Lashes & Brows
If you’re thinking about adding a new treatment that’s going to boost revenue and gain you a loyal client base, look no further than lashes. This sector is booming, with lash services now a staple part of many clients’ beauty regimes. Lash treatments are growing at such a rate that they are starting to rival the popularity of nails – where people regularly book in for maintenance.
Social media platform Pinterest even put “next-level lashes” at the top of its list of Global Beauty Trends for 2018, reporting an 152% increase in saved searches for “lashes” last year. The platform has access to 48 million users around the world, so the prediction is not to be taken lightly.
“It’s all about the eyes right now, with people specialising in lashes and charging higher rates than someone who just does it occasionally,” says Sonia Gapper, head educator in the South West for lash brand The Eyelash Emporium. And, she’s not wrong. So many therapists are upskilling, making lashes their core service and money earner.
“We have some really talented lash stylists in places like Edinburgh and Glasgow, which you may think are secondary markets, but they are achieving more than £100 for their treatments,” says Zachary Falb, global master trainer for extensions brand Novalash. “In London, it’s more than £140. Lashes is a profitable industry to be in.”
But, with new kid on the block lash lift having come on to the scene and extension services evolving all the time, it can be hard to decide which treatment to offer.
The difference between lifts and extensions
The hardest part of adding a lash service to your menu is deciding which avenue to go down, especially as lash lifts and extensions give very different end results.
“A lash lift enhances the clients’ natural lashes by giving them a root lift, making lashes appear longer, fuller and darker (due to the tint),” says Ruth Atkins, educator and lash and brow specialist for Salon System, which manufactures Naturalash and Marvelash.
“It’s great for clients who want a more natural look and it’s lower maintenance because the results last for six to eight weeks.” The treatment is also good for time-poor customers who want to accentuate their eyes but don’t have the time to sit in a chair for hours.
“It’s a fast service, something that can be done in a lunchtime, taking around 45 minutes to an hour,” explains Gapper. “It’s best suited to clients who already have decent natural lashes because you’re not adding to or extending the lashes, you’re simply lifting what is already there
Lash extensions are another ball game – giving a variety of styles and options depending on the clients’ needs.
“The treatment is a specialised technique where individual synthetic lashes are applied to the natural lashes one by one, creating a look that can vary from natural to very dramatic,” says Natalie Piper, business development manager for The Eyelash Design Company, which manufactures Lash Perfect.
“The advantage of extensions is that if someone has very small or fine lashes, you can give them more volume and definition.” However, the treatment takes longer – around two hours – and requires the client to come back every two to three weeks for infills. However, the extensions will naturally fall out when the client’s lash cycle is over.
Most people start by learning classic lash extensions and then move on to more advanced options such as 3D or Russian volume. “Russian volume is a more advanced technique where ultra-fine lashes are used to build a fan to create extra thickness,” says Gapper
Common troubleshooting issues
Lash services require a lot of attention to detail, which is why those new to it can initially struggle. With lash lifts, it’s all about the set-up and placement. “The treatment requires you to be very precise – once you’ve got your rods or shields on to the lashes you need to make sure they are in the correct position because the lashes are going to be fixed like that for six to eight weeks,” says Jennifer Turner, owner of Turn Beautiful salon in Brighton and master trainer for Lash Bomb, which is distributed by Beauty Concepts International.
“The chemical reaction of a lash lift is just like a hair perm. You’re creating an unstable molecular structure in the hair and then fusing it back into position, so you have to get it right.” The developing time is another common issue, with many unsure how long to leave it on to get a nice curl. “The processing time for a lash lift is 12 minutes. However, it can vary when the lash hair is stronger or thicker, where you may need to develop it for longer,” adds Piper.
Lash extensions are also a much more detailed service, requiring a lot of practice post-training to master the skill. “You wouldn’t expect to get in a car and drive it straightaway, the same way after your extensions training you shouldn’t expect to be given tweezers and a pack of lashes and be proficient,” explains Angela Thiagarajah, product developer and training development manager for professional lash brand Nouveau Lashes.
Thiagarajah advises therapists to be patient and do as much practice as possible – asking family and friends to be models. She says many wannabe artists also make the mistake of picking up too much adhesive, adding, “a tiny bead is all you need to stick the extension to the natural lash.”
43% of UK salons say extensions are their most popular lash service Source: Professional Beauty Insider survey Aug ‘18
For a good head start, Turner recommends buying some tweezers and strip lashes before training so you can practise isolating a single lash. “It’s one of the things people find the hardest to do but if you can isolate a lash successfully before you even go on the course, then you’ll spend more time on the day actually applying the lashes.”
The profit margin for lash lifts
This is where it gets interesting. Lots of brands offer training in the service and the mark up for each is impressive. The product cost to perform a Lash Perfect lash lift is £6 to £7 with a recommended RRP of between £35 and £55.
“The prices are likely to be higher in more central areas and lower in rural locations, but regardless, the main advantage with lash services is that the profits are probably the highest you’ll find in the beauty business for a treatment,” says Piper.
57% of UK spas say lash lifts are their most popular lash service Source: Professional Beauty Insider survey Aug ‘18
Nouveau Lashes recommends charging £45 and says you can earn around £36.50, which is an 80% margin. “However, the price you charge depends on the area you’re working in and the nearby competition,” adds Thiagarajah.
Meanwhile, The Eyelash Emporium says it costs £5.70 to perform its lift, with many salons charging between £35 and £55 for the treatment – a gross profit margin of between £29 to £49; while London Lash & Brow’s product cost comes in at just £3, with a treatment RRP of £45.
“Even though it’s a new service for your business, don’t introduce it to clients via a discount,” says Deborah Mitchell, founder of London Lash & Brow. “You can only work a certain number of hours in the day so you need to make the highest amount of money. Charge what you’re worth.” Salon System’s product cost is £2.46 and the company recommends therapists charge an average of £50 per treatment – “that’s a [gross] profit of £13,000 every year based on one lash lift treatment being performed per day, five days a week, for 52 weeks,” says Atkins.
Lash Bomb’s costs are £7 to £8, but trainer Turner says it can work out at £3 instead if you perform three lash lifts back-to-back “as you can get three sessions’ worth out of one of Lash Bomb’s sachets,” she says. The recommended price to charge clients is £45.
The profit margin for extensions
Lash extensions are an equally lucrative treatment, with the average cost per application for Novalash’s classic extensions around £5. “We want our artists to achieve somewhere between £60 to £80 for the treatment, making it an incredibly profitable service for everyone to consider – whether you’re in the high-end market, a high-street beauty salon or mobile therapist,” says Falb.
Salon System’s costings for classics come in at £1.53, with the treatment RRP at £65; London Lash & Brow’s is similar at a costing of £2 and therapists able to charge £45 to £75 (depending on time); and The Eyelash Emporium’s product cost is £1 to £1.50, with therapists charging between £50 to £70 for the service.
“What you’re charging on top of that is your time and expertise and this is important because it takes a while to learn the service,” says Gapper.
Nouveau Lashes says therapists can expect to earn a 95% margin on its £65 classic extensions treatment, with the products you need equalling £3 to £4; while Lash Perfect’s costings come in at £3 to £4.50, with a recommended treatment price of anywhere between £45 and £150 – depending on area.
BOOST YOUR PROFITS BY UPSELLING BROW TREATMENTS
Start with a complimentary service
“Use the ‘dip your toe in’ approach to get the conversation going. Next time you do a client’s lashes, offer them a complimentary mini brow makeover using make-up products, explaining the difference tailored brows can make to the eye area,” says Kirsten Desai, Brow by Mii educator.
Create package deals
“Get clients in for a double booking by highlighting your other skill sets with exclusive package deals – for example, a lash lift or extensions with a brow tidy,” explains Fiona Bale, Hive’s area sales manager. “However, you need to calculate exactly what sort of a saving you can offer while still creating a profit.”
Make it bespoke
“A lash treatment is the perfect time to start any client on their brow journey, as eyebrows help to frame the eyes,” says Jamie Long, HD Brows lead stylist. “Make your brow add-on completely bespoke to them so then they’ll want to continue with it. Plus, there will be a lot of additional retail and revenue opportunities by doing this.”