Discussion The salons have reopened, but should I be getting a mani-pedi right now?

Is it even that safe—or smart—to book an appointment right now? Many think that salon visits are an entirely self-centred enterprise, reducing them to nothing but a commodified concept, but they are also a place of respite, relaxation and renewal of mind and body - which is the self-care a lot of us need during these times

Enough is enough, I said to myself this week. I could no longer look forlornly at the site of my rogue cuticles, jagged tips and uneven nailbeds. Listen, I know we’re living in a pandemic and a fresh shellac with two coats of Fiji aren’t the most pressing of all needs in this devastating time, but, to me, the salon has always been much more than just a place to get your hair and nails done.

Many rely on their salons as a comforting source of self-care and community. It’s more than a commodified concept; it’s a place of relaxation and renewal of mind and body – and of course hands, feet and hair.

But just because nail salons are opening back up, is it even that safe—or smart—to book an appointment right now? After all, it means you’re putting both yourself and your nail technician at risk, right? As more and more salons begin operating across the UAE, what could reemergence actually look like in this particular sect of personal care?


“When we first opened 20 years ago, N.Bar was the first salon dedicated to nails in the region and stringent hygiene levels were always a big part of our DNA,” says Sarah McNeil, marketing and comms manager for N.Bar. “We have always operated with strict SOP’s (standard operation procedures) since 2000, many of which were not mandatory by Dubai Municipality back then but are now.”

The salon has recently reopened its doors again since the movement restriction was lifted, and has implemented a whole host of new measures (23, to be precise) to combat the spread of Covid-19. Not only can you expect all the usuals, such as floor stickers, temperature checks at the door, contactless payments, masks and gloves, but the salon has also removed all magazines (even more of a reason to download the latest issue of Cosmo ME online!), closed waiting areas, and will only open tool kits in front of customers.

“We are also protecting our technicians by implementing limited contact with clients, reduced working days and hours, full mask shields, and free covid testing for all staff.”


The global pandemic has prompted a seismic shift in every facet of our existence, not least of which has been the financial havoc wreaked on “unessential businesses” – aka salons – that were amongst the many industries that had to remain closed.

Truthfully, I’m really not in a financial position to be treating myself to something as seemingly frivolous as a mani-pedi. But if self-care is about what nourishes and soothes our worried heads – particularly when we’re experiencing a cocktail of emotions in a lockdown – then what’s wrong with it being a trip to see your beautician? If a lick of paint can still provide a little respite, then why are we not choosing to see a trip to the salon as an investment into our mental health? Surely the collective longing for them is telling of the invaluable role that beauticians and salons play in our lives?

“The demand for N.Bar beauty services during the lockdown was incredible. People were requesting pre-bookings, and when we first opened our doors after the lockdown, a large number of clients immediately booked in at N.Bar. Women still want to have the experience of unwinding and relaxing but they also want to make sure they feel safe,” Sarah confirms.

Many think that salon visits are an entirely self-centred enterprise, but after hauling myself out of my tiny apartment for a couple of hours, having an IRL conversation with someone other than my partner, and treating myself to my first mani-pedi in three months, I can truly say it is so much more than that.