Mental Health Resources, Advice and Guidance for Nail Techs

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, nail professionals share their insight, tips and advice for those who are looking to make changes at how they address mental health in the nail and beauty industry.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, nail professionals share their insight, tips and advice for those who are looking to make changes at how they address mental health in the nail and beauty industry.
Image from Prostock-studio via Adobe Stock

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues and help reduce the stigma so many experience.

For nail techs who have so much on their plate and often serve as an outlet to their clients to discuss the daily on-goings of their life, mental health is a priority that often gets overlooked.

“Mental health is important to me because I’m not just a licensed professional,” shares Candice Idehen (@candiceidehen), celebrity nail tech and owner of Bed of Nails NYC. “I’m an individual as well. I have my own thoughts, feelings and emotions/outside life apart from the salon. Having sound mental health allows me to do my job with ease and be the best professional that I can be for my clients.” 

Asia Bloodworth (@asiathabird) is a licensed cosmetologist, illustrator and podcaster. She recalls working as a nail tech in a spa during college and learning how to deal with clients for the sake of her mental health. 

“Mental health is very important to everyday life. What I appreciate about this climate is that there is more conversation surrounding mental health and the importance of self care and setting boundaries,” Bloodworth says. “It's important to maintain composure when you deal with difficult people.” 

Idehen also speaks on how client interactions have shaped how she approaches her own mental health, adding, “My experience with clients over the last decade has shown me that it is important to put yourself first and ensure your survival and well-being is intact. Clients will come and go, and the ones who are actually loyal and appreciate you in your craft will accommodate any breaks or requirements you may have to maintain your mental health.”

Now, these beauty pros are sharing their insight, tips and advice for those who are looking to make changes at how they address mental health in the nail and beauty industry.

Prioritizing Mental Health in the Nail Industry 

Whether it’s a full book of clients, a social media presence to develop, collaborations with brands, running a salon or any other task, there’s never a slow moment in the nail industry. As a nail tech, you have to take steps on your own to prioritize your mental health, but it’s crucial that the industry has measures and values in place to care for its professionals. 

So, how does the nail industry stack up? Our pros agree there is a long way to go before progress is achieved. 

“I don’t think the beauty industry properly addresses the mental health of nail techs because we are in a culture of being booked and busy equating success,” Idehen explains. “I prefer a healthy balance of work and personal time as well as taking care of yourself as a priority just as much as it is seeing clients. This is not an excuse for poor customer service or negative client interactions, but there needs to be a recall on the expectations of a professional as it pertains to servicing clients. You do not have to be always available at all times whenever they need you.” 

Bloodworth agrees, also commenting on hustle culture playing a large role in the nail industry, saying, “There's an expectation that we have to achieve everyday, and that's taking care of clients and putting our needs second. There is some awareness about it now, and beauty professionals are bringing awareness to mental health, but I do think there's still a long way to go as far as talking about the importance of mental health in the beauty community, especially in the nail industry/community.” 

Making Changes

Nail techs are often placed in the role of a therapist without being asked, and that they don’t have the tools to handle carrying the weight of their client’s burdens as well as their own. On top of all the other hats nail techs wear in the industry, it’s no surprise that burnout is a common issue. 

So, how can the industry change the way it approaches addressing the mental health needs of its professionals?

Idehen believes the best place to start making changes is in cosmetology school. 

“I think it’s important to educate new techs upon graduating school how to manage a schedule and properly gain clients and emphasize the importance of taking care of yourself as a solopreneur,” she says. “The moment you leave school, you’re focused on finding and securing clients at all costs. There needs to be a proper understanding of the acclimation period of gaining clients and being okay with taking the time to build a clientele – not at the expense of your mental health but in a smart and organized way.” 

Bloodworth addresses the need for more resources for nail techs and stresses the need for more communication on the topic. 

“I think there should be more online and virtual mental health resources for beauty professionals to go to or a directory for therapists close to where a beauty professional lives and/or works,” she states. “Plus, I think there should be more conversations and panel discussions surrounding the topic of mental health in the beauty industry. I think the more we speak about this issue, the more likely it's taken seriously.”

Putting Practices in Place 

Change can be overwhelming, and it’s oftentimes difficult to know where to start or what the best practices are to put into place to make a meaningful and impactful shift in your salon environment. 

Idehen advises that salon owners have regular meetings and check-ins with their team and staff to make sure their pain points and concerns are addressed. This also ensures there is an open window for communication and support. 

“Understand what your staff’s strengths and weaknesses are and utilize them,” Idehen continues. “A lot of overwhelmed feelings from staff comes from unmanaged expectations, unclear expectations or feeling undervalued.” 

She also goes on to add that it’s important to be adaptable and flexible to the needs of your team, saying, “We live in the present for a reason. You must ensure that your systems are still working for you and your team so that you can keep mental health at the forefront.” 

If a staff member is struggling with their mental health, Bloodworth says salon owners should direct them to the proper resources and provide continuous support throughout their journey. 

Taking Initiative 

While it’s important and crucial to have an environment that is supportive of its professionals mental health needs, none of that matters if you aren’t taking steps on your own to care for your mental health. Speaking from experience, it’s easy to skip a meal so you can finish a task, work long hours to fit in as many tasks as possible into the day and even wreck your sleep schedule just to see how much more you can get done. 

So how do you break those bad habits and damaging cycles of behavior? 

Bloodworth shares her tips: 

  • Build your own schedule, and set time in between your clients for breaks to eat, take a walk or unwind. Prioritize your me-time.
  • Have days off set in place in your schedule, so you can take a mental break away from work.
  • Set boundaries with clients. This includes when you will or won’t respond to inquiries.
  • If you have a trusted support community of friends and trusted colleagues to go to, share what you're going through. It’s likely they are going through similar things too!
  • Seek professional help for suggestions on what to do to manage your mental health and stress in the workplace.
  • Be sure you're getting as much sleep as you can.
  • Have a good diet.
  • Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

Idehen also emphasizes the importance of having other outlets to explore passions or desires outside of work and making sure to reward yourself for any goals or achievements you accomplish. 

Mental Health Resources for the Nail Professional 

When you are at your lowest and your cup is at its emptiest, it’s difficult to even think about taking the first step, especially on your own. That’s why having the proper mental health tools and resources at your disposal is crucial.

Bloodworth recommends using BetterHelp or Talkspace as resources for online therapy. 

Journaling is also a great tool to use for a quick, daily check-in with yourself to see what you are feeling, why you are feeling that way and what tasks you need to accomplish each day. It’s okay if you don’t get every task on your plate done in one day – There’s always tomorrow. Take it one day at a time, and be proud of what you’ve accomplished each day. 

You can also share these additional resources with your staff: 

About Our Experts: 

Candice Idehen (@candiceidehen) is the founder/CEO of the Bed of Nails Brand, which includes Shop Bed of Nails, Bed of Nails Academy and Bed of Nails NYC. In her 12 years of experience in the nail industry as a nail technician and business owner, she has traveled the world doing nails and has led fashion week shows in New York and Paris as well as working at shows in London and Milan.

Asia Bloodworth (@asiathabird) is a licensed cosmetologist, illustrator, graphic artist, podcaster and native Washingtonian that lives in the DC Metropolitan Area. She earned her Cosmetology License in 2015 and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2019. She has her own podcast, Nails and Beauty Talk, on YouTube, where she interviews nail professionals and covers topics ranging from nails and fashion to crypto and Web3.

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