The 6 Things Your Manicurist Wishes You Wouldn’t Do

Read this before you book your next mani.


There’s no denying that a good manicure is one of life’s simplest pleasures. There’s nothing quite as pleasing as walking into a salon with uneven nails and ragged cuticles and walking out with perfectly polished tips.  And while you may be thinking about little more than what color to pick, have you ever considered what’s going through your manicurist’s head? The pros we know are always happy and smiling, but that got us thinking…there has to be stuff we do that annoys them, right? So we asked Kiki Dixon, a nail artist in Birmingham, Alabama, to spill the beans on what drives her nuts. Ahead, six of her biggest pet peeves—and helpful insight as to what you can do instead to be the most considerate client ever. 

1. Not being on time for your appointment.

Running late for an appointment can throw your nail tech’s entire schedule into disarray, and if you then ask them to rush through your appointment once you do show up, it’s even more frustrating, says Dixon. If you have the first time slot in the morning, being early isn’t good either, since often times the manicurist needs to prep and get things ready before you arrive, she adds. The solution is simple: Do your absolute best to be as punctual as possible. Stuck in traffic or know there’s absolutely no way you’re going to be on time? Give the salon a quick call to let them know a (realistic) ETA so they can plan accordingly.

2. Keeping your cell phone out.

“Every time a client answers the phone, it’s a guarantee that she is going to mess up her nails,” Dixon tells us. (And texting is equally as smudge-inducing). We totally get that it can be stressful to not have your phone within arm’s reach at any given minute, but trust us, put it on silent and stash it in your purse for the duration of your appointment. Not only will your nail tech –and the other clients in the salon– thank you, but we’re willing to bet that you’ll appreciate the experience even more without the distraction. Forget multi-tasking and shooting off emails, updating social media, or catching up on a massive group text during a manicure—disconnect and turn it into more of a spa-like experience that you can truly enjoy.

3. Changing colors mid-manicure.

Taking too long to pick a polish can bug your nail tech, so try going into your appointment with at least a general idea of the color you want to go with, advises Dixon. If nothing else, this will help narrow your choices slightly so you don’t end up staring blankly at the wall of bottles (been there, done that). Then, if you’re still in between two or three specific shades, ask to quickly test them on your nails before you start the full manicure. “I’m happy to try them out beforehand, but please don’t let me paint seven of your 10 nails before you tell me that you don’t like the color,” says Dixon. A quick test swipe ensures you end up with a color you love, and saves your manicurist time and frustration.

4. Trying to book appointments last minute.

“Calling me an hour before you want to come in and asking me to squeeze you in really irks me,” says Dixon. Book your appointments as far in advance as possible, and if something last minute comes up and you desperately need a mani, a better option is to call the salon and ask about any cancellations. If there’s nothing available, ask them to give you a call if something does open up.

5. Being stingy.

As with service in a restaurant, a gratuity of 20% of the total charge of the service is standard, but it’s also good practice to adjust based on exactly what kind of manicure you get. If you’re coming in asking for elaborate nail art or to have a complex design that you saw on Instagram replicated, increase the tip accordingly, suggests Dixon. These manicures require more time, supplies, and effort, so it’s nice for your tip to reflect that.

6. Negative energy.

“People don’t realize that nail techs end up acting as psychologists too,” laughs Dixon. (Remember that scene in Legally Blonde where post-breakup Reese Witherspoon and her friends are commiserating at the nail salon?) “I’m never going to tell you that I don’t want to hear about all the drama in your life, but sometimes constantly listening to negativity can be really draining,” she adds. Be aware that this may be the 1948808th breakup or friend drama that your manicurist has heard about today, so save the heavy stuff for your therapist and keep the convo light and airy.




Written by Melanie Rud Chadwick
Melanie Rud Chadwick is a freelance beauty writer, editor, and expert living in Chicago. She has over eight years of experience in the industry, and a wide array of knowledge on all beauty related topics. Prior to moving to Chicago, Melanie held beauty editorial positions at Shape, Good Housekeeping, andHealth. She has written for numerous national and regional publications, as well as websites. Additionally, Melanie appears on television as a beauty expert.