A nail tech knows basic maintenance will keep nails looking freshly painted, skin healthy, and hands and feet attractive. Clients understand this too and often want tips on how to keep their manicure and pedicure looking good between appointments. What’s your solution? Do you send your clients home with instructions and a nail maintenance kit or, dreading the fallout, do you simply suggest they call you when necessary?

It can be risky to encourage a client to maintain her nails at home. Sure, it extends a manicure, but one false swipe with the file and you could be making more work for yourself on her return — or worse, she could weaken the nail and be disappointed with a break.

One way to handle at-home care is to think in terms of teaching clients to keep things basic while avoiding any heavy lifting. But how do you tell your clients to leave the real work to the professional? That conversation could go something like this:

Client: Is there anything I can do at home to keep my nails looking good longer?

You: Sure! Whether you have a natural-nail manicure or an enhancement, such as gels or acrylics, you can always pamper yourself at home to keep the service looking fresh. Today we are doing a natural nail manicure using traditional polish, so your at-home care would include wearing gloves when you’re gardening or doing dishes, and keeping your cuticles moisturized with a good lotion or oil. I’d also encourage you to add a very thin layer of top coat every day to keep the polish protected.

Client: Would that change if I were getting gel-polish?

You: I’d still encourage you to protect your nails with gloves, but I’d also warn you that if you have any trouble with the gel-polish, such as separation or peeling, to come in and see me rather than try to fix it yourself. The reason for this is you could really damage your nail if you picked at the polish. That can happen with traditional polish, too, but the bond on gel-polish is stronger and could take multiple layers of the nail with it if you were to pick it off.

Client: Do you think I should consider acrylic or gel nails? Are those maintenance-free?

You: I’d still encourage at-home care with enhancements, though for these services, the instructions can sound like a list of what not to do. I warn clients not to use their nails as tools to open cans, twist screws, etc. Since clients go longer between appointments, they are often tempted to shorten their own nails. I discourage that because if the nails aren’t filed correctly, the enhancement could separate at the tip of the nail. This gives water a chance to get in and the nail can break more easily, or worse, water could get trapped.

Client: Then how can we keep them looking nice?

You: I encourage clients to repaint the nails to cover the growth. This way, the nails look fresh and they are less tempting to pick. For all my clients, the best solution is to schedule appointments close enough together that the only maintenance they have at home is to keep the skin around their nails from getting dried and cracked. By the time the nails need to be shortened, repaired, or repainted, they are back here and I can do the work.


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