Ask the Experts |

9 mins

Ask the Experts

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

How can I make my spa more sustainable?

Making your spa more sustainable doesn’t have to be as expensive or complex as you may think; even small changes can make a big impact. I follow the reduce, reuse, recycle motto to limit waste and avoid single-use items where possible. Here are 10 tips for sustainable spas:

1. Go plastic free – we all know that single-use plastic stays in our environment for ages, threatening wildlife and spreading toxins. It also contributes to global warming, so making a simple switch from plastic to paper or reusable branded cups is a great start. If you do offer bottled water, you could look at installing water filters and encouraging clients to refill a branded refillable steel cup or bottle.

2. Install energy-efficient lighting. By switching to LED lights, you’ll consume less energy, and the lights will have a longer lifespan compared to traditional bulbs. You could also look at getting a smart meter installed to track energy usage.

3. The products you sell in your spa should be as environmentally friendly as possible. Look out for products that are certified as vegan and organic and that are biodegradable and free from harmful chemicals. You might also want to find a supplier that uses sustainable packaging like grass paper and glass jars.

4. You could implement a recycling programme in the spa to encourage staff to recycle where possible. Following best practice, we have implemented Terracycle in our office to help with more tricky recycling that doesn’t get picked up curbside. Also, consider upcycling old furniture or decor items.

5. Reducing your water consumption could not only save you money on utility bills but also help the planet. A great way to do this is by installing lighter flow taps; this won’t impact your guest experience but will tackle the amount of water used.

6. Go paperless – this can be done with an online booking system and consultations. There are so many great options out there these days and they can also help you collect data, which will be useful for marketing purposes.

7. Choose more sustainable fabrics – there are companies that offer many different options including bamboo or single-use biodegradable towels to reduce washing and water consumption.

8. Get smarter about deliveries; use tech to help you work out what you need and when. Again, online booking systems can incorporate stocktaking software. Bulk order if possible and consider consolidating suppliers so you can get multiple items in the same delivery to reduce your carbon footprint.

9. Raise awareness among staff and customers about the importance of sustainability. Provide tips on how they can contribute to environmental conservation efforts and encourage them to use sustainable transportation methods like carpooling, biking, or public transport to reduce carbon emissions.

10. If you are looking to renovate and improve your spa, use sustainable materials for construction and renovation projects, such as bamboo, reclaimed wood and recycled glass. Invest in energy-efficient appliances and equipment, such as HVAC systems and water heaters, to reduce energy consumption.

Lydia Taylor started her career as a beauty therapist 18 years ago before moving into spa management. She previously worked at Elemental Herbology, and is currently the head of spa for Evolve Organic Beauty.

How do I choose the right speed and grit for my e-file?

Using an e-file in your nail services can greatly enhance efficiency and precision. However, with various speed settings and grit options available, it’s essential to understand how to choose the right combination for optimal results and client safety.

These are the factors you should consider when selecting the speed and grit for your e-file, allowing you to work confidently and to always deliver exceptional nail services for clients.

Understanding e-file speed settings

E-files typically have multiple speed settings, known as RPM (rotations per minute), ranging from slow to high speeds. While these settings may vary depending on the brand and model, it is crucial to understand the general guidelines for choosing the appropriate speed:

Slow speed (1,000-10,000 RPM): This speed is ideal for delicate nail procedures, such cleaning the cuticle area with diamond cuticle bits from 5,000-10,000 RPM or nail prep with a sanding band from 1,000–5,000 RPM.

Medium speed (10,000-15,000 RPM): This speed range is commonly used for general filing and shaping of both natural nails and thinner enhancements such as gel polish or builder gel.

High speed (15,000-35,000 RPM): High speeds are mainly applied for quick product removal, such as gel or acrylic extensions. Additionally, high speeds are suitable for bulk filing and reducing thickness as well as callus removal on the feet to prevent heat build-up.

Understanding grits and their uses

The grit of your e-file bit refers to the coarseness of its surface and determines its level of abrasiveness. The following grit ranges are commonly available:

Diamond cuticle bits

• Coarse grit: equal to a 140–170 grit nail file.

• Medium grit: equal to a 200–230 grit buffer.

• Fine grit: equal to a 400–grit file or buffer.

• Extra fine grit: equal to a 600-grit file or buffer.

Unlike carbide bits, diamond bits and sanding bands have an exact grit, meaning you can calculate exactly the level of abrasion you are using on the skin or nail plate to prevent damage.

Carbide and silicone bits

Unlike a sanding band or diamond carbide bit, the grit standard of carbide bit is divided according to the number of teeth at the bottom of the drill bits. This differs when the flute size and shape is different.

Our standard medium-grit, five-in-one straight cut bit has a 5.35mm flute size with 26 teeth on top and bottom. The bottom has wider spaced teeth for medium grit, while the top has closer teeth for a fine grit tip.

Sanding bands

• Coarse grit (150): primarily used for quick and efficient product removal.

• Medium grit (180): ideal for refining the nail surface, these grits work effectively on both natural and enhancements. They can be used in the natural nail for prep, but a 240 is preferred.

Katie Barnes is an award-winning nail professional, competition judge, educator and owner of the Katie Barnes Tool Range.

How should I wax clients with sensitive skin?

My first piece of advice for any waxer is to make sure you are using the right type of wax for the right area. Hot wax is designed to be used on delicate, sensitive areas – this includes the face, underarms and intimate areas. Not only will it feel more comfortable for your client, but it will help to protect the skin too.

Many therapists still use warm wax on the face and while there isn’t anything wrong with doing this, you will be more at risk of lifting the skin and causing it to feel more sensitive.

Many believe that they don’t get all the fine vellus hair to pick up with hot wax, which is why they stick to soft wax, but the fact is you’re probably not using a combination of a good-quality hot wax and the right technique.

The normal reaction to any area of the body that we wax is warmth. Sometimes little red dots and pinkness will appear, and with fair-haired clients you may also see more of a bright red reaction, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s hurting them more.

Typically, these reactions should go down within a few moments or even a few hours after. Anything that seems to be getting worse or inflamed after 24 hours isn’t a normal reaction and should be checked by a pharmacist or GP as this could be an allergic reaction to something.

Here are some simple tips to help reduce sensitivity or trauma to the skin:

• Layer as thinly as you can when using strip wax. Thickness will cause skin to bounce and pull underneath; the same goes for changing your strip as the more wax that builds up, the more it will tug at the skin.

• Use a good-quality hot wax designed with sensitivity in mind, especially in delicate areas.

• Don’t wax over damp skin. Prep is key because by checking for any dry areas you’ll see which spots may need a drop of pre-wax oil to protect them, and as you cleanse you will also see if redness appears just from cleansing. This could indicate that the skin is more likely to be sensitive.

• Communication is important, so always educate clients in what can make them more sensitive and to make sure they know to keep you updated about any changes.

If you ever see a reaction on the skin, it’s best to be honest with your client so you can both discuss what may be causing the it and find an alternative method to help this for next time.

Becky Priest is a waxing specialist and educator with a passion for helping people to feel the body confidence that they deserve. She is also an ambassador for Hive of Beauty.

How can I effectively treat Black skin with peels?

Chemical peels are really beneficial for Black skin due to their effectiveness in treating hyperpigmentation and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which are a top concern for skin of colour.

Peels work by removing the top layer of the skin, which helps lighten dark spots, evening out skin tone, and reducing the appearance of melasma and sunspots. Peels can also address acne and its resultant scarring by unclogging pores and promoting growth of new, smoother skin.

The higher melanin content in Black skin offers a degree of natural protection against UV radiation, and chemical peels complement this by helping to manage and reduce signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles, through collagen stimulation.

Another reason I love peels for Black skin is that we are less likely to reach for botox and fillers – we age differently. For this group, lines and wrinkles and loss of volume are more of a secondary ageing concern. We tend to want to improve skin texture and tone and reduce pore size first, which is where peels come in.

Professionals can sometimes be scared of carrying out peels on dark skin tones but as with anything it should be about tailoring the treatment for each individual. Peels come in different depths, so a thorough consultation and skin assessment should help inform how deep the peel should go as not every client needs to completely shed their skin. Superficial peels are great for some clients.

When considering chemical peels for Black skin, it’s all about getting the approach spot on to dodge any pigmentation woes or scarring. Opting for the gentler light to medium peels can make a world of difference, avoiding those that might throw the skin’s colour balance off kilter.

As well as tailoring the treatment to what the client’s skin really needs, it’s really important to prep it properly before peels, and be religious about aftercare, especially keeping up with the SPF to fend off any sun-induced pigment changes. Also, becoming a practitioner who’s clued up on working with darker skin tones is absolutely key.

When tailoring a peel for darker skin tones, you need lower percentages with lots of ingredients working in synergy to manage and reduce the risk of PIH – glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid, lower TCA and retinol are great for this.

It’s not just what you use, but how you use it. It’s all about customising the strength and how long you leave it on the skin, ensuring it’s just enough to do its job without overdoing it.

Kelly Saynor is an aesthetic nurse prescriber and clinical director at Renew Medical Aesthetics in Cheshire. She is also clinical director at Medica Forte, the creator of The Perfect Peel.

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 April 2024

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