Charme Studio

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What does your $15 pedicure really mean? If you guessed “unsafe illegal practices” you’re probably right...


Have you ever wondered how it is that some nail salons can charge $10 for a manicure and $15 for a pedicure?  As the cost of living rises, somehow the shop you went to 10 years ago is still peddling the same cheap rates… which is curious but… who’s really going to complain about a bargain? And have you ever been in a pinch so you went to that one down the street that costs practically nothing but you had the vague feeling of being part of an assembly line?

In the next couple of posts, we want you as the customer to truly consider, “what does that cheap rate mean for me and for the nail tech working on my hands and feet?”  In a day and age where we’re examining where our food comes from, the best ways to recycle, which workout creates long lean muscles, and is our makeup tested on animals?  Along with tons of other areas that require a little bit of digging and a lot of consideration, don’t you think it is time to start questioning the conditions in your favorite nail shop?  We think so.

In this somewhat depressing but entirely accurate post… I’m simply going to lay out for you the practices that most of these “cheap” salons are taking part in.  In our next couple of posts, I will then break down how it is that salons can get away with murder (okay not murder, but you get what I’m saying), what the implications of the “cheapest shop in town” really are, how to understand nail service pricing, and what we (and other nail salons around the country) are doing differently.  The goal of these next few posts is to open consumers eyes; knowledge is power and knowing what you will soon know… may change your view of the nail salon industry altogether, and hopefully will make you reconsider where you make your next nail appointment.



In order to charge next to nothing for manicures and pedicures (and other nail services), salons have to do illegal practices.  And before you think to yourself, “well duh... small business owners have no choice these days with how much they’re taxed! Of course there’s “things” happening under the table,” recall that nail salons deal with people’s hands and feet.  The regulations are there for a reason so that you don’t end up having to get surgery on your toe for an infection you caught getting a $15 pedicure, but hey, now you have the rest of your life to wear close-toed shoes to hide the monstrosity that is your big toe.  Sounds priceless, right?  WRONG!

Here’s a handful of the illegal practices and short-cuts taking place in the majority of these cheap salons:

  • Reuse of tools such as files and buffers on hundreds of clients until they’re replaced (by law these are single-use tools and must be discarded or given to the customer after each use)

  • Reuse of metal tools used to clean cuticles without proper sanitization (state regulations require tools to be submerged in a barricade for 20 minutes to disinfect)

  • Not sanitizing pedicure tubs between clients (federal regulations require the removal of the filter; to scrub, clean, and disinfect the tub; plus fill the tub with disinfectant and run for a minimum of 20 minutes in between EACH client)

  • Reuse of paraffin know, when they put a bag on each hand or foot and let you sit with the hot wax to “moisturize” your skin (in fact, it doesn’t moisturize skin, it just feels nice, AND many shops put the used bags in a “garbage can” but at the end of the night, shake out all the wax and replace into the melter… so any nasty germs imbedded into the wax is now sitting in a heated tub, growing into more nastiness, and ready for the next victim’s mani or pedi)

  • Reuse of dirty towels (those hot steamed towels that they put on your hands, feet, arms, and legs are often never cleaned and simply re-dampened and put right back into the warmer which saves money on laundry)

  • Reuse of latex gloves until they rip (they’ll take them off, air them out, and put back on… which seems a little odd since the point of gloves is to be sanitary…)

  • And last but not least (and a preview to a follow-up post): a whole bunch of paying below minimum wage (think $5 per hour), not giving employees their breaks, exploiting people who are here from other countries who simply don't know their rights, companies hiring nail techs who aren’t licensed, and even owners withholding tips

Alright, it turns out I had more than a handful of illegal practices to share… but yikes, is that not beyond scary?  I deal with this stuff everyday and still can’t believe this is happening so routinely in my industry!  These are health hazards people! And let's not ignore the legal and moral injustices I've just barely mentioned.

So tell me, what’s your piece of mind worth?  What’s your health worth?  Is $15 now really worth the thousands you may have to spend later on foot surgery?  Believe me, I get it.  No one thinks it is going to happen to them… but if you choose to go to a shop like I’ve described above, it is only a matter of time until you get an infection.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to gamble my health for a $15 germ-infested foot soak, and morally… I can’t support companies that are likely mistreating their hardworking employees.  Stay with me on this journey as I delve further into these huge concerns in the nail industry, and learn why we have committed to higher (actually, the highest) standards at Charme Studio.