A Newbies Guide to Your Local Nail Bar

Normally I DIY my nails, but this past weekend I decided on a whim to go check out one of the myriads of local nail bars on the main road  just a couple of minutes from my house. I decided to write this post because shockingly, the last time I had a mani was in the week leading up to my wedding in 2004! Shocker, eh? And even at the time, my sister booked it for me as a pre-wedding pampering gift. I’m not your typical girly girl so the mani/pedi experience does not even make the list of things I want to/need to accomplish every week.

Because it was a relatively new experience, I found the whole thing to be a tad tricky. If like me you are not a regular, here’s my rundown of what to expect at your local nail bar.

Let me also preface this by saying, the fact that I didn’t know how to relax proves that I indeed need to do this more often.

those are my toes getting mucho love

Relax, don’t do it

I showed up with my iPhone ready to check a few emails and what not while she did my pedicure. About 10 minutes in, I realized their was no way I was going to relax if I was surfing Facebook and Twitter and checking my emails. I turned everything off, sat back and instead played with the buttons on the massage chair, getting a lower back massage, and some heavy duty kneading around my shoulders. Bliss!

So my advice is first and foremost, turn off your brain, close your eyes, tilt the chair back and enjoy the ride.

Magic massage chairs with drying stations in the background

Don’t be embarrassed about not being shaved

Okay, I have to admit that I only heard this gem of information after I left the nail bar, but I can now claim it as my excuse for being completely sasquach-like for my recent mani/pedi. It wasn’t until she actually started rolling up my jeans that I realized I was a little hairier than I Imagined? When was the last time I shaved anyways? I suppose all that post partum hair I am losing from my head is growing on my legs. A friend mentioned to me that if your legs are freshly shaven before a treatment, you risk letting in nasties to your body through the smallest nicks and cuts you may have on your legs. This is the case with even the most hygienic nail bar – google it, it’s true. And if the internet says it, it must be true…On a side note, the higher she can roll your pants, the more of a leg massage you’ll get. She wasn’t able to roll my skinny jeans up past mid-calf, so that is as far as she could massage. To the other side of me, ladies in sweat pants were getting calf and knee massages. I so could have used that post my Saturday morning run.

Hey big spender, how much should you tip

I kinda broke out into a sweat when she took my card, doing a quick mental math of what I thought she deserved for all her scrubbing, filing and polishing with a smile. I vaguely knew that tipping at salons was usually higher than what you’d tip at a restaurant, but still I was a little unsure. I took this age old question to the all-knowing Google as well when I got home. Apparently 20 percent is the going rate. I’m not sure why so high or what the hygienists are paid, but I am not one to argue with convention when it comes to tipping especially if the service was great or above average. I do have a problem with tipping when service is mediocre, but that’s a whole other blog post. So I probably could have added an extra dollar. The girl who worked on me, beamed when I told her what amount to add to the bill for tip and the head lady did not come over and put the beat down, so it couldn’t have been too bad.

Don’t be amazed at paying before she’s finished

At this point I’ve sat in the massage chair, soaked my feet, had them slathered in lotion, had my feet and legs massaged, toenails buffed and cleaned up and had nail color added. She’s then slipped back on my flip-flops and walked me over to the manicure table while my toenails dry with the mini-fan under the table. She’s cleaned up my nails, given them a little massage and cuticle care (I remember this step!) and suddenly the bill comes out. What the what? I thought it was some odd trick to make sure I didn’t jet as soon as she finished my nails. But of course it’s to keep you from having to fiddle in your purse with wet nails. Doh! So obvious. Look for sprays and oils at the final drying station to help with smudging, etc…Also, built-in buttons in the table where you dry your hands and on the platform on the floor are meant to be pressed down to activate the fans. Of course, if you move your hand or foot off the button, the fan stops – makes sense, right?

Honor the tranquility

Talking about your broken toe and big callous at ‘haute voix’ is not cool. Not that I needed to be told this, but the lady who sat next to me half way through my pedicure sure did. I felt a little sorry for her as she told her technician the entire story of the accident that left her with a broken toe and metal in her foot, but I also felt a little queasy listening to how rough and thick the skin under her feet were. Yuck! I kid you not, she talked about this very loudly. I think she was partly nervous to show someone her feet. I know from past experience with podiatrists, these people have seen it all. I think feet are the hardest working parts of our bodies, I don’t expect them to look pretty. As a testament to the professionalism of the lady working her feet, she just nodded and answered when appropriate while giving her feet what was apparently some much needed TLC. As for the rest of the clientele, people were fidgeting and looking a little uneasy. She was breaking the peace and tranquility we were all there to experience.

So there you have it, a bit of what goes on down at the local nail bar.

My last tip to you would be to try a color that is just a bit different from what you thought you wanted.

You may already know that purple is tops as my favorite color. So when I buy polishes I tend to get dark purply hues. I had the presence of mind to try something just a little different, still purple but quite pale.

The color I used was was so 2011, no really it was OPI’s Planks A Lot from Pirates of the Carribbean. Do you like?

Would anyone else be baffled at a nail bar, or is it just me?

It’s good to get outside your comfort zone and do new things. But I also get that sometimes the unknown can be intimidating. Hopefully this mini rundown of what to expect will make it easier for you to visit your local nail salon and get the pampering you deserve.

What’s your favorite spa/salon treatment?

Here’s wishing you everything you want for mother’s day including pampering :)



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5 Responses to A Newbies Guide to Your Local Nail Bar
  1. Darcy
    May 8, 2012 | 8:17 pm

    I had a mani/pedi just about 2 weeks ago. First pedi ever. Last mani was for my wedding too lol they did my mani first so I paid at the front when all done. I didn’t realize salon tipping is supposed to be 20%. I usually do 15-20% depending on the service though.
    Darcy recently posted..What People Like Us Are Tweeting! #PeopleLikeUsMy Profile

  2. Kristin Wheeler (MamaLuvsBooks)
    May 8, 2012 | 9:13 pm

    Great post! I am in need of getting my nails done SO BAD! I get so lazy with keeping up with them.
    Kristin Wheeler (MamaLuvsBooks) recently posted..Nutrisystem Week 10: The Results Are In…….My Profile

  3. Tammy S
    May 9, 2012 | 9:48 am

    I love getting mani/pedi’s. One thing that is very important to me is how clean is the salon. I always bring my on supplies but it is very important to know how clean the salon is. I don’t want to stick my feed in a bowl that hasn’t been scrubed. That is the most important thing about any salon for me.

  4. Angela
    May 9, 2012 | 4:48 pm

    Love this post Ghada! I’m a mani/pedi veteran but still learned from your tips (especially that freshly shaved legs is not the way to go…). The polish colour you chose is fab! x

  5. Dede
    Twitter: savinginseconds
    May 14, 2012 | 10:00 pm

    My feet are so daggone dry that I actually crave pedi’s. Love, love, love them. I recently got the new gel mani with the UV light and loved it. Very natural and long-lasting. I don’t do it often, but when I do it’s a really nice treat!
    Dede recently posted..Going camping? Check out this NookBook download.My Profile

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KiwiCanadian expat adventures with my husband and 2 kids from life in New Zealand to New York and back again. Adventures in inspired family living, travel, health & fitness.Read More »