Let’s talk tipping, chipping, and chatting.

Patricia Shannon

We venture to guess Southern women wrote the book on nail salon rules (we know our way around salon etiquette, after all). But, for some of those trickier situations, we’re bringing you nail salon tips that will ensure you’re always customer of the year. Here’s how to get your nails done at the salon without finding yourself on the wrong side of an etiquette conundrum.

Picking a Polish

Arrive early if you’re notoriously indecisive. You don’t want to set the whole salon’s schedule off while they wait for you to decide between An Affair in Red Square and Chick Flick Cherry. You can even bring a bottle from home if you’re worried they won’t have your signature shade.

Cell Phones

This is a loaded etiquette issue, but one with a clear-cut answer: A salon is no place for cell phones—whether texting, emailing, talking, or otherwise. A cell phone is not only distracting to those nearby, but can also be detrimental to your own experience. If you’re not paying attention to your nail service you won’t notice if something isn’t to your liking and, therefore, won’t be able to bring it to your nail technician’s attention (instead of circling back when you finally notice as you’re heading to the door). Not to mention, trying to juggle a phone in one hand while getting the other painted is a shaky situation that just makes a nail professional’s job even harder.

Tipping

It’s fairly standard for a nail salon tip to be 20 percent of your total bill (before taxes), though you can always give more if you had an amazing experience. Additionally, if you receive a low-cost service, like a polish change, round the tip up to at least $2.

Cash or Card (and Tipping: Part 2)

Paying the bill with a credit card is the norm these days. When it comes to tipping your technician though, cash is often the preferred method. By giving a cash tip directly to your technician you can be sure it goes straight to whom you intended. Not that you should be wary of any funny business, but it’s always a safe bet to go directly to the source.

Smudged Nails and Chipped Polish

If it’s within a few hours of your visit—and you haven’t been gardening, scrubbing dishes, or strumming a guitar—it’s pretty understandable that you would want to come back in to get your nail repaired. Just be sure to tip your manicurist for the return visit—even if they salon doesn’t charge you.