THIS letter is with regard to the recent press release that has classified pedicure and manicure, which are services provided under nail salons or nail industry as we group ourselves, to be a high-risk industry.

In efforts to save our industry, the Malaysia Association of Nail Industry (Mani) was formed to represent the people and to make our voices heard. This is what we would like to express.

Understanding our job

Similar to other service industries, the nail salon is an industry that takes care of people’s outlook and well-being.

For example, hair salons cut and treat hair, beauty salons provide skin care solutions, nail salons cut and treat nails.

In a time where personal grooming and first impressions are much talked about, it is essential for most people to visit a hair salon than to have their hair cut on their own. Same goes with nail services.

We cater to many groups of client:

Pregnant women need our services to take care of their nails and feet. As the tummy grows bigger, it becomes challenging to bend down to do a pedicure, which includes cutting nails, cleaning the cuticles and dead skin, and removing calluses.

Ingrown toe nails are also something we deal with a lot, mainly caused by improper trimming of nails, inappropriate foot wear and pressure on foot from sport activities.

Geriatrics nails often require extra attention due to age-related changes such as impaired circulation that will cause nail alterations or nail abnormalities.

Diabetic patients need special care to avoid risk of infection if they get cuts or cracks from improper handling.

Other foot and nail-related issues include: fungal nails, weak and broken nails, corn and callus, athlete foot etc.

Most of the above issues require immediate intervention to prevent nail condition from worsening that might eventually cause other problems in the body.

The most common solution that clients get is often for the whole nail to be removed.

Some clients are reluctant to do so and hence they come to us for treatments and solutions that they might not get elsewhere.

We are not just about beautifying nails for styling purposes. Our job requires us to be equipped with skills and knowledge on how to clean, treat and maintain the nails in good health. This service is an essential.

We put a lot of effort to ensure safety

We are 100% committed to protecting our clients’ health and safety. Because our job requires us to have bodily contact to perform the services and treatment, we take the standard SOP very seriously.

As a matter of fact, even before the pandemic, we have been carrying out compulsory sanitising such as wearing face mask, gloves, disinfecting and sterilising processes before and after every client, and have continued to do everything asked of us and more, such as temperature checks, wearing face mask on both manicurist and customers, face shield and disposable aprons.

We have worked hard to eliminate infections at our workplaces. Having said that, based on actual data and statistics, the nail industry has never contributed to any clusters up to date.

At the nail salon, we serve not more than five customers per manicurist per day.

For pedicure services, we are literally one foot away from the customers while for manicure services, we are shielded by a divider on the manicure table.

There is no touching of face or any contact with customer that requires the face mask to be removed.

Therefore, it is inappropriate to classify the nail industry under the high-risk industry.

We need support and clarity

According to the latest media statement, the nail industry – pedicure and manicure – was listed as one of the three high risk industries together with spas and pubs.

It was also pointed out that we are not allowed to operate even at Phase Three.

This is unreasonable as we are providing professional services to treat and help our clients.

We have only operated for two months since beginning of this year.

Many nail salons and suppliers have either shut down or downsized since the first MCO.

With all the fixed cost of rental, salaries and other expenses piling up, we definitely foresee many more salons forced to close down even before November.

There are more than 2,000 nail salons nationwide. If the whole industry perishes, there will be about 10,000 people out of a job. The nail industry is a skilled profession and mainly female dominated, especially single mums and young women working hard to earn a living to sustain themselves and their families.

Therefore, we would like the government to engage with us and understand our industry better before coming down with such a harsh decision on our industry.

If additional SOP is required, we would gladly comply. Please do not put a blanket ban on us. We are part of Malaysia too.

Sereen Eng

Representative and co-founder of Mani

And Founder of POSH Nail Spa