Are Waitresses Allowed To Wear Nail Polish? (Rule Explained)

Working as a waitress is a hectic time. You must offer customer service with a smile on your face, be on track about the current customers, new customers, and the foods that are prepared, and much more!

There are also certain clothing regulations on what you can wear which some of are mandatory and some of are highly recommended.

One thing that is nearly always the same in all restaurants is can a waitress wear nail polish when working and the answer to this question is usually clear.

In general, waitresses aren’t allowed to wear nail polish when at work. However one might wear nail polish if she wears gloves always when handling food which would be hard to maintain. In addition, many restaurants aren’t monitoring the usage of nail polish as much as others.

The final answer really doesn’t change and as a waitress, you shouldn’t wear nail polish when handling food. This is also stated by the FDA Food Code 2017 (page 82). This reason isn’t just to piss you off because there are actually valid reasons why this is so we will examine these reasons next so you can understand the matter a little better.

Why can’t you wear nail polish in foodservice

Food contamination

The first and most important aspect to understand is food contamination risk when it comes to nail polish. We all know that nail polish isn’t glued 100% to the nail and it will wear out as time passes by, therefore it isn’t usually allowed to wear it during work hours.

This is because nail polish can and will eventually chip out and it has the risk of getting into the food, therefore it is a health risk.

When nail polish gets to the food it will contaminate the dish and let’s be honest, you wouldn’t like to eat nail polish either?


Many restaurants, especially high-end ones don’t allow nail polish due to food contamination reasons of course, but also for appearance purposes. This is because if you had long nails with a multi-colored pattern on them it won’t be as professional as the restaurant’s image might be.

However, as stated before this will vary between restaurants and many restaurants doesn’t look down to clean and short nail with fully red nail polish on them.

Can you wear acrylic nails as a waitress

According to the 2017 FDA Food Code, a food employee may not wear artificial fingernails which include acrylic nails unless one is wearing intact gloves when handling food. The reasons for this rule are the same as above, however, it would be even worse for the customer to find a whole acrylic nail in the food, without mentioning if they would take a bite of it.

This could lead to serious actions within the restaurant and the amount of bad brand publicity would be enormous, therefore acrylic nails are even more prohibited than nail polish.

Recommended products for waitresses

  • Safety shoes: Working in a restaurant as a waiter or a waitress can be rough on your feet and times can get slippery as well sometimes. I highly recommend using proper non-slip shoes that are comfortable to stand on for the whole shift.
  • Comfortable insoles: Want the maximum comfort out of your shifts? Well, gel insoles are a great way to do just that regardless of whether you have flat feet or high arch feet.
  • Nail Polish Remover: My favorite recommendation for women that my girlfriend took to her use as she works in the restaurant industry as well. A powerful nail polish remover allows you to use nail polish in your free time and remove it when you get to work. No need to abandon your nail preferences just for the sake of a job.

Are chefs allowed to wear nail polish

No. Chefs aren’t allowed to wear nail polish when at work. However, if unharmed gloves were to be used at all times when handling food then yes, it would be allowed.

The reasons for this are also food contamination and appearance reasons, however, some nail polishes are highly flammable which would bring in some safety hazards as well!

Can you wear jewelry in foodservice

The only piece of jewelry that is allowed when working in foodservice is a plain ring, such as a wedding band. Besides that, jewelry isn’t allowed while preparing food. According to the FDA, jewelry including medical information jewelry isn’t allowed on their arms and hands either.

Can servers wear watches

In general, servers aren’t allowed to wear watches. However, this depends between restaurants and some restaurants might not monitor it as heartily as others.

Can you wear your hair down as a waitress

In most cases, waitresses are able to wear hair down at work. However, there are establishments that would require the waitress to keep their hair in a bun and out of the food a d their faces. Generally speaking though, this doesn’t apply as long as she isn’t cooking anything.


As we can see, most restaurants aren’t looking at nail polish and other related items with pleasure, and the FDA has some regulations towards them as well, therefore wearing them just isn’t worth your while.

I hope this article gave you value and a better understanding of this topic so you can look at the matter with an open mind from the restaurant’s perspective as well.

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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