Customer Service

Wanted Not Just a Few Good Men

Luring men into your salon is challenging, but it’s easier than getting them to stop and ask for directions. Help them find your salon easily with the right services and go easy on the frills.

Two of the most popular books for women were written to try to understand men. “The Rules,” by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, tells us how to get them to commit, and “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” by John Gray, Ph.D., tells us why they behave like they are from a different planet. “Men think differently from women. They value power, achievement, competency, and efficiency. They like to see themselves as problem-solvers and are results-oriented,” writes Dr. Gray. Are these the kind of “creatures” you can persuade to get regular nail care?

Men Don’t Make Appointments

Twenty-five years ago, men didn’t go to hair salons. They went to barbershops. A haircut is what they got when their hair was too long. Now, men are more conscious of their total ap­pearance. They understand how much their grooming can impact their professional (and personal) lives. Eventually, it became less of a stigma to enter a hair salon and request a certain style. Now the same is happening (albeit slowly) with manicures. The businessman who shakes hands all day is displaying his self-image through his hands. Being well-dressed with dirty and unkempt fingernails is like wearing a $500 suit with I scuffed and cheap shoes. As with the hair salon 25 years ago, the nail salon is just starting to become a service business that men realize they need to visit for good personal grooming.

However, men are not inclined to make appointments for haircuts or manicures. Like a dental appointment, they would almost always rather be doing something else. “Walk-ins Welcome” is a magnet to the passing male client A 15-minute clip-and- buff promotion located adjacent to the walk-in sign will more than likely entice the male client. Steven Brooks, owner of Diva Studio in Las Vegas, increases a male customer’s comfort by renaming the services for men. A clip- and-buff nail service is called a “Hand Tune-Up,” a full-blown manicure is referred to as a “Hand Detail,” and pedicures are renamed “Foot Overhauls.” Create a separate menu of services just for men. This menu can be used with your male-client promotions, Having a separate brochure will give the impression that you cater to men in the salon.

Speak the Language

Men are more direct and results-oriented than women, so the conversation you have with your male clients should be centered on what you are trying to achieve. Omit any flowery words like “pampering” and “soothing.” Use direct masculine terms like “shape up,” “tune up,” and “clean up.”

During a women’s manicure you might say, “This soothing, scented-oil soak softens the skin and cuticles. Rolling the marbles in your fingertips helps increase circulation and stimulate nail growth.” But during a men’s manicure say, “Would you like to remove some of the callus from your hands? (Important to ask this question as some sports enthusiasts need the callus for their activities.) I’ll wet-sand those areas after this warm soak.

Moving the marbles around helps loosen up your tendons and muscles while you soak.”

For a women’s manicure: “Having regular manicures keeps your nails trimmed and healthy which stimulates faster growth. Routine manicures-help keep skin soft-and younger-looking and help prevent hang- nails. Everyone loves to have beautiful hands, right?”

For a men’s manicure: “Regular hand ‘tune-ups’ prevent callus buildup. There is nothing more painful than having a blister form under a built-up callus. Regular manicures can keep the tendons and muscles of the hand flexible, which aids in most sports activities. Arthritic hands can be soothed by- paraffin treatments and the massage performed during a manicure.”

A Basic Men’s Manicure

Now that you’ve got your male client where you want him — in your chair — make his manicure experi­ence worth coming back for more by following these simple steps.

STEP 1: A Soak in the Hot Tub. After you and your client’s hands have been sanitized, remove the old polish, if he is wearing any. If removal of callus is necessary, use a large soaking bowl to completely immerse the hand. To make a men’s manicure soak more masculine and appealing, add a fresh scent like mint, mineral salts, or eucalyptus oil.

STEP 2: Clip and Clean. Clip the nails and clean under the free edge. Use a fine, 180-grit file to smooth the edges after clipping. Next, apply cuticle remover and push back the cuticle. One trick to cleaning up the cuticle of stubborn skin is to use the edge of your cuticle nipper and gently scrape along the cuticle to loosen the dead cuticle material still attached to the nail plate.

STEP 3: Remove Calluses. To remove calluses, con-sider your pedicure supplies. Use a scrub that has a fresh scent and contains sloughing grains along with a wet-sanding file or a coarse-grade 100-grit Mylar file to help sand away calluses. A medium-grit pumice stone also works well on hand calluses.

Due to the grit and loose skin generated by callus removal, have your customer wash his hands and: nails using a nail brush. At this point, a paraffin treatment maybe added to the service if needed. This treatment could be referred to as a “hot wax” for the male client (a term used to resurface snow skis). Apply lotion and massage. Use a lotion that has a fresh scent or is fragrance-free.

STEP 4: Detailing the Nail. At this point, the customer may like a high-buff shine or polish. Several manufacturers sell polish made specifically for men that dry to a matte shine. Also, some male clients may have the same complaints as women about weak and peeling nails. Instead of buffing you might try a nail treatment on this client to help reinforce his nails.

For male customers with thick and healthy nails, go for a natural shine by starting with a 600-grit buffer (black), stepping up to a 900-grit (white), and finishing with a 1200-grit buffer (gray). Don’t skip any steps because each progressive file removes the scratch marks on the nail surface from the previous file.

Finish the manicure by applying cuticle oil. As with the lotion, choose an oil that is fragrance-free or has a fresh or nutty scent.

Not Pretty, But Practical

Manicures for men are not just for aesthetic results. They can actually help men who are actively involved in sports. Find out what sports, if any, your client participates in and become familiar with the benefits of well-manicured hands for his preferred sport. Here are some examples: Any hand-eye coordination sport like basketball, baseball, soft- ball, bowling, and golf require a “touch.” Bad putters and chippers in golf are called “stone hands.” Great ones are said to have a “soft touch” or “soft hands.” Too many calluses on hands that golf can result in a loss of touch on the chips and putts.

Fishermen need to feel the hit on the fishing line. Calluses will prevent sensitive “feel.” Water-skiers need some callus to help hold on to the rope handle. Too much callus can result in a painful blister under the callus which can be ripped off during skiing.

Emphasize to your customer that maintenance of the hands is as important as regular car tune-ups. Tell him when he should schedule his next manicure. Just like a doctor gives a prescription for treating an illness, you give a prescription to your customer for his recommended maintenance program.

Serious nail biters need more than weekly manicures to get their hands in shape. Their recommended nail makeover, need? Sculptured nails as outlined in the following steps:

STEP I: Prepare the Nail. Preparation of the bitten nail is critical to prevent lifting; therefore, it is important to have the client wash and dry his hands thoroughly. Most nail biters, especially men, have extra cuticle material attached to the fingernail, Begin by gently pushing the cuticle back with a steel implement.

Use an 80- or 100-gr’rt file to etch the surface of the nail plate vertically in the direction of its growth. Check that all shiny areas have been removed by this filing process. Make sure you have removed all the skin on the nail near the cuticle. Remember any product placed directly on the skin will lift. Remove excess dust with a disinfected plastic-bristle brush, Sanitize the nail bed with the manufacturer’s recommended nail preparation.

Apply the primer very sparingly by using a small art brush (size 00) or an eyeliner brush. The size of the nail on a nail biter is very small. The smaller brush will prevent over-saturating the nail with primer. Too much primer can cause burning and contribute to lifting.

STEP 2: Apply a Form. An aluminum form works best for nail biters. A form pushes down on overgrown skin so that it lines up with the natural nail. Once the skin is held back by the form, the nail extension can rest where the new nail would naturally grow. The natural curve that is created by these nail grooves results in an artificial extension that is more structurally sound, appears narrower; and is more natural looking.

To choose the correct form, observe the shape of the free edge of the natural nail. Choose the proper form by matching the free edge shape with the size and shape of the aluminum form. Aluminum forms come in square, oval, and round shapes, and can be easily cut to fit an unusual-shaped nail.

Dowels are included in some form kits. Center the dowel on the aluminum form and roll the form around the dowel. Remove the form from the dowel, spreading it slightly to accommodate the finger Place the form on the finger next to the free edge. Use an orangewood stick to crease the form to create a nail groove on each side of the finger where the natural nail groove should be. Make sure your nail grooves are parallel on the form.

STEP 3: Sculpt the Nail. The longer the sculptured nail, the more reinforcement (thickness) it needs over the stress area. Since we are sculpting a very short nail, it can be very thin. Sculpt the free edge to be approximately 10%-20% of the total length of the existing nail bed. This will give the nail a natural look. Use the sides of the brush to outline the free edge. Work with a product thickness that is slightly heavier than you would use for an overlay on a female client’s nail. Use a white acrylic that is more muted, not a stark white.

Next apply the pink product, working wetter and keeping it very thin. Since the area is small, one ball should be sufficient to cover the nail bed. Do not allow liquid, the nail brush, or product to touch the cuticle area. Maintain approximately 1/32” from the cuticle to the product. This space is needed for filing the product smooth to the natural nail to prevent lifting.

STEP 4: Filing and Shaping. Use a 120- or 180-grit file to shape your work. Make sure you bevel the area near the cuticle flush with the natural nail. Buff to a high shine using an 180-grit file, white block, then a 3-way buffer or shiner block. When the filing is completed, have your customer wash his hands. Apply matte polish if requested, or simply apply cuticle oil.

Tell your customer that he needs to come in each week for a manicure for a defined number of weeks. Estimate how long it will take for his nails to be fully grown and give him a goal when his natural nails will be back to normal. Men function well with specific goals and time schedules.

For example, you might say, “In only two months your nails will be totally recovered. I will need to see you each week until that time.” Sell him a 180-grit file and a 3-way buffer. Tell him to use the file to shorten the nails if needed, and the 3-way buffer to buff when he feels the urge to bite.

Sculpting on Male Nail Biters

Acrylic Overlays

In addition to a manicure, some male clients may need a little extra protection to keep their nails looking good or to stop a split. To do an acrylic overlay for these clients, refer to the following steps.

Step 1: Prepare the Nail. Prepare the nails just as you would for sculptured nails (see the “Sculpting on Male Nail Biters” sidebar). After applying the primer very sparingly, place a paper form under the nail plate. Though you are only doing an overlay, the form will allow you to completely cover the nail bed and hold the product to the edge of the nail. Also apply a small amount of product underneath the form. Acrylic producers can “shrink up” during the drying process, which leaves the nail plate extending past the acrylic on the free edge. This results in the product chipping away from the free edge. By using a form, you can avoid this, then during the filling process, the excess product can be field even with the nail plate.

Step 2: Applying the Overlay. The application of the acrylic will be the same as for sculptural nails but use a clear, natural, or translucent pink product instead. The acrylic should be applied very thin around the cuticle area without touching the cuticle. Gradually increase the thickness of the product over the stress area and blend it down thinly to the free edge.

Step 3: Filing and Shaping. File shape, and buff the nails as you would for sculptured nails. Next, use an electric file to slightly bevel the natural nail even with the acrylic on the under side of the free edge. Use this nail adhesive to seal the edge, being careful not apply too much. A brush-on adhesive works best, and should be applied thinner than polish and only the very edge of the free edge. The adhesive prevents the natural nail from peeling away from the edge of the nail overlay. Finally, have your client wash his hands, then apply a matte polish, if desired.

Cathryn Myers owns. The Nail Shop of Carrollwood in Tampa, Fla., where all the men love her manicures.


A Man’s First Pedicure

It’s easy to attract male customers to i your salon. The five “Great Truths” to doing that were revealed to me on my very first visit to a salon for a pedicure. The venue chosen for my recent adventure in science was Fingertip Forte at Jacob’s Hair Studio in Torrance, Calif. At my service was nail technician Tamis (“My mom found the name in True Romance magazine”) Martella, who made me feel immediately at ease.

I quickly removed, my shoes and socks and was about to plunge my feet into the whirlpool tub. But let’s back up for a minute.

I had come close once before to having my nails done professionally. It was 1966 and I was getting a haircut in a barbershop in Saigon when a young woman grabbed my hand and thrust it into a bowl of green liquid. “Khong!”(“No!”) I screamed. What if some­one from my unit saw me getting a manicure? I would have some tall explaining to do and forever be branded a sissy, so I quickly retrieved my hand from the green liquid.

Well, I’ve worked my way past such squeamishness and I’ve decided to go to a nail professional for proper toenail care. Let’s face it men do not discuss nail care with one another. Oh, I have discussed it on occasion with women, but not with men. That would be unmanly. Discussion of toenails among men is limited to sophomoric snickering about toe jam, an activity that ceases at about age 28.

Besides, I had two strong reasons for wanting my toenails trimmed. The first, of course, is my unwavering interest in science. The second is that my “significant other’’ complains about my talons thrashing her ankles. Late one night we had this conversation:

Significant Other: Yikes! Be careful with those toes,

Me: What am I supposed to do? Get a (heh, heh) pedicure?

Significant Other: Cut ‘em or sleep on the couch.

Naturally, I opted for the pedicure. I gingerly put my feet in the little whirlpool beneath the throne I occupied at Fingertip Forte, and at that moment Great Truth #1 was revealed to me: Have something for men to read in your salon. We don’t want to read Cosmo or Good Housekeeping. We want to read manly publications, such as Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, Argosy, or Hairy-Chested Macho Men Do Manly Stuff.

While my feet were soaking in the solution of water and antibacterial soap. Tamis told me the best way to get men into the salon, but I’ll save that for last, Great Truth #5.

Through the window we watched construction workers behind the salon. ‘Those are the guys who could really use my services,” Tamis said. “Walking around in those big heavy boots all day long.” And I discovered Great Truth #2. Sure, some of those construction guys might come in, but they’ll need some heavy-duty privacy. They don’t want an audience when getting a manicure or pedicure. To get to the pedicure throne at Fingertip Forte I had to walk the length of the salon, through a gauntlet of women with funny things in their hair; some of whom cast suspicious glances in my direction. Several passed by my throne on their way to a breath of air out the back door. I  didn’t feel particularly threatened. Some men, however, might

Tamis and I chatted about toes, feet, and fancy salons. Fingertip Forte didn’t provide me with a light show, aromatherapy or classical music, and that was just fine. Nor did Tamis do reflexology, so my scientific investigation of Tickle Me Elmo would have to wait for another time. But your salon must ac accomplishment Great Truth #3. Have something special for men. Hand out a brochure on the care of men’s nails, and give them some emery boards (or whatever they’re called these days). Emery boards could be never tools for male clients. After all, I’ve used the same steel nail file for decades.

Tamis trimmed and filed my nails with precision, then oiled and powdered my feet. Which leads us to Great Truth #4. Don’t use baby powder on a man’s feet. I can think of only one thing when smelling baby powder — diapers. Obtain talc with a manly scent.

But by far the best way to get those of my gender in your salon is simple. The foremost  advertising is right in front of you every day. Great Truth #5 is to encourage your female customers to tell the men in their lives what a wonderful, relaxing, no sissified activity professional nail care will be for them. Offer g certificates women can buy as presents for men. Make it clear on the certificate that it “For Men Only”

I left Fingertip Forte tingling from the ankles down. My significant other is happy again. And I’m happy too, because Tamis, an expert in nail care, told me I have nice feet.

But they’re manly feet buddy.

— Lenny Levine is a freelance writer based in Torrance, Calif. Since his pedicure, his toes now live in harmony with one another.

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