Nail Salon No-No's: 5 Things to Watch Out for Before Your Next Mani-Pedi

August 08, 2016
Jessie Quinn
By: Jessie Quinn | by L'Oréal
Nail Salon No-No's: 5 Things to Watch Out for Before Your Next Mani-Pedi

With the exception of facials (of course), there is nothing us editors find more relaxing—and more qualified as me time—than a mani-pedi. However, not all nail salons are alike. We aren’t talking about fancy versus hole-in-the-wall, we’re talking about safety and sanitation versus, well…filth.

Mani-pedis can be a beautiful thing—seriously though, some of those nail art designs come out looking like gorgeous works of bejeweled art—but masked behind their beauty may lie some of our worst skin care nightmares. From poor techniques to unsanitary tools to exposing our skin to harsh chemicals and irritating products, so many things can go wrong when sitting down at the local nail salon. So, whether or not you book a regular appointment at a fancy salon or frequent a small location near home, there are some downsides that should send you running for the hills—or, you know…another nail salon.  

Interested in learning more about the things to watch out for before booking your next manicure pedicure? We share the dirty deets below.


Observing the work stations at a nail salon can be one of the easiest and fastest ways to tell whether or not a salon is up to par with your hygienic standards. Take a look around, are trash cans open or closed? Are technicians using new towels between clients or are they recycling previous ones? Are the stations dusty? And the list goes on. When it comes to an unkempt nail salon, there is unfortunately very little you as a customer can do to do make the situation work. If you notice any of the above offenses upon walking into a salon, your best bet is to take your business elsewhere.


One way to know if you have chosen a clean—read: sanitary—nail salon is by the looks of how they sanitize their tools. If each set of mani-pedi tools come in a new, sealed bag that the technicians have to rip open at the beginning of your service, this can ensure the tools have been properly sanitized. If not, you may want to ask further questions about how they sanitize their tools. If treating yourself to a professional mani-pedi is a regular thing for you, you might want to consider purchasing a pair of your own nail tools to ensure that you are exposing your nails and skin to cleansed tools no matter what salon you step into.

On top of paying careful attention to the sanitation process of the nail salon’s clippers, pay attention to how the technicians take care of their hands. Do they wash them in between clients? Or, better yet, do they wear gloves and then switch to a new pair of gloves after each client? This can be a tell tale sign of how clean a salon is, as the technicians could be exposing you to germs and bacteria from themselves or previous clients. The best ways to decipher whether or not a salon practices good hygiene are to read online reviews, inquire about their cleansing practices ahead of time, or observe when you walk in. If you are not sure if the salon is up to your sanitary standards, don’t risk it and move on to the next one.    


When it comes to your cuticles, you should make a fuss as to whether or not you want them cut back. More often than not, nail technicians may cut back your cuticles instead of using an orangewood stick to gently push them back. This can be a big no-no, as your nails need the cuticle to protect the root from bacteria and infection. Cutting your cuticles may prevent them from doing their job effectively. Just as you would step in and declare whether or not you want your nails filed or cut, let your nail technician know if you want your cuticles snipped. 


One of the best parts of a pedicure—we think—is climbing into that big, comfy spa chair and plopping our feet into a tub of warm water with the jets on full-blast. Although doing so may induce a relaxing sensation, and is the next best thing to the complementary and highly-anticipated foot massage, pedicure tubs with jets can be hard to clean in both an efficient and effective manner, resulting in a rather unsanitary experience. And though these popular jet tubs can seem hard to avoid when finding a nail salon, there are some salons that practice good pedicure tub hygiene. You may notice that some of these salons will either use a simple pedicure bowl that is not connected to a spa chair and does not have jets or, they will line the tub in a plastic bag- and dump the bag of water in a sink in the back, rather than allow for it to drain in the basin, once your pedicure is over- and leave the jets off altogether. Both options can help you avoid being exposed to bacteria and other unsanitary mishaps.


From acetone to remove nail polish, to lotions and cuticle oils, there are many different kinds of products and chemicals used in a nail salon. The bottle should be clearly marked, so that you can read what technicians are using on your skin and nails. If they aren’t don’t be afraid to speak up and ask. As a precaution, you may also want to inquire about the products and chemicals prior to your pampering.

Prefer to get your pampering on at home? Check out this step-by-step guide for an at-home pedicure!

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