By Monica Torres via HuffPost
Nail techs have seen it all ― and they have strong opinions about hygiene at nail salons.
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After years of taking care of their clients' nails, these nail techs have thoughts about what they would never do to their own nails.
Nail technicians see their clients’ nails and cuticles up close all the time, and the things they’ve learned about maintaining healthy nails can be revealing.
HuffPost reached out to nail technicians and nail artists about what they would never do to their own nails after their many years of experience in their industry. They share their own personal “won’ts” around hygienic, sanitary standards and whether they would do certain nail trends on their own nails.
1. Bite nails
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“One big thing I would never do to my own nails is biting them! I think it’s safe to say why not ― it’s unsanitary. It gives me the chills thinking about doing it.”
“There are many people out there who do not wash their hands properly and especially underneath their nails. ... It’s satisfying to clean out [the debris around and underneath their nails], but seeing that makes me wonder if people who bite their nails really know what they’re putting in their mouth. The majority of my clients say they have done it out of anxiousness, and I do not judge these people, but I can’t do it myself.” ― Christina Tran, Los Angeles-based nail artist
2. Get a pedicure at a salon where you don’t know if the jets have been disinfected
“Unsanitary whirlpool jets are usually to blame when clients get infections from pedicures. Unless I know for sure that the jets are being disinfected after each client using state board[-approved] procedures, there’s no way I’m putting my feet in there!”
“Sometimes [nail] techs trick clients by using dirty jets with a new plastic liner. It looks sanitary, but when they turn on the whirlpool, infectious germs, nail clippings, skin cells, even sock lint can be circulating in your foot bath.”
“[To find out if it’s been disinfected] you just have to ask or be able to observe them doing it if you just happen to walk in. They’re supposed to ... disinfect it for 10 minutes between clients. So like if somebody is [having] back-to-back [clients] in a pedicure chair, you should not be sitting in right after them. They should be like, ‘Hold on wait, I need a couple minutes,’ and clean it right in front of you.’” ― Lynette Chanel, a Columbus, Ohio-based nail technician
3. Get hard gels
“The one thing I would not do to my nails are hard gels. ... It’s a complete commitment. Personally, as a nail artist who works with various brands for social media content purposes, my nails need to be free from preexisting nail enhancements primarily.”
“Hard gels are not as easy to remove as soft gels. Soft gels you can soak off [whereas] hard gels need to be drilled down and grow out on their own.”
“I like having the flexibility of removing my enhancements effortlessly.” ― Gina Edwards, New York City-based nail artist
4. Get dip powder nails at a salon
“It’s not sanitary and it turns into a jar of germs quick. ... Truth is, there’s no chemicals in the powder to kill the bacteria from person to person dipping into the same pot. So let’s say the salon cuts your skin or you have [an] open cut, now [you’re] taking God-knows-what kind of bacteria in that fresh open cut.”
“It’s most likely best to stay away from dip and just ask for an acrylic overlay on your natural nails because in all reality it’s the same thing just applied in different ways. Dip uses a type of glue to make it stick to your nails, and acrylic applied normally uses monomer so there’s a strong enough chemical to kill all the bacteria that could be living in the powder.” ― Christina Blea, owner of Dabulous Nailz & Thangz in Berkeley, California
5. Pick at hangnails
“My biggest thing that I wouldn’t do to my nails is pick or pull my hangnails. Picking or pulling the hangnails can cause further issues like open wound/sores, possible infection or fungus. Keeping my skin hydrated keeps the skin intact. ― Christa Cole, a Pasadena, California-based nail technician
6. Peel off gels or extensions
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“In my seven years as a nail tech, there are many things I’ve learned to steer clear of. The one thing I will never do to my nails is peel my gel off! Peeling product off takes layers of your nail with it. If you do this repeatedly, it will significantly weaken your natural nails and potentially cause permanent damage. Always soak your gel off or have a professional remove it for you. ― Britanny Zendejas, Portland, Oregon-based nail artist
“I would never peel off my gels or extensions! People often think that acrylics or gels damage their nails, but they don’t. Peeling and ripping off your gels removes layers of your natural nails which will leave them thin and brittle.” ― Vanessa Cantin, owner of Strange Love nail studio in Oakland, California
7. Allow salons to reuse nail tools on your nails
“Find a place that uses fresh nail files and buffers every time, or take your own clean tools with you when you’re going to get your nails done to ensure that you are not cross-contaminating your items with anybody else’s.”
“You can tell pretty fast if a nail file is new. If there [are] white marks on it or if it looks kinda beat up, you can kindly ask them to use a fresh one ― and honestly if they get offended, then you probably don’t want them doing your nails.”
“[If you invest in your own tools], take them with you and clean them once you get home. You can save them in a little plastic bag or get a little pencil box and store them easily. It’s a simple way to ensure that you’re getting at least a clean service and keeping your nails healthy.” ― Blea
Some answers were lightly edited for clarity and length.