New York City’s Most Sterile Nail Salon: Polished Beauty Bar

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I’ve been to probably 90 nail salons in New York. But pretty little Polished Beauty Bar on the Upper West Side is the most fastidiously sterile of them all.

Polished Beauty Bar New York City's most sterile nail salon WellandGoodNYC.comI’ve been to probably 90 nail salons in New York. I’ve dipped my toes in paraffin at Bliss, risked them to the J. Sisters, soaked them in honey at Jin Soon, and had them La Mer’d at Rescue Beauty. But pretty little Polished Beauty Bar on the Upper West Side is the most fastidiously sterile nail salon I’ve ever been to.

That’s high praise. Usually a salon’s glamour quotient or selection of trendy nail colors trumps important nail safety measures. The two most important: autoclaved tools to stave off transmission of hepatitis B and C, and simple footbaths, because the jetted ones are hard to clean and can breed staff-infection-causing bacteria.

Polished impressively tackles these health concerns and more—yet the salon doesn’t feel a bit clinical. There’s a gorgeous blue-tile wall, white modern nail tables, and those Dwell Magazine-esque light fixtures that are clusters of lightbulbs. In fact, founders and sisters Micki and Susan Nam, say style and supreme hygiene can also be siblings.

Here’s what ranks this New York City nail salon as the clean leader of them all:

1. Most nail salons have sterilizers (those glowing toaster ovens), but Polished has a medical-grade autoclave used by dentists. It’s a tiny but powerful bacteria-killing machine tucked in the backroom because of the force of the 121-degree steam, plus it’s ugly. After tools are sanitized under high pressure for about 40 minutes, they’re sealed in sanitizer bags.

2. The pedicure baths don’t have jets or filters, which is where germs get trapped. But they do have LED lights, which kill some measure of bacteria, and an anti-bacterial surface like countertops.

Susan Nam, founder of Polished Beauty Bar
Susan Nam, cofounder of Polished Beauty Bar; behind her the safe pedicure thrones and the salon's signature tiled wall

3. The salon doesn’t smell like chemicals thanks to a nine-layer air-purifier and what might be the city’s largest selection of Zoya non-toxic polishes. I’m a fan of a mauve-gray called Kelly.

4. And something I’ve never seen: ionic bacteria-busting shoe boxes where your shoes go while you’re getting your pedicure. (They look like mini blue microwave ovens; see the photo above.) Your shoes come out smelling a bit like the ocean. Important to note: Your knee-high boots won’t fit.

I consider Polished a neighborhood find, but I foresee downtown ladies making the trek. Fortunately their feet will be healthily rewarded for the effort. —Melisse Gelula

Polished Beauty Bar (manicure: $12, pedicure: $30), 250 W. 78th St., btwn Broadway and West End Ave., Upper West Side, 212-933-1830,

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