At its Chicago flagship, Walgreens boasts a Nail Bar staffed by licensed nail techs that offers nail art, manicures, French manicures, gel nails, and polish changes.

At its Chicago flagship, Walgreens boasts a Nail Bar staffed by licensed nail techs that offers nail art, manicures, French manicures, gel nails, and polish changes.

My career has been focused both in education and in beauty trend forecasting. Over the past 16 years, I’ve been fortunate my forecasting has been on point. Having a sense of what is coming next isn’t the easiest thing to predict.

In a beauty world that is all about customization, when it comes to women’s daily beauty regimes, it’s no surprise to me that national mass retailers are emerging as direct competitors to beauty salons. Beauty boutiques are popping up in mass retail markets all over the U.S.

This trend was at the forefront of the 80th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) last month. The buzz was all about nails, growth in the category, and projected gains over the next several years, as well as the need for professional licensed nail techs.

Of the more than 2,200 attending the NACDS meeting were beauty’s top brass from Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, HEB, Wegmans, Rite Aid, Ulta, and Duane Reade. My participation at the meeting as Coty’s global beauty expert for Sally Hansen let me speak directly with the vice presidents of beauty and personal care categories of the largest mass retailers in the U.S. My conversations were all dominated by the growth of the nail category and the need for standardization throughout the U.S. for mass retailers to employ licensed nail techs.

As Sally Hansen’s global beauty expert I’m pleased that Sally Hansen represents a 31% market share in the nail category and is driving the nail business in mass retail, not only sales but through educating mass retailers as to the importance of having licensed nail techs to service and educate their consumers.

Many successful graduates of the Long Island Nail & Skin Care Institute’s nail program have gone on to become gainfully employed with mass retailers such as Sephora and Duane Reade.

Duane Reade’s location at 40 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan offers a “Look Boutique”. This store-within-a-store offers consumers the experience of virtual makeovers, nail salon services, and a fragrance bar. New York licensed nail techs offer nail salon services to consumers with an emphasis on red carpet styles, celebrity trends, French manicures, nail art designs, manicures, gel/polish, hand massages, polish changes, nail shaping, cuticle care, cleansing, and beautifying hands. Walgreens, which purchased Duane Reade in 2010, has since opened Look Boutiques in many of its stores.

These mass retailers offer promising beauty career opportunities. The beauty boutique positions are the backbone to the stores’ success. The fast-paced, hands-on retail environment provides opportunities for beauty advisors to grow into management positions. I know personally that Duane Reade and Sephora are committed to hiring and developing top beauty talent all over the U.S. They invite and encourage salon professionals to experience this up-and-coming career opportunity.

As this career sector for nail techs is building, it’s clear that all other top U.S. mass retailers will soon be part of this trend.

Dana Caruso is the executive director of the Long Island Nail & Skin Care Institute as well as Sally Hansen’s global beauty expert.

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