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Ask the Experts

Our beauty experts answer your questions about every aspect of running a salon or spa business

What is the best way to prep nails for builder gel application?

Thorough nail preparation is key to getting long-lasting results. To begin with, the client needs to wash their hands, then they should be sanitised. File the nail, ensuring the free edge is completely smooth. If the builder gel is only being applied to the natural nail, file the free edges into the desired shape, ensuring all nails are the same length and shape.

For cuticle work, lift and push back the proximal and lateral nail folds and remove the non-living tissue from the surface of the nail, ensuring there are no traces of cuticle skin left on the nail plate.

Remove shine from the surface of the nail using a 180-grit file, ensuring you only touch each part of the nail once. Thoroughly clean and sanitise the surface of the nail, ensuring there is no dust or cuticle debris around the edges of the cuticle area and side walls.

Tip application

Applying tips will enable you to add length; I recommend adding up to half the length of the nail plate. You should apply your chosen shape of tip to the nail, then shape and thoroughly blend the tips until they are flush to the surface of the nails. Remove all traces of dust, then apply a dehydrator and an acid-free primer to the natural nail plate

Gel application

Scrub a base coat into the surface of the nail and cure, then brush on a layer of builder gel to the surface of the nail and cure. Apply a thin, slick layer of builder gel to the surface of the nail, then apply a larger bead of builder gel close to the cuticle area and sweep the gel from side to side, building it up over the stress area of the nail and creating a spine down the centre to create the C-curve.

Use a fine liner brush to perfect the gel around the cuticle area and sidewalls, then cure for 60 seconds. Flash curing can be done between each nail to hold the gel in place, but a full cure must be done on all nails before another layer of gel is added.

Repeat with a second slick layer and building layer if required to create the correct structure to support the length of the nails, then cure.

Remove the inhibition layer with a cleanser, refine with a 180-grit file to perfect the shape and structure, and sanitise to remove all traces of dust.

Finish the nails with a topcoat, or gel polish then topcoat, depending on your client’s desired finish. Finally, cleanse the nail plate and apply cuticle oil.

Jennie Nippard is deputy head of education at Glitterbels. She has worked as a nail professional since 1995 and as an educator since 2002. Her work includes celebrity clients, advertising campaigns and fashion shows.

What are the most effective ways to retail skincare in salon?

Retailing is essential for your beauty business and an important part of your clients’ treatment journey. It brings in extra revenue and also offers the opportunity for personalised expert recommendations, which results in client retention.

Clients want to maintain the results of their treatment at home, and they value your professional opinion to help them do just that. A skincare therapist who knows the brand will talk enthusiastically about it and know which product will suit their client’s skin. Upselling is the ultimate technique in helping to prolong the client’s salon results.

There are several strategies you can implement to maximise sales and provide a great customer experience. Your retail opportunity starts even before the client enters the treatment room; make sure the salon’s retail environment is attractive and inviting, from window displays that encourage passing trade to uncluttered countertops giving clients time to muse over offers at the till.

The impact of visual merchandising is immediate – it takes about three seconds for a client to form an opinion of a salon’s retail display. Eye level is buy level, so consider a countertop display. Placing two products on the same display acts as a reminder of how products work well together and makes it easier to quickly find products.

Another strategy is to create bundled offers with discounts for purchasing multiple items. This can incentivise customers to buy more products and try new ones. Include slow-to-move products in gifts sets or pair them with best-sellers. Use products within in-salon services, such as a CACI Rejuvenating Hand Mask, which upgrades a salon manicure to deluxe.

Ensure your staff are knowledgeable about the skincare products you carry. Provide them with training on the benefits, ingredients and usage. Encourage them to use the products themselves, so they can speak from personal experience – clients can always tell if they’re just being “sold” to.

During treatments, therapists should take the opportunity to discuss the products used and explain their benefits. Clients will then see the value in purchasing skincare post treatment. Be consistent with each client – not pushy, just be enthusiastic, confident and positive.

Consider implementing a loyalty programme where clients can earn points for purchasing skincare products. These points can be redeemed for discounts or free products, encouraging repeat purchases and client loyalty.

Encourage clients to provide feedback and reviews on the skincare products they purchase. Positive reviews can attract new clients, while constructive feedback can help you improve your product selection and customer service.

Maximise product visibility via your social channels and via e-marketing too. By offering high-quality skincare products and personalised recommendations, you can establish your salon as a trusted destination for skincare retail.

Niki Bassil is the marketing manager at CACI. She has worked within the beauty industry for over 15 years, and she supports the CACI community with marketing, communications and product knowledge.

How can I build my confidence as a business owner?

There are two areas I recommend you focus on. Firstly, build confidence within your skill set. This means spending lots of time practising the treatments you offer and getting comfortable with the equipment you are going to use. The more time you spend practising the treatment and techniques, the more confident you’ll feel when it comes to performing treatments on real clients.

Get your tools in your hands and practise as much as you can, whether that be on friends, mannequins or even yourself. Dedicate time on a regular basis to deepening your knowledge by practising and learning more about the theory side of your treatments; the more knowledgeable you are about the treatments you offer, the more confident you’ll feel when it comes to speaking about it to clients, plus it’ll have you sounding like the go-to expert in your field.

I highly recommend that you watch lots of tutorials online and even invest in educational masterclasses so you can learn from people who are more experienced than you are right now. Whether you’ve just started out or you’ve been in the industry for a while, it’s always a good time to invest in your education and reignite your passion.

Secondly, build your self-confidence. Many beauty business owners experience strong feelings of imposter syndrome at some point during their beauty journey. This can have them questioning themselves, making them anxious about making mistakes and worried things aren’t going to work out for them.

Working on your self-development alongside your skill set can have a huge, positive impact on your business in the long term because it will help you feel more confident in yourself. Over the last three years, I’ve coached thousands of beauty business owners and the biggest transformations have always come from those who took their personal development and growth seriously.

Working on yourself and focusing on personal development can help you to overcome things like negative beliefs, limiting beliefs, destructive thought patterns and even low self-esteem. The truth is, most beauty business owners experience these types of thoughts and feelings at some point but if this is ignored, it can lead to overwhelm, stress and even burnout.

Learning how to become more confident, think positively and have an optimistic approach to your business can make the journey so much easier for you and can help you to achieve more success. Some things that you can do to include this type of self-development work into your routine include reading self-development books, listening to inspiring, motivational and educational podcasts, positive affirmations, setting goals for yourself, and investing in a coach or mentor.

I suggest that you dedicate a small amount of time each day to include one of these activities into your routine. The beauty of technology now is that most of these activities can be done while you’re on the move, using apps.

Don’t miss Alysha Bradley at Professional Beauty North, where she’ll be talking about ‘How to get more clients in your business and avoid burnout’ on the Business and Digital Skills live stage at 11am on Sunday, September 24.

Alysha Bradley is a beauty business coach, currently working with 1,300+ members. She founded The Beauty Growth Academy in 2020 to help hair and beauty business owners earn more and feel more confident.

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS TO PUT TO OUR EXPERTS? Send your question about absolutely anything to do with running a beauty business to

This article appears in September 2023

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September 2023
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