6 Scary Signs You’re in a Bad Nail Salon

How do you tell the difference between a good nail salon and a really bad one? Keep reading to find out.

This guest post is by Lisa of Nail Art 101

Like most things in life, all nail salons are not created equal. Some salons offer amazing manicures, service and nail art while other salons offer the chance at infection, nail damage and a total waste of your money.

So how do you tell the difference? Well, there are a few tell-tale signs that a nail salon is cutting corners at the expense of your hands and feet!

If you go in a salon and see one of the things mentioned here… run for the hills!

1. It smells like chemicals when you walk in

The liquid used with acrylic power is called monomer and the stuff doesn’t smell great.

That’s just a fact, but sometimes you walk into a nail salon and it’s a whole new level of stinkyness.

What gives? Well, there are different types of monomer and the cheapest kind is the stuff that contains methyl metacrolate. Without getting too scientific (if you want to know more, click the link!), methyl methacrolate is really bad for humans.

It’s also a lot cheaper than the monomer that doesn’t contain it, so some shady salons still use it. It’s been banned for use in nail salons, but it’s hard to police the monomer usage of every nail salon in North America, so you have to be careful.

Which leads me to my next point…

2. Their product isn’t labeled


This is a big red flag. If they’re using lotion (or shampoo, or monomer, or pretty much any product) on you that is in a blank, unlabeled bottle, you have no idea what’s in there.

I worked in a salon that primarily used a skin care line containing almond extract. I had a client with allergies who asked me to read the list of ingredients before I used it on her, and it’s a good thing our product was labeled or I might have killed her while making her skin baby soft.

You have a right to know exactly what they’re putting on your body. If your salon has nothing to hide, then they won’t try to hide anything. Labels are good!

3. They don’t do a primary inspection

Every time a client sits in front of me, the first thing I do is take a good hard look at their hands/feet. I’m checking the state of their skin, what sort of work needs to be done and most importantly if they’re showing any signs of an infectious skin disorder!

Now, I don’t expect a salon to send a client away if they have a little wart on their foot but I do expect them to take proper precautions to prevent spreading it.

Things like wearing gloves, double sanitizing implements and being extra careful to avoid cross contamination.

If your girl starts going to town on your feet without even checking what’s going on with them, how do you know she didn’t do the same thing to the lady with athlete’s foot who was in before you? Ew.

(By the way, you are totally within your right to ask them to do a quick sanitize of the tub before you put your feet in if you’re feeling creeped out!)

4. They pop/pull/rip off your artificial nails


I became a nail tech because I love nails and I want my client to have the most beautiful nails possible. That includes the natural nail under the enhancement.

Girls are always showing me their paper thin, chewed up nails and asking why they’re in such bad shape. Because your nail tech is ripping huge layers of your nails off every four to six weeks!

When a good nail tech does a fill, they don’t remove the whole enhancement. They file down length and lifting, and then apply more product on top.

This makes your artificial nail much stronger and sturdier, and leaves your natural nail healty underneath.

If you ask for a fill and they try to remove what you already have on your nails they’re not filling… they’re replacing! Run!

5. They “saw” while filing

I had a nail tech saw my natural nail once, and I stopped the manicure right there and refused to let her near my hands. I’m protective of my precious babies!

What I mean when I say “sawing” is filing the nail in a rough back and forth motion.

Nail filing should always be done from the outside in, and only in one direction at a time. Sawing the nail weakens it and leads to fraying and peeling.

Every nail tech in the world should know this, so if she’s sawing your nails she’s just being lazy. Your paws deserve better.

6. The price is unbelievably low


If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  You get what you pay for.

If you buy a $10 dress for Forever XI and a $1000 dress from Armani, which one do you think is going to last longer?

A salon with crazy low prices is saving money somewhere. Sanitizer is not cheap, and making sure that all tools and supplies are properly sanitized is a huge expense for salons.

If you go into a salon and they’re offering services at half the price of everywhere else you might save a few dollars, but you’re also a lot more likely to walk out with a shoddy set of nails and a fancy new fungus.

Now, I don’t know you to think that all nail salons are terrible places full of evil chemicals and creepy bacteria.

Most of them are fantastic places that will pamper you and make you hands look great, but as artificial nails get more popular, so do these so-called discount salons.

Be aware and give your business to reputable places that go the extra mile to take care of you and your body!

Cover photo: dayspasw.com

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  • I was wondering if you have any advice for me . There’s a nail salon jn my city that has horrbile ratings for jacking up prices, for instance gel Mani might be priced at $30 but they just decide to charge $37 and don’t give a recipt or a reason why the price changed? What can I do if this happens? I ask because I have a gift certificate for thier salon.

  • either there was more work to be done on the nails thann the tech knew about before hand or they are fickled about what really to charge for the service. id say go into the salon and ask the manager how much it will cost and have them write it on a business card with their initials. then when you go in you have a quote in hand. if they are not willing to do that then ask if you can use your gift card for products and get your nails done somewhere else