The average NYC woman has a pretty back-to-back schedule. Between work, gym sessions, social engagements…who has time to squeeze much else in? Definitely understandable, but you should never underestimate the importance of the mani-pedi! And with super competitive nail salon rates (some offering both services for just $20!!), it’s absolutely necessary to find the time, at least once every two weeks or so (although I make it a weekly occurrence). So if you’re going to make time (as I hope you do), you should always leave the salon feeling 100% satisfied with your newly polished finger and toe nails. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Chipped polish? Uneven filing? The dreaded smudge? We’ve all been there. So since I fancy myself to be somewhat of a mani-pedi/nail polish connoisseur, I’ve come up with a list of tried and tested tips and tricks to ensure you come out of that salon with a smile on your face, ready to show off those hands and feet to the world!
Buy your own nail tools. Try and find a salon that you can frequent for most (if not all) of your mani-pedi visits, preferably one that offers a facility to house your own nail tools. Lots of salons have this feature nowadays — they keep trays/boxes labelled with regular customers’ names, allowing each to have their individual set of instruments. They may charge you for this service, but it’s well worth it. You may be exposed to several different foot and/or nail fungi by using the same tools as other patrons (you really shouldn’t trust anyone’s sanitizing or hygiene practices other than your own). Click here to read an article from Livestrong.com, detailing some of the risks associated with using improperly sanitized/shared nail instruments. Sephora carries a great “Deluxe Manicure Kit” for just $30 (click the image below to be forwarded to Sephora’s website to purchase). It includes almost everything you need: two nail clippers, a nail cleaner, precision scissors, a cuticle pusher, nipper and jaw, all in a very cute case. Buy a separate nail file and buffer and you’re all set! If you don’t feel like purchasing in-store or ordering online by clicking the picture below, inquire about buying a new set of tools at the salon itself.
Bring your own polish. I know this can get a little pricey, especially if you do the whole weekly mani-pedi thing, but it’s so worth it. Unfortunately, most salons water down their in-house polishes with acetone to make them last longer, which almost always leads to a lot of polish chipping. The nerve! However, when you bring your own colours, they’re far less likely to chip. In my case, manicures last an entire week, chip-free. Essie and OPI are the best polishes to buy — they last long and have a vast selection of colours. Another perk to bringing your own polish? If it does chip, you can always do minor touch-ups at home! But if you do decide to stray from these staple brands, make sure you choose companies whose formulas are DBP, Toluene and Formaldehyde free. If you’d like to read more about these toxic chemicals found in several nail companies’ products, click here to read an article from the Campain for Safe Cosmetics. Also, click here to be forwarded to the Essie website, and click here to visit OPI’s website (both brands are free of the toxic ingredients mentioned above).
Invest in a good base and top coat. This is essential if you want the polish to last. Essie makes two great base and top coat products (yes, I’m a huge Essie fan). “All In One Base” ($9.50) ensures the colour coats stick to your nail, while “Good to Go” ($8) adds a lovely shine to the colour, and more importantly, cuts drying time in half! Click the image, below, to purchase from Essie’s website.
Don’t use the foot razor! I know it’s tempting, especially when your esthetician takes a look at your heels and looks up at you with a disgusted face, but think about what you’re doing. You’re allowing a complete stranger to take a blade to your feet and start hacking away! Yikes! And did you know that the use of foot razors is illegal in NYC nail salons? So beware — if the salon doesn’t follow this health/safety measure, what else might they fail to observe?
Try not to cut your cuticles too much. Yes, it’s true your nails will look much cleaner with much less cuticle. But if you cut too much too often, your cuticles will start growing back much faster than I’m sure you’d like. Have the manicurist push back as much of it as possible, before resorting to clipping (if necessary).
Make sure the polish dries entirely, but not under the UV light. Even though it’s time-consuming, don’t ruin a new mani-pedi because you didn’t want to wait an extra five minutes. Do the “dry test” when you think you’re ready to go — cautiously tap your pinky nails together, and if you feel them slightly sticking together, then they’re not ready yet. Back under the drier you go! But make sure you turn off the UV light. Yes it helps your polish harden, but it’s the same UV light that causes melanoma. Just because they are being used in a professional setting, doesn’t change the fact that they are ultra-violet rays.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, watch what they’re doing! If you feel your nails were filed unevenly, cleaned improperly or polished inconsistently, tell them! You are paying for a service that you could do yourself, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t voice any dissatisfaction, within reason. Also, be sure to notice how spick-and-span the facility is in general. No need to do a full-blown CSI-style investigation (unless you feel inclined to do so), but do check for little things, like overall cleanliness, whether they do pedicure tub scrub downs between customers, and is that little sanitizing box where they keep the “communal tools” even on?
Hopefully, these little pointers will help you receive your ideal NYC salon mani-pedi…and with the warm weather fast approaching, there’s no reason we should hesitate to wear those super cute sandals ASAP.