An hour of peace, pampering, and polish—what’s not to love about getting a manicure or pedicure?

Last week, New York City public advocate Letitia James released a policy report examining the cleanliness and safety of NYC nail salons. It appears that the demand for polished tips comes with increased reports of unsanitary conditions and greater concern about the harsh chemicals used for common nail services. We’ll spare you the graphic photos, but trust us, her findings will make you want to examine your own go-to salon—wherever it may be.

Here are some shocking facts:

· When the Department of Health inspected New York’s salons from 2008 to 2012, they found 56% to be in violation of health and safety rules.

· A whopping 75% of nail salons in the U.S. do not comply with their state’s standards for disinfecting equipment. (You don’t want to know what’s been found lurking in those footbaths.) Such neglect can lead to fungal or staph infections, or even serious infections like hepatitis, in rare cases.

· Of the 10,000 chemicals found in nail products, only 11% have been independently evaluated for product safety. And what’s more toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate—known by those in the industry as the “toxic trio”—can cause reproductive harm, respiratory problems, and cancer.

· There are little or no regulations governing proper ventilation in salons.

· UV lamps used to dry your nails can be as harmful to the skin as tanning beds, and there is little to no regulation on the manufacturing of these nail lamps.

Still not convinced to break up with your cheap corner salon? No judgment! But now that you know the facts, don’t overlook the risks. While cities fight to establish “Healthy Nail Salons” incentive programs, follow these handy tips for ensuring a safer mani and pedi.

Do your homework

Prior to receiving services, read customer reviews, make sure the salon is licensed, and take a look around the establishment for cleanliness.

Ask questions

For example, when was the last health inspection and what products are used to clean stations? The more you know, the better.

Be aware of smells

If there is an overpowering chemical odor, leave.

Request new tools

Make sure any item that has been used on a previous client has been properly sterilized first. Even better: Ask for pre-packaged disposable tools or bring your own.

Say ouch

You should never feel pain when receiving services. That goes for everything from polish removal to callus buffing. And always say no to cuticle clipping (a huge no-no!); this method can break the seal that protects the skin from infection. Have them gently pushed back instead.

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