[Skills] Fearlessly Design Awesome Nail Art (That Clients Will Pay For!)

There has been a LOT of talk about nail art over the past couple of years. It’s trendy! It’s fashionable! It’s profitable! And a LOT of clients are asking for it! I’m sure you’ve seen it firsthand at your nail station: a client comes in for her regularly scheduled Liquid & Powder rebalance with Shellac color, sits down & pulls up Pinterest on her phone. “Can you do this?” she asks excitedly.

If you’re anything like me & you don’t really consider yourself an artist, your heart might skip a beat & you may feel a blast of heat from under your collar as a reflex to her request. Fine lines? Detailed brush strokes? A bloody PORTRAIT of her beauty idol, Marilyn Monroe?!?!

Relax, my beautiful Nail Betty. You don’t have to replicate the Mona Lisa for your client in order to give her a look that she loves, will gladly pay for & will turn her into your salon evangelist every time she steps out her front door. You don’t even have to be an “artist”. You don’t need an outrageous or funky or particularly outgoing clientele to sell to.

You just need is a little bit of patience, an open & communicative relationship with your client & a few core techniques in your back pocket that you can use effectively over & over & over again. Nail art then becomes a no-brainer way to increase your service ticket prices without majorly increasing your overhead. It’s sound #nailbizlogic to add it to your menu.

First up: Client Communication
Nail art can take extra time. It can also increase your service ticket price by up to 50% (yay for you!) depending on how long it takes. Be upfront with your client. If she’s interested in upping the ante on her nail art game, make sure she lets you know in advance so you can schedule enough time to accommodate her request & give you a chance to clean up before your next client shows up.

Also, try to discuss her nail art goal beforehand so you can work together to manage expectations & tweak the design or focus on a particular aspect of her inspiration if you’re not feeling up to duplicating a masterpiece. Or maybe it’s not a masterpiece & you want to improve on the design. Either way, open communication with your client about your game plan will make sure both of you are happy campers when she leaves.

Play along with the rest of this post! Download your copy of the Non-Artist’s Core Nail Art Techniques Cheat Sheet here:


Practice Core Techniques: Part One
Keeping a handful or core techniques at your disposal will help you recreate almost any look you or your client is inspired by. That said, a little bit of practice may have to happen before you know which ones are your go-to’s.

Which media are you going to work with? Liquid & Powder? Gel? CND Shellac Brand 14+ Day Nail Color? Traditional Polish? Acrylic paints? Glitter? Foils? Embellishments like Swarovski Crystals, rhinestones, metal grommets & studs, chains, wires, tulle? Pigments?
It sounds a little overwhelming, doesn’t it? The good thing is that you don’t have to invest in all these media if you don’t want to.

Start by deciding how much time you want to invest in nail art. That can help determine which media you use. It’s also an important factor to consider so you can plan & charge accordingly, as well as avoid a backlog of clients for whom you’re running late. If you want to keep your service times shorter, then maybe you choose to create nail art with glitter, foils & pigments in Shellac. Or, if you want to create 3D L&P designs, you’ll up your service times by 15-30 minutes.

Once you determine your core media, then you can figure out your core techniques. These are nail art techniques that can be used over & over again but in different ways & with different colors. Having core techniques save time by becoming second-nature (thank you neural plasticity!) & eliminating do-overs. Some really great ones: carving, polka dots, ombre, stamping, creating straight lines with detail brushes. You can use each of these techniques in different media with different colors & create countless unique looks.

A very easy way to see how these core techniques are used in a trendy, fashion-forward way is to attend CND’s Seasonal Trends classes & Play Stations each season. Four times a year, a fresh set of salon-ready nail art looks are demonstrated in the context of their fashion inspiration. I have Seasonal Trends Play Station coming up in Denver on March 20, where you can check out all the looks & try them out yourself! (Savvy Nail Betty Hack: you can always check the Events tab on my Facebook Page for an up-to-date list of upcoming classes.)

Practice Core Techniques: Part Two
The super simple, yet oft overlooked secret to creating amazing nail art without being an artist is understanding color theory! Oh yes, I’m bringing it WAYYY back!

The color wheel is your best friend! You can’t go wrong when you stick with it. It’ll show you how to group colors & create new colors. It’ll help you neutralize a mistakenly drab color choice on your client’s behalf. It’s the easiest reference we have when a client wants “red” & there are 27 red to choose from.

Another color trick is to stay in certain collections. At least at first. Most color collections are themed & on-trend when they’re released, so using those colors together will work for almost any client.


That’s it! Two (or three, depending on how you want to count them) easy ways to create amazing nail art that will literally THRILL your clients & send business through your door by the best, most economical (FREE!) advertisement available: good ol’ word-of-mouth referrals.

Would you like to learn more about color theory or how to SELL you nail art once you figure out your core techniques? Download your free Non-Artist’s Core Nail Art Techniques Cheat Sheet here:


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