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6 Nail Salon Red Flags to Avoid While Getting Your Holiday Manicure


‘Tis the season to celebrate all the holiday cheer with some festive nail art! Whether you go with a fancy design on tips of your fingers or stick with a solid theme of red or green, it’s always fun to get into the Christmas spirit with a visit to the nail salon. 

Of course, we all know how important it is to make sure the salons we trust with our fingers and toes won’t end up spreading germs while they swipe on the polish. There’s some pretty obvious signs that a facility isn’t keeping up to snuff when it comes to hygiene, but you might not be aware of all the red flags listed below. Take a look at all the warning signs that you might need to find new nail salon before heading out for you next mani or pedi!

1. They Only Have One License

According to salon expert Athena Elliot, who shared her nail safety tips with Dr. Oz, reputable nail salons will have their licenses easy to spot on display. They come in two categories: the business license and a license for each technician working in the salon. These are usually found right at the front where you check in for your appointment, but you can request to have them pointed out to you if you don’t see them. You should also be on the lookout for safety guidelines posted around the area.

2. There’s an Overwhelming Odor

Most nail salons have a slight chemical odor to them because of the products used by the technicians, but any scent that seems excessive means they aren’t properly ventilating the shop. Even a quick manicure can end in a serious headache and nausea if you spend the whole time inhaling those noxious fumes. That certainly ruins any of the relaxation you were likely hoping for when you walked in to treat yourself to a mani or pedi.

3. The Tub Isn’t Lined

Pedicures are one of the easiest ways for icky foot funguses to spread from one client to another. You don’t want your adorable new set of piggies to be suddenly marred by an infection, so make sure the facility uses tub liners — and that they actually change them between each customer. You should also check that they use a pipe-free system for their whirlpool, as pipes can allow microorganisms to linger. The pipe-free tubs look like they have a fan or propeller attached to them.

4. Technicians Aren’t Wearing Gloves

Think about it: Those technicians spend their days touching the skin of countless hands and feet all day. If they move on from one customer with a sneaky infection and start working on your mani or pedi, those germs will be transferred on to you. Again, you need to make sure they actually change out their gloves in between clients, too. The same goes for disposable instruments used to trim, buff, and shape your nails that don’t go into an autoclave (the disinfecting machine that looks similar to a toaster oven).

5. Your Polish Doesn’t Last Long

We don’t mean those pesky times you accidentally smudge your mani or pedi before it’s fully dry, but any time you notice gel or shellac chipping or peeling away soon after your visit to the salon. Some companies will add acetone to their polishes to keep from having to replace them, but this ruins the chemical integrity of the products and results in a lot of disappointment for the client. Gel and shellac polish should last at least two full weeks before showing any sign of deterioration.

6. The Deal Really Is Too Good to Be True

You might feel like ignoring all of the aforementioned red flags when passing by a deal for manis and pedis that seems too good to ignore. We’ve all been there, but as we’ve explained above, it can end up causing some seriously gnarly side effects. Sure, you might get lucky and the cheaper options check all the boxes for safety and hygiene, but don’t let the smaller price tag lure you in on its own.

It’s also a good idea to do plenty of research with online reviews before making your appointment. Just be sure you’re not fooled by fake “customers” crowding a business’ page with praises that don’t actually measure up.

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