Customer Service

Man, Oh Man

He’s split the atom, walked on the moon, and flown faster than the speed of sound. So, what’s he gonna do now? Get a pedicure, of course.

Photo by Caesar Lima
<p>Photo by Caesar Lima</p>
Forty years ago, most men would have laughed at anyone who suggested that they would one day sit next to women in beauty salons and care for their coifs at home with hair dryers, styling gel, and hair spray. So to laugh at the thought that those men’s sons and grandsons are the nail clients of the future is a foolhardy thing indeed. Their time at the nail station and pedicure throne is coming, and you won’t have to wait long to see it.

“It’s the generation,” says one salon owner who asked to not be named. “I’m doing 20- to 50-year-olds who don’t think anything about it. My uncle pays $8 for a haircut at a barber because that’s what his generation does. His sons, though, happily pay a stylist $45 for a haircut because that’s what everyone of their generation does. The same thing is happening with manicures, pedicures, and spa services. The media and magazines and celebrities have made it OK for a man to get a manicure.”

Indeed, in 1997 basketball superstar Michael Jordan told Instyle that he gets a manicure every 10 days and a pedicure once a month. “Maybe 20 years ago I would have though that’s feminine, but men have needs as well,” he confided. Shaquille O’Neil is yet another who has helped to chip away at the traditional male view of nail services being “for women only.”

“Twenty years from now, the children of the 30- and 40-year-olds who are now trying nail services won’t think twice about getting them,” says Scott J. Buchanan, owner of Scott J. Salons and Spas in New York. Salons that court men are successful in steering them toward nail and spa services when they provide a non-threatening environment in which men can be men, even during a manicure. Men’s salons are cropping up around the country, including American Male in Reading, Pa., Pamper Me Please, A Gentleman’s Salon in Chicago and Philadelphia, Agosta for Men in Novi, Mich., and Lovell & Co. Barber Shop in Los Angeles.

While the services tend to be as no-frills as the clients they’re geared toward, a few salons shared their signature men’s nail services with us.

Spa Pedicure for Men

Time: 1 hour

Price: $45

While Diva Studios (Las Vegas) had to transform its separate Men’s Room into a coed salon because of space constraints, nail department manager Jennifer Favela says the salon has still seen a tremendous jump in male clients over the past year. “About 40% of my clients are men,” she confides.

Favela says she treats her male clients similar to her female clients, at least in how she educates them on the steps of the service and the products she uses. “Their nails are almost in great shape, and to put them at ease with having a pedicure I joke with them a lot,” she shares.

While she says there are few differences, in her opinion, between male and female clients’ nail needs, she notes men’s feet tend to be in rougher shape with more peeling skin. On the upside, she says with a laugh, they rarely have the corns, bunions, or calluses so common with her female clients.


First, if you have a choice, pick the most private pedicure area as possible. Fill the whirlpool unit with warm water and a disinfecting soak.

While his feet soak for 3-6 minutes, offer him a beverage or finish preparing the items you’ll need for the service.

Pat the feet dry and apply cuticle remover to all 10 nails. Next, push all the cuticles back and nip only when necessary.

Trim the toenails to the desired length and file to shape as needed.

Because the skin on men’s feet tends to be in worse shape than on women’s, Flavela says she exfoliates twice. First, she rubs an exfoliating lotion thoroughly into the feet, followed by her use of foot file. “The two exfoliations tend to give it more of a massage effect,” she says.

Next, she cleans the feet and massages each foot for six minutes using a mix of massage oil and lotion. “Most men prefer I massage from the ankle down,” she notes. To finish, wipe excess lotion from the feet.

American Male

Time: 25 minutes

Price: $27

The premise for this men’s salon in Reading, Pa., was to incorporate the feel of the old-time barbershop in the contemporary salon setting. “With the new men’s movement, men are willing to spend money on services because they are more conscious of their appearance and styles,” says Apryl Allen. “More men are getting hair color and nail care.”

Like Diva Studios, American Male used to have “man’s man” names for its services such as “hand detailing” and “foot overhaul,” but likewise went back to basics. Now, they offer a manicure and The Ultimate Manicure, during which the client sits in an ergonomically correct portable massage chair and receives a head, neck, and back massage from a massage therapist while his manicure is being done.

“We find this service has helped build up our manicures because we have a lot of clients who want massage,” Allen says. They also invite some clients to book a complimentary manicure because, Allen says, once they try it they always come back.


After he washes his hands, set the client in the massage chair, which should be positioned directly in front of the manicure table so he can lay his arms up on the top. Allen prefers to trim and file the nails before soaking the hands.

Next, soak the hands in a warm water soak; American Male adds a moisturizing shampoo to the water to help soften the cuticles and moisturize the skin.

Clean the underside of the nails with an orangewood stick and then push back the cuticles. Use a nail brush in the manicure bowl to remove any residue from the nails, then dry the hands.

According to the client’s preference, buff the nails to a high gloss or apply 1-2 coats of matte polish. “Matte polish is the big thing with our clients because they don’t want to draw attention with a shiny look,” Allen says.

Agosta for Men

Sport Manicure

Time: 20 Minutes

Price $12

Located right next door to its sister salon, Gina Agosta Haircolor and Design in Novi, Mich., Agosta Hair Color and Grooming for the Civilized Man (Agosta for Men, for short) offers male clients a place to call their own. “Many of our present clients were looking for a salon that broke away from the traditional barbershop or day spa and catered to their special needs in an atmosphere that was comfortable to them,” explains John Agosta, who co-owns the salons with his mother, Gina.

Ten percent of Agosta for Men’s clients get manicures, and the Agostas have chosen to cross nail technicians from Gina Agosta over to the men’s salon when a manicure is booked rather than have a dedicated staff for that salon.

Here, nail technician Barb Jayko (who says men make up 25% of her own clientele in the Salon) details her no-nonsense Sport Manicure. “The main things I find my male clients want are to have their cuticles cleaned up and their nails shortened. Men’s nails tend to grow very quickly.”


First, have him clean his hands, then remove any natural oils from his nail with a dehydrant.

Trim the nails to the desired length, then shape them.

Apply cuticle remover first to one hand, then to the other. Wait a few minutes, push back the cuticles and clean the nails on first one hand, then the other. Nip any cuticles that are loose, thick, or torn.

Massage each hand for 1-2 minutes with hand lotion to moisturize the skin and nails. “Some men don’t like this step, so if they’re new I usually ask them first,” Jayko says.

Next, clean the nail plate to remove the lotion and ask the client if he prefers a matte polish or a buffed surface. Finish as desired.

Specialty Service: Sculpting on Male Nail Biters

Nail biting is a bad habit that transcends a gender. Consider marketing this service to any male nail biters you may know.

Step I: Prepare the nail. Proper nail prepping is especially critical on nail biters because of the potential for lifting. After he washes and dried his hands, gently push back the cuticles, being sure to remove any skin that has grown out onto the nail plate. Nail biters tend to have thick, overgrown cuticles. If this is the case, use cuticle remover before pushing back, and resist the temptation to nip at the cuticle as it only tends to grow back even faster.

Lightly etch the nail plate, filing only in the direction of growth. Remember, you only want to remove the natural oils from the plate, not layers of the nail. Check that all skin and shiny spots on the nail plate are gone, the dust off the nails to remove any debris and apply a nail prep product.

Finally, prime the nails. Use a very small brush- a small art brush or eyeliner brush work great – so that you don’t over-saturate the nail or get primer on the skin. Nail biters tend to have sensitive nail plates and cuticles because of the abuse they’ve suffered.

Step 2: Apply a form. An aluminum form works best for nail biters because it pushes down on over-grown skin so that it lines up with the natural nail. This allows the artificial extension to lay when where the natural nail normally would and results in a nail that is more structurally sound and more natural-looking.

To choose the correct aluminum form, match the shape of the free edge with the size and shape of the aluminum form (which come in square, oval, and round). Use an orangewood stick to crease the form and create a nail groove on each side of the nail.

Step 3: Sculpt the nail. Make the thickness slightly more than you would for an overlay on a female client’s nail, and choose a muted white for the tip. Sculpt the free edge to be approximately 10%-20% of the length of the nail bed, which will provide a natural look.

For the nail bed, one small ball of pink acrylic should allow sufficient coverage. Prevent all product from touching the cuticle or sidewalls.

Step 4: Filing and shaping. Use a 120- or 180-grit file to shape your work, being sure to bevel the product at the cuticle flush with the natural nail. For a high gloss, first use a 180- grit file, followed by a white block, then finish with a 3-way buffer or shiner block. You can finish with matte polish, or simply apply cuticle oil.

Step 5: Maintenance. Give your client a defined schedule and specific time-frame for growing out his natural nails. Schedule weekly manicures for him over a defined period, and send him home with 180-grit file to shorten his nails as necessary and a 3-way buffer to buff when he feels the urge to bite.

It’s The Little Things That Count

Full-service salons can easily introduce hair clients to nail services by offering men the convenience of a manicure during a haircut. And, Barb Jayko points out, many men are only interested in having their cuticles cleaned up and their nails shortened, so an abbreviated, 10-minute mini-manicure (which one salon we found calls “cuticle detailing”) may be just the add-on service for male clients in the salon for another service.


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