Charme Studio

Natural Nail Services - Regular Polish, Gel/Shellac Manicures, IBX Nail Strengthening Treatments, Waterless Pedicures, Organic Facials and Waxing. Nail Parties & Traveling Nails services!

Don't be part of the problem


Today we are wrapping up this 3 part series on pricing in nail salons… hallelujah, am I right?  (Not that I haven’t loved shedding light on terribly unsafe practices and employee mistreatment, but I’m just about ready for some “lighter” topics if you know what I mean!)  In this post we will detail the overhead costs all nail salons experience, let you know why salons across the nation are seemingly going “un-checked”, and discuss what you can do to help.

Let’s get right to it.  Remember that our salon is located in Tacoma, Washington where the minimum wage is $12/hour.  In our last post we discussed that after a $15 pedicure (assuming it is an hour long), there’s only $3 left to cover taxes, overhead costs, and hopefully to make a profit.  So what are those overhead costs that all nail salons have?  Please see the long list below:

  • Rent

  • Insurance

  • Electricity

  • Water

  • Supplies and tools

  • Merchant fees

  • Staff

Seems a little bit silly to expect that you could cover even a portion of each item listed with $3, doesn’t it?  And guess what, it is!!!  It is absolutely impossible for businesses to be profitable while charging only $15 for pedicures, and $10 for manicures without seriously cutting corners, using unsafe (and disgusting) practices on their clients, participating in illegal money-related activities (tax evasion anyone?), and almost always preying on the ignorance of their staff.  AWFUL!

A quick side-note: at Charme Studio we do waterless pedicures (if you’re not sure what that is, click here) which saves at least 5 gallons per pedicure, and we still have an incredibly large water bill so just IMAGINE the amount of money that most other nail salons have to account for simply due to water usage.


While I can’t tell you how many inspectors there are in other states, in the state of Washington, there are only 4… yes, you heard that right, 4 inspectors in the ENTIRE state to go around to each nail salon, hair salon, barber shop, spa, etc. Can you imagine that?  This is why salons go “un-checked”! There’s simply not enough inspectors to hit each location and make sure that they’re doing safe practices… and nail salons bank on the unlikelihood that they’ll ever get caught.  Meanwhile, customers are searching for the best deals and ending up with infections in their feet and hands, employees are being overworked and paid far below minimum wage, and all the while the owners are getting rich at the expense of everyone else because there’s no one telling them otherwise.  Pretty sad.  New York has really started cracking down on these illegal practices, and we totally applaud their work!  If you’re interested in reading more about what’s happening in New York, click here.

Now perhaps I’ve sounded a bit like a nag… wagging my finger at people who like to find deals and get affordable nail services… and that’s not at all what I’ve intended!  I like a good deal just as much as the next guy (or gal!)  But, there are big problems in the nail industry that result in huge price discrepancies from one nail salon to another, and my hope is that over the course of these last 3 posts I was able to help you understand why that is. At Charme we barely make a profit because we are doing things the right way… and we aren’t the only ones (though I’d say we are definitely in the minority.)  Our hope is that this knowledge will help you to see the signs in unsafe shops and then you’ll run straight into the loving arms of a nail tech who is legally paid, receives her tips, gets her lunches, and is HAPPY to provide safe practices.  Sounds refreshing, doesn’t it?

Here are some things you can do to help:

  • Don’t search for the cheapest nail services, search for the best quality

  • Look for places with employees who appear happy; do they complain of endless hours and no breaks, or do they seem to have a regular schedule?

  • Pay your tips in cash and directly to the nail tech

  • This one may seem obvious, but try avoiding assembly-line-style nail salons… last time I checked it should be a relaxing experience, so don’t go somewhere where the employees are clearly rushed

  • Pay attention, do they get out new/unused or clearly disinfected supplies/tools when working on you?  And do they give them to you when you leave (or toss them in the trash at least)?

If customers started paying more attention to the practices of their nail salons, the locations that are mistreating their employees would eventually close.  If customers started questioning why they just saw a nail tech using the same tools on her as were used on the last person, they’d find shops that care about the health and safety of their customers.  Just remember, no business owner can get rich (or even survive) off of $15 pedicures unless something shady is happening.  And for a little tough love... Eldridge Cleaver said it best, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”