For customers who are looking for an affordable luxury, a little treat they can give themselves to feel pampered, a natural nail service is often the choice. Less expensive than acrylics and gel, natural nail manicures typically include a cleaning of the cuticle, polish application with top and base coat, and perhaps a forearm massage with a scented scrub or lotion, but a nail tech can turn this service into so much more.

Spa manicures can include essential oils, anti-aging products, paraffin dips, pre-manicure cuticle soaks, and more to give natural nail clients that extra attention they’ll be increasingly drawn to indulge in. Even nail art can become a quick way to get more out of a natural nail service.

“If a client comes in for a ‘regular’ manicure,” says Ingrid Deckelman of Todd Patrick & Co. Salon in Ormond Beach, Fla., “then anything I do above and beyond is considered an upsell. And upselling is a great way to expand your income using your existing client base.”

Even retail can be combined with natural nail services by suggesting a cuticle oil or hand lotion to take home for maintenance after the manicure. Angie Roman of Nails by Mz. Angie in Chicago says that the key to upselling natural nail services is education. She keeps her spa manicure service in heavy rotation by explaining to her clients all the benefits. “When they first come in, I talk to them casually and give them the facts about how the spa manicure—and the scrub and paraffin dip — can benefit them.”

Here is a guide to help you educate your natural nail clients on all the wonderful ways you can enhance their manicure experience — naturally.


Next page: Polishing



Getting a smooth, glassy look while polishing takes a little practice, but it’s worth it. One trick is to minimize your actions to get complete coverage in three easy steps. It’s all about control. Hillary Fry of Solessence Spa Nails in Brookfiled, Wis., gives this advice on polish applications. Before you start, assemble all the products you will need.

Always use a base coat and top coat selected for your client’s nail type. Use the following stroke steps for base coat, color coat, and top coat to achieve salon perfection. This nail has already had two color coats applied. A third is being added for layered color.

1. Lay the brush just before the eponychium, and gently push up until it almost reaches, but does not touch, the skin.
2. Swing the brush to the left, in one stroke. Cover all edges on the sides and front without getting polish on the skin. The left side of the nail should be evenly polished.
3. Repeat the same action on the right in one motion.
4. Pull brush across the free edge to create a seal for a longer-lasting manicure.
5. A final swipe down the center of the nail is all that is needed to complete the color portion of the polish.  
Finalize with top coat. Wait two minutes, then finish with drying spray to condition and accelerate dry time.

Use balance-point positioning. Brace the hand that holds the client’s finger on the table, and hold the finger between your forefinger and thumb. Then use the pinkie of your polishing hand to anchor it to the three unused fingers on the holding hand. This lets you pivot and adjust your brush in a smooth and comfortable way. Note that the thumb and forefinger of the holding hand pinches the client’s finger to pull back the soft tissue from the nail plate. This makes the nail bed a little bigger and ensures complete polish coverage.


Next page: Nail Shape, Pricing, and Massage



Choosing a nail shape for your client is one of the quickest and most effective ways to transform a natural nail into a beautification aid. If the client has longer nails, the squoval shape can have a slimming and lengthening effect on the finger. Also, if the client has nails that are weak or brittle, you can file them down to a clean ­almond shape to keep the nails tight to the nail bed and prevent the free edge from snagging during day-to-day use and possibly causing injury.

(NAILS has some great articles and tutorials online about nail shapes and how to file them. Check them out at



Pricing for natural nail services can vary. Some techs have drawn-out manicure services written clearly on the menu, with items like SpaManicure, Anti-Aging Hand Treatment, Hot Oil Manicure, Hot Stone Manicure, and of course the Basic Manicure. Each of these can be priced up front with a listing of the products used and services done. According to the NAILS 2011-2012 Big Book, the current industry average for a basic manicure is $19.76.

But you can also offer basic manicures and then a list of a la carte of options — almost like a build-your-own service. Some things you can add are paraffin dip, massage, scrub, mask, soak, nail art, and gel-polish.

These additions can really add up too. You can take something as simple as a paraffin dip and charge $10 extra. If you are able to upsell this to as little as three clients a week, then that would bring in an additional $120 for the month (or $1,440 for the year).



A thorough hand and forearm massage can be the client’s ­favorite part of the service experience. With some good massage techniques, anyone can tap into the client’s energy to help relieve stress and tension. It doesn’t even have to take long. A simple run through of the main points of hand and arm massaging can turn a basic manicure into a spa experience.
Remember, when giving a massage to never break physical ­contact with your client. This can interrupt the positive energy of a massage. The movements should flow together seamlessly so that at least one hand is touching the client at all times.
There are many products that can go great with hand and ­forearm massages. Massage lotions and body butters add extra glide to the movements, and allow for deeper tissue massaging throughout the muscles of the hand and arm. Scrubs can also be great and add that extra level of exfoliation to renew healthy skin cells.

(For a detailed step-by-step on hand and forearm massaging, go to


Next page: Nail Art



Nail art is not only an easy way to upsell a natural nail client, it’s also a way for you to express your creativity. Even if you feel you’re the most un-artistic nail tech on the planet, you can dabble in a quick polish design that requires nothing more than a striper brush and imagination. Angie Roman of Chicago shows how she does an easy nail art design in polish that she charges between $7-$10 for.

1. Polish the nails in different colors, with the middle finger two-toned down the center.

2. With a black striper/black acrylic paint, begin adding lines, squares, and boxes.

3. Add dots in different areas.

4. Add glitter and top coat.




One way to entice customers into deluxe spa manicures is to create a theme around the service. Marketing a natural nail manicure as a “Tropical Island Mani” and using guava- and papaya-scented scrubs and lotions can grab a client’s attention. Offer them a fruit juice drink as a refreshment and they’ll feel as relaxed as they would on a beach with their toes in the sand.

Aracely Ruiz of Aracely’s Nails in Chicago says her most popular natural nail service is a Spa Manicure with antioxidants. She centers the service around Cuccio’s line of Pomegranate & Fig spa products, which have antioxidant elements from the pomegranate extracts. She uses the brand’s manicure soak, sea salt scrub, butter blend, and transforming wrap to maximize her client’s skin care.

Small props can also add to a themed service. The Palms Nail Bar & Spa in Salem, N.H., has used coconut shaped bowls, small ceramic leaves, and mats designed like bamboo shoots to add to the effect of a tropical service.

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