Going into the nail salon as a rookie (and even sometimes as a seasoned pro) can leave all of us feeling a bit flustered! Picking colors right when we walk in, feeling uncomfortable bringing our own tools, and even feeling off about something but not wanting to vocalize it, it's never fun not knowing what we're allowed to do for a service we're paying for!
In fact, it's good to be aware of your rights, considering how many businesses there are out there that don't play by industry standards. In an article published by Health, the Department of Health inspected New York salons for cleanliness and safety, and the public was surprised by the results.
A whopping 75% of nail salons in the U.S. do not comply with their state’s standards for disinfecting equipment, while 56% were found to be in violation of health and safety rules. So, what does that mean to customers? It turns out, this neglect can lead to some serious side effects in clients.
At the end of the day, no matter how awkward we may feel, it's important to put our health and safety first and demand certain standards when we're going for our scheduled pampering. We've rounded up ten examples of rules nail salons must follow along with ten cases of what they definitely shouldn't be doing.
20 Do: Wear Gloves, Especially If A Client Asks Them To
Do you ever wonder if it's important that your nail tech wears gloves? Imagine this: the person before you was getting a pedicure and had some sort of infection that perhaps wasn't overly visible. If your technician didn't wear gloves, they could pass along whatever that previous customer had when working on you.
Considering how many human interactions your tech has, you may want to consider piping up next time you notice your technician skipping the gloves. According to Bustle, a survey from NAILS magazine says that only 17% of nail technicians wear gloves all the time. That's certainly an alarming number!
19 Don't: Misuse Callus Removers On Customers
As much as we may want to remove our calluses entirely, it turns out that it's actually quite unhealthy! Callus removers should be smoothing down your skin and softening it—not removing your calluses entirely. This leaves your skin exposed and vulnerable, and susceptible to many new issues. As per GQ, all you have to do is remove the excess and avoid breaking the skin. Afterward, just follow with a foot soak and dry off.
If you, unfortunately, do end up removing your calluses entirely, make sure to go home and moisturize! Grab a lotion with ingredients such as shea butter, beeswax, Vitamin E, and calendula.
18 Do: Refuse Clients With Open Wounds
If you're showing any signs of infection, your nail tech as the right to turn you away. In fact, even if it's something small like itching or redness around the nailbeds, it's still grounds to turn around and go home—even if the technician doesn't notice.
As per Woman's Day, "Even if the salon is diligent about sanitizing, you can still pick up bacteria or fungus a number of ways." Whenever there's an open wound anywhere on you, it means your susceptible to infection. Even if you merely have a temporarily compromised immune system, consider chatting with your doctor before making any appointments.
17 Don't: Diagnose Or Prescribe, No Matter How Good-Natured It Is
Your tech knows nail care. If you have questions related to beauty advice, definitely go right ahead and ask your technician. However, they're certainly not doctors who are able to prescribe and diagnose. As per Nails Magazine, techs cannot prescribe remedies that treat actual infections or suggest a product does more than it says it does. What they can do is advise that you go see a doctor if something doesn't look healthy.
Even well-mannered DIY remedies such as tea tree oil or white vinegar solutions to clear up a skin condition should be avoided, as they may merely prolong the problem.
16 Do: Use Their Client's Own Instruments If That's What They Requested
Don't feel bad wanting to bring your own instruments to a salon—it turns out that nail techs are required to use yours if you ask them to! Just remember, it's essential to regularly clean your tools, even with something simple like alcohol or soap and water.
Although you may be the only one using them at home, washing your kit takes away the risk of surface dirt they may have been susceptible to while they were sitting on your table. As per Self, using your own instruments eliminates the danger of getting an infection from a previous customer.
15 Don't: Ignore Proper Ventilation
Proper ventilation is crucial to a healthy salon environment, both for the techs and clients. Unfortunately, there are little to no regulations that ensure proper ventilation be used in nail salons. If it's such a common issue, why not fix it?
As reported by Nails Magazine, there are multiple reasons as to why some cheaper salons don't ventilate properly. The ventilation system may be too expensive, too loud, or too inconvenient. Regardless of what reason they may have—it's still not an excuse. Ensure the salon you frequent has good air quality, or demand they open a window, too.
14 Do: Be Prepared To Answer Client Questions Truthfully
If you're going to a salon for the first time, you should consider calling and asking ahead of time what products the technician uses. According to Health, of the 10,000 chemicals found in nail products, only 11% have been tested for product safety. The top three to look out for and avoid at all costs are toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate, otherwise known as the "toxic trio." These ingredients can cause reproductive harm, respiratory issues, and even cancer.
So, next time you're heading for your appointment, give the salon a ring and ensure you're not walking into anything that might be unsafe.
13 Don't: Incorrectly Harden A Client's Gel Manicure
Incorrectly hardening a client's gel manicure can lead to a variety of different problems down the line, so it's no wonder it's ranked as one of the top things your nail salon shouldn't be doing. According to Nails Magazine, the two most common mistakes your manicurist can make that result in an incorrect harden are either excessive monomer or choosing the wrong nail lamp.
If you gel manicure is hardened incorrectly, it can lead to an allergic reaction and even damage to the nail plate and nail bed. It also means it'll be hard to remove, so once the time comes, it can lead to infection.
12 Do: Show A Client Proof Of Sanitation If Asked For It
Don't feel uncomfortable asking your nail tech about proof of sanitation because, at the end of the day, it's you who may end up with an infection! According to Woman's Day, it turns out that most state cosmetology laws actually require that nail technicians use a new nail file for every customer.
As cosmetology test proctor Patricia Yankee explains, "If a nail file looks old, feel free to request a new one. Your nail technician will know why." Even better to know, if a tool is dropped during the appointment, each manicurist should have three sets of tools at the ready so they can swap them out.
11 Don't: Ignore Complaints From A Client
Pain is never a good sign when you're getting your nails done. If you feel any sort of redness, swelling, peeling, or throbbing, you should never ignore these sensations. The best thing to do is immediately speak up.
Industry chemist Doug Schoon spoke to Nails Magazine and explained, “When techs are educated, they can be like problem-solving detectives. They understand the signs indicate a problem and they can trace their steps back to see what’s causing it. We know prolonged and repeated exposure of uncured product on the skin can cause allergic reactions." If you're complaining about pain, it's your tech's responsibility to stop until the problem is solved.
10 Do: Tell Their Clients Exactly What They're Charging Them For
The most annoying way to end a trip to the salon is finding out that you got overcharged for something and that your final cost is grossly high. There's no better way to sour an otherwise decent experience. According to TotalBeauty, some salons even try and keep certain added costs hidden, charging you for nail strengtheners or base coats.
To avoid this disappointment and eliminate any awkward situations, unless you know your salon very well or see all of the costs at the advertised price, make sure to ask if all the expenses are included before beginning your nailcare session.
9 Don't: Use The Same Nail File For Multiple Clients
If you're not bringing your own tools to a salon, you should at least ensure that a new nail file is being used on you. As per Refinery29, state law actually requires a salon to use a brand new file for every client—simply because it's unsanitary not to. Along with nail files, anything that's porous such as wooden tools, orange sticks, pumice stones, or buffers can be breeding ground for bacteria. Essentially, if the person who the instrument was used on before you had a fungus, it can spread to you.
Metal tools such as cuticle nippers can be reused but must be disinfected with hospital-grade disinfectant for at least ten minutes between clients.
8 Do: Ensure All Foot Baths Are Properly Sanitized
It's okay—this tip is easy to be missed unless you're in the know. Those fantastic footbaths you soak your feet in when you go get a pedicure can be breeding ground for bacteria if not properly cleaned before clients. Which ones, in particular, you may ask?
According to Irish Examiner, a podiatrist explained, "[Whirlpool footbaths] can cause warts, athlete’s foot, and other unpleasant infections, so make sure you look out for salons that use individual bath liners and pipe-less foot spas. It is also important to ask your pedicurist when it was last sanitized, as they should be cleaned no less than 10 minutes after every use.”
7 Don't: Use The Wrong File For A Client
Along with having to use a new nail file on each client, the nail tech should be using the right one, too. Much like actual sandpaper, files come in various grits—and they all have different uses. The very fine grits are best for natural nails, while the super coarse should be used for artificial nails. As an expert told Refinery29, “Unfortunately, many manicurists tend to use a generic file for everything, and it’s usually one that’s too coarse, which can damage natural nails."
So, how can you tell if the file used on you is the wrong one? Listen to how it sounds. An ultra-fine file will have a higher-pitched sound, while the coarse file is deeper sounding and harsher.
6 Do: Allow Their Clients To Test Out Colors Before Committing To Them
Try and arrive on time to your nail appointment—that way, you won't feel stressed out picking colors. It turns out, you should never feel rushed (unless you're late) as salons have a 10-minute recovery time for you to pick out a polish. As a New York City salon owner told Teen Vogue, you shouldn't be afraid to try out your color selections, either!
"People ask all the time if they can try on colors, and they get nervous that the technician will be annoyed. We encourage people to test them! We want them to walk out happy. It's better to change your mind at the beginning than at the end."
5 Don't: File The Top Of The Nail For A Client
Have you ever had your nail tech file the top of your nails as a means to prep them for a better grip on the polish? It turns out, they should never be doing that. As per Refinery29, “Etching is a lazy way of prepping nails. It does not help polish stay on. Actually, it’s the opposite — it’s completely bad for your nail.”
What your tech should be doing is ensuring your nails are clean and, most importantly, dry. This means they should get rid of lotion or anything else that can interfere with both the nail polish's application and its staying power.
4 Do: Wear Face Masks, Both For Their Protection And Their Clients'
A salon should be looking after its staff too—not just the clients. All day, nail technicians are in contact with toxic ingredients found in polishes, lacquer removers, gels, glues, and acrylic powder. Breathing in fumes that can cause both neurological and reproductive damage, so salon workers should definitely be protecting themselves by wearing gloves and masks.
According to an interview with a nail tech for Nails Magazine, it turns out some industry professionals have even become allergic to the products they use because they've had too much exposure. One professional noted, "When I saw how much dust was on my clothes by mid-afternoon, I knew I must inhale a lot of it."
3 Don't: Cut A Client's Cuticles
If you're having your cuticles cut under the guise that it'll elongate your nails and make them look better—stop letting it happen. It turns out, nail techs will cut them because it means you'll come back more often since your manicure will look uneven faster. What cuticles actually do is keep bacteria from entering your body. While you can get rid of them if you want to, it's not recommended, as they grow back even faster.
What your manicurist should be doing instead is using a cuticle remover to soften them, and then gently push them back. The only thing that should be snipped off is a potential hangnail!
2 Do: Take Their Time To Ensure No Steps Get Missed
As a customer, you should be getting a level of service you're paying for. That means not feeling rushed to get out of the salon. As per Irish Examiner, if the pedicurist is speeding through the process, it may actually leave you with numerous problems after you leave the salon. "If the skin in between your toes hasn’t been dried properly, this can help microorganisms thrive in the wet and warm environment, and will increase fungus and bacteria growth.”
As for your manicure, if you feel like you haven't had enough time for the polish to dry, feel free to sit back in the waiting area and wait a bit longer before you leave!
1 Don't: Incorrectly Prep A Nail
As we all know, the hand massage we get at the start of our manicure is one of the best parts of the experience. However, what this can potentially do is make the prep much more difficult before you even start getting your polish put on.
The leftover lotion from the massage can affect how well the polish adheres to your nail, so you must make sure that all trace is removed before the base coat even goes on. According to Refinery29, “The nail has to be dehydrated and completely clean before you polish. If you polish on a wet nail, or one with dirt on it, your polish won’t last.”
Sources: Woman's Day, Health, Self, Teen Vogue, Nail Magazine, GQ, Refinery29