Why Nail Care is Becoming Nail Careless

By Silva Nahabedian

I hear it all the time – in whispers at high-end salons, behind closed doors at resort spas and around the country at industry trade shows: “Silva, they don’t give us enough time.”

 Nail professionals are constantly being pushed by their superiors to produce flawless manicures and pedicures in a short timeframe that is simply not possible . Unfortunately, for as long as salons have existed, owners have been looking to get the most bang for their buck. Hence, the popularity of walk-in establishments that promise prompt service while packing as many technicians as they can get into one fluorescently-lit storefront.

 But when salons and spas start favoring quantity over quality, nail care turns into nail careless. Sure, Dazzle Dry delivers hard-set nails in just five minutes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t believe in respecting process. In fact, that process – which includes everything from properly prepping the nail plate to precision cuticle care and polish application – can be the key difference in a manicure that lasts three weeks or three days.

And it’s not just the clients that miss out when nail services are rushed. Qualified nail care professionals cannot sustain this turn-and-burn style that spas and salons are employing. They know they can offer a better nail care experience but they are being forced to compromise their skills for the sake of time. That time, by the way, is just 25 to 30 minutes! To put it in perspective, a manicure – when done properly – should take anywhere from 45 minutes to 75 minutes if additional fluff and buff is involved (i.e. scrubs, masks, paraffin, massage, hot stones, etc.).

 So what happens to the nail care professionals? They burn out. They, and their clients, get frustrated with the results. And inevitably, they get forced out of the salon and into their own small competing business where they can give their clients the experience they deserve.

 Let me be as clear as my top coat here, you guys, this is not an attack on salons and spas. If anything, they have just as much to lose from subpar nail services as everyone else. Sure, it may seem like you’re making more money in the short term, but clients aren’t going to be happy with a sloppy manicure or pedicure that they paid top dollar for. So not only are they losing future business from repeat customers, they’re losing some of their top technicians as well.

 So here’s the part when spa owners get frustrated with me. “Okay, Silva, if you’re not letting us squeeze as many nail services into the day as we would like, how on earth are we supposed to turn a profit?” It’s simple: value.

 Do not underestimate the value of a positive experience. In the age of full schedules and nonstop hustle, having a moment to relax, refresh and renew, is everything. I have spoken to clients and nail care professionals alike who agree that enhancing the spa experience is worth an increase in the price.

 Nail care professionals can take more time and charge more money by offering upgrades such as aromatherapy, hot stones, warm towels, and massage. Trust me, these small improvements are the defining difference between a walk-in service and a true spa experience. Clients who feel relaxed rather than rushed, who walk out feeling as good as their nails look, aren’t just willing to pay a little extra for that level of detailed care, they’re primed to be a loyal customer.

 I know not everyone will agree with me and perhaps those looking to make a quick buck off of someone’s “express” manicure have already stopped reading. But hey, in this business, I’d rather ruffle a few feathers than break a nail.