A trip to the nail salon is one of the best ways to give yourself a treat – but be careful that your dream isn’t a nightmare in disguise!

We may think our nails are hardy stuff – after all, our hands and nails come into contact with all sorts of bacteria and germs every day. But in a nail salon where your nails are being filed down and chemicals are being applied to it, which may put microorganisms in contact with your nail for a prolonged period of time, infections may be transmitted more readily than we imagine!

how you know manicure is good

Even if infection is not an issue, who would want to risk coming out with weakened or damaged nails due to a nail technician cutting corners with nail treatment? Make sure your pop of nail colour doesn’t come at a price larger than what you are willing to pay.

Daily Vanity shares with you seven tell-tale signs that you are getting a bad manicure.

Tell-tale sign #1: Cleanliness of work station

How much a salon and its staff prize hygiene and sanitation can often be observed through its general cleanliness. Trashbins should always be covered with a lid and frequently emptied. A mountain of litter visible for all to see also means that any bacteria or fungi breeding there could easily find their way through the air and onto the manicurist tools or onto your nails.

Tell-tale sign #2: Cleanliness of tools

Imagine how you would feel if a doctor or dentist used the same equipment on you as they did on a previous patient, without even sterilising or cleaning it before. Microorganisms are a lot harder to get rid of than we think! Simply rinsing tools in soap, or heating them in boiling water is actually not enough. One ideal way s to clean tools thoroughly is to autoclave them, which means placing them in an environment above 400 degrees Celsius!

Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect most nail salons to have an autoclave. A good alternative is to have metal tools soaked in hospital-grade disinfectant for at least 10 minutes (if not more) between clients.

Disposable equipment should never be reused, like toe separators, files and buffers. Anything made of porous material, such as wooden tools, sticks, pumice stones and some types of buffers, can also harbour and breed bacteria, and should not be reused as far as possible.

Watch out also for “UV sterilisers” that look good, but are actually somewhat cheap and not effective for proper sterilisation. If all of this sounds like too much checks for you, an alternative to consider is bringing your own tools!

Tell-tale sign #3: Not doing a primary inspection

A sign of a good manicurist is if they do a quick check of your nails and of the skin around to spot any infectious skin or nail condition, so that they can take extra care while doing your nails, and to doubly sanitise equipment and tools after you are done. You may be able to close one eye with this if you do not have any notable skin conditions yourself, but what if they had been just as careless with someone else with an infection before you?

Tell-tale sign #4: Filing nails the wrong way

We’ve all seen the typical movie scene of a girl filing her nails in a sawing motion. This is a common misconception and that is a wrong technique! Nails should actually be filed from the outside corners of the nail and move in towards the center. Filing should also be in a single direction rather than going back and forth, to prevent the splitting and weakening of the nail.

Just because we may not know this, it is not an excuse for nail technicians not to – they’re supposed to be the experts after all! This is actually basic nail filing technique and nail technicians who don’t adhere to it are either not trained properly, or are cutting corners. Also, nail files should not be too coarse. If it feels too rough for you, it probably is.

Tell-tale sign #5: Cutting cuticles

Nail cuticles are your body’s way to prevent bacteria from entering through the nail and also preventing nail infection. Because they prevent proper adherence of the polish to the nail surface, however, they are sometimes softened and pushed back before a manicure. This is fine and does not compromise your nail health if done properly. They should never be cut, removed, or pulled out!

Tell-tale sign #6: Bad prepping before base coat

Our nails have to be dehydrated and completely free from oil and dirt before polish is applied, so that the manicure can last longer. You may think that the standard practice of giving the nail a quick wipe-down with acetone or nail polish remover is sufficient, but it is in fact not effective to really ensure a clean surface.

In fact, acetone actually leaves more residue on your nail after a wipe-down, and may cause your nail to split and peel. Rather, the nails should be swiped with a brush soaked in antibacterial soap and gently wiped in order to get rid of oils and other remnants of lotions.

Tell-tale sign #7: Rough or painful gel removal

Gel nails have often been associated with a troublesome and sometimes even painful removal process – but they don’t have to be that way. The proper way of removing gel nails is really to cover your fingertips with pads soaked in acetone, then to wrap them properly with aluminium foil and left to sit for about 10 – 30 minutes.

When you remove the pads, the gel should look soft and pliable, with an almost creamy thickness that is easily removed by gently pushing it off the nail with a wooden orange stick. There should be no hacking, scraping, metal tools or pain involved in the removal process! Gel nail removal should require patience rather than a high pain threshold. If it hurts, it’s not being done right.