Photography by Marc Vuillermoz for Getty Images
Photography by Marc Vuillermoz for Getty Images

In our industry, we’re aware of the link between beauty and wellness. From exfoliation to clean scalps, many beauty services help your clients—and your fellow team members—to stay healthy. This applies to toenails, too! If there’s a nail tech in your salon, book an appointment!

Summer sandals remind us to get regular pedicures, but even in the winter you should make sure your toenails are in good shape, advises Dr. Coleen Napolitano, a podiatrist at Loyola University Medical Center and associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Napolitano recommends:

1. Keep them short! Your toenails should extend no farther than the end of the toe; they should be even shorter if you’re a runner or do other high-impact activities. A long toenail can jam the end of the shoe, causing a “microtrauma” with each step. Eventually, repeated microtraumas can cause the toenail to discolor and even lift off its nail bed, potentially creating a blister underneath the nail. This also can make the toenail more prone to fungal infections, which can lead to further discoloration, thickening, brittleness and even loss of the nail.

2. When you get a pedicure, the nail tech doesn’t cut your toenail until your foot has been soaking. That’s because water softens the nail. At home, cut right after a shower.

3. Choose nail nippers, which are available at beauty supply stores, over the nail clippers you see at drugstores. The nippers cut with greater precision to avoid jagged edges and over-cutting.

4. After cutting, file your toenails in one direction, not back and forth, to remove any last edges.

5. The nail tech uses a base coat for a reason: painting a color directly on the nail can cause discoloration.

If you’re a nail tech, keep clients safe by taking these health and sanitation measures:

*Cleanliness. Be thorough!
*Sterilized tools. Pedicure instruments should be sterilized after each use with either an autoclave other equipment with sterilizing solution.
*Consultation. Do not use the whirlpool footbath with any client who has open sores, and ask clients whether they are diabetic or taking a blood thinner.