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How Much Should I Charge for Nails? How To Set Your Prices as a Nail Tech


How important is it for you to know your cost per service as a nail tech? What is it and why does it need to take up space in your brain? As a nail professional, it’s smart to calculate what your earning potential is beyond the estimated amount of services each bottle of nail liquid can provide. You're beyond the beginner stage—you’re a business owner now. The goal of your business is to turn a profit and provide a lucrative life-long income. There are several factors that go into the equation of cost per service. Don’t worry the math part is surprisingly simple. The hard part is taking an honest accounting of where all your money goes. So let’s have at it, shall we?


What comes in should be more than what goes out. We are talking about money here. The short-term goal of this math exercise is to get clear on your monthly nail service expenses. Eventually, you will keep each month’s total expenses and calculate the averages over the next three months, next six months, and finally over twelve months to get a really accurate accounting of your books. This will ensure a wider view of spending and account for any seasonal and client fluctuations.

*Always remember to hire an honest and reliable accounting professional for official tax advice; we are in the nail manufacturing business not accounting.

Here is how we do the math:
  • Pick one month to start collecting all your receipts for nail products that go into a service. Gather them up at the end of each week and set them aside. At the end of four weeks, add all those totals. [For this exercise we’ll say we spent a total of $1000 a month in nail and nail art products.]
  • Next, keep track of all the clients you booked during the same month. [For this exercise, let’s say we saw an average of 12 clients per day x 5 days a week. Our weekly average is 60 clients per week. Our monthly average is 240 clients.]
  • To calculate your cost per service, divide the total amount of your nail expenses [$1000] by the number of clients per month [240]. $1000/240 clients = $4.16 cost per service.

Don’t depend on just one month of numbers. Each month is different. Consider seeing what it looks like from June to December. To get really accurate, take the average of all your nail supplies and number of clients over the course of 12 months.

Save all your receipts; every single little amount big or small and hand them over to your tax person.


What comes in should be more than what goes out. Keep your margins large and in charge. This is the sign of a healthy business. You should be charging enough over cost of services so that you are earning a profit and not just breaking even. You are not a charity. You are an entrepreneur.

It’s possible you might have a blurred idea of what you are actually earning or spending on product. It should feel good to know how much you earn each month. It’s something you should be obsessed about. It also should feel good to know how much you are spending in overhead costs in addition to nail supply expenses.

It’s not a great idea to be flying blind with your business finances. You need to know if you are making money or losing money. Can the way you are currently running your business provide you with enough income to support you and the life you want to live? What is your net profit after your cost of goods? That is business 101.


Every month as a business owner, you should be as committed to your finances as you are to learning a new nail trend technique. Sanitation and hygiene for your nail services and financial account maintenance should be equally as important.

You should know if the money you are bringing in as a salon owner makes sense. Is it worth having a salon or should you dial it down to a nail suite or booth? Does your love of nails pay you enough?

Once we calculated the cost of service for an established and talented YN mentor and it came in around $10 per hour. She charged $150 for a set of nails which sounds like a lot. However it took her six hours to do the service and god only knows how much in nail art product.

Is it possible your business model might have to shift? How many clients with simpler service requests could you turn over in six hours and how much more could you make off of them? Wouldn’t you want to know if you are earning above your state’s minimum wage? Wouldn’t you want to know if financially it makes more sense to work at Costco with paid benefits and vacation? Can you see now that what you don’t know might hurt you?


All this conversation in math and numbers is for the health of your business. We know that it takes time to get up and running to become a full-time nail tech. If you are not making as much as you would like to, it will force you to raise your prices.

A lot of techs out there are not going to be honest with themselves. Sometimes we just spend on auto-pilot with no budget in mind. Techs aren’t going to include all those expensive Swarovski crystals and pricey charms, or other goodies that they buy but maybe don’t use or are not charging for.

You might be surprised if you did know how much you spent on things like these. Account for everything. Inventory your art supplies and see what’s moving into services or not. Sell off what is dormant in your nail offering and make money there. Sell it on eBay or write it off as a loss.

Or maybe, just maybe, you are using them but you are still not charging enough mark up for them. Nail techs are notorious for pricing guilt. Techs might feel bad upcharging their clients. This is your wake up call. You are worth it!


Would you be scared to know that you are barely making minimum wage? We’ve done the math on the potential revenues. These numbers do not take into account your overhead costs and expenses. You really need to know what you are taking to the bank.

If you want to know what the margin you need to be making, work backwards. How much do you want to make annually? What is the dream figure you have in your head? Five years from now, do you want to be earning $100K per year?

Break down and work the equation backwards to understand what the margin needs to be. To do that you need to know your costs, all of your costs like booth rent, laundry detergent for towels, utilities, nail product supplies, nail art supplies, marketing costs, health insurance, paid vacation days, etc. Write these all down somewhere. You have to pay these out first before you can earn a profit.

Sometimes it's a harsh reality. Sometimes this can light a fire under you. You need to know the destination before you can plan the journey. When you know all your costs, you can then identify where your business is doing well and where it can stand to be tweaked for the better.

Maybe you are not charging enough. Maybe your books aren't stacked with enough clients. Maybe you can improve your speed. Maybe your booth rent is too high. All of these factors go into determining if your business can turn a profit. This vital information allows the nail pro to check in on how efficiently you are working and identify areas for potential growth.

The bottom line is that now that you are running your own business, you should be curious about what kind of lifestyle you can afford to live. It’s a numbers game. How many services do you need to book per day to hit an earnings goal? How many services a week do you need to book in order to cover the rent and products? What is your targeted goal for earning each month? This is why knowing how to calculate your cost per service is key for your own business. It’s the financial heart of the profession.

*Disclaimer: We are not accounting experts. We are just sharing our experience in hopes of offering you insight into running your business. Please set yourself up with an accountant or tax professional to get the true accounts breakdown for your individual business. Having this knowledge is important and it’s a good business habit to keep a snapshot of your accounts.

**This is an adaption from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, “BIZ TALK: CALCULATING YOUR COST PER NAIL SERVICE”.