People look at your hands more often than you might think, and well-manicured hands & nails create a good first impression. A personal nail stylist, like Hailey Bieber and Selena Gomez, might be a step too far, but a regular visit to the nail salon can do the trick. And it can be done for a bargain price at some salons, or better not, right? "Fungal nails, filed-through cuticles ... afterwards, we have to correct a lot of damage.”

The only problem? Waiting times are long and it doesn't always prove easy to get into a new nail salon. Good addresses are popular and before you know it, they are no longer accepting new clients or you have to wait three weeks to make an appointment. Annoying, so we start looking for other solutions. And there are.

Especially in the big cities these days, you're practically tripping over cheap nail salons. Little 'salons' where you can walk in without an appointment and be treated immediately. There are no waiting lists of weeks and the prices are often very attractive. A gel manicure for 25 euros? No problem.

Inhumane conditions

Still, those low-threshold salons present problems, says Mario Blokken, president of the Belgian Beauty Federation.

"Various audits in cooperation with customs, police and social services, among others, show that such cheap, Asian salons are often a hub for international crime.”
“Human trafficking and money laundering are common, as well as a lot of violations in terms of hygiene and product use. When such salons are closed down, they often resurface elsewhere a few months later and we find the same violations again.”

Fungi and filed-through cuticles

Are the inhumane working conditions not reason enough for you to choose a better, more expensive salon from now on? Well, you won't do yourself any favors with a cheap manicure either.

Mario Blokken, president of the Belgian Beauty Federation on the problems with low-cost nail salons and the complaints about them:

“Through our complaint hotline, we receive 15 to 20 complaints every month, and increasingly they are about nail treatments gone wrong. Products are used that are not approved for the European market, leading to inflammation in lots of people. Afterwards, people seek help from licensed technicians, hoping they can solve the problem.”

A trend confirmed by Linde Vanderstraeten of Beautiful Nails by Linde:

“I regularly get clients who have their nails repaired here after one of those failed manicures. First and foremost, these clients indicate that the prices charged in inexpensive salons are not what they seem. Additional products are often pushed on you during the treatment, which you also see on the bill afterwards. So the final price rarely matches the one you signed up for.”
“However, the main problem as far as I am concerned is the state of your nails after such a treatment. A lot of clients suffer from nail fungus afterwards, their cuticles were filed through, their nail plates filed down to the skin underneath ... Anything but appetizing scenes and something that takes a lot of time to repair.”

Here's how to recognize a good nail technician

But how do you recognize a good nail technician(s)? How do you know where to go or not to go? On the website of the Belgian Beauty Federation you will find a handy overview of the recognized professionals, but Linde provides some additional tips.

“A professional-looking website is often already a good start. This takes time and effort, so you can get all the necessary information from it. Also, don't expect to just walk in for treatment: most professional nail salons work with an appointment schedule, so just getting your nails done spontaneously is often not possible.”
“It is further important to distinguish between gel nails and acrylic nails. Many inexpensive salons use acrylic in practice, a powder mixed with acetone. That manicure you can just let air dry, is easier and a lot cheaper, but the product bites into your nails. For gel nails, on the other hand, you work with several layers and an LED lamp, which makes the treatment longer and more expensive, but also safer.”

Mario Blokken further adds:

“In addition to the cost, it is best to pay attention to the packaging of the products. To respect European legislation, the list of ingredients must be legible on it. If this is not the case, you already know that something is not right. The smell when walking into a salon also speaks volumes. The substances released during nail filing are very harmful and can even cause lung cancer. This is why a good exhaust system is required by law - if there is a pungent smell of turpentine or acrylic in the air, it is better to turn back.”

Prices say a great deal

If you are still undecided, the price of treatment is a good indication. On average, according to Blokken, you should spend about 40 to 60 euros on a nail treatment, more if the procedure is more complicated.

“As a nail salon, you have a lot of expenses. From taxes to social contributions, from quality products to the right infrastructure.... Purely in terms of costs, you are at 25 to 35 euros per treatment, so cheap manicures simply cannot respect the legislation. Neither in terms of working conditions, nor in terms of products.”
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Interview nagelstudio Beautiful Nails by Linde Leuven Nieuwsblad
Interview nagelstudio Beautiful Nails by Linde Leuven Nieuwsblad
Interview nagelstudio Beautiful Nails by Linde Leuven Nieuwsblad