“I don’t like to give advice. I like to give people information because everyone’s life is different, and everyone’s journey is different.” — Dolly Parton, American Musical Legend and Enduring Cultural Icon
If there were to be a face-off between Acrylic and Gel, who would be the winner? Which service is the most crucial to having a successful nail business? It’s the equivalent of asking Young Salo which of her boys might be her favourite, Greg or Habib? It’s tricky to say the least. Most likely the best answer to both questions depends on which day of the week it is and the task at hand! So let’s direct your attention to this special breakdown of some key factors that might tip the scales in the battle for the nail pro’s favourite go to nail service.
For as long as we’ve been in the nail industry, we’ve seen both, Acrylic and Gel, fall in and out of favour at different moments in time. Our evidence is often based on how quickly each class sells out. Preferences come in waves of popularity. They follow the lead of fashion trends like the specific cut of your jeans, the length of your bangs, and the height of your heel. Location, clientele, and professional experience also factor into what might be the best product for your salon work.
THE BASICS OF ACRYLIC AND GEL
Here is a simple explanation of how these two work. Acrylic air dries with a monomer (which is the nail liquid) and a polymer (which is the powder). When combined they create a chain reaction called polymerisation that produces a clay-like consistency and turns from wet to solid within 4-5 minutes. Once hard, it can filed into shape. While the physical properties of Acrylic would technically allow you to soak off the product; we cannot recommend this as an efficient, effective, or healthy method for removal. Soaking off Acrylic would take a ridiculously lengthy amount of time. It’s like opting to travel across the country by foot. Sure it’s
technically possible. However, we can agree that there are more practical and alternative modes of transportation like car, train, or plane that would get you to your destination in less time and in more comfort.
A place where Acrylic excels is problem nails. Acrylic is the ideal product for nail biters. It acts as a cast for damaged nails to train the nail and redirect the growth channel because it can be pinched as it air cures. Consider this, if you had a broken arm, which would be the best course of action to mend it? A hard cast to set and protect the fracture or a soft brace or sling? Wide, flat, splayed nail issues also would benefit from this service. You can also maintain a set of nails with either Acrylic or Gel. In certain instances, they even work well together. Build with Acrylic and fill with Gel because of Acrylic’s porous nature.
Gel is an oligomer, this is fancy “chemistry speak” for a ready-mixed product of monomer and polymer. The chain reaction here occurs with the aid of a UV lamp, Gel is able to cure and harden faster. You will find Gel is a softer medium to file. Unlike Acrylic, it is chemically impossible to soak off Hard Gel. Yes, there are other Gels like Colour Gel and Gel Polish that would respond well to a solvent like acetone; yet we would never recommend it. At YN, we teach that you should not solely use a solvent soak to remove product on your clients’ nails. Removal should be just as an important part of your nail maintenance skills set as application. We firmly believe and teach these techniques in which you use an E-file to take the product off safely and always prioritise the health of the nails.
When you’re good at neither or perhaps master of both mediums, which to choose? It’s comes down to chemistry and your individual clients needs. Speaking from a place of extensive professional experience and product development, Greg’s pick would be Acrylic and all it’s amazing versatility. At the other end of the spectrum, Habib in his role as a fledgling nail pro, would choose the easier learning curve associated with Gel’s limitless range of service options (for example builder gel, colour gel, gel paints, and the handy precision gel applicators). A nice byproduct of starting out with Gel is that as you learn to control it with your brush; it’s a great asset to transition into using Acrylic. It helps from being too heavy-handed due to a finely developed sense of muscle memory.
So much depends on where the work is done and a lot of unexpected external circumstances. Sometimes deciding between Acrylic or Gel, is more a question of what is appropriate and suitable for your salon space. Once many years ago, on a trip to Japan, we saw first hand how these factors played a part in favouring Gel Services. All the commercial storefronts were tiny and tight for space. There wasn’t a lot of square footage for services and the ventilation systems for neighbouring businesses weren’t optimal for Acrylic use. Everyone knows the smell of Acrylic is quite distinct. It has a tendency to travel and permeate the air of the grocery store or shops next door. The unique qualities of Acrylic were not well received within that specific culture and as a result we saw the explosion of sculpted gel nails.
In the US, determining factors are based on different criteria. Some locations here may also be sensitive to the smell of Acrylic; in which case you too may choose to go with Gel. Sometimes, all the environmental/physical conditions may be virtually “perfect” (location, square footage, and adequate ventilation, etc.) but for some reason the Acrylic services on offer just seem to miss the mark. Your clients may just not be interested in it. What to do in this scenario? The only answer is to adapt your skill set. Life happens. As you go through your journey as a nail professional and make transitions from various client circles and salons; we highly recommend you explore a deep and diverse understanding of both techniques to rise to any occasion as it presents itself.
NAIL NINJA GOALS
As you can see there are many benefits for a nail pro to, over time, come to master both Acrylic and Gel. You deserve to be the nail tech people seek out for the diversity of your services. As tastes change, being a chameleon is a truly valuable professional asset. You will be able to create extensions, colour, natural overlay, and dabble in dip powder, too. Aspire to the 5th degree black belt in nails. Sky’s the limit if you can use both with the same level of expertise and ease when a new client walks in; addressing their individual needs and nail health. Specialise in one thing to separate yourself from the pack to start; however remember it’s good to be versatile. Look at the swing from Gel Polish demand to Acrylic now. It’s hard to believe and who knows what’s next.
“IF I AM AN ADVOCATE FOR ANYTHING, IT IS TO MOVE. AS FAR AS YOU CAN, AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. ACROSS THE OCEAN OR SIMPLY ACROSS THE RIVER” — ANTHONY BOURDAIN
The relationship between the nail tech and salon is a familiar mutually beneficial one. Even so, what happens when it’s time to switch things up? Are you feeling ready for a change in scenery? Life is a series of entrances and exits. The daily rhythm of a nail tech is no different with its rotation of faithful clientele and seasonal must haves. All good things come to end; signaling the start of another unimaginable good thing. As you grow more confident, you’ll encounter more opportunities. It’s natural that as your talent, self-knowing and personal connections expand that your definition of what’s professionally satisfying evolves.
SEEKING A FOREVER SALON
The reasons to leave a salon will vary. Toxic characteristics and problems previously invisible are now made visible. Maybe the salon location lacks a steady foot traffic. It’s quite possible there’s no specific drama exists at all. Perhaps, you’re just ready for a new thrill. To insure your next long-term salon relationship is the right one, give yourself ample time for proper research. You deserve better, so make sure you find better. Don’t be in a rush. Settle for less and you might find yourself bouncing around too much. You aren’t the only one in the process being sized up for the job. You’re also in a position of power. You have a choice in this. You get to interview the salon owner, too. Are Do they have what you are looking for? Check things out as a customer. Talk to the people that work there. Do they look happy to be there? What’s the vibe? Get a thorough read and visit on different days of the week. Let’s hope it’s a love match.
MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE
When the desire to leave your current salon becomes hard to resist, it’s time to make a list. It’s so important to identify what you want in a work environment. What vision do you have for the next version of you? Articulate every detail of the vision so that it can be manifested. Take notes of what qualities you want to prioritize. What about a new salon and its owner is a deal breaker? Be rigorously honest with yourself and dig deep. What is making you happy or unhappy? Is it something you can actually change or is it beyond your control. Sometimes there is a cosmic lesson we need to learn about ourselves. It will keep appearing in our lives; showing up with a different face until it is dealt with properly.
Act like a grown up when you plan your exit. Now that everything’s lined up, go directly to the salon owner to give notice. Don’t let this get to them from someone else’s lips. Word gets out very quickly. Keep everything super professional. Let the owner know how much you appreciated their time and sharing their knowledge with you. An unfortunate byproduct of honesty when you resign is that the discussion might not be well-received. Don’t be surprised if the salon asks you to leave on the spot or shows you the door at the end of the day. So be prepared. Have your things ready. Leave with your dignity and head held high. Give everyone respect, even if you don’t think they deserve it. You never know when your circumstances might change. Somewhere down the line you might want to return or your paths might cross. Try to play the long game.
Congratulations you’re ready to make the big move! When can you start? Map out this time frame, have dates in mind. Are your finances in order? Do you have any financial cushion for a slow start? How will you let your existing clients know? How can they book with you at the new place? Do you have a new schedule? Sometimes the new salon owner will be ready for you to start right away. Do you commit on the spot? Give your current salon at least two to four weeks notice as a courtesy. It’s a thoughtful move and best practice to give everyone time to figure out what needs to be done should they need it. Make a conscious decision to be courteous and appreciative. Express your gratitude for the opportunity but now it’s time to go.
Are you new to the nail industry? Or have you been a nail technician for years? No matter where you are in your career, there is one thing that you should always be focusing on: the fundamentals. It’s easy to get caught up in learning the latest and greatest advanced techniques, but without a strong foundation in the basics, you’ll never be able to excel in your craft.
What exactly do we mean by “the fundamentals?” Think of it as the building blocks of nail artistry. This includes things like knowing how to use your electric file and hand file properly, holding your brush and nail polish bottle correctly, and having a steady hand and pressure control. Without these basics, you won’t be able to achieve the precision and control needed for more advanced techniques.
For example, let’s take a look at acrylic application. There are certain fundamentals that need to be mastered before attempting more complex designs. You should be able to consistently pick up a bead of acrylic of any size, have a steady hand and pressure control, and know how to work the product with precision. Without a strong foundation in these fundamentals, you’ll struggle to achieve the designs you’re after.
One of the most important fundamentals in nail artistry is balance. This means having control over your hand movements, and knowing how to maintain proper hand and finger positioning to ensure a stable and balanced application. Just like in martial arts, having good balance is key to mastering any skill. It’s also important to be able to work your tools with ease, including your electric file, hand file, and brush.
At the end of the day, mastering the fundamentals is what sets the best nail technicians apart from the rest. It might feel awkward at first, but with practice and dedication, you’ll be able to achieve control, precision, and balance that will take your nail artistry to the next level. So, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the industry for years, don’t forget to focus on the basics. Master the fundamentals, and you’ll be able to achieve anything you set your mind to.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the way we do business, and the beauty industry is no exception. In today’s blog, we will discuss how you can use AI to help your nail business!
One of the most popular and useful AI tools for businesses is ChatGPT. This AI tool allows you to enter prompts, such as asking it to write a professional email to a customer about following your salon’s procedures. ChatGPT then generates a well-written, grammatically correct email with the tone you desire. This saves a considerable amount of time and effort, especially for those who overthink their emails.
Aside from email writing, ChatGPT can also generate ideas for content creation. For example, you can ask it to give you ten tips on salon decorating ideas for the spring season. ChatGPT can also be used for coding, creating formulas for Excel, and even generating copy for marketing materials.
Another amazing AI tool is Murf.ai, which allows you to type out a script and choose a tone of voice for an AI-generated voiceover. You can even choose from different languages and accents to customize the voice to your needs. So for example, if you just don’t the sound of your own voice, then Murf.ai is perfect for you!
But that’s not all – there are other AI tools out there that can help with video creation, image editing, and even logo generation. For example, Synthesia.io allows you to create videos from plain text with an AI-generated spokesperson that looks and sounds real. Another amazing tool to help generate a logo is looka.com. You can describe your company, pick your color, customize, and it will generate a logo for you. Super easy and super cool.
Imagine the possibilities of AI-generated content for your nail business. No more struggling with writer’s block or feeling nervous in front of the camera. These tools can help you save time and create professional content that will help your business stand out. Just do your research and explore the many AI tools available to find the ones that work best for you.
“MIGHTY THINGS FROM SMALL BEGINNINGS GROW.” — JOHN DRYDEN, 17TH CENTURY ENGLISH POET
In the early stages of your nail profession, there is a multitude of tempting products and tools to stuff in your salon kit. Who hasn’t wanted to redirect funds from a boring yet wise purchase for something racier like a seasonal limited edition Swarovski crystal mix? What is the nail techs equivalent to an essential capsule collection or a new driver’s starter car?
Good reason is often abandoned in the beauty supply aisles and online shopping carts. Your business requires a more level headed approach in order to unleash your purchase power. The best practice is to keep it simple. Here is a cheat sheet for nail product essentials. Start out as a minimalist and make sure every product in your possession is earning you dollars. This is the time to make smart product investments that will stretch with you as you build your clientele.
WISE OR WILD SPENDING?
You want to binge-buy everything that catches your eye. You want it now. Nom nom nom, feed the ravenous glitter monster within. Red flag warning! Please slow down and be purposeful. Don’t spend what you don’t have. Square one is to create a spending plan that allows you to operate a steady nail business. Do you know for certain what services will you provide? What is your total working budget? Can you project a plan to track how many sets are possible with your current product? Can you mark your calendar to see the timing for a regular schedule replenishing product replenish? Seek out the small patterns of your use and purchases. When you start out, draft a monthly shopping list with three columns- Need/Want/On The Fence. Track the expenses over three months and see what your average monthly expenses are.
NOT SO BASIC BASICS
To spend wisely, the bulk of your initial salon buy will consist of core products. Decide if you’re going to offer acrylic or gel. It’s best to call out now what you want to be known for…basically what will be your number one service? Then pick up the essentials for that system. Kits are an affordable way to do this. You will absolutely need a good UV lamp (or two). You will also need to start with an E-file to save your wrists from the wear and tear of hand filing. Both are big ticket items but worth every penny. The basics are what you use to build a business. They are pantry staples in the kitchen. The core products for your starting line up should be a set of 12 colours that include best selling classics like nudes, reds, pinks, and a couple trendy colors. You can layer on to that another 12 Glitters. Custom glitter mixes provide endless possibilities. Lastly you will need a couple of high-quality brushes. Don’t over extend and dig yourself into any unnecessary debt before you bring in your first customer. This profession is a marathon not a race to financial independence. Pace yourself. It’s ok to start small.
For some reason, many nail techs can’t wrap their head around “less is more” philosophy. Take baby steps. A variety of specialty products means nothing if you still haven’t found your first client. Train yourself to slay in one specific service. Let that be your thing, your expertise. You will never regret it. As you build up your cash reserves, now you can pull in something new for fun. You can even plan when you will reward yourself with a splurge purchase. YN Pro Kits in acrylic or gel offer the most bang for your buck at a £300 starting investment. Just throw in a light and you’re ready to book clients. When in doubt turn to your nail community and ask for support. You may be going solo for the first time but you never have to do anything alone!
“The Dilemma of Doing Nails for Free: When is it okay?”
Nails are an important part of our beauty routine, and we all want to make sure that we get the best possible results. But what happens when someone asks you to do their nails for free? This is a dilemma that many people in the nail industry face, and it’s important to understand when it’s okay to say yes and when it’s not.
“The Meaning of Free”
Free is a tricky word, and when it comes to work, it can have different meanings for different people. For some, doing nails for free may mean that they are just getting started and need the practice. For others, it may be a way to give back to their friends and family. Whatever the reason, it’s important to have clear communication about what the person can expect from the free work.
“The Importance of Practice”
If you’re just starting out in the nail industry, practice is key. Doing free model calls and putting it out on Instagram can help you get the practice you need. Just make sure that you clearly communicate the purpose of the free work and what the person can expect.
“When is it okay to do Nails for Free?”
While there are certainly circumstances in which it’s okay to do nails for free, such as for family members or as a one-time gift to a friend, it’s not okay to ask someone to work for free just because they love it. In the case of a beginner in the nail industry, they can do some sets for free to get practice, but it should be clear that this is a one-time offer and that the person can expect to pay for future services.
“The Final Word”
At the end of the day, past a certain point, the beginner should transition to charging for their services. Doing some sets for free can be a great way to get practice and find new clients, but it’s important to establish a clear relationship with clear communication and expectations. Doing nails for free can be beneficial for both parties if done correctly.