Virgin Islands

Licensing Required: If you want to practice nails in this beautiful part of the world, you’ll need to start as an apprentice. “You have to obtain a notarized application from the Board and Commission Department,” says Syheida Brathwaite, an 11-year veteran of nails who lives on the Islands. Applicants must include a Virgin Islands Health Card, a letter from a licensed manicurist/nail tech who is willing to direct, supervise, and train them, and a tax-clearance letter from the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue. There is a fee to process the application.

Nails-Only or Full-Service: Full-service salons that offer hair, nails, facials, waxing, etc.

Typical Client: Women of all ages; most popular service is the pink-and-white acrylic.

The Latest Trend: Recently there has been a rise in popularity in colorful nails, including 3-D nail art, colored gels and colored acrylics.

Men — In or Out: Brathwaite says men are “pouring in left and right” to have nail services done. She says the men are mostly professional men: business men, doctors, teachers, and real estate agents.

Must Have or Luxury: It’s seen as a maintenance step that suits a healthy lifestyle.

Short & Sweet/Bold & Beautiful: The younger clients love the 3-D nail art, colored acrylics, and even spiral nails. The older clientele prefer manicures and pedicures that leave their hands, feet, and skin looking and feeling soft and natural.

Manicures: $20-$30
Pedicures: $40-$70
Full set: $80-$100
Fills: $40-$60

The UK

Licensing Required: Not yet. “Recently the government of the United Kingdom recognized the nail industry as a stand-alone industry,” says Alex Fox, editor of Scratch magazine. “Once this determination had been made, the Habia (the beauty industry’s governing body), began to restructure the industry.” The first step was to set up a Code of Practice, with guidelines that state the correct procedures for techs. However, the industry is still unregulated, so techs can disregard the code with no penalty. The industry’s answer to that, says Fox, is to educate the consumer so the consumer will begin to ask techs to prove qualifications and training.

Nails-Only or Full-Service: Both. Nails-only salons are popular in the UK, though beauty salons and spas continue to offer nail services. A recent trend in the UK is the mobile tech, offering nail services to people at home instead of forcing them to commute to the city for an appointment.

Typical Client: Wealthy women are the most likely customer — “women who enjoy a groom at lunchtime,” says Fox. They’re also seeing growth in women over 45, and, as in the United States, among teens.

The Latest Trend: Natural nail manicures are still the most popular nail service, but teens wanting enhancements are changing the market.

Men — In or Out: Men are claiming their place in the industry, which validates the male client. Male clients are seen more often in spas than in the nails-only salons, but manufacturers have begun to market to this as-yet-untapped potential.

Must Have or Luxury: The expense of living in the UK is tremendous and disposable income is limited, so nails are seen as a luxury, not as a health or maintenance must-have.

Short & Sweet/Bold & Beautiful: “The natural polished nail is the winning look,” says Fox. Dark polish on short, natural nails is also extremely popular, as are pink-and-white acrylic or a French polish.

Manicures: $50
Pedicures: $15-$30
Full set: $65 -$300
Fills: $25

Japan Licensing Required: None; however, that doesn’t stop Japanese nail techs from pursuing an education. “Most Japanese nail techs attend beauty and nail school and take a certification test to prove their qualifications,” says Akihiko Nakajima, who works for the Japan Nailist Association (JNA), one of the organizations that provide testing for nail techs. “We have had more than 160,000 test takers for JNA in the last eleven years,” he says.

Nails-Only or Full-Service: A couple of years ago, travelers looking for a manicure would head to nails-only salons, but that’s changing and nails are now often part of full-service salons.

Typical Client: Women of all ages

The Latest Trend: Gel nails

Men — In or Out: Some brave men enter the beauty industry as technicians or the salon as clients, but the growth is still gradual, leaving the nail industry in Japan ripe for continued expansion.

Must Have or Luxury: With enough disposable income in Japan to make nails available to the masses, beautiful nails are seen as a must-have health and beauty step.

Short & Sweet/Bold & Beautiful: The young women go for glamorous and artistic-looking nails; women 40 and older go for a more natural look.

Manicures: $25-$70
Pedicures: $48-$80
Full set: $100-$300
Fills: $100


Licensing Required: None. Dashing Diva salons have a presence in Kuwait, Lebanon, and Morocco, among other countries. Pattie Yankee Williams, international corporate trainer for Dashing Diva, has had the privilege of opening a Kuwaiti location and reports that it’s important to understand the country’s culture when you describe the nail industry in the Middle East. In the case of Kuwait, women often walk into the salon fully covered, says Williams, then they remove their garb and enjoy their services. The beauty industry is shaped around these limitations.

Nails-Only or Full-Service: Nails-only salons don’t exist because of the inconvenience it would be on the customers. Instead, nail services are offered at salons where women can get hair, nails, and other beauty services done all in one place. Salons are most often found in malls or in hotels.

Typical Client: Women of all ages; some menus even have pricing for girls under 12.

The Latest Trend: The latest trend is combining spa services with other services. For example, a chain of health clubs with locations throughout the city offers nail and beauty services at the gym. This provides one-stop-shopping for a woman’s beauty needs. It is definitely a women’s world.

Must Have or Luxury: Luxury

Short & Sweet/Bold & Beautiful: Kuwaiti women are very into grooming and prefer nails at a short to medium length.

Manicures: $13-$87, depending on add-ons
Pedicures: $17-$121, depending on add-ons
Full set: $104
Fills: $52


Licensing Required: None. Most techs in the United Arab Emirates come from places such as the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka. Most of these techs have been working in salons in their home countries, and have learned their trade from other nail techs within the salon environment.

Nails-Only or Full-Service: Originally beauty salons introduced nail services, but about four years ago nail bars and nail lounges started to become popular. Dubai has really paved the way for the rest of the Middle East, and nail bar chains are popping up all over. Nail bars are starting to offer services beyond nails, such as massages, waxing, and facials.

Typical Client: Mostly expatriate women and visitors from all over the world. Dubai is becoming a popular luxury destination because famous stars and actors visit the country on a regular basis.

The Latest Trend: French nails, both natural nails and enhancements.

Men — In or Out: “There are very few male nail techs in Dubai,” says Sonette van Rensburg, director of Vis-a-Vis Beauty Training Consultancy and Education Ambassador to the Middle East. “Men visit salons, but due to the local customs and laws, men are not allowed in salons unless they are men-only salons.” Rensburg says the salons in Dubai can’t be exposed to the outside, so salons and nail bars don’t have open windows. They are frosted or shielded with some type of covering. When women go into the salon, their husbands or boyfriends are not allowed to enter.

Must Have or Luxury: An absolute must have among those who can afford it. The climate is very harsh on the skin and nails, so women visit salons on a regular basis. Many women go purely for the relaxation and the social element. Some salons cater to group parties. It’s become a new way to celebrate a special occasion, such as a birthday or “hen’s party” — where a group of ladies arrange to go together to celebrate a particular occasion, and the salon provides snacks and will decorate accordingly.

Short & Sweet/Bold & Beautiful: Mostly short and sweet, with a French manicure. Toenails are also worn mostly square, with French polish.

Manicure: $10-$31
Pedicure: $17-$49
Full set: $76-$125
Fill: $49-$68


Licensing Required: None, but there are plenty of outlets for education. These schools are provided through distributors that teach curriculum from manufacturers, such as OPI, Creative, or EZ Flow. Classes range from one day to two weeks, and teach methods for manicures, pedicures, and enhancements. The cost of the entire program ranges from $500-$1,000.

Nails-Only or Full-Service: Mostly full-service. Nail techs are employees, as opposed to booth renters. Techs earn between 30%–40% of their service receipts. However, a recent change has hit the industry: the nail bar. These nails-only businesses are located in shopping centers, providing customers with a quick and easy place to get beautiful nails.

Typical Client: Women in their 40s.

The Latest Trend: The trend is simply the growth of the industry in Russia. “Eight years ago,” says Svetlana Klubkova, “many people could not afford enhancements; many people didn’t even know what it was. But now salons are visible all over Russia.”

Men — In or Out: Their numbers are growing; they’re definitely “in.”

Must Have or Luxury: Nails are still seen as a luxury, but the idea of nails as a beauty enhancer for unsightly natural nails is growing.

Short & Sweet/Bold & Beautiful: Nails in Russia tend to be long and glamorous. This is a status symbol, so people want others to know that they can afford the luxury. However, among the very wealthy there is a desire to make the nails look as natural in shape and color as possible so no one will identify the nails as an enhancement.

Manicures: $10-$60
Pedicures: $20-$120
Full set: $25-$300
Fill: $20-$150

The Philippines

Licensing Required: None. The life of a non-wealthy woman in the Philippines could look grim, but the nail industry provides her a trade that allows her to work at a respectable job. No license is required to offer nail services, so women are able to do nails without worrying about the cost of attending school.

Nails-Only or Full-Service: Nails-only and full-service salons are both popular in the Philippines and are located mostly in malls or hotels.

Typical Client: Many salon clients here are Japanese — which drives the demand for nail art.

The Latest Trend: The teenage client who is willing and able to pay the price of enhancements, and eye-catching, flashy 3-D art.

Men — In or Out: Nail services are not popular among the men, although wealthier men enjoy a manicure on occasion. A career in nails is more of a profession for women in the Philippines; however, men work in the salon as drivers for the girls, so they are in the salon environment.

Must Have or Luxury: The standard of living in the Philippines limits the customer base to the wealthy.

Short & Sweet/Bold & Beautiful: Bold, beautiful, glamorous, and eye-catching is what you’ll find on clients in salons in the Philippines.

Manicures: $5
Pedicures: $8-$10
Full set: $15-$20
Fills: $15

Please note: All prices reflect the average cost of a service; prices have been converted to reflect the price in U.S. dollars.


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