As businesses ramp up their disinfecting protocols to adhere to the new COVID-19 guidelines, nail salons have had to reassess the way they offer services. We spoke with nail owners and educators to discuss tips on how to continue to deliver a safe yet enjoyable service for your clients.
Since nail art is a significant source of revenue for many salons, timing is everything—especially now, when more of it is required to disinfect stations and tools.
Jessica Vero, a Vancouver-based nail technician, salon owner and educator for Gelish, says her salon originally began adding an extra half-hour to all appointments to accommodate the new guidelines. “At first, we were overly cautious and booking huge gaps between clients,” she says. “We’re getting better with our timing and realize we don’t need as much time; an extra 15 minutes per client is enough.”
With the high number of clients waiting to get their nails done, many salons are trying to accommodate as many clients as possible. Vero says she is continuing to offer all nail art services—even the more time-consuming ones. “Nail art is a good part of my income, so I found that I would rather see fewer clients and work with one for two hours instead of two people for an hour each,” she says. “The more people you
see, the more risk you have.”
Nail enhancement services, including extensions and dips, are slightly more controversial in light of COVID-19. Since these services tend to generate more dust—which can potentially spread the virus throughout the salon—some businesses have decided to temporarily limit these services, or change the way in which they are provided.
“It’s better to be as safe as possible. We cannot risk having an outbreak in our salon, so until we know exactly how the virus is spread, we must be overly careful,” says Vero. “I still offer enhancement services at my salon, but now I hand file instead of using an electric file to keep dust to a minimum. I also wear a disposable apron that I replace after every client.”
Expert Tip: To reduce the number of tools and items that require disinfecting, Vero suggests no longer using clips to hold cotton pads in place when removing gel polish. Instead, she switched to using foils, which, as a green circle salon, she’s able to safely recycle.
While dip services were a significant part of her business, Vero has made the decision to eliminate them—at least for the time being. “A dip manicure needs to be removed every time, so it requires extra time and creates additional dust,” she says, adding that while she historically always used individual containers for each dip client (to dispose of any excess powder), she advises salons that reuse or share powder from client to client avoid this, especially in light of COVID-19, to prevent cross-contamination.
For salons that heavily rely on nail enhancement services for their business, Sarah Melanson, a nail technician and senior educator for Bio Sculpture Canada who’s based in the Maritimes, says nail techs should be creating and maintaining a clean and safe environment for clients.
“Price increases are always something that nail techs struggle with, but now is a good time to raise yours in order to assist in offsetting the new ppe costs and standards to operate. Many technicians have added new courses and certificates to their résumé during covid-19, and these new skills warrant a price increase,”
—Sarah Melanson, Nail Technician and Senior Educator for Bio Sculpture Canada
“Our main focus should be to prevent person-to-person spread via direct contact. All technicians should be taking measures to protect themselves and their clients at all times,” she says. “If your system [produces] high dust or odour, you should have proper ventilation in your salon as well as a dust extraction system.”
Some salons have either increased their service prices or implemented a new fee per service to help with the additional costs of sanitization products and personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Price increases are always something that nail techs struggle with,” says Melanson. “But now is a good time to raise yours in order to assist in offsetting the new PPE costs and standards to operate. Most technicians have added new courses and certificates to their résumé during COVID-19, and these new skills warrant a price increase.”
While Vero admits she hasn’t increased her prices yet, she’s open to it. “I’m seeing the costs add up for the amount of PPE used for each service,” she says. “Clients know that things are going to be more expensive. They’re more aware now of how much we’re spending on masks and gloves. We’re also using a lot more single-use products like files and aprons.”
Expert Tip: With the exception of pedicures, nail lacquer services are being discouraged due to the extra drying time they require. To help promote more gel-polish services, vero charges the same price for gel polish and lacquer manicures.
As nail techs are getting accustomed to wearing the extra PPE, more salons are encouraging them to take breaks between clients to avoid feeling overly heated or dehydrated. “It’s important to remember that this ‘new norm’ means technicians are now seeing fewer clients, and may need to work longer hours to accommodate their full clientele,” says Melanson. “Remember to take proper breaks, stretch, get fresh air and nourishment, and to keep your mental health in check.”
For clients, the experience at a nail salon can be vastly different. In addition to extra sanitizing procedures and PPE, steps that were once routine, such as touching polish bottles or nail swatches, are likely no longer an option.
“We’re not so much modifying the service, but the experience,” says Vero. “Clients can be shocked to find out they can’t have a magazine during their pedicure, or are not being served beverages. We’ve had to cut back on some of those things.”
To help make the nail salon experience as welcoming and enjoyable as possible, she suggests adding extra time for pedicure scrubs or hand/foot massages. “Clients are expecting a more clinical, basic service but we try to spend a few more minutes whenever we can.”
Find out why you’ll want to have these on hand to help save some time this season
Bio Sculpture Ethos Kiwi Scrub
Bring rough, dry nails back to life—without excessive filing— thanks to this scrub packed vitamins C and E, to exfoliate and moisturize. Plus, the handy droplet is ideal for an easy, touch-free application.
This no dust, no fuss hybrid system combines the best of acrylic and hard gel for a lightweight, durable and odourless enhancement experience.
CND Solar Speed Spray
The less contact, the better! This spray is perfect for setting manicures, and is packed with nutrients including vitamin E and sweet almond oil.