Sandal season is upon us, and that means it’s time to spruce up the tootsies for their grand debut. Pedicures are the ultimate treat for your feet, but only if you pick a clean, professional salon for your pampering service.
That can be easier said than done. If the spa or salon you choose isn’t sanitary, you put yourself at risk for contracting an infection, a bad headache or other unpleasant side effects.
I caught up with Deborah Lippmann, co-founder and creative director of the eponymous nail line, to get her professional insights on clean, safe nail care. Here is what she had to say about the hallmarks of a clean nail salon and the red flags to watch out for before you settle in for your next manicure or pedicure.
1. Check out the storage
Lippmann suggests asking the manicurist to open her drawer or rolling cart. Then, take a peek inside to see if there are dirty tools and dust. “This can be a major indicator of the salon’s larger commitment to the health, sanitation and safety of the space.”
2. The pedicure basin should have a protective cover
“If you are getting a pedicure, make sure the salon uses a protective piece of plastic over the basin and changes it before each new client,” Lippmann says.
3. Examine uniforms
“Ideally, technicians should be dressed in professional clothing that does not restrict movement, closed shoes and their hair pulled back,” she says. Any casual or unkempt looks are red flags for the rest of the business.
4. Bring your own tools
“Before visiting a salon, put together your own nail kit and include a pusher, nipper, foot file, nail file, buffer, base/top coats and nail lacquers,” Lippmann suggests. “Otherwise, you run the risk of hygienic contamination if salons aren’t using proper sanitization, which is often the case.”
5. Bring your own polish, too
Lippmann warns that many salons compromise the product formulations with acetone. The acetone “can lessen the longevity and quality of the manicure.” The colorful wall of nail polish bottles may be tempting, but your own collection is definitely pure and untainted.
6. Question the products and techniques
“Engage your manicurist, ask questions about the products and services to determine her level of education,” Lippmann says. An informed technician is a good one you can trust. Additionally, make sure you clearly explain what you want and what you don’t.
7. Use your nose
A strong odor in a salon is a big red flag. Lippmann warns, “If you are overpowered by the smell of nail polish, it’s probably not ventilated well, they are using harmful chemicals and you should leave!”
8. Pop in the powder room
Even if you don’t need to go, check out the bathroom. Lippmann says to look for anything that “seems dirty or unhygienic, which can be a sign of overall cleanliness problems.”
9. You get what you pay for
Just because your hands and feet look good when you leave the salon, doesn’t mean it was a good — or a clean — service. “Don’t be surprised after visiting a place that does not have the best sanitary practices, that your cuticles become inflamed, your manicure is peeling days later or you have a fungal infection on your foot,” she adds. Keep an eye on your hands and feet to see how they look a few days later to determine if it’s worth a return visit.