Nail Salon Etiquette

Growing up, one of the only activities my mother and I could simultaneously enjoy together was getting manicures (she was never one for monopoly). Seeing my often stubby, cuticle chewed nails transform into something our of Vogue always made me feel like I too could transform into someone fabulous. Nail salons are little spots of glitter in an often monochrome world, and it's important to keep them safe spaces for everyone involved. To keep them that way, try following these etiquette tips!

  1. DO utilize available expertise! Take advantage of the fact that you're in an environment surrounded by knowledgeable individuals ready to serve you. Technicians will often have great tips for making your manicure last and preventing chipping as well as shades that would flatter your hands. You're paying for a service, and nail salons are renowned for their talkative atmospheres. The beauty industry is full of little Easter eggs, and asking an expert can save time and money. Plus, is there anything better than bonding over mutual respect and awe for femininity? The familial atmosphere was what kept drawing me back to the nail salon of my teen hood; the dialogue is what makes it so special. Take some time to help someone else out as well--you could be passing the torch!

  2. DON'T be racist. Technically, this rule should apply at absolutely all times, but it's especially important to note in nail salons. Up to eighty percent of nail salons are owned and staffed by non-white workers, something that we must be conscientious of in today's society. While I've had some great experiences getting my nails done, I've also observed instances of individual and systematic racism. So don't roll your eyes if the technicians converse in their native language. Don't speak slowly and condescendingly to someone serving you. Don't ask invasive questions about their background. Yes, salons should be a place for open dialogue, but you need to be polite and respectful to everyone in the vicinity. Consider yourself lucky that you're surrounded by people of all cultures and ethnicities able to gather in a common place and share similar interests.

  3. DO embrace your femininity. Sometimes, the patriarchy can be a real downer--it tells women that they cannot be too masculine (because that would negate her sex appeal and therefore render her useless) nor can they be to feminine (lest she be "empty-headed" or "weak"). There is no "right" way to be a woman, though, and your gender is something to be proud of. Nail salons give women time to apprecaite themselves and revel in glamor. It's okay to be "girlie"--in fact, it's something to celebrate! Every time you love and pamper yourself, you're loving womankind, and salons are wonderful spaces to accomplish that (though they are certainly not gender specific! If you're a man who enjoys manicures or pedicures, more power to you!). Getting in touch with your feminine side certainly does not mean surrendering your power--it's just amplifying it.

  4. DON'T forget to tip. This one's kind of another no-brainer for anyone in the public service industry. As someone who's worked in the field for a few years, I can tell you that tips are the lifeblood of the employee, and often the only thing they bring home at the end of the day. It doesn't have to be anything huge, just a small gesture of appreciation. These ladies spend all day touching people's (probably germy) hands and feet--a small tip goes a long way. I know that sometimes just coughing up the money for a manicure can be draining (I'm a college student. I'm always scarping at the bottom of my purse), but the people servicing you are drained as well. It's common courtesy and good manners.

  5. DO make sure the salon is sanitary and safe. Feet and nail bed infections are some of the most difficult to get rid of, severe cases lasting up to a year. Before you let anyone touch you with metal instruments, make sure that they're being cleaned (if not disposable) and that the surrounding area is neat. I find reading reviews online very helpful as well as making a friendly phone call to inquire about standards. It seems like a lot of work for a manicure, but it's small compared to how inconvenient an infection can be. You wouldn't eat in a dirty restaurant--don't get a treatment at a dirty salon.

May your manicures be long lasting and never chipping! (Feature image source)