Natural Nails

Heat Up Hands, Feet & Profits With Paraffin

Give clients an extra treat and increase your receipts by offering the simple-to-do paraffin service

Paraffin warms up winter-ravaged hands and feet, and soothes and moisturizes dry summer skin. Although some nail technicians may be reluctant to sell clients new services, paraffin advocates say the old adage, ‘Try it, you’ll like it” works every time when introducing a client to paraffin. “I keep the paraffin unit next to my manicure table, and during the nail service I’ll suggest to my client, you might think about paraffin for your next manicure.’ By telling her that, I have planted the seed. Then she’ll ask me about the paraffin service,” says Suzan Sorensen, a nail technician at Salon Riviera in Redondo Beach, Calif. For Sorensen, paraffin is a year-round service. “I sell it as a rehydration service for dry hands, especially during summer. When winter rolls around, the warmth of wax has a therapeutic effect on stiff hands.” The NAILS 1994 Fact Book survey of nail technicians showed that paraffin was the number-one service salons added to their service menu this year or plan to add next year.

The winter season is the easiest time for Deby Walters, owner of A Love of Nails in Hyattstown, Md., to promote paraffin. “During the winter months, when clients come in with really dry hands and cracked cuticles, the service pretty much sells itself,” says Walters. “Paraffin is also easy to promote to men who are hard on their hands at work, and it is popular among my older clients who have arthritis.”

For nail technicians who have recently added paraffin to their salon services, Sunny Stinchcombe, vice president of sales and marketing at Gena Laboratories (Duncanville, Texas), suggests promoting the service to clients by dipping one of their hands for free. By doing this, the client can see and feel the difference between the skin on the dipped and undipped hand, she says.

James Nelson, national sales manager of WR Medical Electronics Company (Stillwater, Minn.), also recommends the “one-hand” approach to entice clients. “A lot of clients don’t understand what paraffin is, and a free trial treatment is the best way to introduce a client to paraffin,” he suggests. Other ways of promoting the service, says Nelson, include posters, coupons, and specials.

You can also promote the paraffin service by offering it as a thank you to clients who refer other clients, or you can give it as a complimentary service for a client’s birthday or anniversary.


To add paraffin to your nail services, you’ll need to purchase a specially designed heating unit, low-melt paraffin, antiseptic spray, lotion or oil, plastic bags, and insulating mittens or booties. Paraffin systems range from $120 to more than $200. Generally, units are sold individually, and start-up wax and accessory items are sold separately, says Stinchcombe, although manufacturers often run package specials. Technicians can recover the cost of the system in a month or so, depending on how often they use it. As an add-on to a manicure, Sorensen charges $5 extra for a paraffin dip, and $8 for paraffin only. Walters charges $7 for the service alone, and adds $7 when combined with a manicure. According to the NAILS 1994 Fact Book, the national average price for a paraffin treatment is $8.02.


The biggest concern nail technicians have about paraffin is how sanitary the paraffin service is, says Stinchcombe. She assures that it’s very safe when technicians take the proper precautions. To ensure proper sanitation, clean the client’s hands or feet thoroughly before dipping them into the paraffin, and always dispose of the used paraffin after each client. Explains Stinchcombe, “I highly recommend doing the paraffin dip at the end of service, before polishing, because it will leave a lasting impression on the client and because it is much more sanitary since hands and feet are at their cleanest.” The unit itself should be emptied and cleaned once a month.

To ensure that polish adheres to the nail after a paraffin dip, have the client wash her hands thoroughly to clean the nail bed and to remove oils and moisturizers, suggests Nelson. To make sure the nails are clean before applying polish, you might also wipe them with a nail prep product.


Though there haven’t been any new major breakthroughs in the paraffin service, says Nelson, some manufacturers have been experimenting with different wax fragrances. Sorensen prefers using unscented paraffin rather than the scented ones, she says, because some clients can be sensitive to perfumed products.

Another way to add the benefits of fragrance to paraffin is to put four to five drops of aromatherapy massage oil on the client’s skin before dipping her hand in the paraffin.

However you choose to do the paraffin treatment, the service is quick and easy to do, and profitable too. For clients, the warmth and soothing effects of paraffin is an inexpensive way to have added appreciation for their manicure or pedicure.

How to Do the Paraffin Manicure and Pedicure


A paraffin dip will replace the warm water soak or warm lotion soak that takes place during a regular manicure or pedicure. Before beginning the paraffin manicure treatment, ask the client to remove her jewellery and watch. All filing and shaping should be completed before the paraffin dip, and if the client is having artificial nails applied or a fill, these should be completed also.

Just before dipping the client’s hand into the wax, wash and disinfect them, then apply moisturizing lotion. The heat of the paraffin will open the pores in the hand and allow the lotion to penetrate and soften skin.

Dip the client’s hand up to the wrist, making sure her hand is relaxed. Keeping the client’s hand in the same position, remove her hand from the wax for a few seconds. Repeat the dip four or five times, until the wax is a ¼ -inch thick. Cover the hand with a plastic liner and mitt. Repeat the dipping process on the other hand.

Allow the client to relax for 10 to 20 minutes. This is a good time to tidy up your station, get to know your client better, or start the client’s pedicure.

When the client has relaxed and the moisturizer has had time to penetrate the skin, remove the mitts, liners, and wax from the hands. Paraffin should slip off the hand easily, like a glove. Throw the hardened paraffin away.

After you remove the paraffin, the clients hands will be soft, moist, and relaxed. This is a good time to massage the hands, though some nail technicians prefer to massage the hands before placing them in paraffin.

When the paraffin treatment is completed, finish the manicure. Push the softened cuticles back or trim them, and clean excess moisture off the nails before polishing.

Pedicures with paraffin are similar to paraffin manicures. Start by bathing and disinfecting the feet. Shape the toenails and use a foot file to remove dead skin. Rinse and dry feet before rubbing lotion into them. Dip the foot into the paraffin four to five times, until the wax is a ¼-inch thick, keeping the foot in a relaxed position. Place a plastic liner and bootie over the foot. Repeat on the other foot.

Again, allow the client to relax 10 to 20 minutes. Offer her a magazine to read or a beverage to enjoy during this time.

When the treatment is finished, slip the wax off each foot and massage the feet. (As with the manicure, some nail technicians prefer to complete the massage just before the paraffin treat­ment.) Dispose of the used wax.

Continue the pedicure by pushing back and trimming the cuticles, cleaning excess moisture from the toenails, and polishing.


After the paraffin dip, hands look and feel moisturized, rehydrated, and soft.

1. Dip the client’s hand in the paraffin up to the wrist making sure her hand is relaxed. Keeping the clients hand in the same position, remove it from the wax for a few seconds. Repeat the dip four or five times.

2. When the dipping process is done, cover the hand with a plastic liner.

3. Place a mitt over the plastic liner.

4. When the client has relaxed and the moisturizer has had time to penetrate the skin, remove the mitts, liner, and wax from her hands.

5. Paraffin should slip off the hand easily, like a glove. Throw the hardened paraffin away.

6. After removing the paraffin, the client’s hands will be soft, moist, and relaxed. This is a good time to massage the hands, though some nail technicians prefer to massage them before placing them into the paraffin.

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