Add-On Services

Paraffin Service: When to Add It, How to Sell It

Paraffin service profits please the nail technician as much as the service pleases the client.

Illustration/Lisa Cyr
<p>Illustration/Lisa Cyr</p>

What’s new in your salon?

If your answer is paraffin, congratulations! You’ve just begun to increase your profit with a minimum investment. Clients will enjoy the paraffin service - and will gladly pay for it – because it’s a luxurious, feel good skin moisturizing treatment. For the nail technician, adding paraffin services is a way to increase profit quickly, to thank clients or remember them on birthdays, and to promote other salon services. And adding the paraffin treatment to salon services requires only a minimal investment of time and money.

When to Add Paraffin

If you listen to your clients, you may hear them asking for a paraffin treatment. “I’m thinking about adding it because some of my clients have had paraffin dips at other salons,” says Linda Agrusa, a nail technician at Salon Copanz in Brea, Calif. “I have a similar service that uses oil and heated mittens, but I’d like to offer paraffin service as well if my clients are interested.”

Gena Calderon, a nail technician at Appearance Centers of California in Hermosa Beach, Calif., says she decided to add paraffin because she had so many client requests. “We’re a store as well as a salon, so we get a lot of complaints about dry hands and cuticles,” she says. Offering paraffin proved an effective solution.

Paraffin treatments also give Appearance Centers an edge over the competition. Calderon explains, “We get a lot of competition from the 11 other salons on our street. The paraffin treatments keep clients coming back to us.”

Nail technicians looking for an add-on service to distinguish their salon from the rest have found that paraffin services do the trick. “It shows people there’s more to the trade than getting your hair and nails done,” says Virginia Jackson, who, along with Marissa McMullin, owns the Arizona Athletic Club salon in Tempe, Ariz. “It makes clients curious - they wonder what else you can do. Since you have a captive audience for 10 minutes during the treatment, you can use that time to promote the rest of the services in the salon.”

Recover Investment Quickly

For all the benefits of adding paraffin, the cost is fairly low. A paraffin heating unit plus wax, moisturizing lotion, plastic wrap, and thermal mitts costs about $250, or as low as $150 if purchased at a trade show. But technicians can recover the cost in a month or less.

“It depends on how much you use it,” says Jim Nelson, vice president of national sales at WR Medical Electronics in Stillwater, Minn. “You can make the money back in less than a month.”

 “It only costs about 75cent in product for a hand treatment, so there’s a treatment, so there’s a tremendous return on investment,” explains Monica Wegrzyn, a beauty industry consultant based in Milford, Conn. Wegrzyn (pronounced Vangshan) presently does consulting work for amber Products in imperial, Penn.

“Let’s say you purchased the unit at a show for $200,” says Wegrzyn. “With the six pounds of wax that come with the kit, you can give 50 clients a hand treatment. If you charge $10 per treatment, the total is $500. You get $300 back. It’s a very effective and efficient add-on service that requires minimal education and time loss for the salon owner or nail technician.”

Paraffin Sells Itself

Promoting the service is easy because once clients try It, they’ll be sold on it. And since the start-up cost for paraffin is so low, nail technicians can afford to give quite a few clients free dips. “We suggest letting the customer try the service with one hand free of charge,” says Sunny Stinchcombe, vice president of sales and marketing at Gena Laboratories in Duncanville, Texas. “Let the client know the service is available for a future appointment.”

Says Calderon, “When we get clients in who complain about dry hands, we do one free hand dip so they can see the difference.” She has found it an effective way to book more manicures and hand treatments.

The Arizona Athletic Club salon held a paraffin promotion during its grand opening. “We gave complimentary paraffin dips for the first month,” says Jackson. “There was lots of conversation about it, and we booked a lot of clients for more treatments-they wanted their entire bodies done.”

 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 birthday or anniversary. “Or if a client signs up for a series of different services, you can give her a free hand treatment,” says Wegrzyn. “Promote foot treatments for summertime, when everyone is in sandals and wants to look pretty and feel good.”

When you’re behind schedule, offer the service free to a client who has to wait for her manicure. “It can be frustrating for a client to wait,” says Agrusa. “If you put her hands in paraffin, she’s doing something while she’s waiting.”

Paraffin lends itself to seasonal promotions as well, especially during winter and summer, when dry skin is aggravated. Have a “Soft for Summer” special or a “Winter Break” promotion, during which you offer a sale on paraffin services. And don’t forget to promote other salon services during the 10 minutes the client’s hands are in the mitts, as Jackson suggests.

Pricing the Paraffin Service

As always, price the paraffin service with your market in mind. “What you’re charging depends on  the area, whether it’s rural or urban, for example,” says Nelson. “Salons charge from $5 to $15 just for the wax treatment. The profit is highest when you do a full manicure and then add on the paraffin treatment.”

Stinchcombe suggests that salons charge between $5 and $12 for paraffin treatments. “We recommend that the nail technician charge $5 to $8 extra for an add-on service. If the service stands alone, we recommend $10 to $12,” she says. “Some salons price the service as high as $18 to $20.”

Says Wegrzyn, “Typically in the industry, you want to charge $1 per minute of time it takes to do the treatment once you’ve developed your expertise. Don’t charge for practice time or for the 10 minutes the client’s hands are in paraffin. In a hand treatment for paraffin, you’re spending about 10 minutes in contact with the client. Across the country, $10 is standard.”

Calderon doesn’t charge for paraffin services she does during manicure because she feels it’s the extra perk that keeps her ahead of her competition. Jackson tries to keep the paraffin prices as reasonable as possible, about $5 per treatment. Because Jackson’s salon is located in an athletic club, many clients enjoy the paraffin treatments on sore elbows and knees, rather as part of a manicure or pedicure.

New Developments

What’s new with paraffin?

Manufacturers are providing units in different sizes, wax in more convenient packaging, and promotional aids to help you sell the service. WR Medical Electronics packages its paraffin in a six-pound cake to make refilling the unit easier, and provides nail technicians with table displays to make their clients aware that the salon provides paraffin dips.

Amber Skin Care Products offers its spas in three different sizes for hands and feet, facials, or body. Gena says it has replaced the metal plans in its heating units with polyester pans that conduct heat, not electricity, as an added safety feature. Fragrance-free, colorless paraffin will soon be available from Gena for technicians who wish to add essential oils to make the dip a combined wax-aromatherapy treatment.

As far as application, estheticians are learning new ways to use this service. “One of the more exciting things is a back and décolletage facial,” says Wegrzyn. “It’s especially popular during bathing suit season, because people want the exposed skin to be soft and young-looking.” During this treatment, an esthetician brushes paraffin on the client’s back and chest and gently removes it after about 10 minutes. While a nail technician is licensed to do a paraffin treatment only on the hands and feet, the salon esthetician may use paraffin on other parts of the body such as the face, elbows, knees, back, and chest.

Paraffin, though usually just an add-on service, has a lot going for it. So the next time a client asks, “What’s new?” take her to the paraffin unit, dip her hands, and start talking you have 10 minutes to tell her what’s new.


When You Shouldn’t Give a Paraffin Treatment

  • When the client has irritated skin or a skin problem such as psoriasis, eczema, athlete’s foot, warts, cuts, or wounds.
  • When the client has been diagnosed by a doctor as having poor circulation, because her skin may be burned by the paraffin. In a client with good circulation the blood brings the heat away from the hand or foot. Without good circulation, the blood cannot disperse the heat and the skin may burn.

Also, a client with poor circulation may not have skin that is sensitive to temperature and thus may not realize the skin is being burned.

  • When the client has diabetes because circulatory problems may accompany this condition and because diabetic patients are susceptible to infections.



Adding to the Paraffin Service

Paraffin dips lend themselves to other add-on services, such as aromatherapy and reflexology. While a paraffin dip is soothing and relaxing on its own, think how much more you can enhance the service with a delicious scent and a deep massage. These extras can also up your price because they require expertise and special oils or massage cream.


Aromatherapy, the art of using essential oils to promote health and well-being can make an already luxurious treatment positively decadent. Essential oils are extracted from plants and flowers by pressure, steam distillation, or dissolving in volatile solvents. The essences are then inhaled, used in a bath, or massaged into the skin. Essential oils may also be mixed with paraffin.

Different essences help the client achieve different moods - some, like rose or sandalwood, are soothing, while others, like basil and jasmine, are stimulating. Adding a few drops of essential oil to unscented paraffin wax can change a client’s mood from rushed to relaxed or from listless to alert.

Before adding essential oils to your palette of tools, do some reading and attend a class or two on aromatherapy. Experts in the field can tell you how to blend essences to achieve certain effects and point you to reputable companies for oil purchases.


After a paraffin dip hands and feet are moist and relaxed, ready for a massage. But did you know that while you’re giving a hand or foot massage, you can also help the client relax her entire body? Reflexology is the technique of massaging the hands or feet to relieve stress or pain in other areas of the body.

Based on the assumption that the entire body is represented in points on the hands and feet, reflexologists work certain areas of the foot or the hand, stimulating the body’s natural pain-killing system to work in the desired areas. The result: A hand or foot massage can help relieve a headache, for example, or tension in the back and shoulders due to stress.

 Clients love reflexology because it relaxes them, and you’ll love it when you find out how much you can add to your service ticket - some technicians charge as much as a dollar per minute for the 10 minute service.

To practice reflexology it’s important to have knowledge of anatomy and physiology as well as technique. That’s why reflexologists recommend learning from an experienced teacher in a hands-on situation. Training can be completed in anywhere from four to 40 hours.

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