Jessica-Jane Clement helps Laura, whose trip to a salon for a set of acrylic nails led to her being admitted to hospital, and investigates dangerous heaters in a luxury spa.
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My name's Jessica-Jane Clement and, when I'm not working as a model,
or trying to protect you from being scammed on The Real Hustle,
you'll find me in a beautician's trying out new treatments.
But I've learnt from my own experience that it can be like the Wild West out there.
In most parts of the country, you, me, or anyone can open up a salon.
You don't need qualifications to practise.
And I can tell you there's some shocking work out there.
I can't believe someone's done this to you.
-It's just here.
-That looks so painful. I'd be so angry.
These were days after. There's some really bad ones.
And I've fallen foul, too.
A few years ago I had some lip fillers and ended up with two small hard lumps
right in the middle of my lips. Attractive.
Now, I'm investigating beauty disasters to try and discover what went wrong.
This week, a trip to a nail bar turns nasty.
It was like a burning sensation. I said to them, "Ow", because it hurted.
Rather than go in like this to open your can, I've got to go like that.
Proof that splashing the cash doesn't always guarantee quality treatment.
I didn't think they were going to be this bad.
I thought I'd been burnt and been burnt really badly.
And I check out everyday tools of the trade that can end in tears.
-Look how that's shaving through the skin.
-Aargh. I don't like that.
It went green, black, purple.
-All the colours of the rainbow.
Getting your nails done is a fast and cheap way to get a glam new look.
And with new nail bars opening up on the high street every month, the options are endless.
Business has boomed with over 17,000 nail technicians working here
but a spot of buffing and a spot of polish comes with a risk
as west country girl, Laura Penny, found out.
I said to them, "Ow," because it hurted and he obviously like, didn't understand me,
I was like, "That hurts."
Spa town Bath is home to 22-year-old family girl Laura.
Even though she's a grown woman, she's still my daughter and baby.
Laura's a care assistant and she likes to spend her well-earned cash pampering herself.
# You can't stop looking at me staring at me, be what I be. #
I like to feel nice when I go out, you know what I mean,
your make up, your hair, nice clothes, it means a lot to me really.
And her favourite treat is a manicure.
So, every few weeks Laura's nails undergo a radical makeover.
I've had them painted, I've had them manicured.
A lot of the time I've had acrylic, with the white tips on the end.
Nine months ago Laura wanted to transform her short nails into long talons
so she went to her local nail bar,
American Nails Fashion, on the high street in Midsomer Norton, for a full set of acrylics.
I'd never had a problem in there before, so I didn't mind who done my nails.
Went on in, and I looked at the boy and the first thing I thought is, "Oh, my God, you're young."
Obviously I thought he must be trained to be able to work in there.
He asked me what I wanted, either a plain or white manicure.
So, I had the white ones. He stuck them on.
Soon enough Laura had her full set of falsies
but a few days later an acrylic nail snapped.
So, she went back to the salon and demanded a replacement.
He stuck a tip on and he filed them down with this sander.
He was just sanding it down so far that it was like a burning sensation.
It made me flinch, like when you get a pain and it makes you sort of pull back,
edging away, but he still carried on doing it.
I said to him, "Ow", because it hurted and he obviously sort of like didn't understand me.
I was like that hurts.
Over the next few days the pain got worse.
Laura went back to the salon, again.
This time to get her acrylics taken off.
It was agony, it was just so, so painful.
The pain was making me sick, I thought, "This ain't right."
And over the next ten days Laura's finger started to swell.
Phoned the doctor, got an emergency appointment. Doctor literally went "A&E."
15 days after Laura's trip to the nail bar
she was admitted to hospital.
Put me on a drip, put me on Tramadol, which is like the highest painkillers.
The smell was like a rotten old piece of meat. That's the only word I can use to describe it.
It was like a golf ball on the end of it. I was just so scared. I was thinking, "Oh, my God."
Getting a false set of nails is all the rage.
Made from acrylic, gel, fibreglass or even silk.
Put on correctly, they'll transform the stumpiest of nails for up to three weeks at a time.
But beware, long term use can damage and weaken the nails you were born with.
It's nine months since Laura Penny's visit to her nail bar
and her finger is still not back to normal.
She's come to London to visit me.
If this happened to me after asking for a set of acrylics, I would be horrified.
This cost Laura two months off work and the pain isn't only financial.
She still doesn't have all the feeling back in her finger.
-Hello, all right.
-Nice to meet you.
-How are you?
-Very well, how are you?
-Not too bad, thank you.
So, Laura, when did you notice that something was definitely wrong?
When he went over the nails with the sander.
He obviously burnt that and filed that nail right down.
So, then he put the acrylic on top of that.
Did you actually let him know that the nail was hurting?
I told him it hurt and what he did, I was like, "Ow", pulling away,
but he pulled my finger back, like to carry on doing it.
-So, he just kept grabbing your hand and pulling you back again.
The next day, when I was at work, I felt a real bad pain go up through my finger
and it was that painful it made me physically sick.
What did it look like? Describe to me...
It was like really, really pink and sore. Looked like it had a lot of pus in it.
When I went to the hospital she cut it all open with a scalpel and nothing was coming out, just blood.
She wrapped it all up and told me to come back on the Monday.
So, I went back on the Monday and she told me that she wasn't happy with the result of what happened.
So, she kept me in and then it went black about a week, two weeks later.
And that's when it started to heal and a lot of scabs came off of it.
It was just all dead skin that was on the end of it.
It was black and green and purple and scabby and horrible.
-All the colours of the rainbow.
And how does your finger feel now?
Basically, the very, very tip of my finger I can't feel
and my actual nail, my nail bed, that's dead.
If I was to touch it now, can you feel that?
-You can't feel that?
So, when you left the nail bar, did you imagine a few weeks later you'd be in hospital?
No, obviously it's a beauty thing. You like to look good.
You know what I mean, you go out and on a night out, to look nice with your nails done
and you end up in hospital through beauty.
I really feel sorry for Laura because I love getting manicures
and I can't imagine walking around for two months with such an unattractive, infected finger.
It's definitely made me rethink where I go in the future to get my own nails done.
So, I want to get to the bottom of this and find out what's gone wrong.
But it's not just cheap and simple salon treatments that have got my attention this week.
We spend billions of pounds of our hard earned cash on spa treatments.
Now, you might think that paying top price would give you top service, but you'd be wrong.
# Going to the chapel and we're going to get married. #
26-year-old Essex engineer Neil Thompson and Chloe Booth
tied the knot earlier this year.
We was getting married a couple of months after Christmas.
I thought it would be nice to chill out before the wedding.
So, with weeks to go before the big day, Chloe spotted just the thing,
a new luxury spa opening nearby.
I looked on the website, said to Neil, "Oh, look, it looks really nice."
She sent me a link, I had a look and it was just some pictures of people doing some treatments.
They had a romantic package getaway and I thought, "Let's go away together
"and enjoy some time and be pampered before the wedding."
So, eager to please his future missus,
spa virgin Neil booked the couple's package.
For his first treatment he plumped for the age old, hot stone massage.
She prepares the hot stones, what have you,
and laid them on the bench and asked me to lay on top of them, on my back.
I've had a hot stones massage before and I've never laid on the stones before.
Then I started to feel a little discomfort from the stones on my back.
I'd never been to a spa before, I kind of thought,
"Oh, if it feels a little bit uncomfortable it might feel a bit nicer later."
But unfortunately for Neil, his treatment was about to get worse.
I must have laid on these stones for about half an hour,
thinking, "This is not that comfortable but, being a bit of a man, I'm not going to complain."
Neil thinks he spent a full 30 uncomfortable minutes
lying on the stones, getting hotter and hotter.
I got up and thought, "That stings a bit,"
and sort of gone like that and felt my back and felt like a big blister.
In fact Neil had been badly burnt.
It was just chaos. Didn't have a first aid room so they took me into this changing room.
Wearing my pants in front of all these people. It was quite embarrassing.
I was quite shocked that it had been allowed to happen. So, it ruined the experience.
It wasn't a romantic getaway.
If you've never done anything like that before and you don't feel comfortable,
-say something because it could leave you permanently scarred.
Hot Stone massage dates back 3,000 years to China
but it was a hot favourite in ancient Egypt and Native America.
Most stones are made from volcanic rock, able to reach 1,000 degrees,
they're used because they hold the heat.
These hot rocks are placed on the skin to warm and sooth the area,
making for a more medative state and a deeply, relaxing massage.
But spa virgin, Neil Thompson's hot stone massage was so hot he ended up with blisters.
I want to find out how Neil is now and what I can do to help.
I want to find out more about the treatment Neil received to work out what went wrong.
-Hi, I'm Jess.
I'd like to see what these blisters look like, have you got pictures?
I do have some pictures, there you go.
I can't believe, I didn't think they were going to be this bad.
Very sore to the touch and it was on my back, I couldn't sleep properly or anything.
They became infected afterwards, didn't they?
It wasn't healing at all and had lots of gunk in it.
So, what did they use to heat up the stones?
They used this thing that looked like a hot plate in a restaurant.
And there was no temperature guard, or anything?
It didn't look like there was any controls on there at all.
She was handling them with a towel.
So, she wouldn't have had any idea of how hot they were anyway.
It must have got about 15 minutes in and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable.
I was thinking, "Oh, I've not done this before and is this supposed to feel like that?
"One of those things that feels uncomfortable now and feels great later."
I was being a bit brave and just sticking with it.
It did get to a point where I did ask, it was getting a bit hot,
could we put some more towels on there, which she did.
I'm still in pain and she carried on to massage my back for half an hour.
And then she leaves the room. So I reach round and feel that I have a big blister on my back.
-What was going through your mind?
-I thought, "I've been burnt
"and I've been burnt really badly. This is a big blister."
Did you go and see your doctor?
His reaction to the burn, he said, "That's a really bad burn."
He said that it was infected and gave me a course of antibiotics.
How's your back now?
It still has a scar there, still has a mark.
Oh, you still do have a big scar there, don't you?
I can see that, yeah. That's still a pretty bad scar, to say you shouldn't have any scar at all.
-Neil, thank you ever so much for talking to me.
-You've told me everything I need. I'm going to look into it.
Nail bar victim Laura Penny thinks her finger was damaged by a nail drill.
Now nail drills are increasingly common tools in nail salons.
You see them everywhere, but exactly how safe are they?
I want some expert advice.
I'm meeting nail specialist
She's been in the business for 15 years
and has built a star studded client list.
We're here to take a look at the nail drill, aren't we?
-Shall we go?
-Yeah, let's go.
This is what we're talking about, these ones here. Where do they come from? What do they do?
They come from the craft industry. Originally they were used on wood and metal.
Now, they have been adapted to be used in the nail industry.
And they should be used to file down and reduce the length of acrylic nails.
Do people actually use these on natural nails?
People do and they really shouldn't. I educate people in the first bit
of my courses, "Do not use it on the natural nail."
It's an absolute no-no. Imagine this piece of metal rotating quickly on your natural nail.
Straight through the hundred layers of nail in no time.
And also it can pierce the seals, either end of your nails,
and allow bacterial, fungal spores, viruses to go into your bloodstream and cause all sorts of reactions.
Even leading, in extreme cases, to amputation.
Oh, my God.
I want to see the nail drill in action
but I'm not about to offer up my little piggies.
Instead, I've got the closest thing to human flesh, a joint of pork.
Look how that's shaving through the skin.
Aargh. I don't like this.
If this was a living creature,
we would be in a blood bath now.
That allows all the infections to go straight through to the body.
That's the point of skin, to protect us.
You pierce the skin and you open a playground for everything.
Now, bearing in mind this is a thick piece of skin.
The skin on your fingers would be much more delicate than this.
Those pork scratchings could put me off nail drills for life.
I want to have a go myself, this time on an acrylic nail.
If you turn the electric file round and reduce the length of my nail.
-So, just that way?
You can see how it goes through, can't you?
It goes really, really quick.
Keep it moving.
So, people actually use...oh, God, I've just slipped.
I know, I can feel the heat.
So people actually use these on natural nails?
-Yes, they do.
Because they just can't be bothered to do it properly
and they just want you in and out of the salon as quick as possible.
So, obviously these are very powerful drills.
Do you need training before you use them?
You definitely should have training but whether people get it is another matter.
And strangely enough, in some areas, you don't have to take any courses before you offer nail treatments.
What should you be looking out for?
The moment you walk through the door, look on the tables.
Do they have sterilising solution?
Are they using sanitise on your hands?
Is there a bathroom with running water?
And are they doing a client card?
If they are not adhering to those simple rules, they're not doing it properly
and you shouldn't sit down and let them anywhere near you with an electric file.
Thank you very much.
So, nail drills can be useful but they're also extremely powerful and potentially dangerous machines.
Now, we don't know if Laura's nail technician had had training in how to use the machines properly
but, if what she's saying is true,
then it's not surprising that Laura's acrylic nail treat ended up in disaster.
Nine months on from the acrylic nail job
and Laura's says her finger's never normal.
You'd think, "Oh, it's only a finger, it doesn't matter," but, in fact, it actually does.
If you're going to go like this, but with me I've got to hold the bottle and go like this.
Rather than go in like this to open your can and pulling it,
I've got to go like that.
I want to know what it is, I want to know why I ain't got no feeling in my finger.
This is how I wrote before. This is how I write now.
So, will Laura's hand writing ever return to form?
To find out the long term effects, I've sent her to meet London-based hand surgeon Matt James.
Can you tell me what happened to your nail?
-They sanded my nail down so far, that I could feel it burning.
Then they put the acrylic nail on top, on the end.
Was it painful when the glue went onto the nail?
Oh, yeah, it was awful painful.
-So, at that point, when the glue went on it was painful?
That's obviously a sign that the nail's been breached in some way.
-Or the fold around it's been painful.
Matt wants to see Laura's photo evidence in order to make his assessment.
Laura took this photo on her mobile
two days after her fake nails were removed.
You've got shiny, hot red skin. It must have been very, very painful.
-You can see there's pus.
-This is where they cut it open.
Pus forming around the nail fold and this is probably the area that you were talking about,
-where you got the pain where the nail was breached and the infection got into the nail.
You can see that the skin is already breaking down there.
Laura took this photo on her mobile
three weeks later, once she'd been discharged from hospital.
What we can see on here is that the nail is probably going to come off at this point.
It's got black blood underneath it. Some of the skin looks like it's dead.
A big thick scab around the end of the finger.
That just come off all in one, that.
Then, normally, providing there hasn't been too much death of the actual tissue,
the nail will regenerate OK.
I can see yours is actually OK. It's got a slight ridge in it where I think the nail was filed down.
I think what happens, was your finger very, very swollen?
Yes, very sore.
That throbbing pain and sensation can then actually lead to, once things have healed,
numbness and sensitivity in the fingertips.
I've got no feeling, it's numb.
-It's completely numb, the fingertip?
This is fairly common after a significant injury to the finger or infection.
-The big question is, are you going to get the sensation back to your fingertip?
About one in three patients have ongoing pain and cold intolerance
but hopefully after two winters that cold intolerance will settle down.
I can advise you to just massage and use that fingertip as much as you can,
so that it reduces the risk of it developing this cold intolerance.
Right, thank you very much.
Fingers crossed that Laura will make a full recovery.
But Matt James agrees that nail drills are bad news in the wrong hands.
This thing really shouldn't happen but, unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous practices out there
that this might be happening without training.
And Laura's scars aren't just physical.
She's been left with a fear of ever treating herself to a manicure again.
I shan't be getting my nails done again.
It's frightened me of all beauty things, really.
I'm back on blistered bridegroom Neil's case.
Ten months ago his prenuptial treat of a hot stone massage
gave his romantic mini break the wrong sort of sizzle factor.
Before I go to Neil's spa, and try and get some answers, I want to find out more about this treatment
and find out what went wrong.
So, I've booked an appointment with one of the country's top hot stone massage experts
and she's going to tell me exactly how it should be done.
Debbie Thomas has over a decade of experience in bodywork therapies
and specialises in hot stone treatments.
She practices at a top London health club
so I'm meeting her there to get her expert opinion.
I've come armed with the photographic evidence from Neil's encounter with those hot rocks.
Wow. That's terrible.
And he's still scarred now.
Neil alleged that his therapist actually held the stones in a towel.
Picking the stones up with a towel is clearly because you can't pick them up because they're too hot.
We only take the temperature to the maximum 60 degrees and that really is the maximum.
We generally work anything between 50 and 55 degrees.
What method did they use to heat the stones?
Neil said that they used a hot plate and it looked more like something you'd find in an Indian restaurant
rather than something you'd get in a luxury spa.
Do you think that has something to do with the fact that he was burnt?
In fact, I've got a hot plate with me.
We got it at a homeware store
and it's similar to the one Neil saw used at the spa.
I mean, it just looks wrong, doesn't it?
Yeah, there's only an on off switch, there's no temperature gauge at all.
So, there would be no way of knowing how hot the stones have got.
If the unit's going to 100 degrees, the stones are going to reach those temperatures.
Boiling water obviously boils at 100 degrees and it would be like pouring boiling water over somebody's back.
Oh, that's awful.
The basalt stones are volcanic, so they will keep heating up
probably up to 700 to 1,000 degrees, before they'll actually start to melt,
because they are literally from a volcanic substance.
I want to see how hot this hot plate gets.
Already the wax is just coming off of that.
-And it's been sitting on there for literally two or three seconds.
A few seconds, you can see it moving down.
So, if you ever go to get a hot stone massage and you see one of these,
-what would your advice be for the person?
So, what are the correct ways to heating up these stones?
I would definitely use a digital, thermostatic controlled unit.
Debbie uses a water bath to heat her stones
and, crucially, it's controlled by a thermostat.
How many stones have you got here?
We normally use up to about 70 stones in a treatment.
This is a digital temperature gauge.
The maximum it ever goes to is 60 degrees. You see it won't go any further than that.
But we generally would use around about 54, 55 mark.
It's going to be safe for the therapist to put their hands in, get the stones out
and then obviously apply them to the client.
Debbie's convinced me, I think it's time I gave hot stones a go.
OK, so we've got some hot stones here.
These have been heated up to about temperatures of 54, 55 degrees.
Oh, that's lovely.
My experience couldn't be more different to Neil's.
I love the warmth of the stones.
She can easily hold the stones in her hands, no gloves or towels needed here.
We use our stones as tools in the treatment, as opposed to just putting them onto the body and leaving them.
You know, it feels really cosy.
And I am won over, I could get used to this.
Well, if I hadn't met Debbie, after meeting Neil,
I would never have known how wonderfully relaxing a hot stone massage can be.
But you always must remember to check the training of your therapist and who trained them.
You don't want to book a wonderful relaxing, holistic experience and end up with a burnt back like Neil.
Right now, it's time to get some answers.
So I'm writing to the businesses that treated Neil and Laura.
I'd like to meet them face to face to get their side of story.
Laura wanted a set of shiny, acrylic nails and what she ended up with was an infection
and long term damage that she thinks was caused by a bad nail job.
Neil wanted a spot of romantic R&R with his wife-to-be,
instead ended up alone in his room with blisters.
I want to talk to the people responsible in both of these cases.
So, let's find out if they want to talk to me.
Laura Penny's nail bar nightmare has left her with a self-confessed fear of salons.
So, whilst time may prove to be the best healer for her on-going finger problem,
I want to help her overcome her wariness of salons right now.
-How are you?
-I'm all right.
How are you doing? You know what, that looks a lot better.
-It looks like it's healing very well.
So, today, Laura, I've got a little bit of a surprise for you.
I've arranged somebody very special to make your nails look beautiful again.
Don't worry, I'm not talking about your fingernails, we're not going to be touching those today.
-I'm talking about your toe nails.
Come on then. How exciting.
I've brought Laura to meet Sophie Robson.
She's behind high fashion nail-art for the likes of Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs.
Who better to get Laura back on track with a spot of nail indulgence.
Sophie has done the nails for the likes of Gwen Stefani, Kylie, Kate Moss, Ellie Goulding,
you name them, she's done them and today she's going to be doing your nails.
-Can I come, too?
OK, so I'm going to start with sanitising your leg
to get rid of any germs or bacteria that might have been picked up along the way.
Oh, that's lush.
I'm going to remove your old polish.
-I've had a drill used on me quite a few times.
What are your opinions on drills because I've noticed that you're not using any?
I've just never needed to use one.
I'm not convinced that you can use one safely and effectively without causing damage to the natural nail.
We're ready to start painting your toe nails.
I've done like three colours and now I'm doing the pattern over the top.
I want to see something different like no-one else has got.
You've got that.
Right, I think we're ready to show you your new toes, Laura.
Are you ready, Laura? One, two, three.
Oh, I like them.
They're perfect colours too, aren't they?
They're your favourites colours that you picked?
Yeah. I like those, thank you very much.
All I want to know is, after today,
have I a little bit made you feel like you could at least go into a salon
and get your nails done again?
I'd have them painted but never would I have acrylic done, no matter what way it was done.
-You'd get a little mani and a little pedi?
Good. We've got her there, eventually.
Laura's toe nails look fabulous and I definitely think we've restored her faith in the beauty industry.
Laura decided to take legal action against the nail salon that
carried out her acrylic nails.
When we contacted American Nail Fashion in Midsomer Norton
they said they were keen to defend their position
but had received legal advice not to appear on camera or comment whilst the case was ongoing.
And I've also heard back from the spa where Neil received his hot stone treatment.
They say they ensured he received medical attention and...
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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In most parts of the UK, the beauty industry is unregulated. It is up to beauticians and hairdressers to get qualifications, so anyone could open up a salon. Be sure that when you book in for a treatment you are putting your looks in the hands of a pro, or, as Jessica-Jane Clement finds out in this consumer series, it could turn ugly.
Laura loves getting her nails done, but a trip to a local salon for a set of acrylic nails turned nasty when an electric drill ripped through her nail bed, her finger swelled up and she ended up being admitted to hospital. Incredibly, people do not need training to open a nail salon, but as Jess finds out that does not stop technicians tackling digits with some hardcore kit.
And after a bridegroom-to-be was left with blisters from a luxury spa massage, Jess investigates the heaters that leave the stones too hot to handle. She wants to talk to the salons responsible - but will they talk to her?