> WRIST, BACK, AND/OR NECK ISSUES: Many nail techs suffer from back and neck pain and/or repetitive-motion ailments, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Resting the elbows and hands against hard surfaces, slouching over a worktable for long periods of time, and performing repetitive movements such as filing and buffing nails can cause myriad aches and pains. Vibration from the use of e-files can also exacerbate carpal tunnel pain. Spend extra time on the massage portion of the service to help alleviate these issues. If your client suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome and/or hand and wrist pain, work on the flexors/extensors of the hand, wrist, and fingers and use some passive stretching. You might also offer your client a warm neck wrap, then while her feet are soaking, offer a relaxing neck and shoulder massage. (Be sure to check with your state board to be sure an additional massage therapy license is not required to offer this amenity.)

 > ALLERGIES: Working with chemicals over a long period of time increases the chances of developing allergies, so nail techs are especially at risk. According to Chris Adigun, M.D., and member of Dermelect’s board of advisors, components of all types of nail products can cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). “Many components of nail lacquers can cause ACD, and can arise after the tech comes into contact with either wet or dry enamel,” says Adigun. “The most common chemical to cause ACD in nail lacquer (that is also a component of nail hardeners) is tosylamide/formaledehyde resin. This chemical is notorious for inducing ACD in those exposed to it.” Other chemicals found in polishes, acrylics, primers, cuticle removers, and glues are also common allergens.

Adigun says because nail techs are at especially high risk for developing ACD, it is critical that they are careful to avoid any nail cosmetic coming into contact with their skin, wash their hands thoroughly prior to touching the face or eye region, and avoid any contact with the filings or dusts of incompletely cured monomers (such as those in gels/gel-polishes). If your client suffers from ACD, try to use nail products that are intended to be safe for sensitive skin, such as “five-free” and phthalate-free products.

 > DRY SKIN/NAILS/CUTICLES: Because nail techs’ hands are in and out of the water all day, it can be a challenge to keep skin, nails, and cuticles moisturized. Because hot water strips the skin of its natural moisture, soak her nails only briefly in comfortably warm water. Avoid alcohol-based toners and astringents, and skip any products containing alpha-hydroxy acids. Use highly emollient products on her skin and cuticles that contain ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, lanolin, lactic acid, urea, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. And of course, a paraffin dip is a great way to lock in much needed moisture.

The Nail Tech’s RX:

Here are some tips on performing services on nail techs:

> Along with a beverage, offer your client a warm wrap for her neck and shoulders, as nail techs can be fatigued and stiff from sitting for long periods of time.

> Use non-irritating, hypoallergenic products whenever possible.

> Focus on any issues she may have, including dry cuticles and skin, or calluses.

> Use extra moisturizing scrubs, lotions, and oils; a nail tech’s skin is challenged every day from filing and chemical exposure.

> Take extra care with the application of artificial nails, gels, and polish. “I want my fellow nail tech to approve of the work I do on her,” says Danalynn Stockwood of Genesis Salon in Fitchburg, Mass. “I want her chosen nail system to be applied correctly, nails to be shaped to her liking, nail art impeccable. I try my best to produce nails the way I want them done on me. I am very meticulous with how my nails look. Hence, I’m hoping the nail tech I’d work on would appreciate it as well.”

> Focus on a great hand and arm massage. “Nail technicians usually do all of the pampering and never take time to pamper themselves,” says Karla Rochelle of Pampered Hands and Feet in Chicago. “A great massage is a way to give back to the person who usually gives the gift of relaxation to others. We nail techs deserve it.”

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