Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

How to pick the right Nail Salon for a Manicure or Pedicure

The height of luxury.

words by: Adam Hurly
Aug 9, 2022

So you want to get a manicure and pedicure? Of course you do, given all of the comfortable and healthy benefits that come from both treatments. And on the backend of the mani-pedi, you have freshly (and properly) trimmed nails — sure, that might have been the real motive, but when you stack up those benefits, the buffed nails also feel like a bonus.


To ensure you get the best treatment for you, it helps to know about your options in choosing a nail tech salon. Read this simple guide to help you choose the right spot. Oh, and perhaps foremost: Only go someplace that is supremely reviewed. Look for hundreds of reviews, and something comfortably between 4 and 5 stars. These reviews will typically speak to a place’s hygiene practices, professionalism, and customer attentiveness. Use that as your first filter, and then follow the below parameters to ensure that you choose the right place for your needs.


Traditional Nail Salon

This is your run-of-the-mill mani-pedi salon, with options for lacquer and nail polish. They will be less expensive than most other options, given how straightforward they are. Think of them like the barbershop version of this landscape; if a barber is turning over lots of clients who want simple buzz cuts and fades, the traditional nail salon is taking lots of appointments because they can probably do most of those tasks in their sleep.


Green Nail Salon

The main difference here is that the salon focuses on eco-friendly products (namely those that are less toxic), alongside best practices tied to energy-minded ethos. You will likely pay more here to offset costs, but you will also likely feel less like a number being shuffled through your appointment.


Men’s Nail Salon

You might find nail options as part of some barbershop menus, or as part of a spa package. Chances are, this will focus heavily on the foot massage, callus buffing, and cuticle pushing — and maybe they’ll even give you a beer as you relax.


Full-Service Salon

This is a hair salon that also does nails — kind of like how some barbershops might offer male-targeted manicure and pedicure treatments. It’s a terrific one-stop shop for looking and feeling brand new.



If you want more than a foot massage, then look for a manicure-pedicure as part of a greater spa service package. Or, you can combine it with a facial, so that your youthful face glows as bright as your freshly lacquered nails.


Think before you choose

It’s also important to think about what you want from the appointment and experience. If you simply want the no-frills treatment, then stick with a traditional nail salon. However, many of these spots also offer relaxing treatments and might have things like massage chairs, hot tea, aromatherapy oils, hot towel wraps, and a variety of manicure and pedicure options. (For example, an athletic pedicure will use cooling, soothing oils like peppermint to soften sore skin and muscles.)


A general rule of thumb is that, the fancier and more particular of a treatment you want, the more you want to dig into a place’s reviews and prices. The lowest price isn’t necessarily the best if you want more than the baseline mani-pedi, since you want your money to go towards their concentrated time, care, and quality of materials.


The Fish Pedicure

There is one type of pedicure that needs addressing, though: The fish pedicure. You know, wherein people dunk their feet into a tub filled with tiny little garra rufa fish, which then slowly nip away at the dead skin cells. Yes, it feels weird and tickles, because they’re actually breaking apart your calluses and cracked skin. It even helps boost circulation in the area — but then again, so does a foot massage. The treatment originated in the Middle East and Turkey, and is commonly used on patients with eczema and psoriasis.


This procedure is banned in 10 U.S. states and in Mexico, however, because of the health risks that are posed to humans and fish alike. First, you can’t easily clean the fish’s habitat between uses, which means some people find themselves using the same water or an unclean tank as the person (or people) before them. Thus, you can easily pick up an infection from someone else — even something as serious as streptococcus.


Sometimes, there’s an even cheaper type of fish used in the tanks, unbeknownst to you or the salon owner. This could be the chin-chin instead of the garra rufa; the chin-chin, in fact, has tiny teeth, and it can draw blood from its host.


Lastly, in terms of the fish’s own health, they are often starved so that they can serve their function of eating dead skin off of your grubby feet. There’s an ethical line there, and it’s probably not worth the Instagram or the ticklish sensation.


If you do want to seek this treatment for psoriasis or eczema treatments, which prove very effective, then speak with your dermatologist about an in-clinic procedure, rather than an uncertified offering at a salon or spa.


Before you head out, here’s your full guide to men’s mani-pedis.


Photo via Alex Hoerner