Should you save money on your mani/pedi?

The last few posts have focused heavily on nails, and encouraging readers to enjoy professionally done services. So of course, you’re wondering where to go and enjoy some “you time.”

Q. I can’t really afford salon prices. Can I just go to the inexpensive nail salon on the corner?

A. I get it, it’s a little more pricey. But if you can’t afford to have your nails done by a licensed tech, then you can’t afford to have them done at all. It’s a hard truth to come by, but the price you pay when you support unlicensed nail studios is just too high. I’ve been guilty of it myself. Why pay $50 for a pedicure when I can get one with no appointment for $25?

It may seem like a bargain, but here is the price I’ve personally paid for cheap-ing out on my nails:

– Something is not right with my toenails. Fungus? I’m not sure. But it sure as hell didn’t come from my shower. 

– I’ve had nail techs lie straight to my face, sell and charge me for gel or silk wraps and apply “acrylic” anyway.

– Nips, cuts, and illegally removing skin with a blade? I’ve seen it plenty of times.  

Every.single.time I get a non-natural manicure (shellac, gel, or acrylic) they use a drill on MY NAIL BED! Not only is this bad for nails, it’s painful and creates a dependency on artificial nails for strength. 

– Huge ridges along the nail bed from the drill and months of growing out the damaged nail.

Q. I see a license on the wall of these nail salons, aren’t they the same as a more expensive salon?

A. Don’t be fooled by that license on the wall! First of all, how many people are working in the salon? 15? How many licenses do you see? 1? Exactly. Typically, 1 person will get a license and allow several other people to work under them with no more training than it takes to make a scrambled egg. Ever notice how employees at reputable salons have a visible license at their station? They worked hard for it.

I’m sure you’re thinking that there must be regulations on this sort of thing, and there are. Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough state inspectors to keep up on the salons that are constantly changing owners and popping up on every corner. It becomes a bit of an honor system- which means you have to be discerning.

Q. Am I getting the same service at discount salon?

A. Absolutely not. Discount salons are notorious for substituting cheap, dental enamel for the more expensive acrylic formula. The result is an inflexible, unhealthy nail that is very difficult to remove.

In addition, as I mentioned above, it’s not uncommon for discount nail techs to lie about what they are applying to your nails. I’ve witnessed nail techs apply acrylic powder to nails and call it “powder gel”. In the words of Amy Vargo, “It’s called gel for a reason.”

You are also putting yourself at risk for infection, fungus, and worse at these salons. Certain common practices are actually illegal, yet performed regularly at cheap nail studios.

Q. I really can’t afford the cost of a traditional salon. What can I do?

A. Practice! If you love polished fingers and toes, learn how to do a legit manicure and pedicure in the safety of your own home. It’s not terribly difficult, as long as you don’t try for gel, shellac, or acrylic.

Go to the salon half as often. Consider getting a professional mani or pedi every other time or every third time. Your licensed nail tech will keep you in top shape, and you can do a maintenance polish change or two at home.

This is about more than saving money and looking good. This is about ethics. The men and women who choose to attend cosmetology school are highly trained and work hard to build a reputable business. They care about you and your health, and have been trained to protect the integrity of your nails. Please consider supporting those who choose to go about their business and livelihood with integrity.

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