Info for Nail Salon Consumers

Thank you for sharing your thoughts as a consumer!

Right now, nail salons are a low-wage and toxic industry. The mostly women and immigrant workforce is exposed to chemicals that can lead to reproductive and respiratory problems, and locked into poverty wages. We need safe and healthy salons to be the norm – with clean air, robust wages and dignified treatment of workers. Workers are coming out of the shadows and changing their wages and conditions while also setting policy agendas for the future of the industry, supported by customers who believe in reform.

Structural barriers keep immigrants, and particularly women, dependent on low-wage industries. Immigrant women themselves are dismantling these barriers so that these industries provide livelihoods, not just wages. They are building pathways into alternative sectors that draw on people’s experiences in their home countries to provide meaningful employment for their communities.

What you can do:

Some tips for being a conscientious nail salon customer:  

  • DO tip your nail technician generously, preferably in cash!
    • If you patronize a small shop where a standard manicure costs between $10-15,tip above 20% since you’re saving on the price of the service.
    • At midrange salons where standard manicures cost $20-25 and high range salons where standard manicures cost $25-45 tip no less than 20%.
    • For higher cost services including acrylic nails, nail art, specialized manicures/other services, tip no less than 20%.
  • DO speak respectfully to your nail technician and show appreciation for your service, and recognize the expertise/skill of your nail technician.
  • DO ask a manager/owner that technicians use personal protective equipment such as proper masks and gloves. Notice if the salon is well-ventilated. A salon that has an overpowering smell of nail polish and remover is not ventilating adequately.
  • DO observe the conditions in a nail salon. If you believe a salon is violating the rights of employees, contact the New York State Task Force Hotline: 1-888-469-7365 or file an online complaint through the New York State Department of Labor
  • DO learn about the 2015 regulations passed by Governor Cuomo to better understand whether salons are in compliance with new laws or not.
  • DO NOT complain to managers, ask for free services, or write mean-spirited and/or negative online reviews because of minor mistakes or flaws in your service. Recognize that these actions can lead to a manager or owner retaliating in some way against a nail technician.
  • Do NOT withhold tips from a service that you found unsatisfactory. Depending on the situation, speak respectfully to the technician, then a  manager, but ultimately, consider the tip as part of the cost of the service.
  • Do NOT interrogate or question  your nail technician on their wages, breaks, and other possible violations. It is intrusive, insensitive, and owners and managers may be within earshot which can put technicians in an awkward position.
  • DO participate as an ally in the New York Healthy Nail Salon Campaign
  • Do NOT boycott your nail salon or encourage others to do so unless the workers are striking. This does not help workers and keeps the industry from becoming stable for workers.

Be part of the movement:

  • Share this tweet: “I support #healthysalons for customers & workers
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with future campaign updates
  • Sign up for our mailing list


  • Healthy Salon Poster that illustrates more about working conditions in salons
  • Governor’s recent regulations on salon ventilation
  • Read the NYT op-ed on our work
  • Department of Health Report