Why Wear Gloves?


As nail technicians, and especially as pedicurists, we should know that we need to wear gloves during the actual procedures. But you should be encouraged to wear gloves at any time you might touch a client’s skin. Read more to see why.

One of the biggest reasons to always wear gloves is that times have changed. We now have super-bugs which did not exist in days of yore. These microbes persist in our environments and are easily colonized but very difficult to fight.

Also, many more people have immune-compromised health due to the increase in diabetes, lupus, various cancer treatments (and so many other reasons) and they are unable to fight off what would “normally” be a non-issue. Many persons carry MRSA, Hep C, C. diff., etc., without manifesting symptoms. You can’t look at a person and know they’re colonized for various infections that can totally take another person down. For the sake of your health, and the health of your next client, you must wear gloves that are properly turned wrong side out as you remove them.

If you need another reason to wear gloves, there is the fact that this industry is hard on your body – aches and pains from repetitive movements are not the only problems. Contact dermatitis is very common. Splitting and cracking skin from exposure to various solutions we use is another. Nail technicians have reported verruca (warts) on their hands that are commonly found on feet. No mystery what happened there. Ever heard of Herpes Whitlow or digital herpes? Herpes on the fingers  – likely picked up in a facial service since viable herpes virus can be present more than 24 hours before a skin lesion is manifested.

The question of WHY we should wear gloves is thoroughly understood and no one should question it. Let’s talk about common objections and see if we can’t finally put them to rest.

OBJECTION 1: I NEED SKIN-ON-SKIN CONTACT. When human skin rubs against another’s there is friction. In the direction of movement, it’s called “skin press friction” and in the area behind a movement it’s called “skin pull friction.” When the skin is moved against the underlying tissues, it can cause “shearing.” In all of these instances of pressure, the skin can be damaged. For some clients, even a minute amount of damage can be dangerous…those who are slow to heal can end up with blood stagnation in the tissue from broken capillaries which can lead to ulcers. When gloves are worn during product application or massage, there is less friction. More slip.

Educator Janet McCormick and a colleague conducted a study about gloves. They performed 24 facial services which they documented. At the beginning of the service they used their bare hands and performed a facial massage without gloves. After putting on gloves, they continued on with the service without remarking about the gloves. Near the end of the service, they carefully repeated the same massage as they had at the beginning. Afterward, they asked all 24 people detailed questions about their facial experience. To the question “did you notice a difference in the massage at the beginning and the massage at the end?” every single client said they preferred the second massage. “Much smoother” “more relaxing” “felt better” were things they stated. Not one person mentioned gloves. Not one. During the study, one client did remark that she noticed Janet had to stop the movement to get more cream in the first massage. This is because when the provider is not wearing gloves, a significant amount of the product goes into their own hands.

 1) A loss of product.

2) Palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet are two of the most porous parts of the skin – hundreds of thousands more openings in sweat glands, alone. Do you really want every single product you apply all day long being absorbed into your body?

Sounds like “skin-on-skin” is really NOT a better service!

OBJECTION 2: MY CLIENTS WON’T LIKE IT. You should have the attitude that your clients know you are passionate about your work—that you stay up latest trends, continue your education, attend classes and trade shows. They automatically grant you the privileges due an expert.  You should always attract clients who seek what you offer. Further, they should take their cues from you and they like what you tell them to like! 

Not to mention, this excuse is no longer even valid. People are USED to being touched with gloved hands these days.  They notice when someone comes at them with bare hands…trust this! In fact, the persons who don’t like gloves are not the clients, only the nail technicians who aren’t open to learning.


In discussions and online professional groups, it’s become apparent the only persons objecting to gloves are the techs, themselves. Not the clients. Let’s take a look at some of the objections given by nail tech who speak against gloves in the salon.

“They’re too hard to put on and are too much trouble to put on.” Get cotton glove liners. They allow you to quickly slip gloves on and off.

“I don’t like the bumpy texture of nitrile gloves.” OK…buy smooth ones. They have them now.

“I can’t feel anything in them” Wear tight nitrile or nylon gloves and you can even feel a hair lying across the skin.  If you can’t feel what you need to feel, your gloves are likely simply too loose.

“It’s expensive.” Again…not true, if you buy them correctly. It’s a proven fact that buying your disposables (gauze pads, 4 x 4s, etc.) are always about half the cost from medical or even dental suppliers than from beauty suppliers. So, shop around in medical supply websites. If you ask them to send you samples of a couple different gloves or sizes, they will. Once you find the one that works…buy a case. They don’t spoil.

Why won’t you wear gloves? If you think about…there is really no valid answer to that question which prevents you from doing so. You just don’t want to do it. That’s on you.


Let’s discuss one more reason. In the United States, OSHA mandates the wearing of Personal Protection Equipment for ALL workers. PPEs include gloves. And all workers include salon workers. Many times nay-sayers say things like “But my state board does not require it, so I don’t have to do it.” This is simply not true! Your State Board of Cosmetology isn’t the only regulatory agency you must obey! What about City Zoning? Or County? Certainly, Federal laws also apply!

The Federal OSHA mandates apply to every worker in every state. There are NO STATES that are able to set aside OSHA. In fact, State OSHA rules can be even more stringent! California is a prime example.

“State Plans can have their own penalty reduction policies and procedures that may differ from OSHA’s but must be deemed at least as effective. All State Plan policies and procedures related to penalties must be submitted and reviewed by OSHA. State Plans also have their own system for review and appeal of citations, penalties, and abatement periods. The procedures are generally similar to OSHA’s, but cases are heard by a state review board or equivalent authority.”

How is OSHA enforced? All it takes is one disgruntled employee or an unsatisfied client to “drop a dime” and call you out. OSHA has the authority to initiate unannounced inspections and penalize businesses for failure to comply. Here’s some info for you at:


For those of you who think you are a small business so you are not required to comply with OSHA, you are misinformed. Unless you are a sole practitioner, (you can’t be your own employer) you are subject to OSHA everywhere in the USA and DC.

For those of you who are self-employed and may not have to comply with “providing a safe and hazard-free work place for your employees,” but why wouldn’t you? There’s simply no good reason to provide less than the best possible working environment for yourself.

We’ve addressed the “objections” put forth by those who say they don’t wear gloves at times…or at all! You can’t change a person’s basic character—they are who they are. But you CAN change a person’s mind about something. The questions is, can you change your own mind?

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