Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting Nailed

I usually don't "do" my nails, because it's not worth the effort; the polish always peels or chips within a day. Last weekend, though, I was gifted with a certificate to a nail salon. My friends say that professional polish lasts longer, and I was looking forward to a little pampering, so today I got a manicure and a pedicure done at a nail salon.

The nail salon was located in a small storefront at a mall close to my house. I took my chances and didn't make an appointment, and there was no one else there when I arrived. I didn't even have to sit in the waiting area. The nail technician, Lily, spoke limited English, but she was a pro at her job.

My first task was to pick out a polish from the hundreds of bottles they had on display. The choices were overwhelming, so I quickly picked the first neutral pink color I saw, thinking the light color would help hide the inevitable chips. Lily led me to a large chair with a basin at the end and told me to sit down. The basin was filled with warm water, which felt great when I inserted my feet. All of a sudden I felt rollers moving up and down my spine. I was sitting in a massage chair! The wonderful massage continued while Lily worked on my lower extremities.

My feet soaked in the basin of warm water for a few minutes, then Lily got to work. Going back and forth between my right and left foot, she cut and shaped my toenails, applied cuticle lotion, pushed back all the cuticles and trimmed off the dead skin around the toenail edges, then rubbed each foot with a pumice stone to remove the dead skin. At this point she let the water out of the basin, dried off my feet, and used a buffer stick on each nail.

I was in heaven, already trying to figure out how often I could include this luxury in my budget.

Lily left and came back with a heated towel that she set on my lower legs for a few minutes. She removed the towel, applied lotion to my feet and legs, and massaged it in. After cleaning my nails with a bit of alcohol, she put a pair of bright yellow flip-flops on my feet and inserted foam forms between my toes to keep them apart. It was time for the decorative touches. After a base coat, two coats of colored polish, and one coat of clear topcoat, my feet were finished. I walked stiffly over to the other side of the salon where the manicure stations were.

The manicure procedure was similar to the pedicure, but without the awesome back massage. Lily looked over my nails, used a file to shape them, then soaked them in a small dish of soapy water. One at a time, she removed my hands and took care of the cuticles, then used a buffer to take care of the ridges I have on my nails. After she rubbed some lotion on my hands and wrists, she wiped the lotion off my fingernails, then asked if I wanted to pay her for the services. At first I didn't understand, but then it made sense; I wouldn't be fiddling with my wallet with wet nails and risk messing them up.

I handed over my gift certificate and a tip. It felt weird to tip before the job was done. What if I didn't give her enough? Would she do a bad polish job? Luckily, she seemed to be happy. She did a great job on my nails--base coat, two coats of polish, and a top coat. The last stop was the drying station. Both my hands and feet went under fan-like machines that blew warm air on the new polish. When the machines went off, I was done.

Alas, one of my newly-polished nails got nicked as I was getting into my car. The perfection didn't even last a half-hour! I enjoyed my pampering though. I don't think this will be the last time.


  1. The last time I had a manicure the poor girl was appalled at the condition of my nails and told me so! She went on and on about how I should take better care of myself....almost ruined the whole experience. Have to admit that it was lovely to be pampered, though.

  2. If my technician had talked about my nails like that, I don't think I would have understood what she was saying!

  3. Yup, I've had a similar experience - while having a professional massage and having nails done. I don't really like being lectured about things while I'm being I don't go anymore! I do my own nails and they look great...

  4. I love pedicures, and usually go with a dark nail colour (it lasts several weeks). Manicures I'm not as fond of - possibly because the polish tends to last a day at most. I definitely get a clear colour for my finger nails.

    The place I normally go has 2 chairs side by side, and I often go with a friend. We can sit in the massage chairs and chat.