Australia: Nails Down Under

A look at the Australian nail industry.

As the sixth largest county, Australia is about the same size as the continental United States, but has the lowest population density in the world – only two people per square kilometer. Made up of six states and two territories, the country’s biggest attraction is definitely its natural beauty – with more than 7,000 beaches, as well as endless horizons and tropical rainforests, it’s no wonder.

A vast island continent situated south of Indonesia, Australia lies between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Much of the interior of the country is flat and sparsely populated, while the majority of the population lives on the eastern coastal plain and the southeastern coast. Tourism is one of the country’s major industries, along with oil, coal, gold, and wool.

Operating on a much smaller scale is the beauty industry. Like many countries in the world, licensing in Australia is not required. According to Maree Alexander, president of the Australian Professional Fingernail Association, “We are gradually establishing guidelines, criteria, and requirements. But at this time licensing is not required or available in our country.”

“Unfortunately, we have no governing body for nail technicians or licensing requirements,” says Jade Ward of J’s Angelic Nails in Sydney. “However, finding insurance would be almost impossible for someone without any type of training and qualifications. Some people take a two to five day course, while some work for six months.”

“We have a National Beauty Training Package (NBTP), which all reputable trainers strive to follow, but it is not legally compulsory,” adds Alexander. “If you don’t follow the NBTP you will not receive government or industry accreditation to include in your promotion and advertising.” In addition, there are several large trade shows in Australia that are well-attended for both parties purchasing and education.

Regulating the industry seems to be top of mind for many Australian nail techs. “Without regulation in our industry it is very difficult to tell the good, qualified nail techs from the bad,” says Ward.

“We really believe that higher education and government/industry-level supervision of services to the consumer is the key,” says Alexander. “We need inspectors and consultants who can travel and troubleshoot for nail techs and advise on additional training to solve the problems they are having.”

Australian nail techs work in a variety of salon capacities, including hair and beauty salons, as well as some nails-only salons. And like techs in the United States, claims Alexander, Australian nail techs don’t get enough credit for their chosen profession. “Probably only 20% of nail technicians are aware of the value of their trade and the financial rewards to be gained,” she notes.

Acrylics, specifically pink-and-whites, are the most popular services, but both Alexander and Ward note that gels are also gaining in popularity. “Colored acrylics and gels are becoming more popular, especially when people see the advantages of permanent color options,” says Ward.

Most techs buy their professional-only products from distributors or directly from manufacturers, but some have found that these products can also be found on drugstore and department store shelves.

Australian Nail Industry at a Glance

Population: 19.9 million

Area: 7.68 million sq. km. (slightly smaller than the contiguous U.S)

Government: Democratic, federal-state system recognizing the British monarch as sovereign (independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations)

Number of nail techs: Approx. 5,000 – 6,500

Number of salons: 2,000 – 3,500

Licensing required: No

Average service prices:

Manicure $20-$45 (USD)

Pedicure $35-$65 (USD)

Acrylic full set $55 - $75 (USD)

Fill $25 - $45 (USD)

Popular services: Acrylic, specifically tip with overlay

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