Fabi Canchola fell in love with the art of the mani-pedi when she was just a kid. “I love the feeling of my hands looking polished,” she said. “As a little girl I told myself I would always keep my nails done.” So it’s hardly surprising that she grew up and found herself working at one of the top San Francisco nail salons—she’s the general manager at the award-winning Cocoon Urban Day Spa (a Groupon Editors’ Pick!).
We chatted with Fabi about salon life, including which polish colors locals are lusting after and the one thing clients do that drives nail technicians crazy. Read on for tips on how to be a pro client before, during, and after your appointment.
Before your appointmentSave the soaking for the salon. Once you get in the habit of regular mani-pedis, it’s natural to want to take better care of your nails all the time. But there is such a thing as over-primping. “Make sure you don’t over-soak your [hands and feet],” Fabi warned. “It does expand the nail bed when your [nails] are kept under water for a long time and your polish won’t stick.”
Let the salon know if you need gel polish removed. Neglecting to do so can be really frustrating for your technician. As anyone who’s had a gel manicure knows, it’s not the easiest to remove. (That’s kind of the whole point, right?) “At times we are finding small windows to squeeze in a last-minute manicure,” Fabi said. “And with gel [or] Shellac polish removal, more time is needed, so it really throws [the techs] off.” Make sure to book extra time for your appointment, or remove your gel polish at home beforehand.
During your appointmentAsk about popular colors. If you’re not sure which shade to pick, why not see what others are loving? Fabi says the three most popular colors at Cocoon are Romantique and Creekside, both part of CND’s Vinylux line, and You Can Count on It by OPI.
Try more than one polish. You’d be doing a disservice to yourself and millions of Pinterest boards everywhere by not experimenting with some nail art. If your tech has time, see if they can create a multicolored mani for you. “A lot of clients are requesting the blending of color polishes,” Fabi said. “For example, they will start with a nice pink polish and [blend the tips] into a light purple or a gold.”
Go for the upgrades. If you get regular mani-pedis, why not add a little something extra every once in awhile? Fabi suggested trying a paraffin dip—Cocoon has a yummy lavender-scented version—as it’ll make your feet even softer. And who couldn’t use that during sandal season? YOLO, baby. After your appointmentPre-book your next visit. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself jetting from yoga to brunch with a chipped nail and no time to get a touchup. Fabi recommends weekly maintenance for manicures and maintenance for pedicures every two to three weeks. (Oh, and if you’re a Shellac addict, she said you should book a regular manicure every once in awhile to let your nail beds breathe.)
Remember to tip! At Cocoon, Fabi finds that 20% is pretty standard. And if you did add on that paraffin dip, make sure to factor the extra cost into the calculation of your gratuity.
Take it easy with the flip-flops. “Wearing flip-flops daily will dehydrate your feet and can ruin a pedi,” Fabi advised. She suggests moisturizing hands and feet regularly to help your mani-pedi last.