Add-On Services

Give Clients the Healing Feeling

Reflexology requires skill and some intuition, but experts say clients are willing to pay more to feel better.

Reflexology requires skill and some intuition, but experts say clients are willing to pay more to feel better.

Touch can be more powerful than words in communicating with another person. By touching someone, you show love (a hug), redpect (a handshake), admiration (a pat on the back), concern (a hand on the shoulder), or protection (holding a child’s hand). You endear your spouse or a friend to you by giving a backrub, and if you’re a nail technician, you probably relax each client with a hand massage during her nail service.

Touch, and its stress-relieving benefits, is also the power behind the practice of reflexology, a form of massage done on the hands and feet. Because it’s limited to the hands and feet, reflexology can be an ideal add-on or new service for nail technicians.

This form of massage gives clients more value for the nail service and allows nail technicians to raise their prices without losing clients.


Reflexologists place pressure on certain points on the hands and feet, called “reflex areas,” which correspond to different parts of the body. By pressing on the reflex areas, reflexologists say they can relieve stress, tension, and even pain. For example, some clients have found a headache can be relieved with pressure on the fingertips; cramps, with pressure around the wrist. However, reflexology experts emphasize that they don’t take the place of a doctor.

“While reflexology can help people feel relief in certain parts of the body, we never diagnose anything,” says Susan Caouette, owner of Tender Nail Care at the Merle Norman Studio in Wagoner, Okla.

In some cases, though, reflexologists are asked to help health professionals. “It’s been said that 75% of health problems are caused by stress,” says Dwight Byers, president and director of the International Institute of Reflexology (IIR) in St. Petersburg, Fla. “In Europe, reflexology is used in conjunction with sports and chiropractic medicine to aid the healing process.”

In the salon, reflexologists focus on breaking tension and relieving stress. What does putting pressure on the hands and feet have to do with pain relief? Lynn Nelson, owner of Digits International Reflexology Institute (Temecula, Calif.), explains, “By massaging the hands and feet, the relexologist stimulates the nerve endings, which send messages to the brain telling it to produce endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers, and when released into the bloodstream, they can produce a feeling in a client similar to the ‘high’ that runners feel.”

Clients have reported to salons and reflexologists that the benefits range from relief from headaches and menstrual cramps to improved circulation and more relaxed sleep.

What nail technicians will particulary like about offering reflexology is that the technician doesn’t need any special equipment to begin. All she needs is her thumb and fingers and about 50 hours of education.


Reflexology massage techniques aren’t difficult to learn, but developing an intuitive touch takes time. Classes, books, videos, and workshops aid the budding reflexologist. However, the nail  technician should not offer reflexology in the salon until she’s certified (which requires hands-on training with an instructor) and has had some performing the massage techniques.

Class hours and topics vary widely – at Digits International, a six-to-eight-hour class prepares the beauty professional to start using reflexology in her services, but she is not certified until she has completed at least 16 class hours and performed at least 44 hours of reflexology outside of class.

At IIR, says Byers, “We recommend a minimum of three seminars – that’s 50 hours of class work plus homework. If you really want to learn, it takes nine months to a year. During that time, you need hands-on training.”

Only with hands-on training will the new reflexologist learn the subtleties of technique. At Digits International, for example, students learn not to press directly on a tender spot, but to work around it to alleviate tension. At IIR, the angle at which the reflexologist applies pressure is emphasized.

If you plan to charge clients for reflexology, says Caouette, being certified is a must. “Clients won’t pay for something you’ve just read about,” she says.

Beyond certificates, it is even more important that new reflexologists practice. Anyone can squeeze someone’s hand, but agifted reflexologist can “feel pain” in another person’s hand or foot and apply just enough pressure to relieve the pain and tension without causing anymore.

“You develop a touch for seeing pain and relieving it,” says Caouette. “After you’ve done reflexology a while, you can lightly touch someone’s hand and feel sore on tender spots. The clients wonder how you know where they hurt.”


The reflexologists NAILS spoken to reported that their clients loved their new service and willingly paid more for it. “They responded amazingly,” says Avan Stewart, a nail technician and reflexologist at Christopher Robert’s Salon in North Atlanta, Ga. “After a week, most people were walking up to me and handing me their hands, saying, “Here, I have a headache.”

It only took a minute or two of free reflexology on each of Stewart’s clients to get them to make appointments for the service. Stewart charges $15 for 15 minutes of reflexology on the hands, $30 for 30 minutes of reflexology on the feet, and $55 for a pedicure plus reflexology, an hour-long service.

Jo Ann Harris, owner of Femme Fatale in Phoenix, Ariz., says, “Within two weeks of bringing reflexology to the salon, I increased my prices. My clients didn’t mind the extra cost.” To promote the new service, she gave each of her clients one free reflexology treatment before raising her prices. Harris now includes reflexology in her regular manicure and pedicure services, but also offers it as a stand-alone service. With reflexology added, she raised her manicure prices $3 and her pedicure prices $10. In addition, she augmented her service menu with 15 minutes of hand reflexology and 30 minutes of foot reflexology at $15 and $30, respectively.

“I asked myself, ‘How can I increase my income without increasing my hours and without buying expensive equipment?” says Caouette. “The answer was reflexology.” Like Stewart and Harris, Caouette charges about $1 per minute, which is the norm for reflexology, but the price you can charge for the service varies across the country.

Reflexology lends itself to some retail product sales. You can offer charts and books that show clients the principles of reflexology, says Caouette.

“You don’t have to be concerned that clients will learn reflexology and not return to you, because it’s difficult to do reflexology on yourself,” she says.

A reflexologist can offer items related to massage, such as lotions and oils. Caouette sells packages of aromatherapy oils for clients to use at home.


For Harris and Stewart, reflexology provided a way to offer their clients more than pretty nails. “I believe in mind-body healing,” says Harris, “and reflexology fits with that.” Her feelings echo those of many people across the country who are seeking alternative ways to promote their health and reduce stress. Says Stewart, “It’s a natural way of relieving stress and tension.”

In a nutshell, reflexology helps clients feel good. They’ll keep coming for the service because soon they’ll believe your touch is more powerful than anyone else’s.






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