before and after each client they assist. They should also wash their hands before they eat, drink, put on makeup, or smoke, as well as before and after handling any chemicals.

Nitrile gloves, which are typically purple or blue in color, should be worn during all services.  The gloves should be immediately replaced if there is a tear, hole, or puncture in them. A new pair of nitrile gloves should also be used with each client.

Latex gloves should be avoided since some people are allergic to them, and they do not offer proper protection against all different types of chemicals.

purple glove   blue glove
​Examples of blue and purple nitrile gloves

Cuts and wounds: If a nail salon worker has a cut or open wound on their skin, it should be covered with a bandage. Cuts and open wounds in the skin allow chemicals and other hazards (viruses, bacteria, fungi) to easily enter the body. By covering the wound, the nail salon worker protects their skin from possible infection.

Eye Protection

Wearing safety glasses or goggles provides some protection in case of chemical splashes and airborne nail or artificial (acrylic) nail particles, as well as limits eye irritation.
Safety Glasses
Safety glasses

If you have any questions about personal protective equipment or would like to request a training, please call the Safe Shops Program at 617-534-5965.​​​​
Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: