How to price my nail services?


Just the word completion evokes a sense of dread to any nail tech starting out in the industry.

Do you become plagued with questions like, how much do I charge? Am I too expensive? am I too cheap? will the clients come to me since my competition has been around the area for years? where do I find a premises where competition isn’t a major concern? Let me give you some ideas to reassure any aspiring business owner.

What to Charge

The most common question I’m asked when assisting a student who’s transitioning into the workplace, is “How much do I charge for this?”


There was an exercise I was taught many years ago that has served me well, which I would like to share with you now. I wish there was an easy answer to this question, but there is not. Every single technician out there has a unique environment that no person in the world is identical to.


Product Breakdown Exercise

So why would there be just one answer that blankets the industry?
This exercise is laborious, however well worth the effort.


When you purchase disposables or consumable products from your supplier, these items can be broken down into single use.

For example:

Step 1. Cost of Service per client.

One standard container of Acrylic Monomer is 180mls, and I purchased it for $60.00. I would then price each ml to be $60.00 divided by 180 = $0.33. I would use approximately 5mls for each full set/service I do, therefore $0.33 x 5 = $1.65 per client.

Once you repeat this for all of your consumables such as a dehydrator, nail polish remover, cuticle oil, primer etc, you will have worked out what it costs you to service each client.

Step 2. Cost of Consumables per client.

There are Items and tools that you also have to factor into the cost, such as files,
orangewood sticks, cotton balls, lint-free wipes. Again, divide the cost by how many units of these products you would use. A file costs $1.20, and you may use it if it’s sanitizable at least 10 times.

Therefore the cost of the file is factored in to be $0.12 per client.

Step 3. Cost of your time per client.

Now factor in how much it costs you to be there every hour. This includes costs such as wage, rent, insurances, EFTPOS fees etc. Be reasonable with estimating your expectation for your wages. The award wage sits around $25.00 to $30.00 an hour.

Insurance premiums can be divided down to weekly, then daily then hourly. For example, a premium may be $500.00 per year. Divide that by 52 weeks, then divide this by the number of days per week you work, and then finally how many working hours in that day.

Step 4. The hidden costs.

Don’t forget costs such as washing towels, phone plans, garbage bin liners,
also coffee and tea. Once you have worked out closely what it costs you to sit behind that desk for an hour, you will see what it is costing you just to provide that service, however, it doesn’t quite stop there.


It is important to allow yourself some flexibility for growth and replacement. What would happen if you had to replace that expensive electric file for $800.00, or introduce a new service to your salon which involves purchasing stock and equipment? I always allowed a buffer amount to my service costs just for these expenses. It may just be $10.00 every hour, but over the month it works out to $350.00 a week.


Now I’m not saying don’t go and research what everyone else is charging in your area, as it’s very important to know what your competition is charging. If it’s more than you have worked out in your costing exercise, well bully for you, pop your prices up to the average.

Resist being the cheapest, and certainly don’t go in as the dearest.

Think about it like getting 3 quotes on having some plumbing fixed. You wouldn’t necessarily choose the cheapest because human nature would wonder what they are skimping on, and you wouldn’t pick the dearest because you would wonder why others can come in cheaper. So being the middle priced quote seems to make good sense.

If you found yourself after doing your costing exercise, and competitor research to be the dearest, then you will have to go back to your figures and see where you can save on costs. It may be negotiating a better rent deal or dropping your buffer budget slightly, perhaps your wage expectation is a little too high, to begin with.

The most important advice of all, is to set your prices correctly from the very start of your appointment, because putting them up in a short time frame whilst still building a clientele can destroy all of your hard work.


You need to be solid and dependable. Those technicians who don’t have the ability to price themselves correctly, discover soon enough that there is no money in there predicament and fold.


“Failure to plan, is a plan for failure”

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