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cross the United States, the beauty industry is booming in response to consumer demand for affordable nail, hair, skin, and other personal care services. Nail salon services in California have tripled over the past two decades as nail salon technicians pamper their customers with the latest nail designs, treatments, and colors. At the same time, nail salon workers are exposed to an array of occupational hazards including chemical exposures and poor ventilation, made worse by language barriers and lack of health insurance.

To date, neither legislative nor regulatory oversight of the cosmetics industry, including nail salons, has been adequate to protect worker health and safety. While the state licenses this growing industry, it has been slow to establish or improve guidelines and regulations that could lead to a reduction of harmful chemical exposures and other occupational hazards in nail salons.

Language and cultural barriers block access to critical occupational health and safety information and regulations. A large number of nail salon workers in California are Vietnamese and most of those individuals are limited English proficient.

In spite of a sweeping legal mandate requiring California agencies to provide bilingual services and translated materials, agencies that regulate nail salons such as the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology are not meeting their constituents’ language needs. Private industry’s failure to translate technical information into lay terms and appropriate languages has similarly contributed to the information barrier.

In addition to being subject to an array of occupational health hazards, many workers and employers do not have access to affordable medical care which can mean foregoing treatment for a job-related illness or for consultation on the risks of continuing to work during pregnancy. At the same time, there is insufficient surveillance of occupational-related illnesses, including those related to nail salons.

In view of these obstacles to health and safety in nail salons, this Report and Policy Agenda aims to:

  • 1)

    Provide important Background information on the nail care industry;

  • 2)

    Articulate Policy Goals that would improve the lives of nail technicians and salon owners as well

as benefit consumers of nail care services; and,

3) Provide Policy Recommendations that could lead to attaining these goals for workers, owners, and consumers of nail care services.

California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative


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