$14.99 nails? That’ll do!

Big hello everyone and how are you doing? Welcome back to another wonderful blog post of my life experiences. This time I want to take you on a journey to a nail salon where I got my nails done. But first I have to give you the back story.

So on my travels last week I was riding through downtown Atlanta and I passed by a salon where you could get a full set for $14.99. As I was looking through the window I thought to myself, hmm, I should take a picture of this and post it to see what other nail techs think of this amazing low price. And let me just tell you, the comments came far ands near to say some nice things but mostly nasty things about this salon. In my thoughts as I marinated on what these nail techs had to say, I thought again, hmmm, how do they REALLY know what goes on here, or are they just living off the stereo types that we give these “Not So Standard” or NSS salons?

I truly felt as though since so many people thought it was not a good place, I should go find out why. Yes, I should find out why, and form my own opinion. Because in the comments nail techs were saying youre going to get an infection, I bet they don’t use new implements and fresh sterlized tools, and that they are probably going to make me bleed. Also, A few had shared they were actually scared to go! Thats when it really hit me, I asked myself, you are scared to go? Oh my gawd why? In my mind, these salons are everywhere and they get a lot of business. People who aren’t nail techs go GLADLY and get there nails done, because they simply don’t know any better, and to them, this is what a normal service is.

It is nail techs who are educated to know sanitary practices, and also take classes to do art and proper shaping, but not everyone even goes that far to be educated past school. As a result, since a lot of nail techs thought it was a bad idea, I thought it would be a good idea because I either A. Wanted to prove everyone wrong. or B. Wanted to see if what they were saying is true. But mostly, I want to know that these “claims” can be backed up by simply going and having it done to myself. That is the very best way to know.

So after my experience, I can go walking about life saying, “oh my goodness, yes this happened and that happened too!” Because I had it done to myself. Will other nail techs take that leap? Probably not, so next time I’m at a trade show or having a conversation and someone talks negatively about another salon, my first question will be, ” what happened to YOU? Or someone you knew?” Because if you make up a claim, then you are promoting lies, and also creating a negative idea of the industry yourself. And that is how I wanted to silence my comment section or at least educate the educated. Now lets see how my trip went shall we?

I’m on my way and as I approach the door, I see two people inside. I open the door and immediately it smelled like cigarettes and acrylic. It was definitely different as the cigarette stench went to my nose like wow what a smell! The lovely lady asks me what I would like, and I tell her a full set please for $14.99. She asks me if I am sure, and I say yes. She tells me it will be really short and have just regular polish and I assure her that is very fine. My whole goal was to get exactly what $14.99 gives, nothing extra. No, a la carte and all that, if I walk out with just acrylic and no color then great, so be it.

As I take my seat a wonderful gentleman walks over and begins the service. He grabs my hand to hold and takes out his e-file with a used sanding band on the mandrel and softly files the top layer to remove the shine. Next, he takes out a box of natural-colored tips and begins sizing my fingers and glues the tips on. Now at this point he does not do any cuticle work, such a pushing my nail folds back or removing dead cuticle tissue, he just goes straight in with the tips. After applying all the tips, he uses the small pair of what looks like school box scissors and cuts them down low. He reaches in his drawer and grabs a used black hand file and begins shaping the nails in a tapered square. Much too short to be coffin. When I tell you that hand file was old and crusty, oh my goodness…

After filing and before application he takes his cloth table towel and shakes all the filings on the floor, I’m not going to lie, after all that was done so far this was my first instance of wow, he really just did that. I expected all of the rest to happen, but that shake and go really gave me a chuckle. Any who, with my nails still dusty from shaping the tips, he applies primer and begins acrylic application. Now I will be an honest tech and say I have never truly seen MMA before, nor can I reasonably go out of my way to recognize it. I know people in the comments were asking but I am a gel tech, so I barely know much about acrylic. Now if I am in a store then yes, I can read a label and say oh that’s the bad stuff. But his was already in a glass dish and he just began applying it. On my dusty fingernails…

I placed my hand in front of the fan so the acrylic could dry and then with that same old sanding band he filed my shape in and tah dah. New nails! In my mind I just knew they would pop off in a few days. He told me to wash my hands and then he would apply color. I was excited too! Like ooo look at me going to wash my hands! And even though this process was entirely unsanitary, I could gloss over it because someone else was doing my nails! That and it doesn’t take much to thrill me. Now don’t I sound like an educated customer who just wants pretty nails?

My hands are dry and it’s time to pay. There was a $1 surcharge for cards, and I tipped $5, totaling $21 for the service. After that, he polished my nails in a beautiful blue and I went on my merry little way. Yes, I was in the dryer for a minute, but I left after about 5 minutes.

So overall, my thoughts? I had a good time! Crazy right? So let me explain why. I don’t get my nails done by anyone else but myself. So, in turn, while I did it for a social experiment, it turned out to be a nice moment to relax and be pampered by someone else. He didn’t use nippers, so I never got cut, the service was quick, so I was not waiting all day, and I chose a pretty blue! Was it unsanitary? Completely! But I knew this, so there was no shock value in something I knew was coming. But for the amount of “fear” nail techs had, I just didn’t see it. But I am not a fearful person either, would I go back? No, would I recommend it? No.

But I am so glad I went, because it proved people right to an extent, and I am so glad to say I have at least tried it. I think you all will be surprised to know we don’t all work the same. In my state we are required to have 600 hours of school before we graduate. Some states like Illinois require 450, Montana has 400, and Virginia has 150! I could marginally look down upon so many of you right now for not receiving the amount of education I have pre graduation, but I don’t. And he has the same license I have. He just chooses to work “differently”. So when say I am not shocked, I really am not. But overall, I want you all to see that we can’t talk about what we don’t know.

I have some lifting on my thumb that night.

As for his shaping, because people commented and said they look like $14.99 nails, well yea! Because he probably never pursued more education or practiced better shaping. And many people walk in and walk out with appreciation for these basic nails. When your budget is low, your outlook is low. And I am not writing this all to defend his salon. I am writing to show we should stop being so ‘judgey’. Yes, I received exactly what I paid for. But he is running a business just like the rest of us, and without help or education he is very content. As for you all, be PROUD you take classes, be HAPPY you know proper sanitation, CELEBRATE you for charging your worth and producing great quality, and teaching others in our industry. But STOP bashing others for how they run their business. They aren’t taking a dime away from you. How do I know? Because people come to you, for what you do, how you operate, and the quality you give.

But before I leave, I want to show you all just how far education gives meaning to great work. I was having a conversation with my best friend and showed him my nails and he saw absolutely nothing wrong with my nails. I picked every detail apart and he then saw what was wrong. He then confessed that his mom goes to a shop very similar to the one I went to, and she loves her nails and I probably could pick them apart too. I said, awww I want to go with your mom one day to get her nails done and he said, NO! I was like why, and he said he didn’t want my judgements ruining her experience as she has been going for over 10 years. I thought it was funny honestly, because I am sure her nails are cheap, but they are PRETTY, and to her that’s all that matters. And to most people that’s all that matters. But she has never had an infection, nor a bad experience. So we shall not group all NSS salons together, its not fair. They are just different from you.

Here’s me soaking them off. Is it MMA?

I hope this was a really informative blog post. I hope it taught you to continue your education, and I hope it silenced your fears. I have since filed and soaked my nails off and I am good to go. Was it MMA, not sure, asked someone who has used it or could recognize it, I have no clue. I don’t touch acrylic enough to know the difference. So someone educate me and help me be great too. If you all have any questions or want to offer your views message me or leave your comments below, lets talk about it. I love being open and honest. I respond much quicker to messages than comments. For now, I will see you later sweets!

9 thoughts on “$14.99 nails? That’ll do!

    1. I should have also said the way to recognise mma easily during soak off is it is like a stringy jelly snot consistency, whereas ema acrylic goes more like a crumbly gel when soaked off with acetone xxx


  1. I truly love this. The review was optimistic, open, and fair!!! You taught me something through this. Great job hun!
    *that is mma


  2. This was fantastic hunny!!! In nail school we were tasked to go shadow a nail tech and most of my fellow students went to the salon they wanted to work at. I went to an NSS. I, just like you, wanted to see if what I had heard in school was true. Also like you, I was not surprised to learn that all the things I had heard were true, and then some. I give you credit for going and seeing for yourself that corners are definitely cut and you get what you pay for. Yet we, as nail techs, have chosen to further our education. And that is our choice. We have to realize that not everyone has that drive and doesn’t see the need. While that’s sad and flies in the face of all we hold dear, he has that right. What we can do is educate our clients on what we are doing and why we do it. One client at a time. I do think that everyone should check out a NSS and see for themselves what happens or doesn’t happen and educate themselves instead of driving the narrative from horror stories they’ve heard from other techs. Who knows…. You might be able to make a difference in another nail techs practices, if they’ll listen, but you will definitely gain a new respect for the techs out there that are going the extra mile and are continually improving by attending continuing education. I, for one, will never stop learning and will continue to improve my services and keep an open mind when I see a new technique that another tech is exploring. I take what works and incorporate it in my services if it makes sense and doesn’t do damage and I leave the things that don’t serve my clients. Good on you for posting this blog and opening up a dialog on this very contentious subject. I applaud you my friend!! Xoxo


    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you tried it too! I’m so big on education that it will forever be my goal to help people and always learn more. We all could use it. Thanks for reading 💖


  3. Such a great discussion. Nice you have now experienced all that I have heard from a lot of clients! I have gone to experience pedicures at NSS and found them technically good but at the $40-45 level. Never went for base line service . I always like to wear my work if possible so I prefer doing my own nails as it represents my work… and people usually notice them and comment…… great way to pass out a business card!!….. but if a fellow tech did my nails I always refer them from the compliment. Thanks Madison😘


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