A comprehensive guide on nail salon etiquette

Entering the world of professional nail care for the first time can be somewhat daunting; words like “shellac” often get thrown around without any hints as to what they actually mean. If you’ve never had your nails professionally done, chances are you’re feeling a bit confused around the first steps you should take.

Should you buy professional nail supplies online or visit the salon? The choice is completely up to you. However, if you choose to start visiting a nail salon regularly, you’ll want to educate yourself on the various procedures, terminology and etiquette involved. With that said, let’s get stuck into the finer details of nail salon culture!

The manicure

A manicure is a hand treatment that involves the styling and painting of fingernails, cuticle removal, and moisturising of the nails and surrounding skin. It is typically a pleasant, relaxing experience used for cosmetic reasons, although taking good care of your hands and nails may come with health benefits too. Fingernails can accumulate a lot of bacteria and fungus throughout daily life, which could lead to infection. Ensuring your hands are clean and nails are trimmed may minimise the likelihood of infection.

Firstly, the nail technician will soak your hands and then trim and reshape the nails. Next, any dead skin around the cuticle is removed and the hands are gently massaged with an exfoliator. Finally, after the nails have been reshaped and exfoliated, the hands will be moisturised and a nail polish of your choosing applied. There are a range of different colours and textures of polish to choose from.

The pedicure

Master using professional instruments when doing pedicure. Pedicure treatment in beauty salon. Close up concept
Photo: Jollier, BS

Where a manicure is for the hands, a pedicure is specifically for the feet. It is a similar treatment involving soaking, cleansing, moisturising, massaging, and trimming and possible application of varnish to the toenails. It’s a great way to keep your feet soft and tidy; the treatment is also very relaxing.

A pedicure is generally more intensive than a manicure. Firstly, your feet will be soaked in warm water – this is to soften the skin. After this, a pumice stone is used to scrub the feet of any dead skin.

Any corns or calluses can be managed with the pumice stone. After this, your feet will be massaged with a moisturising cream. Finally, your toenails will be clipped and chosen nail polish will be applied.

Showing up with leftover polish on your nails

A comprehensive guide on nail salon etiquette
Photo: kirza, Bigstock

Showing up to your appointment with old polish on your nails is completely fine. Your technician will start the appointment by removing the existing polish. No hassles or concerns at all!

Types of nail polish

There are many kinds of nail polish on the market. You can get these products online like for example, from Nailco Wholesale. However, there are many online shops you might choose.

Here are the most popular options of nail polish:

  • Shellac: A great option for those who want long-lasting, durable nail polish that won’t chip after a couple of days. Shellac polish can last for up to a month, though it normally lasts around 2 weeks.
  • Gel: This is one of the most popular choices due to its affordability and classic look; it is also quite long lasting – it typically lasts about 2 weeks, similar to shellac.
  • Matte: This is an anti-shine polish which gives a stylish, professional look to your nails.
  • Crème: Another super popular and classic option due to being low-maintenance and available in a huge range of shades.
  • Metallic: This polish is bold, super shiny and high-impact.
  • Glitter: This is the queen of feminine polishes; it’s pretty, playful and perfect for summer. It’s important to add a top coat as this polish is prone to chipping.
  • Holographic: A trendy polish offering an iridescent, ethereal quality that will leave you looking like a space princess.
  • Neon: Bring the 70s back with a bold, retro neon orange or hot pink.

Changing polish colour mid-treatment

Sometimes people will decide on a polish colour only to realise after a couple of nails that they don’t actually like it. While not ideal, usually the beautician won’t mind changing the colour early on. However, if the entire set of nails has been painted, you may be charged again to change colours. Most nail salons will let you test out the colour by giving you a fake nail to try on. This can help you decide if the polish colour matches your skin tone.

Visiting a nail salon doesn’t have to be daunting; be prepared by deciding what treatment and type of nail polish you’d like in advance, and once you’re there, simply relax and enjoy the pampering experience!

Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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