Beauty Etiquetter: The Dirt On Seeking Out A Clean Nail Salon
The Quandary: How can I tell if a nail salon is really clean and top-quality if I’m dropping in for the first time? What details should I look for, and what questions should I ask?
The Expert in Residence: Jenna Hipp, eco-manicurist
The Advice: “There are a lot of details you can spot right away. First, a quality spa is very conscious about the smell of polish solvents and goes to great measures to filter them out, so you shouldn’t detect a strong chemical odor. Then look around you: Are the floors, walls, and lounge area mopped and free of dust and dirt? There are so many potential places for germs to lurk in a nail salon—more than you want to know. The foot spa can be a huge germ pool if not sanitized properly, so if it’s not scrubbed, rinsed, and soaked with an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant before you sit down, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask the spa to do so.
Another surprising germ hoarder is your tech’s hands. I feel that’s a great sign if she washes hers and asks you to do the same. I also always notice my tech’s nails. If hers are clean, shaped, and presentable, it’s a reflection of the spa’s standards. Ideally, all tools should be sealed in plastic packet or stored in that blue liquid, which is usually a hospital-grade disinfectant, such as Barbicide, diluted with water to create a chemically balanced sanitizing liquid. The tools should soak in there for a minimum of ten minutes to kill germs. One thing that should never be shared or reused is the buffing pad, which can harbor bacteria. If you want your legs exfoliated, make sure the tech uses a single-use buffer or a scrub product with exfoliating beads. And those callus removers that look like cheese grater? Stay away! They’re prohibited in spas since they can cut the skin and cause infections.
During a manicure or pedicure, the only thing the nail tech should clip is truly dead skin that may be stuck to the nail plate or hanging off the nail plate in excess. If she uses a cuticle softener and pushes back the cuticle, in most cases, the dead skin loosens up and can be pushed right off the nail bed without any clipping at all. Also look to see if the paper or terry towels placed under clients’ feet are changed between the cleansing, exfoliating, and polishing process, and that cotton or pieces of paper towel are used to clean nippers and pushers after every digit is cared for.
Lastly, a good way to ensure you’re getting a clean bottle of polish is to bring your own color. But if you get excited looking at all the different colors on the wall, then open up a bottle to make sure it’s not crusty, is easily shakable, and has good movement. When a bottle gets older and is almost empty, it starts to thicken and will affect the quality of your manicure. You can always ask the spa to open up a new bottle. If you still have some lingering doubts about the quality of the place, crowd-source an opinion: Do a quick search on your phone for reviews since it could save you from a potentially bad experience.”
Photo: Terry Vine