If you’re like most women, you’re getting more mani/pedis in summer. So we spoke with top manicurists to get the lowdown on what to know before your next salon visit. Your #manimonday post is already looking better.
1. Beware of the foot bath: If you’re getting a pedicure, check with the owner to see if the jets are properly sanitized in between each client. “Some salons might only clean the surface of the tub. But if the jets aren’t cleaned, contaminants can recirculate into the water,” says N.Y.C. manicurist Elle Gerstein. If you’re unsure of the cleaning protocol, just ask to have the jets turned off, says Gerstein. A pipeless basin (think: big bowl) is always a safe bet, she says.
2. Look for Sterilized Tools: Confirm that the salon has an autoclave (a unit used to sterilize tools) or soaks its tools in hospital-grade disinfectant (usually a blue liquid like Barbicide) between uses. If your tools come in a paper container, check out the indicator strip (and key) on the outside of the package. “The color on the strip will have changed color if the tools have been processed properly," says Sarah Gibson Tuttle, owner of Olive and June salons. “Bring your own tools if you’re really concerned,” says Gerstein. You can clean your personal kit with rubbing alcohol between uses. We love this travel-friendly kit from Tweezerman (Mini Nail Resue Kit, $22; sephora.com)
3. Consider Pricing: Last year, the New York Times ran an exposé of the unfair wages and treatment that many manicurists are subjected to. “If you’re going to a salon with rock-bottom prices, consider whether the wages may be unfair,” says Julie Kandalec, Creative Director of N.Y.C. nail studio Paintbox. Since it may be awkward to inquire directly about wages, Kandelec suggests asking less obvious questions like how long your technician has been working at the salon (a high turnover rate can be a red flag).
4. Use a Proper Nail File: If the nail file the manicurist uses on you looks and feels like sandpaper, ask for a finer-grit or glass file, which isn’t as abrasive. An overly coarse file can damage nails, says Gerstein.
5. Skip the Soak: While some salons might suggest that you place your hands in a bowl of soapy water before polishing, a water-logged nail can prevent nail polish from adhering properly. Ask if you can skip the soak and just have your cuticles pushed back with cuticle oil, says Kandalec.