Nailing first impressions
Getting your nails done can be an intimate experience. You’re sitting face-to-face with your nail technician, and they’re holding your hands – it’s the same setup as a really great date. But rather than discussing your family life, what’s going on at work or your weekend plans (although that may come up too), you’re likely talking about your preferred nail shape, the best nail polish colour and base coat, and how to make your manicure last.
And since your nail tech is up close and personal with you, there are certain things you do that make impressions. “A large part of the job is to notice what is going on with a client,” says Elle Gerstein, a celebrity nail artist. “It helps inform what you may need or how we need to do our job.” Similar to what a hairstylist first notices about you, someone working on your nails will likely pick up on things that revolve around your appearance, attitude and more. Learning what a nail tech first notices will give you insight into the polite habits nail techs dislike and the best etiquette rules to follow.
Your clothes, bag and shoes
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t mean you don’t notice the cover. The same goes for what you’re wearing – and your nail artist is certainly observing. Everything from your hairstyle to the clothing you wear can clue nail artists in to the type of person you are, says Gerstein. And noticing these details can help them do their job better.
If you work as a bank teller and head to the nail salon on your lunch break wearing your name badge, for instance, people take notice. It’s a signal that you may need a more neutral polish, says Syreeta Aaron, a brand educator for LeChat Nails. Likewise, if you’re wearing the latest trends, it’s a sign to your nail artist that you like more boundary-pushing styles or trending nail colours. At the end of the appointment, they want you to be happy with your nails. “And these little things can give us intel on what you may like, so we pay attention,” says Gerstein.
Your punctuality or lack thereof
You forgot your wallet and had to run back home. Your work meeting ran late. You got an unexpected call. Life happens, and sometimes you run late. If it’s just a couple of minutes, your nail tech may not notice – it all depends on how busy they are or if an earlier appointment is running over. “But if you are 10 minutes late, it is definitely noticed,” says Gerstein. “Our time is money. When people are late, it can throw off appointments for the rest of the day.”
Also noticeable? How you handle your lateness. Calling as a heads-up is appreciated (so the salon isn’t left wondering whether or not you’ll show), as is adjusting your expectations. “If I was late, I’d tell my nail artist to do what they can with the allotted time left of the scheduled appointment,” says Gerstein. “I wouldn’t expect the full service – I’d have them clean up my nails, but maybe not do nail art, or swap out a simple polish job instead.”