Thanks to all the wonderful advice from readers, I took myself for my first manicure and pedicure this past week.
Armed with all the incredibly detailed information about nail places, I ened up with two options near where I stay in Albany. I could either go to a "Nail Pro" place in a strip mall or schedule an appointment at a local spa. Price difference between the two was significant (more than double at the spa). The spa was rated well on Yelp and the nail place had no reviews on Yelp at all.
Given that my schedule varies, I decided to go to Nail Pro.
Walking into the store, it didn't seem spotless, but it didn't seem dirty either, although I couldn't see the foot baths. I saw autoclave equipment, so I felt the place met sterilization standards for their tools. When I got back to the pedicure area, it looked a little run down (worn leather massage chairs) and they didn't use inserts, but I figure if I can take a bath in a hotel bath tub, this wasn't any worse.
The business was owned by an Asian couple (turns out they're Vietnamese) and they do the pedicure and manicure separately.
After soaking my feet in blue water, the pedicurist did all sorts of snipping, scraping, pushing, lotioning, filing and buffing (they used a sponge-like object to do all the pumice-like scruffing which was new in the package). She finished off with a nice foot/lower leg massage which was very nice. I found the massage chair rather annoying, so I first switched it to neck/upper back only, and then eventually turned it off completely. The end result were two feet that felt much smoother and softer and I was relaxed.
|This obviously isn't me, but this is what the set-up looked like...I tried taking a photo of my feet, but it was worse than the hand photo above.|
The manicure was a bit less involved, including much of the same activity that occurred on my toes/toenails. I'm not sure exactly what she did to the cuticles...it appeared as if she used the side of the short clippers to scrape away errant pieces of cuticle and skin, but she never seemed to actually clip anything. Suffice it to say, my fingernails and nail-beds were much smoother and softer after it was all done.
There was no polish involved in either procedure (I would have declined if an offer was made, but none was). Both pedicure and manicure were done by the same woman, and the cost of the mani-pedi was $35, so I tipped her $7.
The only complaint I had was that the manicure took place next to a woman that was having her acrylic nails touched up and the smell was a bit like huffing glue.
The nicest part of the experience was knowing what to expect in advance, so I could truly sit back and enjoy the experience. Thank you all for your detailed help and advice.