Nail Salons - Manicures & Pedicures

Manicure services

The most common service offered by local nail salons is a manicure. This cosmetic beauty treatment starts with a filing and then shaping of each nail's free edge, followed by skin treatments, sometimes a hand massage and finally painting of each nail. There is a host of paint types and style available; one style, French manicures, remain quite common.

Thought to have originated in Paris in the late 18th century, a French manicure focuses on making nails look somewhat natural by painting the tips white and polishing their bases with a nude or pink shade. Artificial nail tips, acrylics or nail gels can also be used to simulate the look of natural nails.

Specialty nail designs are also popular, allowing customers to choose not only what shape of nails they want, but what kind of details they prefer on the bases and tips. Nail shapes include oval, square oval (squoval), pointed, round, almond and square.

You can choose to have nails painted a single color on the tip or for their entire length or choose multiple colors in a host of patterns. Talented nail technicians can create intricate nail designs which resemble small pieces of art. Treated well, these nail designs can last several weeks without chipping or breaking.

Additional services from local nail salons

Pedicures

Along with manicures, nail salons typically offer pedicures, which involve treatments for the feet and legs. This aspect of the beauty care industry saw substantial growth at the turn of the century, in large part because of the amount consumers were willing to pay for excellent work.

Taking anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour, pedicures typically involve removing dead skin from the bottoms of your feet by rubbing them with rough pumice stone. Soaking the feet in a mineral bath is also common, as are treatments for leg hair removal. Finally, toenails are shaped and painted.

Done correctly, a pedicure both improves the look of feet and toes and helps prevent infections due to hangnails or ingrown hairs.

Hand Care

Hand care is also an essential part of the salon service. Hands may be dipped in paraffin wax — which can reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit and still not burn skin — or placed in a hot oil bath. In both cases, hands are softened and moisturized, both improving their experience and making it easier to trim and shape the nails.

Healthy hands also produce stronger nails, meaning your manicure will look better for longer.

Skin Care

Overall skin care is also making its way into salons and includes treatments such as moisturizing, exfoliation and in some cases hair removal. These services can usually be booked alongside hand and foot treatments as a "package," which will be cheaper than purchasing services on their own.

Perks

Many salons offer discounts for groups over a certain size, and may allow (or provide) food and nonalcoholic beverages for customers to enjoy during their treatments.

Tips for selecting a local nail salon

There are several important factors to consider when selecting a nail salon near you. First thing most people take into consideration is price.  Most services have a set cost, but expect to pay more if you want particularly intricate designs on your nails or if you're looking for acrylic, silk or fiberglass nail extensions, which are in turn sculpted.

It's worth asking neighbors and friends, as well as checking local reviews on trusted websites, since the quality of nail art varies significantly and relies in large part on the talent of the nail technician.  As a result, it's okay to ask how much training salon staff has before you trust your hands and feet to their care. This is doubly important because of the risk of infection if treatments aren't performed properly.

Cleanliness and training are also critical in choosing a nail salon.  It's possible to pick up athlete's foot, warts or boils if foot baths aren't cleaned between each customer or if the technician accidentally cuts your hand while trimming your nails.  In some states, nail technicians must have formal training from a state-recognized institution before government agencies will grant a license to the salon, but this is not always the case. 

Before handing over cash for any manicure or pedicure, ask what kind of sterilization policies are in place to prevent infection — for example, some salons now have you purchase a "tool kit" which is kept on site and never used for anyone expect you, significantly lowering the chance of contamination.

Nail salons offer a host of treatments but vary widely in price, quality and expertise. Know what you're getting before you hand over your hands or feet.

Join Angie's List for free to see local nail salon reviews and ratings.

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