2020 has been rough (like really rough)… So when I finally saw nail salons near me start to open up, I was excited! It was finally time for some self-pampering after months of sitting inside my tiny NYC apartment. But like all good things in 2020, there was a catch. Was it actually safe to sit inside a nail salon for a few hours enjoying my biweekly tradition of a pedicure and dip powder manicure? And that’s where I hesitated.

If you find yourself pausing after Googling ‘nail places near me’, you’re not alone. Keep reading to learn how nail salons are attempting to minimize risks, if it’s safe to get a pedicure, and more.

The Risks

The scariest thing about COVID-19 is that the virus is new, which means we’re learning things about it every step of the way. And because nail techs have to be in close contact with their clients during a service, it can pose a risk for both parties. Experts have noted that the close proximity between employees and customers is the prime risk factor in a nail salon.

On top of that, nail salons have a ton of different tools and surfaces that need to be sanitized properly before each new client to minimize the spread.

In many states that were hit hard by COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, nails and hair salons were some of the last businesses that were allowed to reopen because of the risk factor.

Precautions nail salons are taking

With all of this being said, there really haven’t been clear guidelines on what nail salons should be doing to make it safe for both clients and employees. While the CDC has released basic guidelines for nail salons, restrictions and mandates vary by state which can make it confusing for salon owners. Here are the steps that nail salons need to be taking to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Step 1

Your favorite services may have changed or are off the menu for the time being. At many nail places near me, they offer you hand, head, and shoulder massages as part of your manicure experience. Because of the pandemic, you may not be able to receive those same benefits in hopes of minimizing the spread.

Step 2

Everything (and I mean everything) needs to be sanitized. From the countertops to the pedicure chairs, to the nail drill bits. Reusable tools need to be sanitized in a heated pressure chamber to kill off bacteria and viruses while everything else can be sprayed down with disinfectant. And while this sounds like something nail salons should have already been doing pre-pandemic, many didn’t.

Step 3

Clients should be placed six feet apart. While it may be difficult for nail salons to move their tables or pedicure chairs, it’s up to the salon owners and employees to turn people away if they can’t seat clients six feet apart. Maintaining social distance is one of the easiest ways to avoid the spread of COVID-19. While it’s impossible to stay six feet apart from your favorite nail tech, you should always be distancing yourself from other customers.

Step 4

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is key. We all know that wearing masks or face coverings is important when you’re in a grocery store or walking on the street, but it’s even more important when you’ll be in close contact with someone else for more than 15 minutes. For customers, wearing a cloth face mask will do but for nail techs, they need to take it a step further. Gloves, masks, and face shields should be the minimum for nail salon employees. This is because they’re coming into contact with way more people than a customer would be. For PPE to be effective, it needs to be worn right. I’ve personally seen some nail places near me that didn’t seem to be taking their PPE seriously, so I now know to avoid going there for my next manicure.

Step 5

It’s also worth noting that putting up partitions may help minimize the spread as well. Many nail places near me have put up clear, plastic protective barriers that shield both the client and nail tech from airborne droplets if one party were to sneeze or cough.

Step 6

Some salons are making clients sign waivers to state that they haven’t experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past two weeks. In addition, many nail salons are requesting you give them your name and phone number or email in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 so they can contact you to get tested.

While some nail places near me are accepting walk-ins, many are working on an appointment-only basis to lower the number of people in the nail salon at one time. If you do walk-in for a service, you most likely won’t be allowed to sit in the waiting room.

Step 7

While all of these safety measures are great, it also may mean that your favorite nail salon has had to raise their prices. Since salons can only have a fraction of their client capacity in at one time, they’re simply not making as much as they did pre-pandemic which may lead to an increase in pricing. On top of this, they have to constantly supply the salon with disinfectant, new one-time use tools, and PPE for their employees.

Is it safe?

What you really want to know is, “is it safe to get my nails done?” And while I wish I had a clear answer for you, I don’t. Along with going out to dinner or heading to the gym, there are always going to be risks. It’s up to you to figure out if getting your nails done is worth it. To make things easier, if you feel sick, are living with a high-risk individual, or cases are starting to rise where you live, it’s definitely best to opt for an at-home manicure. If this isn’t the case and you feel comfortable about the safety measures your local nail salon is taking, then by all means have a self-care day! Just keep in mind that unfortunately everything we do nowadays comes with a risk and nothing will be totally safe until we’re out of this pandemic.