These Are The Nail Salon Secrets Nail Technicians Don’t Want You To Know

August 02, 2019

Is there anything better than getting together with a couple of girlfriends to get your nails done? There is something about the ritual of going to a nail salon, having someone else take care of you, and emerging with fresh-as-hell nails that just can’t be beat. Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram, it has become easier than ever to find a nail salon in your area that offers unique and fun nail designs.

The nail industry is booming, too. According to Statistica, the nail industry brought in a staggering $5.2 billion in the U.S. in 2018. Even with all that money pouring into the industry, there are still nail salons that cut corners to save cash, use shady business practices, and don’t keep their equipment and tools sanitized according to industry standards. Nail technicians of Reddit, podiatrists, and celebrity manicurists have all shared some pretty dark nail salon secrets that will have you second-guessing whether or not you should go get those acrylics on your lunch break.

To make sure you get the safest (and best) manicure and pedicure for your money, do your research. Make sure the nail technician you choose isn’t hiding one of these nail salon secrets.

1. If A Price Seems Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is

Ugh, why can’t we enjoy anything nice and inexpensive without wondering if there is a catch to it?

Unfortunately, when it comes to nail salons, if you see a mani-pedi deal that seems unreal, it probably is. This isn’t to say that the nail salon in question doesn’t exist. But they are probably taking a few unhealthy shortcuts to make their prices so low, according to Reddit user Throwawaynailed.

2. Most Salons Don’t Turn Away Customers

Even if that customer is sick or has something fungal going on.

Yes, everyone deserves the opportunity to go to a nail salon and indulge in a nice pampering session. But what about people with contagious foot fungus? Or people who are hacking up a lung? According to pediatrist Dr. Spalding, many nail salons do not turn away customers, no matter what condition their health is in.

That means it’s easier for those germs and fungus to spread to you.

Again, we don’t want to fear-monger or tell you to never get your toes done up with the fingernails matchin’, but make sure the nail salon you go to is following all of the health codes. With pedicures, it is important to check that the tub is cleaned between clients and all tools are sterilized or replaced.

3. Even If Your Nail Salon Is Clean, You Are Still Risking Infection

Seriously, can’t we just get our nails done in peace?

Dr. Spaulding notes in his book Death by Pedicure that even if your salon is up to the highest health standards, you are still at risk of developing an infection post-pedi. Why? Well, according to Dr. Spaulding’s research, a whopping 75 percent of nail salons do not follow their state’s exact cleaning protocols. Some cut corners – like using Windex in place of Barbicide – which can leave equipment dirty, even after it is “cleaned.”

The worst part? You can’t tell which nail salons don’t follow the guidelines based on how it looks.

In March 2018, one woman’s pedicure horror story went viral after she posted a disturbing photo of her foot. The woman described the offending nail salon that caused a horrific infection as “new and absolutely gorgeous.” So just because a nail salon looks fancy doesn’t mean they are being safe. Why do we pay so much money to get our nails done, again?

4. Some High-End Nail Salons Dupe You With Generic Products

Um, didn’t we pay for that Diptyque lotion?

We’re not ones to bash inexpensive, effective nail polishes or cuticle oils – or generic products on the whole. But when we pay the big bucks to get our nails done in a fancy salon, we like to think we are getting what we paid for, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, as some bougie nail salons will use artistic license when it comes to what type of products they advertise.

Some nail salons put generic lotions and cuticle oils in fancy, name-brand bottles.

And they expect you to pay the name-brand price. Celebrity manicurist Soon Jin Choi said that some of the fanciest nail salons in New York City use this tactic to cut costs while still attracting high-end clients (and prices). Remember, just because something is more expensive doesn’t necessarily make it better – or worth it.

5. Your Nail Technician Might Not Be Seeing Much Of Your Money

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Going to a fancy nail salon can be pricey. Basic manicures can start as high as $30-$40, while specialties like dipped, acrylic, or gel nails with designs can rack up additional costs. You would think that a job that requires that much skill (and costs that much to get done) would mean your nail technician is being paid their worth.

But warped industry standards have nail technicians living in poverty.

According to The New York Times, when many nail technicians start, they are the ones paying the salon in order to have a chair, sometimes up to $100 a day. The nail technicians are then forced to live off meager tips, reportedly only $30 a day for some. Um, how do you live off that – especially in New York City?

This gives us an uneasy feeling. Everyone should be fairly compensated for their work.

Sure, this nail salon secret may not directly affect you, but for those of you trying to be more conscious and consume ethically, this can be a moral dilemma. The solution? Do your research. If a nail salon is offering beautiful nails at too-good-to-be-true prices, chances are those employees aren’t seeing much money, if any.

6. Not All Services Are Included In The Base Fee

And we thought ATMs were sneaky with their hidden fees.

Have you ever been in the middle of an incredibly relaxing pedicure when your nail technician asks if you would like a foot scrub? Sure, why not? you may think. But you probably weren’t thinking that two-minute foot scrub would cost you an additional $8 on top of what you were already paying.

Unfortunately, some customers have been charged more for ridiculous reasons.

It’s not just that extra scrub or paraffin wax treatment that ends up costing nail salon customers more. In 2010, a woman was reportedly charged an additional five dollars as a “fat fee.” The reason? The owner says she charged overweight customers – as in people she subjectively decided were “overweight” – to keep the salon’s $2,500 pedicure chairs in good condition. Here’s a pro tip for business owners; don’t do that. Ever.

7. Those LED Nail Lamps Are Damaging Your Skin

Your nails may dry faster, but your hands could be wrinkling faster, too.

There has been a lot of debate surrounding the LED/UV lights many nail salons use to dry gel nails. It’s a great feeling to be able to waltz out of a nail salon without worrying about smudging your just-done nails. But there are some downsides to this time-saving technology.

Slather on the sunscreen before heading to the nail salon.

The good news is, according to Harvard Health, the UV nail-drying lamps aren’t going to dramatically increase your chances of developing skin cancer. However, that doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t be smart about it. Doctors suggest putting sunscreen on your hands 20 minutes before your manicure. This keeps your hands safe from any potential harm, including wrinkles and premature aging.

8. You Shouldn’t Get Your Calluses Shaved Off

Even if the nail technician offers the service for a nominal fee, just say no.

We know we can’t be the only ones who have felt like a new person after a nail technician shaves off those nasty heel calluses. Yes, your feet may look and feel smooth, but many doctors warn against shaving off calluses, especially by nail technicians who may not be properly trained to do so.

Cutting off calluses is technically surgery.

This means you should be going to a trained professional to get those hard deposits removed. Dr. Jacqueline Sutera told CTV News that a podiatrist is better suited to chop off calluses. “In the salons, the most that I think is appropriate is just filing some of the calluses. And that should be done gently,” Dr. Sutera explained.

9. Those Whirlpool Foot Baths Can Lead To Infections Months Done The Line

Don’t think you’re in the clear if your feet feel fine a week after going to that cheap salon.

Maybe there is a small, cheap nail salon near you that gives the best pedicures. They have those amazing whirlpool footbaths — and those awkward-but-sometimes-great massage chairs. Plus, they leave your feet looking brand-spankin’ new. Your friend has been going there for a month or two, and she hasn’t had any complaints, either. You’re in the clear, right?

We wish we could say yes.

The truth is there is no way to completely clean out these lux whirlpool foot baths, so a host of infection-causing microbes can be hanging out in there. Michele Green explained it to Huffington Post, saying, “There are lots of possible infections that lurk inside the foot basin, including bacteria, fungi and wart viruses. If you get an infection following a pedicure, you should consult your dermatologist, since the area may need to be drained and you may need to be put on oral antibiotics.” Yikes!

Your chances of infection increase if you just shaved, too.

If you are going to indulge in a pedicure with a whirlpool foot bath, don’t shave your legs just before going. The American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests not shaving your legs – especially the lower half of your legs – at least 24 hours before you get a pedicure. If you nick yourself while shaving, it could make getting an infection from a whirlpool tub way easier. And not all nicks are visible, either!

10. You Should Really Take A Break Between Gel Manis And Pedis

In fact, you should really be giving your nails regular breathers.

If you have the funds, it may feel like a fun staple to get your nails done on the regular. After all, who doesn’t love looking polished and put-together 24/7? If you are getting regular gel manicures and pedicures, however, experts warn that you could develop an allergic reaction to the polish. Ugh, seriously?

According to the Huffington Post, some gel polishes include an irritating chemical.

This chemical is called methyl acrylate, which helps the gel polish adhere to your nail. If your nail technician accidentally gets some gel polish on your skin, it could lead to an irritating rash called contact dermatitis. Um, no thanks. Refinery29 suggests taking a break at least once every eight weeks to prevent the development of an allergic reaction or any other form of irritation.

So when in doubt, do your nails at home. It saves you money and a potential trip to the hospital.