1. Shaving calluses is illegal in most states.
At some nail salons, your pedicurist might offer to shave your calluses with a credo blade (that handheld device that looks like a cross between a razor and a vegetable peeler). But, however tempting the allure of callus-free feet may be, Rosanne Kinley, salon owner and former president of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology, suggests turning down the offer. According to Kinley, any procedure involving a credo blade is considered a medical procedure, which is illegal to perform in a nail salon. Moreover, shaving your calluses will only make them grow back worse. "Your body reacts to your callused skin being removed as it would to any other skin injury-[by growing] new tissue," says celebrity nail technician and New York State cosmetology test proctor, Patricia Yankee. Not to mention: Calluses protect our feet from daily wear and tear-think high heels and friction caused by walking or jogging-so it's best to just smooth them with a pumice stone instead of removing them altogether, says Kinley.
2. Don't shave your legs before a pedicure.
You've likely heard the story by now: In 2000, 113 California women made the news after contracting Mycobacterium fortuitum-a bacterial infection caught via open wounds that results in purple, pus-filled bumps-from infested pedicure tubs. After some investigation, it was determined that all of the women had something in common: They had shaved their legs before their appointments, creating superficial nicks and wounds that left their skin susceptible to infection. While nail salons are required by law to rinse and disinfect their tubs with hospital-grade solution after every client, it's a good idea to protect yourself by holding off on shaving until after your appointment. Infections aside, shaving also strips the legs of a thin layer of skin, increasing the chances of irritation caused by perfumed creams or exfoliating beads used by most salons. Nail technicians urge customers to delay shaving until after a pedicure, and insist there's no reason to be self-conscious about prickly legs. Says Yankee, "I don't even notice whether a client has smooth legs or not! My focus is on caring for the feet, not the legs."
3. Bringing your own manicuring tools isn't necessarily safer.
Are you a stickler about toting your own files and cuticle cutters to the salon? If so, you may not be doing yourself any favors. "It's more likely that someone's personal tools are more unsanitary than salon ones," says Kinley. She goes on to explain that after their appointments, customers usually seal their tools back in the bag without sanitizing them, which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria-even if it's just their own. On the other hand, after each client, professional salons are required to scrub their tools with soap and water to remove debris, followed up by a (minimum) 10-minute soak in a hospital-grade sanitizer. If you'd still rather stick to your own tools, Yankee suggests sanitizing them after each use by adhering to the same cleaning routine: Scrub them with soap and water, then soak for at least 10 minutes in a disinfectant solution like Barbicide, which you can get at a professional beauty supply store. If you don't live near a beauty supply store, she says regular old rubbing alcohol will also do the trick.
4. You should think about forgoing your appointment if…
… you show any signs of infection, such as pain, itching and redness around the nailbed, which is often caused by biting your nails or picking at your cuticles. "Even if the salon is diligent about sanitizing, you can still pick up bacteria or fungus a number of ways," says Yankee, including from your nail technician's hands or even from the nail file that was just used on your own feet. (Note: If your nail technician nicks you while cutting your cuticles, that can also leave you susceptible to infection--which is why most dermatologists warn against the procedure.) And anyone who has suffered a nail infection will tell you that the condition is nothing to take lightly: Most cases result in swelling and puss around the nailbed (typical of a bacterial infection) or discoloration of the nailbed (characteristic of a fungal infection), which can spread to the rest of the hand and will require a trip to the doctor. These types of infections typically require a course of oral antibiotics for full recovery-though the infection itself can leave the nail looking disfigured for weeks. And, apart from putting yourself at risk, Yankee also notes that customers should be diligent about self-regulating their visits since "going into a salon with an open wound puts others in danger of picking something up from you."
5. A 20% tip is usually appropriate.
If you often walk out of the nail salon wondering if you've over- or under-tipped, we've got the definitive answer for you: "I would say 20% is the golden rule," says Kinley. And, according to her, that rule applies both at high-end spas and discounted nail salons, which frequently offer a manicure and pedicure package for around $25. "At discount shops, the price is compromised somewhere and it's usually with products," she says. For example, they may skimp on the amount of soap they use in the tub water, or on the type of lotion they use to moisturize your legs. Yankee warns that you get what you pay for when you frequent salons that offer package deals; "Contrary to what most people think, a manicure is supposed to last up to 14-not four-days before chipping or becoming dull," says Yankee, who guarantees her work lasts for at least two weeks. But that's not to say you can't tip extra if you have a longtime relationship with your technician or you feel she has gone the extra mile during your appointment. "Many of my clients tip me $20 for a pedicure," Yankee says, which she charges $30 for.
6. We generally don't mind if you chat on your phone during your appointment.
At every salon, there's a Chatty Cathy, and while sometimes that person's work (or family, or boyfriend) drama is entertaining, at other times it's disruptive to other clients who are trying to relax, "which could reflect poorly on the salon's reputation," says Yankee. However, both experts agree that as long as you keep the conversation short and your voice low, taking a phone call is no big deal, especially considering all the white noise coming from the pedicure thrones, hand dryers and ringing phones. Just remember not to be so engrossed in your conversation that you miss the technician's cues to switch positions during your mani or pedi.
7. We're not miracle workers.
"Occasionally, we'll have a bride come in with chewed up cuticles and mutilated fingernails who expects us to totally transform her hands and feet in an hour," Yankee says. "But if she's not doing anything to maintain [her nails] at home, there's only so much we can do." The same goes for women who have neglected their toenails all winter and anticipate miracles during their first summer pedicure. Luckily, you don't have to invest lots of cash in expensive lotions and callus removers to keep your hands and feet in shape between treatments. "Use all your throw-away or leftover [beauty] products," Yankee suggests. "Scrubs that may be too harsh for your body or regenerative creams that are too oily for your face are perfect for your feet," she says. If you want to splurge on a quality product, use the money towards a jojoba-based cuticle oil, which keeps everything super moisturized. "Not only will [moisturizing your nails] prevent them from becoming cracked or speckled, but healthy nails hold products longer, so your manicure or pedicure will last," says Yankee.
8. We're happy to offer fix-ups-most of the time.
"The most common problem [we see] is people messing up their polish job," says Yankee. And while technicians understand that accidents can happen on the way to the drying booth, that doesn't give customers license to be careless. "In addition to taking everything out of your bag that you'll need to get home smudge-free, take [enough] time to dry your nails," says Yankee, who says two dryer cycles are usually adequate to dry the top coat of your polish. Or, if you're really in a rush, use the nail oil, which will make the surface slippery and harder to smudge when you brush up against something. As for the clients who come in later in the week looking for a freebie fix? "As technicians, we can tell if the chipping or mess-up is because of a mistake we made or the client's fault," she says. So think again before you try to pawn off your nail biting habit as poor polish quality!
9. Don't feel shy about asking for proof of sanitation.
Never hesitate to follow up on proper sanitation before you get a manicure or pedicure. For one thing, most state cosmetology laws require that nail technicians use a new nail file for every customer. "If a nail file looks old, feel free to request a new one," says Yankee. "Your nail technician will know why." You should also be aware that, should a tool be dropped or damaged during the appointment, each manicurist is supposed to have three sets of tools at the ready to ensure that there is another clean set, plus a second back-up set, at any given time, according to Yankee. As for those pedicure thrones, in addition to making sure that the tub you'll be soaking your feet in has been sanitized, Kinley recommends asking your pedicurist to clean the bowl's filter-screen, so that old debris doesn't contaminate your clean water. Yankee adds that newer pedicure thrones are much easier to disinfect than older ones, as they don't contain built-in filtering systems-just tubs and drains. "In older chairs, bacteria from the previous client could potentially still linger in the piping if the nail technician didn't take the time to flush the system," says Yankee. As a client, it may be in your best interest to seek out a newly-established salon with the latest-style thrones, and to show up to your appointments early to ensure the tub you'll be soaking in has been properly cleaned.
Photo: © Darren Baker / Thinkstock
Article originally appeared on WomansDay.com .
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