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This is why a $10 manicure might be a really bad deal

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Mike Timmermann |
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If you like to save money on getting your nails done, then you’ve probably been to a place that offers cheap manicures – sometimes as low as $10.

But a new NBC News investigation is exposing a disturbing downside to that manicure.

As it turns out, a cheap manicure might be a really bad deal, especially for the salon employee who takes care of your nails.

Read more: Forget everything your mother said about breakfast

Investigation: Nail salon employees exploited

The state of New York is cracking down on nail salons that abuse their employees, who are often undocumented immigrants.

Officials have ordered 143 salons to pay employees $2 million in unpaid wages, Reuters reported.

An undercover NBC News investigation revealed that some people are being forced to work 12 hour shifts, and they’re not paid overtime.

Even more shocking, some employees aren’t earning the minimum wage.

“This is a widespread problem”

New York started to take this problem seriously after a New York Times investigation last year, but experts say this problem is nationwide.

The exploitation of workers, according to the newspaper, has been largely overlooked.

 “It’s definitely the case that if you’re getting a $10 manicure, that you have to assume that the workers are getting underpaid,” Nicole Hallett of Yale Law School told NBC News.

There are currently about 17,000 nail salons in the United States, according to reports.

Workers face potential health hazards

Aside from the wage issue, a veteran nail salon worker told NBC News that she suffers from breathing problems and rashes — and she blames the chemicals used in nail salons. 

A doctor said manicurists are working with chemicals that are known carcinogens and have been banned in other countries.

The Department of Labor warns about the health risks to salon workers associated with those chemicals, including headaches, irritated eyes, asthma and problems for women who are pregnant.

Read more: This type of drowning is rare, but experts encourage you to know the warning signs

What you can do about it 

If you’re going to pay someone to get your nails done, these are a few tips NBC News has compiled for consumers:

  1. Don’t go to salons that have rock-bottom prices.
  2. Ask if they’re using “green” products, which are safer for the workers.
  3. Tip the worker directly with cash.