Nail salons will be different when they reopen: Here's what you should expect

Getting a manicure and pedicure has been at the top of many peoples' beauty wish lists as states begin to lift stay-at-home orders, but as nail salons reopen in many states, customers should expect some changes to the experience.

Nail salon owners in several states told TODAY Style that they're requiring customers to make appointments in advance, instead of just walking in to see if someone is free to do their nails.

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Jessica Torres, a Las Vegas resident, got an appointment for a pedicure with her nail technician on May 4, two days after salons reopened in Nevada. She said the experience of getting her nails done amid the coronavirus pandemic was "different."

"I was the only one besides her in the salon," Torres told TODAY. " I had to wear a mask during the visit and she had me wash my hands before sitting."

Some of the usual comforts of the salon were also gone, minimizing the number of touch points that need to be cleaned after each customer.

"I got a pedicure. Usually she has comfy pillows, but she didn't have any out," Torres said.

Rachel Apfel, owner of Glosslab, a New York City nail salon chain, said she will be "thinking through every touch point" that need to be sanitized after each customer as she plans for the eventual reopening of her salons.

"We are adding more hand sanitizer beyond our normal guidelines," Apfel told TODAY. "We're also looking at every detail, like customers coming in and trying different polish bottles and touching them and putting them back. We are no longer going to do that."

Customers will still be able to pick up bottles, however, they'll be asked to take them to their nail technician's station, where they can assess which shade of red they want. After that, Apfel said the bottles will be sanitized before they go back on the shelf.

Melissa Singer, director of marketing at Bellacures, a high-end nail salon franchise with six locations around Los Angeles and one in Dallas, said customers will be asked to use hand sanitizer before touching polish bottles.

"All locations will have limited capacity indefinitely," Singer said. "This will depend on the state mandates, but probably 50% capacity. We will be prioritizing appointments and encouraging all clients to call ahead vs. walking in to eliminate unnecessary foot traffic."

While seeing a nail technician wearing a mask wasn't uncommon before the pandemic, many salons will also require customers to wear masks during their appointments to prevent the spread of the virus. Many salons, like Bellacures, also expect to run at about 50% capacity to ensure social distancing.

"All of our clients will be required to wear face masks, and if they do not have one, we will provide them with one," Singer said. "We expect the masks for all clients and staff and rubber gloves used by manicurists for all services to be for the foreseeable future."

Torres said she felt "safe and comfortable" with the extra precautions her nail technician took at her salon in Las Vegas. It wasn't quite the same relaxing experience, but she said it was still worth it.

"Although wearing a mask wasn't comfortable for an hour straight, I was willing to do it to get my toes done," she said. "It was well overdue!"