Attention nail care customer: Use this as a guideline to determine whether your salon is providing not only great nails, but a safe and pleasant experience as well.

1. Are the salon and individual workstations clean? Does your nail technician observe proper sanitation practices?

Before the nail technician begins your service, you should both wash your hands. The towel at the table should be clean, and all instruments to be used in the service should have been disinfected. Don’t be afraid to ask your nail technician how the instruments have been disinfected. Files and buffers that are not disinfectable should be new and unused.

2. What is included in the price of the service?

Many salons provide all-inclusive service prices; some salons charge a la carte. Be sure you understand exactly what services are performed for the price. For example, is polish extra? Is top coat or fast-dry extra? Will you be charged for broken nails?

3. Did the nail technician explain the service to you, ask you questions about your needs, and inform you of proper nail care at home?

There have been so many advancements in artificial nail products that nail technicians can make the most natural-looking nails in the world, but artificial nails aren’t for everyone. Your nail technician should ask you about your needs and explain the at-home maintenance you should do to care for your nails. You should also share pertinent medical information with her (certain medications, for example, can hinder the application of certain nail products).

4. Does the salon have a strong odor?

There is an odor associated with some artificial nail products, but there is no danger to customers smelling limited amounts of it during a service. However, an overpowering odor can be an indication of an inadequate ventilation system in the salon. Ask your nail technician or the salon owner what is done in the salon to minimize exposure to odors, vapors, and filing dust for customer comfort.

5. Does the technician use an electric file?

Electric files are commonly used in the nail industry, and, when used properly, are perfectly safe. You should not feel any pain or burning when the electric file is being used; if you experience any discomfort, tell your nail technician immediately. The only time an electric file should be used on the natural nail itself is with a buffer (no grit).

6. Is the nail technician and the salon licensed?

All states except Connecticut require licenses for nail technicians, and most states require that the license be displayed for customers to see. Don't be afraid to ask to see a nail tech's license.

7. What products are used in the salon?

Most salons use products that are for professionals only, and your nail technician should be able to explain what products she uses and why. There have been great advances in nail chemistry in the last 10 years, but some salons still use chemicals whose use in nail care is not recommended, specifically a product called methyl methacrylate (MMA).

8. What if you have a problem with your nails?

Good communication between the nail professional and customer is essential, so if you are not happy with your service or your nails, talk to your technician or the salon owner about it.

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