Getting a manicure is a service that many of us book regularly, but there’s a price to nice nails that customers often don’t see.
It is a physically taxing job and a creative art that takes savvy entrepreneurship and skill. On TikTok, nail technicians have cleared up misconceptions about their jobs and shared their hard boundaries with clients under hashtags like #5things.
To help people understand what being a nail tech is really like, we’ve included a few of these videos below and interviewed nail technicians about what they won’t do after working in their industry.
1. I won’t constantly check my hands in the middle of an appointment.
“I would not keep pulling my hand away to look at what my nail tech is doing. I’ve had this happen to me multiple times, and it’s super stressful! You begin to think about whether or not they’re satisfied with what you’re doing, and it also interrupts the whole process, causing the appointment to take longer. Please trust your nail technicians.” — Aleanie Molina, an Everett, Washington-based nail technician
2. I won’t stop wearing a mask.
Carmella Laporta, a New York-based nail technician, recounted in a TikTok video that one of the top things she would never do after working in her profession is not wear a mask, regardless of whether she’s the client or the nail tech.
“Even before COVID, the nail dust is really bad for you, and I notice [that] when I don’t wear a mask, I get really bad chest pains at the end of the day,” Laporta said.
3. I won’t ruin my body doing someone else’s nails.
Lynette Chanel, a Columbus, Ohio-based nail technician, shared in a TikTok that she will not “ruin my body doing some nails,” and for her that means kindly instructing clients to relax their hands into the right position instead of trying to work around a client’s posture.
“They gotta sit here for two hours, we’ve gotta sit here for 10-plus years. And nail techs don’t even be having health insurance like that,” Chanel said in her video.
In a conversation with HuffPost, she elaborated on what constitutes the wrong hand positioning. “A lot of people are more tense than they realize and they kind of flare their fingers out and spread them out or even hyperextend them up. Which means as a nail tech, we’re trying to constantly bend you back down. Just relax and chill,” she said.
4. I won’t be on my phone all the time.
“I wouldn’t use my phone during a manicure. When getting a manicure, the nail tech’s worst nightmare is someone using their phone during the manicure process. Picking up your phone whilst getting a manicure is a big no-no.
“We cleanse your hands and the nails for the polish/gel polish application by prepping the nail plates to be free of dust, lint and oil. When you use your hands to touch your phone or even anything on the nail desk, you have now made it harder for the tech to properly do the service. This is how smudges, lint, dust happen. Let’s leave the phone alone until after the service is done.” — Christa Cole, a Pasadena, California-based nail technician
5. I won’t rebook someone who ghosted.
“Ghosting refers to someone who no-shows an appointment and doesn’t bother to call or respond to messages. If that happens, you can be sure that the credit card I have on file for them will be charged the full amount of the service, and they are permanently blocked from rebooking.
“This kind of disrespect has run rampant in our industry, due to the ‘walk-in’ culture of low-quality salons. Nail artists that take our job seriously work by appointment only. If the client doesn’t show, we don’t make money. That’s just not fair.” — Dylan Pritchard, a Las Vegas-based nail technician
6. I won’t excessively cut cuticles.
“We can cut as many cuticles as clients wish but there is [a difference between] your own skin and dead skin. Excessive cutting can cause bleeding or weaken your own cuticles.” — Amy Ling Lin, New York City-based founder of Sundays Nail Studio
7. I won’t fix someone else’s work.
“With the over-saturation of our industry, quality assurance is very hard to come by. Most new clients that come into my space can’t even tell you what kind of manicures they’ve been getting due to the apathy of past nail techs. I can’t guarantee my quality of work if I’m filling or fixing someone else’s work.” — Pritchard
8. I won’t do the same designs other artists have done.
“I’ve been working as a nail artist for about seven years now. I love to talk with my clients and create designs together. Sometimes a cute design, a trendy design, might not match the client’s style; my goal is to make their nails match their personality.
“In these cases, I use my own creativity to propose different colors and designs or add something — for example, like stones, metallic, chrome, anything! — to the client.” — Miki Higuchi, New York City-based nail technician
9. I won’t shave my legs before a pedicure.
Rachel Robertson, the owner and manicurist at The Shimmer Room in Edgewater, Florida, said in a TikTok video that the things she won’t do after working as a nail technician include shaving her legs right before a pedicure.
“Shaving causes microscopic tears in your skin. The products you are using in your treatment can irritate that further,” Robertson explained in her TikTok. “And also, it’s just leaving you open to possible infection. Not a good idea, and your nail tech does not care if your legs are hairy, I promise.”
“I always tell people to wait at least 24 hours after shaving,” Robertson told HuffPost.
10. I won’t overlook hygienic standards.
“One red flag I would look out for is if your nail technician is reusing implements from other clients. This is a huge health hazard that unfortunately gets overlooked a lot by salons. There could be blood from other clients on those implements, fungi and bacteria in general and someone could get infected. They will reuse dirty files, buffers, cuticle nippers, even foot paddles. If their station or tools don’t look clean, leave immediately!” — Molina
11. I won’t spend 20 minutes picking a nail color.
“While we do understand it is important to choose the color that you love, [I’ve had experiences where] it sometimes took longer than 15 minutes, [so] we had to change the soaking water as it was already cold and we started worrying about the next appointment. That’s why at Sundays Studio, we only created 55 timeless colors and it doesn’t overwhelm clients.” — Lin
12. I won’t be late to an appointment.
“We can not only be late for our other clients, but our lunch breaks, or even what time we end up leaving the salon, or if the nail tech has kids or other engagements. You being late can drastically change [our] entire day.
“And for the nail techs, I would say have a policy to protect you from that. Your mental health can be damaged if you’re dragging at work or if you don’t like your work anymore because you can never get a lunch on time, or you can never leave on time. Definitely get some type of late policy.” — Chanel
13. I won’t negotiate the price with a nail tech.
“I’m a solo operator and have a private suite; I have a set price list that is subject to price changes. This pricing is based on the quality of service as well as my expertise. As a nail tech, we spend money on continuing education to learn new trends and how to work properly with companies’ products.
“Having a client come in and try to haggle the price can feel triggering at times. We understand that certain clients aren’t for us and that they are used to a certain quality of service for a cheaper price, but haggling with a tech who has invested so much money and time into their craft can make them feel like they’re unworthy.” — Cole
14. I won’t give someone a hard time for charging what they are worth.
“I would never get my nails done knowing it’s out of my budget. If I want a certain design, such as ombre or glitter nails, it is going to cost more than your simple one color set of nails.
“I’ve had some clients that complained to me about pricing for a certain design when designs are completely optional. Getting your nails done is definitely a luxury service and [is] not necessary at all. If you can’t pay for them, please don’t give your nail technician a hard time for charging their worth.” — Molina