To get the answers to these questions and more, we reached out to celebrity nail designer Pattie Yankee, who set us straight on all of our foot-related queries. Read on to get the pedi 411: we bet you'll be surprised by some of Yankee's insights!
In terms of etiquette, Yankee says that it's actually preferable to be more on the lax side with your grooming before a pedicure. "It is never a good idea to shave your legs before a pedicure service," she says. "This leaves your skin open and more susceptible to irritation or infections." If you forgot and actually did shave, Yankee recommends that you let your technician know before the service begins, so she can be more careful in that area (i.e., she might choose to skip any harsh scrubs).
When it comes to having your existing polish removed prior to your appointment, Yankee says that that is entirely up to the client. "I personally like to see how the client wears her polish, so I can get an idea of how hard she is on her nails or how long she goes between pedicures," she reasons. What about bringing your own polish from home — isn't that, well, a little insulting? Says Yankee: "Bringing your own polish along is sometimes an issue only because the bottles and brush types of certain brands are a little more difficult for us to maneuver and work with. However, it is entirely up to the client, and most technicians can make it work with any type polish." So, if you've recently purchased a shade that you're obsessed with, your technician should be happy to use it.
On to the nitty-gritty. After recent reporting on potentially deadly infections in nail salons, is it smart to bring your own set of pedicure tools? Yankee gives a thumbs-up to this extra-sanitary practice. "It is always a good idea to bring your own set of tools. Just make sure they are of professional quality and are sharp and easy for the technician to work with."
If you don't feel like making the investment in your own gadgets, that's okay — as long as your salon has top-of-the-line sanitation practices and resources such as an autoclave. Don't feel shy about inquiring as to how exactly your technician cleans her tools and the foot baths (according to Yankee, the baths "should have a hospital grade disinfectant run through the system between each client"). If any part of the cleaning hurts, speak up right away, says Yankee: "If the technicians are too aggressive, they can open the area under the nail and possibly cause a fungal infection." Even more of a reason to ensure that the tools are clean, clean, clean: "Remember that using files for your service that were used on another client is similar to brushing your teeth with someone else’s toothbrush." Um, noted. Maybe getting our own set of pedi tools is worth it...
Once you're in that chair and ready to go, don't get too relaxed — for the best experience for yourself, your technicians, and those customers around you, keep any serious phone calls to a minimum. "It is often offensive to other clients trying to relax if someone is having a loud or argumentative conversation on the phone while they are trying to relax," says Yankee.
And what, you may wonder, is the best time to pay? Wait until your toes are finished being lacquered, since you may want or need additional massage time or callus treatment (sexy). When you're settling up the bill, it's fine to tip anywhere from 15 to 20 percent — more, of course, if you're particularly happy with your service. Plus, Yankee says, your technician will be even more impressed if you pre-book your next session with her — the ultimate compliment to her good work!
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Photographed by Guang Xu