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9 Things You Won’t See in Nail Salons Anymore

Nail salons are starting to open back up, but there are going to be some changes you may not be used to seeing.

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Nail salons look different

Just like the “new normal” has changed at restaurants, movie theaters, and hair salons, it also looks different at nail salons. If you choose to head in for a manicure or pedicure, you’ll need to prepare yourself—going to the nail salon during COVID-19 looks a bit different from past relaxing and pampering trips you may have taken before the pandemic. Here are just a few things you may no longer see in your favorite nail salons. If you’re thinking of making a day out of getting pampered and want to get your hair done, here are 14 things you won’t see in hair salons anymore, either.

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If you’ve ever looked down at your chipped nails when walking by a nail salon and decided to go in at the last minute, sadly you won’t be able to do that anymore. “Always make an appointment beforehand because the reopening guidelines specifically forbid accepting walk-ins at this time,” Anastasia Totty, LeChat Nails Educator, tells Reader’s Digest. Needing a reservation isn’t reserved only for nail salons—you’ll need a reservation to visit many theme parks, too.  

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In-person check-in

Once you’ve successfully made a reservation, checking in face-to-face may not be an option. “In the past, we have encouraged our guests to arrive early and pick out a polish color while drinking a fresh mug of coffee or tea that we’d make for them upon arrival,” Emily Pacella, guest services representative at Vito Mazza Salon & Spa in Woodbridge, New Jersey, tells Reader’s Digest. “Now we must have guests wait in their car upon their arrival and utilize our new virtual check-in system. They are not permitted to enter the building until their nail technician is ready for them in order to remain at a limited building capacity set for us by the government.” When waiting in your car, here are 13 car cleaning tricks car washers won’t tell you.

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Mask-free clients

Remember the days of leaving your home without worrying about wearing a mask? We do, too. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), it’s best to wear a mask whenever you leave the house, and that includes at the nail salon. And yes, you should do this the entire time you’re in a nail salon. “Please remember to wear a mask the whole time. It sounds redundant, but as a nail tech I get that question every day,” says Totty. “Clients should wear masks and the technicians will wear masks, gloves, and face shields during the service.” Forgetting to wear a mask is also one of these 13 things you shouldn’t do at reopened restaurants

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Large groups

Going on a spa day with a group of friends may now be a thing of the past. “In the past, many of our clients would bring friends or children to their appointment, but we can no longer permit clients to bring additional guests with them,” says Pacella. Seeing friends and being able to celebrate life events are just some of these 16 things we’re all looking forward to when social distancing ends.

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Cash payments

If you’ve ever paid for your nail services with cash, you may need to think of tech-savvy ways of paying for your appointment. Totty recommends signing up for Venmo or Cash App to pay for your service, and many salons also accept ApplePay. “Handling of cash or credit cards will be eliminated as it increases the risks of contracting the virus,” adds Totty. Even in the midst of all of these changes, taking a day off of work to spend time away from your computer for a spa day is still a good idea. 

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Snacks and refreshments

If you expect to be pampered when waiting for your manicure, you may need to reframe your point of view. “One big small change that people might not think about is that candy/snacks and other refreshments are no longer being offered in nail salons—anything ‘communal’ that can be touched is dangerous, especially when it comes to food or beverages,” Jarry Lee, former journalist and professional hand model, tells Reader’s Digest. If you often find yourself craving just a little snack when out, here are 100 of the best healthy snacks you can get on the go.

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Nail polish swatches

If you’re torn between two nail polish colors, you used to be able to browse different nail polishes and color swatches. Now, because of COVID-19, that sampling is no more. “Please understand that for your protection all magazines, polish swatches, and beverages have to be removed from the waiting area as it is almost impossible to properly sanitize these in between guests,” says Totty. Here are 9 subtle things your nail polish reveals about you

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Nail polish displays

Part of the fun in getting your nails done is selecting a color. But because of COVID-19, you may need to be a bit more decisive on which nail polish color you would like to decorate your nails. “If you can bring your nail polish—awesome! If not, at least come prepared with a color in mind. This will prevent multiple hands and cross-contamination on polish bottles as you ponder about the right color choice,” Tianna Hill, co-founder of IV KULTURE Vegan Nail Lacquer, tells Reader’s Digest. “Nail technicians and owners are operating at a lower capacity like most service industries, so the less time you spend on upfront decisions such as color, type of service, nail shape, etc.—the more time you give them back in their day to assist other customers.” If you’ve accidentally spilled a bottle of nail polish, don’t worry—here’s how you can get nail polish out of just about anything

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Closed windows

According to the safety guide for nail salon workers by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nail salons should “open doors and windows when possible to let in fresh air. If the salon has a ceiling vent, it should be turned on and working.” These are the things the CDC recommends nail salons know. Next, here are just a few things you won’t find in movie theaters anymore.

For more on this global pandemic, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.


  • CDC: “Use Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-19”
  • OSHA: “Stay Healthy and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures”

Madeline Wahl
Madeline Wahl is a Digital Associate Editor/Writer at Previously, she worked for HuffPost and Golf Channel. Her writing has appeared on HuffPost, Red Magazine, McSweeney's, Pink Pangea, The Mighty, and Yahoo Lifestyle, among others. More of her work can be found on her website: