Emily Post missed a big topic of conversation in her coverage of the rules of etiquette. While you now know how to arrange a not-so-confrontational seating chart, do you know the ins and outs of acceptable nail salon behavior? Tipping is a given, but is it OK to bring your own set of tools into the salon with you? Or is carrying a set of clippers in your handbag (because you want to ensure they’re squeaky clean) majorly offensive?
According to celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann, using your own cuticle trimmer (and beyond), instead of the tools stored at the salon, is a more than acceptable request.
"Nail tools can collect bacteria, viruses, or fungus. Your skin is the largest organ of the body and the cuticles are one of its most outlying barriers of protection," she says. "Dirty tools can lead to infection of the cuticles, which beyond being painful, can have larger implications.”
Of course, all salons are required to sterilize their tools to fit sanitary regulations for the safety and health of clients and those employed by the salon, so that shouldn't be a problem as long as standards are being followed, but Lippmann says it’s OK if you still feel more comfortable asking your manicurist to use your set.
So how do you go about doing so without making your favorite polish place super angry?
"As a rule of thumb, it never hurts to call ahead and ask, but most salons will not have a problem." she says. "If you’re a regular at your neighborhood spot, they may even let you store a set of your own tools."
After you call, you should ensure that you have the proper supplies so your manicurist can give you a quality treatment.
"You should buy professional-grade tools, but you don’t need to spend a fortune," explains Lippmann. "The essentials are: cuticle nipper, cuticle pusher, nail file, and a 4-way buffer ($12; sephora.com)." You can also consider bringing your own base/top coat, polish and cuticle remover, as many salons use an oil vs. an exfoliator to dissolve excess skin—that would be like trying to exfoliate your face with a serum!"
But if you take your own tools in, you need to be sure to take the responsibility of cleaning them before AND after the appointment. To do so easily, Lippmann suggests filling a baking dish halfway with extremely hot water and adding a squirt of dish soup. Next, soak the tools, completely submerged, in the water for about 15 minutes. Then, rinse them in lukewarm water and dry them using a kitchen towel. "Place the dry tools on an old baking sheet and put them into a preheated oven (350 degrees) for 10 minutes," Lippmann explains. "Once done, remove from oven and allow them to completely cool. Whatever container you keep your tools in, such as a box or a drawer, should be regularly cleaned out as well. I dump out all the contents and pour in my Ultronics sterilizing solution for 10 minutes, but you can wipe it down using alcohol, Sea Breeze, or any disinfectant."
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Another important note? Lippmann says that at a nail salon, alcohol is not enough to kill of germs that could live on your tools, so be sure to take the extra step and use her how-to above.
Worried about getting pushback from the owner while booking your appointment? Be sure to present your situation without blame (i.e. not saying their tools will definitely cause infection) and be aware of the quality and cleanliness of the salon you visit—and the metal coming at your cuticles.