Why I’m Never Going to a Nail Salon Again

English: Beauty and nail polish salon. Havana ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read an article in the New York Times about the exploitation of migrant workers in nail salons last week. I shared the article on Facebook immediately because I wanted more people to know about it.  I was pretty shocked and horrified to hear about something I had been such an active participant in. I’ve been getting my nails done pretty regularly ever since I can remember. I’ve always over-tipped, as I felt like the manicurists were probably not receiving an excellent wage, but I had no idea of the extent of the problem.

The article explains how many workers are not paid a daily rate and rely solely on tips. Some of them don’t even get to keep those tips and are living in such terrible living conditions. Others explain how lucky they are to make $30 a day. I was blown away when I read this.

Now that I have a full understanding of what going on, I can’t go back to those salons. It wouldn’t be right.  I’m not really the “activist” type person but I feel like this is something I will gladly take a stand about.

If you’re also boycotting salons you’re probably wondering – where can I get my nails done? The Times posted their own solutions to the problem – but here are my four ideas:

City Mani – This website allows you to order a manicure service to your home if you live in New York City. Just select how many people will be getting a manicure and they’ll give you available dates and times for the week.  They even work up until 11pm.  This is great if you want to have friends over and all get your nails done together. A basic manicure costs about $35, unfortunately CityMani doesn’t have gel or Shellac available and only does manicures, no pedicures.

Find a Fair Trade Salon – It’s not always easy to tell if a salon is paying it’s workers a decent wage. RGB cosmetics have stepped up to help people find fair trade nail salons in their area. Email them at rgb@rgbcosmetics.com with your zip code to get more information.

Priv – I’ve written a bit about Priv’s services before. Priv brings a variety of beauty and wellness services right to your door. So if you’re looking to get a haircut and your nails done, this could be a pretty good option. A gel manicure costs about $50 which includes tax and tip.

Go to a professional spa/hair place – Most upscale salons and spas in New York also offer manicures. This option is a little bit more expensive, but at least you know that workers will be getting a fair wage as a result. I did a quick scan of the salons in my neighborhood and a mani/pedi will run you about $70.  This is a good “treat yourself” option.

Do it yourself! – Doing your own nails is a little bit tricky, however it is by far the cheapest option. I’ve been doing this for years in between salon manicures and I’ve gotten quite good at it.  For a little guidance — check out some Youtube tutorials – like this one by Michelle Phan to help you get started.

You could also go back to your high school days and invite a friend over, paint each others nails and catch up.

I’m interested to hear what you think about this nail salon expose in the Times.  Leave a comment to let me know.

2 replies
  1. Dianna
    Dianna says:

    Paula:
    Thank you for posting the article, as I had not gotten the Times on Sunday. While I understand the gut reaction to want to boycott salons, I don’t really think this is the way to go to support workers (immigrants, not migrants) or change the nail industry. Better to ask your operator, “Do you get paid by the hour?”, “Do you get to keep your own tips?” Blindly boycotting salons may cause some to close, further reducing the manicurist’s opportunities of finding work. Better for us all to contact our local officials and encourage them to support legislative regulations to the industry.

    The NYT certainly started a lot of conversation going as the Nail article was all over broadcast news last night! Here is the response I posted on the NYT site after the article:
    “Well, I believe the NYT article had the desired effect as while I am still reading it, the 10:00 O’clock News just mentioned the “scathing article” that appeared. As a result, salons will now be visited by inspectors, be required to post worker rights, interview workers and generally just try to get some regulations introduced to this industry, both for workers and customers. Some Commenters on this post seem to blame the workers themselves for having poor English or working skills. There is NEVER an excuse to exploit people – EVER. I hope that along with awareness, the tax reporting of the Salons themselves will also be addressed.” – DM

    Reply

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