Russia: Booming Beauty Business

A look at Russia's nail industry and its impact on the overall economy. 

When we think of Russia in our lifetime, there are two definite periods - pre-1991 and post-1991. Before 1991, Russia was still the largest republic within Communist Soviet union. But in December 1991, the USSR splintered into 15 independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the strict social, political, and economic controls of the Communist period.

According to a report published by Business Information Service for the Newly Independent States (BISNIS), in recent years the Russians beauty and health products market has been one of the fastest-growing industries in Russia.

General economic improvement and stabilization in Russia over the early 2000s has led to increased consumer spending and growth of demand for consumer products, including cosmetics. One of the driving factors for increased consumer goods spending is the growing Russian middle class.

Cosmetics are viewed not only as a means to achieve beauty, but as a tool to combat the hazardous impact of pollution and to achieve a general improvement of health. The demand for individualized cosmetic products has grown. As a result, beauty salons and professional cosmetic products are becoming more and more popular.

Estimates predict that Russia boast more than 30,000 salons, the majority of which are full-service salons. The profession of nail technician is growing in popularity as it becomes more lucrative and high-profile.

“Nail techs are feeling pretty good now that they are offering nail enhancements and nail arts that bring them more money,” says Olga Bredikhina of master distributor ole House. “Today, there are different classes for nail techs where they can expand their knowledge and many nail competitions where they can show their professionalism.”

While licensing is still not required by the government in Russia, often salons do like see diplomas from nail schools before they will hire a nail tech. “it’s good for students to finish school,” says Vitaly Solomonoff, editor of Russia nail magazine Nailure. “these diplomas help nail techs get better jobs in the salon.”

The majority of supplies are purchased from distributors. And the majority of distributors carry several exclusive lines. Says Solomonoff, “All official distributors have their own stores located in different cities.”

So what’s popular in Russia? According to both Solomonoff and Bredikhina spa-style manicures and pedicures are still popular, but both acrylics and gels are also growing in popularity.

While the growing middle class accounts for a large number of nail care clients in Russia, women aren’t the only ones enjoying services. “Male services are extremely popular too,” says Solomonoff. “Among male clients there are a lot of young men businessmen, and artistic elite who get nail services.”

There are several large trade shows in Russia and many smaller ones put on by distributors. “Nail techs love to go to trade shows not only to buy products, but also to take seminars and compete,” says Bredikhina, adding that there are many well-known nail techs in Russia who compete - and win - on the world stage.

Russian Nail Industry at a Glance

Population: 143, 782,338

Area: 17,075,200 sq. Km.

Government: Federation

Number of nail techs: 30,000-50,000

Number of salons: 6,000-15,000

Licensing required: No

Average service prices:

Manicure $15-$35 (USD)

Pedicure $45-$100 (USD)

Full Set $70-$100 (USD)

Fill  $35-$50  (USD)

Popular services: Spa-style manicures and pedicures, enhancements, nail art.

Nails in the native language: "Nogu”

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