- Insider spoke to Gloria Williams — Oprah Winfrey's personal pedicurist for the last 12 years.
- Williams gave us the ultimate guide on how to spot a bad manicure or pedicure.
- Those blue jars of disinfectant are a big no-no, and you should always get a base coat.
Gloria Williams has been Oprah Winfrey's personal pedicurist for the last 12 years.
Williams told Insider that she first crossed paths with Winfrey while working in the spa at Harpo Studios — Winfrey's production company — nearly two decades ago.
She then asked Winfrey's glam squad if she could give the TV legend one of her pedicures. Two years later, in 2009, Winfrey decided to make Williams her personal pedicurist.
"She said, 'That's it, only Gloria is doing my feet,'" Williams recalled. "And the journey began."
Williams still sees Winfrey once a month for her pedicure — "she loves earth tones" — and now runs Footnanny, a line of premium foot-care products that have appeared on Winfrey's "Favorite Things" list for the last seven years in a row.
Williams has been in the nail business for more than 30 years, so she knows how to spot a great — or terrible — manicure or pedicure.
Winfrey isn't Williams' only famous client. She's also tended to the toes of Michelle Obama, Julia Roberts, and Lady Gaga, among many others.
Since Williams is a seasoned nail expert, Insider asked her how to spot the signs that you're about to have a bad manicure or pedicure.
And, reader, she didn't hold back.
You walk into the spa and see that the technician has run your foot basin with no liner.
Williams told Insider that lining the basin protects your feet from cross-contamination. Plus, it's also required by law in most states.
So if you see an unlined foot basin, maybe it's best to go to a different place.
That jar of bright-blue disinfectant for the nail tools? That's also a big no-no.
Williams said it's a bad sign if the technician takes their nail tools — like the nippers and clippers — from a jar of sanitizing solution.
"It should come from a packet — a sanitized packet," she added.
And make sure your nail file is fresh too.
"If they go to use a nail file on your toenails and they've used that on someone prior to you, you're about to have a bad pedicure," Williams said.
You should also pay attention to how the towels are treated.
If someone at the spa or salon drops a towel on the floor and still uses it anyway, Williams said that's a major red flag.
If they clean your nail or polish with their own fingernail, run.
"It should be done with an orange wood stick or a disposable cleaning brush," Williams said. "Not a reusable one."
Make sure the technician doesn't have too much nail polish on the brush.
If the polish is running, that's another sign you're not going to have the best mani or pedi.
You should always get a base coat before the color goes on.
"Polish without a base coat, that's number one!" she said. "I've seen places where I'm like, wait a minute, they didn't put a base coat? You have to have a base coat!"
"Regular polish or gel polish, if they go to polish your toenails with no base coat, that's it," she added. "And they're doing it so you come back and spend more money."
And a top coat is just as important.
"You've got to have a top coat," Williams said. "But sometimes the base and top coat might be the same, and that's OK."