MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Most Memphis hair salons scored very well on state health inspections in 2015, but those that didn't could leave you with an infection or an injury.
"I had my mustache and my eyebrows done and apparently the tools were not clean, and I had the worst swelling and had to take antibiotics," Memphis salon customer Cecilia Butler said.
Health inspectors checked hundreds of salons in the Mid-South in 2015. Most of them passed with flying colors, but a few did not.
Records from the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers Examiners revealed a handful of salons with serious violations.
Kandy's Nails on Hacks Cross was ordered to pay $1,750 in penalties last year for violations ranging from incorrectly storing soiled towels to not properly labeling cosmetic products.
Best Beauty Salon on Winchester Road was hit with a $1,000 fine for operating without a valid license.
We also discovered a pattern of penalties at salons across the city for stylists not wearing name tags. The reason may surprise you.
"Anybody could stand behind a chair, but if you don't have your ID or your license who would know who you are?" Essential Hair Salon stylist Seanise Walker explained.
In addition to actual state violations, experts said there are some things you should look for when going into salons. These things should send up red flags, and make you question the conditions at your salon.
Stacks of raggedy, old magazines: They're good indicators of how much cleaning goes on at a salon.
Artificial plants and mannequin heads: Are these clean? They're often overlooked and can become breeding grounds for dust mites.
Anyone can file complaints, verify licenses, or download inspection reports from the state's website here.
"I try to look at the reviews like this one I looked on my way over, and it had a good review," Hannah Walton said.
Essential Hair Salon in East Memphis scored a perfect 100 on its last inspection. A stylist there said salons must follow sanitation stipulations to a tee to get a good score.
"With dropping the combs on the floor, we must remember to use a new comb instead of picking that up," Walker said.
"For the nails especially, I like to see them wear gloves and then change gloves between each person they are working with," Walton said.
Other red flags that customers should keep an eye out for include clogged foot baths, manicurists with open cuts or bruises, nauseating toxic fumes, and pets (non-service animals) in the salon.
Although Butler said there's something that has nothing to do with sanitation that would bring up a red flag for her.
"Quite frankly, I think it's an intimate thing for a woman who works hard. She should be able to get her hair done in peace. When there are a lot of children running around noisy, I typically stay away," Butler said.
Experts suggest customers Google their salon with the word "complaints," and see if anything comes up. Another simple way to pick which salon to go to: ask your friends.