How To Handle A Bad Nail Salon Experience

When you’re paying for a service at a professional establishment, you expect things to be of a certain standard. If you wanted polish all over your cuticles, you would have asked your little cousin to paint your nails, right?! So what happens when the nail technician performing your manicure does a less than average job? Or worse, she does something that makes you uncomfortable. We asked two of the best in the business, celebrity manicurists Gerry Holford and Tee Hundley, how to handle those awkward moments.

What should you do when the technician leaves you with a streaky mess, or polish all over your cuticles?

Tee: I would suggest pointing out the flaws to him/her and asking for a new polish job. In case the technician is new, it’s kind to be considerate and let them take their time. It can be nerve-racking to have your mistakes pointed out.

Gerry: The best way to handle this is to gently speak to your tech and voice your concern as quickly into the service as possible. The tech can then address it immediately. Often, the techs will be happy to repaint a nail or even change a color completely if it’s not what you anticipated. If you have troubles after speaking to the tech that are not resolved, go directly to the manager and enlist her help.

What should you do if the technician starts doing something you aren’t comfortable with, like cutting your cuticles or shaving your feet?

Tee: Definitely SAY SOMETHING! There are certain things I’m not comfortable with having certain things done and I let them know either prior to the start of service or if I see something I’m not comfortable with.

Gerry: No tech should ever shave your feet. It’s just too risky. Before any cuticle work begins, your tech should confer with you about what you are comfortable getting done. Remember, no one should be cutting the live skin, only the excess cuticle. If you are uncomfortable, ask her to stop.

What should you do if the tools the technician is using don’t look hygenic, like unsterilized tools or a dirty foot bath?

Tee: Explain that for personal reasons you will need to require your tools come directly from the sterilizer. If a bath is dirty, I will point it out and ask that the tub be cleaned again. If you feel the tubs are not properly cleaned be aware that the jets are probably not cleaned either if you’re on a pedi throne. I rarely allow jets to be used during my pedicure.

Gerry: Tool hygiene is a huge issue. I am floored at what I see in salons around the city. It is very important to take tool cleanliness very seriously.

Files, buffers and foot callous removers are all disposable and new ones should be used for every client. It is unacceptable and illegal for techs to use a previously used file on you. When you get your service, all you need to do is simply ask for all new items to be used. They will do it if they are asked. Do not allow them to up charge you for “new tools”; you are entitled to receive your services with fresh tools.

For metal tools, these need to be sterilized after each service. If you have any concern, ask them to disinfect and sterilize the tool in front of you. They should at least be able to soak them in Barbicide for you! If a tech puts her tools back in her drawer after your service, this is a tell-tale sign that the tools are not being cleaned at all. Watch what is going on around you.

If you have concerns about the foot bath, simply ask for it to be cleaned before your service begins. This way you know what you’re getting.

What if the technician gets angry or aggressive?

Tee: Ask for the manager/owner.

Gerry: If anyone gets aggressive, simply end the service and approach a manager. She will be able to assign you a new tech or simply escort you out if you want to leave.

Elise Wright

Elise is a social media strategist from Sydney, now living in NYC, who has a long standing love affair with the beauty industry- especially the nail industry!

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