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16 Things Your Manicurist Is Secretly Thinking About You

From hygiene tips to dishy gossip: Everything your nail technician wishes they could say but doesn't.


You can exfoliate your own cuticles—in the shower

“It’s important to exfoliate your cuticles regularly, especially if you have dry skin. But you don’t have to wait for your manicurist to do this—just rub your nails with a wash cloth in the shower, pushing back and rubbing in a circular motion. The moist air in the shower will help soften the cuticle so you can clean it and remove dead skin easier.” —Lisa Jachno, a celebrity manicurist based in California Here are some surprising things your nails can reveal about your health.


Wash your hands. Twice.

“Hand washing is so important. There’s always an odor when you do someone’s nails and we don’t want to smell the hamburger (with extra onions) you had for lunch. Same goes for super sweaty hands—if you don’t have time to shower after your workout, at least wash your hands.” —Amy Harold, a shellac nail expert in Utah 


Unclench, please

“I hate when nail clients have stiff hands! It’s the worst! To do a good manicure you need to make sure all areas and angles of the nail are covered and if your hands are stiff or rigid that definitely limits my ability to do that.”  —Heather Norton, a cosmetologist and nail technician in Denver, Colorado Follow these other tricks to make your manicure last longer.


Skip the soak

“It may feel nice to soak your hands in warm water before your mani but the water actually bloats the nail, causing it to soften and expand. After the manicure, your nails will eventually shrink back down which causes the bond and adhesion of the polish to be compromised, leading to chipping and peeling polish. Bottom line? Dry manicures last longer.” —Lisa Jachno


Don’t clip your own nails

“Too many times I’ve had clients come in with nails they’ve just clipped themselves and often they’re uneven or, worse, too short. It’s not just unsightly, it can also lead to pain and infection if you cut them down to the quick. Part of my job is to trim and shape your nails—so let me do it.” —Amy Harold One thing you can do yourself: Eat these high-biotin foods that keep your nails healthy.


Drugstore ointment is just as good as the fancy stuff

“Putting a dab of A&D ointment cream on your cuticles will keep your skin soft and help your manicure last longer. And not only is it super affordable but it’s rich so you only need a little.” —Lisa Jachno 


Don’t go to the new manicurist

“One of the best indications that you’ll get a good manicure is a nail technician that is experienced and confident in what they are doing.” —Heather Norton Check out these things everyone should know before getting a gel manicure.


Don’t expect Insta-perfect nails in an instant

“Lots of fancy nail art pictures on Instagram are done using special techniques, products, and tools. I can probably do it but plan on at least an hour. And if you’re requesting something special, like air brushing, it’s best to call and ask in advance to make sure we offer that.” —Amy Harold 


Trendy patterns and colors can make hands look older

“One element I consider for the color and style of someone’s manicure is the overall appearance of their hands. For older looking hands, I often stick with a neutral color, with a short round shape, as not to bring additional attention to the age of the hands.” —Lisa Jachno Find out how to protect your nails from everyday things that ruin them.


Pick polish shades you look good wearing

“People are often surprised when a color they pick doesn’t look good on their hands or clashes with their skin tone. But if you don’t look good in a yellow shirt, you probably won’t like the way yellow nail polish looks on you either.” —Amy Harold 


We’re not your therapist

“I love chatting with my clients, it’s one of my favorite parts of the job. But there’s a line of what you should and shouldn’t say. We’re not your therapist so don’t tell us all the messy details of your divorce or your last doctor’s checkup; just hold a pleasant and uplifting conversation.”—Heather Norton This is what your nail polish color says about your personality.


Come with an idea

“I love the artistry of doing nails—I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t—but it really helps if you come with a solid idea or even a picture of what you want. Taking 30 minutes to pick out a polish color wastes my time and yours.”—Amy Harold Make sure you know the 14 tips for healthy and gorgeous nails.


Fillers aren’t just for faces anymore

“Women are now looking to get youthful skin on their hands as well as their faces. Many of my clients have had their hands treated with Radiesse [an injectible filler] at their doctor’s office to get rid of wrinkles and add volume. They love to show off their new hands by indulging in on-trend manicures with bright colors and unique details.” —Lisa Jachno 


Clean under your nails too

“Lots of dirt and other gross things accumulate under your nails during the course of the day but it just takes a quick scrub with a nail brush to get it out. So if you come in and say ‘Oh my nails are so gross’ I will clean them out for you but I hope you’d tip a little bit more after that.” —Amy Harold Get ready for your next manicure with these simple ways to make your nails stronger.


Be open to other ideas

“I love it when nail clients are flexible with what they want. Sometimes the condition of their nail or the size of the nail bed can limit what I can do. I’ll do my best to make you happy but it is important to compromise if it doesn’t work out exactly as you’d hoped.” —Heather Norton 


In between manicures always use a nail file, never clippers

“Metal clippers can damage fingernails, causing peeling and snags. Clippers also cause chips in polish. Filing is much gentler and will keep your manicure from peeling or chipping longer.” —Amy Harold Here are more everyday habits that are bad for your nails.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, MS, is an award-winning journalist, author, and ghostwriter who for nearly two decades has covered health, fitness, parenting, relationships, and other wellness and lifestyle topics for major outlets, including Reader’s Digest, O, The Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health, and many more. Charlotte has made appearances with television news outlets such as CBS, NBC, and FOX. She is a certified group fitness instructor in Denver, where she lives with her husband and their five children.