7 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Avoid the $7 Manicure

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By In Her Shoes Guest Blogger, Tricia Lee

As the owner of Polish Bar and a nail salon entrepreneur for nearly a decade, I feel obligated to respond to the recent discussion surrounding industry practices. Not necessarily to deny the allegations, but to share more information with consumers about these common work conditions, and the unethical business and labor practices. Here are my top seven reasons why you should avoid the $7 manicure at all costs:

1. Let’s get started with the cold, hard facts – there is NO such thing as a “cheap” manicure (that’s of quality). Shops will cut back on product quality, second only to hygiene practices. Salons will share what I consider to be “personal” items between clients, because the price you pay doesn’t cover good hygiene practices. Your nail file, nail buffer and cuticle stick carry dirt and germs so when those tools are saved to use on the next client, so are the germs. These items are porous, therefore they absorb bacteria and bodily fluids. It’s not uncommon for 20-30 people to share the same nail file or buffer when subjecting yourself to the dangers of the “cheap” manicure. At Polish Bar, we have provided brand new polish packs to clients since day one. Our customers leave with their own polish tools, and are encouraged to bring them back for future services, receiving a Green Gals discount of $1 when they do.

2. For salons that lure customers in with a cheap manicure, the numbers just don’t add up. As such, the salons will also need to make cut backs with polish, so the options will be minimal and most likely thinned out with fillers to make the color stretch. Don’t bother looking around for Essie, OPI or Ginger + Liz, because only the cheapest brands will be used. While you may only notice polish options, far more items are of low-grade quality. Salons will choose poor emollients, nail enhancement products and low quality tools. As for wearability, underperforming top and base coats are utilized. Why? Because the low price point just can’t support quality products.

3. If your salon opens at 9a and closes at 9p, rest assured that the severely underpaid staff members worked that ENTIRE day. So, while you love the convenience of twirling in for an end of day wax and spa pedicure at closing time, this comes at a cost to the nail tech you’ve grown to know and love. Salons will often force nail techs to stay later to perform the service, without covering over-time pay. This goes against ALL city labor laws and let’s be honest, would you want to work overtime without compensation? If asked to do so, imagine the quality of the work you’re doing when you’re exhausted and underpaid. Next time you walk in near closing time and ask for a mani/pedi, please think again.

4. If the price changes when you use a credit card, this is usually because it’s a cash run operation which doesn’t properly reporting business income. If you are using cash, that money isn’t going to be reported to the IRS, so the owners will often keep the tip to cover their taxes and credit card processing fees. As horrible as this sounds, it’s definitely not unheard of.

5. Mani AND pedi for under $20? Let’s break this down:

Minimum wage in NYC is $8.75

Considering employee expenses, that will be an average of another $2-3/hour

Factor in products and cost of business (nearly $6) and you are at $20 before that one hour service is even completed

Subtotal: $17.75 (again, the numbers just don’t add up)

* Sadly, this equation only makes sense when you take out the payroll costs

6.  Unsavory work conditions. Have you ever been in a salon during the winter months and found that to be comfortable, you have to keep your coat on? Terrible, but true. These prices do not support acceptable work environments. Your technician should be in her uniform, not a jacket or scarf. But when costs are so low, businesses do not operate with proper margins to cover operating expenses such as sufficient heat, hot water, or overall cleanliness.

7. Low nail technician wages. The $7 manicure leads to $2-3 tips. For a technician working for no or low salary, that can easily equate to a lower than minimum wage earning. Salons have downtime throughout the day when there are no services being performed. So an employee in this environment can easily walk home with $50 for an exhausting 9-10 hour work day. Can you imagine?

8. You know I couldn’t stop at seven, so consider this a BONUS fact. The cutbacks that are made to lower the price of waxing services would have you running barefoot out of the salon! This is where you will see the MOST abuse and disregard for hygiene. I encourage you to stop cutting corners for this service and PAY for your waxing – period. Look out to ensure technicians do not double dip and discard all items including their gloves at the end of your service.

To learn more about Polish Bar visit or follow us on Instagram, @polishbar.

As a New York City storyteller, filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.

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