Professional Beauty
Professional Beauty


ASK THE Experts

Why should I use builder base gels in treatment under gel-polish?

As with any treatment, understanding your client’s nails and their needs is paramount to the service you offer. Due to Covid-19, economic needs and many other factors, customers are now wanting their gel-polish manicure to last longer than ever before.

When gel-polish was first introduced it was mainly a solvent-based gel that cured instantly under a UV lamp and lasted for up to two weeks. There was no more waiting for the polish to dry – it was as quick and as simple as a traditional polish manicure. But, as with everything, things evolve.

There are now hybrid gel-polishes and pure gel-polishes, and gel-polishes in pots and bottles – there’s just so much choice. Builder base gels have increased in popularity with customers immensely over the past couple of years due to the product enhancing the longevity of gel-polish and aiding clients in being able to grow their natural nails. Nail techs also have the opportunity to market this as an add-on service, generating more revenue.

The majority of builder base gels have a built-in primer and can be used as a normal base gel under gel-polish, as well as for building overlay on natural nails or extending them to salon length. The benefit of this type of gel is that the nail tech only needs to invest in one product, saving them money and time.

The product is multipurpose and can be used in different ways depending on the client’s needs and the condition of their nails. When the client has very thin, weak nails, multiple layers of the builder base gel

can be used to add extra strength before the gel-polish colour. Builder base gels are typically a soak-off product but the more layers that are applied, the longer the soak-off time, so it is usually advised to infill. In my opinion, it is much kinder to do this to the natural nails and surrounding skin than to soak-off every two weeks.

Using a builder base type gel underneath a gel-polish can also extend a gel manicure to around four weeks, and this gives most clients the longevity and value for money they’re looking for without any of the usual chips or breaks. Techs can charge for the application of this as an add-on service, but it typically doesn’t take much longer than a normal gel-polish manicure, depending on your skill level.

With clients leaving much longer between appointments, it also means nail techs can increase their customer base and, in turn, their revenue.

I would always advise any tech wanting to add this type of service to their menu to seek out the proper training. It is paramount that techs have an understanding of how to correctly apply and use the product to ensure a trouble-free service for them and their clients.

Hazel Dixon is an award-winning nail tech, owner of the Hazel Dixon Nail Artist Academy, and a Professional Beauty London Nail Competition judge.

How can I help my male clients and colleagues to open up and talk about their mental health?

Suicide is the biggest killer in under 45s in the UK and more than 75% of them are men, according to stats from NCIS Manchester. 72% of people who end their life have had no contact with mental health services in the 12 months before they died, but they have probably had a beauty treatment or hair cut in that time. Also, eight out of 10 people who attempt suicide and survive are glad they didn’t die.

Basically, people genuinely don’t want to suffer alone, and in our industry, we are in the perfect position to make a difference.

"72% OF PEOPLE who END THEIR LIFE have had no contact with MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES in the 12 months before they died, but they have probably had a BEAUTY TREATMENT or HAIR CUT in that time"

It all starts with being able to recognise changes in behaviour. We get to know our clients well. We know how they greet and leave us, we know their social and personal habits, and we have a huge level of trust and intimacy with them.

It is easy to notice if there is any change in their weight, sleeping patterns or skin condition, as well as noticing changes in topic of conversation, their social life, and even the choice of words they use.

If you notice these changes in their behaviour then it is important to ask the right questions.

“How’s it going?” or “You alright mate?” have become a greeting and nothing more, so you need to ask again once you’re past the initial hello. But what should you ask?

Some examples of good questions to ask would be: How are you feeling today, [enter name]? You don’t seem yourself, would you like to talk to me? How have you been since I last saw you?

What are you doing this weekend? Do you have anything you are looking forward to?

Try to use open-ended questions when talking to your client or colleague; use their name, and add a timescale to the questions. This will ensure that you are directly speaking to them and genuinely care and want to know what is going on with them.

Once they open up, it’s vital you respond well. Thank them for telling you and be honest if you don’t know what to say, but don’t tell them you know how they feel or relate it to your own experiences, which is a much easier thing to do than listen to their current problems.

Direct the questions back to them all the time too. For example, you seem really upset about that, tell me how that made you feel? Keep it all about them. Also, don’t fear silences. Give them time to think and they will fill the silences by telling you even more detail about their situation.

Listening is incredibly powerful and often empowers those in need to create their own solutions to their problems. Finally, it is important to know about places that you can signpost people to, to keep both of you safe.

I’ve launched a book on the subject, How To Listen So Men Will Talk, as it is important that we focus on how we ask the right questions so that the men we know realise that they want to be heard.

Tom Chapman is an author, creator of mental health training Barber Talk, and founder of the Lions Barber Collective and the Collective Pride Awards. He’s just released a new book – How To Listen So Men Will Talk.

How does hyaluronic acid work in skincare?

Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally within the skin. It maintains collagen and elastin, which are the foundations of youthful-looking skin, by helping them retain moisture. In addition, this power ingredient cushions cells and protects blood vessels, as well as other structures in the skin, reducing UV damage and acting as a shock absorber to prevent bruising.

Each molecule of hyaluronic acid has the capacity to hold an astonishing 1,000 times its own weight in water, making it a powerful hydrator that plumps skin from within to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. As more than 70% of our body is made of water, keeping up our moisture levels is key to healthy skin and general wellbeing.

It is important to note that hyaluronic acid has a high turnover rate – it lasts two to three days in the skin, and we break down about a third of our hyaluronic acid every day. Although our bodies replenish it naturally, the amount made declines as we age. Levels typically start to drop from around the age of 40, and research trials have shown that some people over the age of 60 may have almost no hyaluronic acid left in their skin at all.

In addition to the natural ageing process, external factors such as pollution, smoking and alcohol can also deplete natural hyaluronic acid levels within the skin. Key signs to look out for are loss of volume, dry skin, and the appearance of lines and wrinkles. It’s possible to support these depleting levels of hyaluronic acid with targeted professional treatments in salons, as well as consistent at-home routines.

Advanced scientific research has enabled the discovery of not only feeding the skin with additional hyaluronic acid but assisting in the replenishment and promotion of optimal levels within the skin – essentially, giving the skin that extra bit of help to make even more of what it already has.

An example of this is Optim-Hyal, which is one of the key ingredients in the new Environ Focus Care Youth+ Hydro-Lipidic 3DSynerge Filler Crème. This ingredient has the ability to initiate the skin to make its own hyaluronic acid. Research trials have shown that it can stimulate the natural synthesis of it within the skin, supporting a visibly smooth and plumped appearance.

This is supported with the addition of another ingredient with visco-elastic properties, helping to decrease deep wrinkles – HyaCare50, which is a lower molecular weight hyaluronic acid. Lower molecular weight means better permeation through the skin.

Hyaluronic acid in low molecular weight is especially important as these smaller sized molecules have been demonstrated to reach lower levels of the skin, delivering moisturising and anti-ageing properties where they can make a real impact. Studies have shown that smaller hyaluronic acid molecules can decrease wrinkle depth, enhance skin hydration and increase firmness and elasticity.

To take the benefits further, recommend that clients incorporate microneedling technology into their evening skincare routines. This prepares the skin to deliver powerhouse ingredients even further to where they are needed most. Combining this with regular salon treatments is one of the best ways to ensure youthful and hydrated skin in the long term.

Clare Muir is director of training at the International Institute for Anti-Ageing (IIAA). With decades of experience within the skincare industry, Muir is responsible for devising the training programme to empower professionals to deliver the best results for clients.

How can I retain staff and make sure they are happy where they are?

In the most positive way, we have become casualties of our own success. While demand continues to grow for salon and spa services, it is this incredible and exponential growth that has highlighted the main challenge of our industry – staffing.

Recruitment, quality training, and engagement with therapists to ensure they want to stay and grow within your company are all headline topics of conversation. With the past two years to contend with, it is easy to want to make up for lost time in terms of business growth and revenue, but without recognising it, we’re working faster, longer and harder, and, in the process, burnout becomes a real problem.

To use the age-old adage, there seems to be no time “to stop and smell the flowers”.

We’re so occupied with maximising revenue, booking in full days of clients and reaching KPIs, that we have lost sight of what we genuinely want to deliver – not only to our guests but also to ourselves – satisfaction for both client and practitioner, which should be carefully balanced.

At my company, Tribe517, I’ve set about making “smelling the flowers” a key part of every experience for our clients as well as therapists. We start with redefining how we work and put a lot of emphasis on quality over quantity. Salons and spas practising this recognise how it helps with retention.

We do this by going back to basics, with techniques that force us to slow down the pace, a happy solution to finding therapist contentment in the workplace. We achieve this harmony with techniques that continue to indulge the guest, but also offer ease of physical activity for the therapist. Our educators commonly hear feedback that teams are happy to massage for day-long shifts with our wellbeing protocols

Throughout treatment, therapists will also enforce moments of mindfulness that not only benefit the customer but also the practitioner. This time to breathe, take a moment and align with the client deepens the connection between the two people, but also instils the self-importance and worth of the hands-on worker.

Outside of treatments, a connected team can be integral to staff retention. Those who achieve and go a step further should be rewarded, whether it’s through in-house awards or competitive targeting, not necessarily just in retail and commissions.

Communication and listening to a spa team and their needs will also help you work with them fluidly. If you hear a therapist is physically tired and struggling with longer shifts, perhaps a simple fix is to revisit protocol techniques? It is very easy for the old habitual ways of working to sneak in, so offer a new methodology with ongoing refresher training and drop-in workshops.

Treating each person as an individual is fundamental to cultivating a committed and dedicated team, and this is how I believe the industry will continue to thrive.

Claire Caddick is founder of spa product and treatment brand Tribe517 and a therapist with 36 years’ industry experience.


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This article appears in the April 2022 Issue of Professional Beauty

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This article appears in the April 2022 Issue of Professional Beauty