[Updated] How to charge and make a profit from your nail art services

Are you nervous when it comes to offering nail art? When a client shows you a picture of what they’d like, does the thought of fitting it into their appointment slot turn you cold? 

It’s a natural worry to have, but there are some simple solutions that can expand your nail art offering and take your skills up a level, without compromising on time. 

Invest in simple but effective techniques 

"The quickest and simplest nail art option to add to your gel-polish repertoire is a sprinkle of glitter or a splash of metallic foil," says Natasha Barker, owner of Niche Nails & Beauty in Oxfordshire and a CND education ambassador and Light Elegance educator.

"Whether it’s a full set of rock star nails, an accent nail or the popular glitter ombré, this technique can be done without adding any additional time to your standard gel-polish appointment, all the while boosting your income. I’d advise charging £1 to £5 for this add-on."

"Stamping is another great way to add more without putting too much pressure on yourself. It is the answer for quick, consistent and intricate nail art looks, with hundreds of designs to choose from.  

"It can also be mixed with other techniques such as chrome, glitter, multi-stamping and even a little hand painting, making it a versatile and fun addition to your menu. It usually takes around 10–15 minutes to do a full set of stamped nails, so charge an extra £10 for this service."

Natasha adds, "Notably the most dreaded type of nail art for many techs is gel-polish hand painting. When teaching this technique I see the fear the skill brings, but on the flipside, I see the joy in techs’ eyes when they master it. 

"So, should you be scared of it? Hell no! With the right tools and techniques, you may even surprise yourself with what you can achieve. This technique will take much longer that the other two methods mentioned, so give yourself at least 30 minutes to complete the treatment on all 10 nails and charge more for this work. I recommend on average £15 and upwards."

Struggling with gel-polish? Check out our ultimate gel-polish trouble shooting guide.

How to price your nail art

You’re now a nail art queen, but how do you create a price menu so you can charge for all this fabulousness? An easy way is to price the art per nail individually, but this could prove to be a bit complicated in the long run.

As more customers find out about your nail art offering, you’ll soon find you’re not just doing the odd nail but full sets using multiple techniques, which could add a lot of time onto your standard gel-polish appointment. However, there are a couple of ways you could incorporate this extra work into your price list. 

In the July 2023 issue of Professional Beauty, we surveyed nail techs to see how they charged for nail art services. 47% of respondents said that they included it in the overall treatment price, 33% said it depended on the intricacy level of the design, and 20% said they charged per nail.

One pricing option is to have a fixed-priced “add-on” to your standard treatment, giving you an extra five to 15 minutes, depending on the techniques and products, to complete the look. This should be charged at £5 to £15 (on top of the gel-polish manicure price). 

Another option would be to have set treatments for different nail art appointments. For example:

This pricing can be modified to suit your nail art options and different staff members, from trainees to pros, giving everyone a chance to improve their knowledge. 

However, time and skill level isn't the only thing which needs to be taken into account when coming up with your price menu.

Julie-Anne Larivière, Salon System nail expert and owner of Sketched by J-A Nails, comments, "When you sit down to work out your prices, it should reflect several very important factors such as rent, utility bills, insurances and products cost - and don’t forget to add in holidays or training costs.

"Once you have worked out your business outgoings, you need to add in the amount of money per year you would need at the very least to pay your own personal outgoings and also… have a life! Divide that amount per 12 months, then divide it by how many clients you see monthly.

"This will give you an exact amount of the very least you can charge for a service. This is how you will know whether you are pricing yourself correctly or not.

"Remember, know your worth and be confident when setting your prices for your treatments.”

For more tips on making a profit from your services, check out our advice on how to make it as a mobile nail tech.

Explaining price points to clients

Once you've created your price menu, how do you communicate the different prices to clients who might not understand the different skills required for a simple one-colour mani and an intricate design?

Jaz Moger, Salon System nail expert and owner of Paint by Jaz, explains how she communicates her prices with clients: "On my Instagram Highlights section, viewers can clearly understand my point of difference as I state the rolling picture section as ‘art levels’. This gives an appreciation in the work and skill involved in each nail art image and an understanding of my differing price points. For example, its complexity in nature, how many techniques are used and how many different colours have been used within the design.

"For nail art deemed level one, it would typically have no design or something simplistic, perhaps a straightforward colour block on the nail – not a complex, time consuming design format and therefore entry level pricing.

"Level two for me would incorporate two or three colours with a fairly straightforward design for the expert nail technician (a design on some nails and a painted tip on others), and something typical of level three would feature up to five different colours and a complex design using several techniques to achieve it.

"The price, of course, follows the craftmanship and expert knowledge of each design."

For more nail art inspo, don't miss the hottest nail trends for summer 2023.

Thinking of offering nail sculpting alongside your nail art services? Read our top tips for nail sculpting.

How do you price for your nail art? Let us know in the comments...