A Seasoned Nail Technician Talks The Trade & Offers Some Tips

He’s one of the toughest guys in Chicago but even former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher has been known to get a manicure – it comes with the territory when you’re pitching products on television, print or online. He definitely puts the MAN in manicure – and he’s not alone.

Brian Urlacher Chicago Bulls

Yes-this tough guy gets manicures!


More men of all ages and backgrounds are paying someone to keep their hands looking good, according to Martine Fung-Cap, Nail Department Director at Studio 110 Salon in Chicago’s Gold Coast area.

Studio 110 salon Chicago

“I’ve had everyone from a construction worker to a retiree.”  Not to mention music moguls and business executives of all ages.  About 20-25 percent of her clients are men and the price is the same whether you’re a Joe or a Jane:  $23. Pedicures go for $45.  Martine says those are more popular in the summer when flip flops are likely to expose problems that can turn-off a date.

The self-confessed former nail-biter says she never intended for manicures to become her mission.  Martine worked as an office-manager before trading in her desk for a station at the salon.

“Every day is different,” she says. “I love it!“ Quite a few clients are referred by wives and girlfriends who want to hold a more tailored hand to go along with that Patek Philippe watch and Zegna suit.  Martine has plenty of regulars but she also meets traveling businessmen from around the world who are staying at the neighboring Four Seasons Hotel.

“I love the interaction with people,” she says.

steve oldfieldManicure1sm

Martine sees regulars about every two weeks; some also opt for a pedicure once a month. Many clients schedule their manicure to coincide with monthly haircuts, hopping from the stylist’s chair to the nail technician’s in a visit that can last an hour-and-a-half.

“We also offer express service for people who just want a touch up instead of the full-treatment,” she says. The half-hour express service is $30 for a pedicure and a combo manicure/pedicure express is $45.  While a standard tip is 20-25%, Martine has also had clients tip her as much as 100% of the bill.

“I’ve found many clients don’t mind spending money if they feel it’s money well spent,” she says.

Right from the beginning, you know this is NOT your Grandma’s manicure – or the one you used to see in those Palmolive commercials if you’re over 40. You don’t start by plopping your paws into a bowl of soapy water – or “bath” as it’s called in the biz.

Martine sanitizes your hands and then she sprays them with a conditioner.  For men with tough cuticles, she’ll also wrap your hands in a warm, moist towel before going to work, using a brand new nail file for every client.

“That costs us a little more, but we want to make everything as sanitary as possible,” she says.  Martine always wears gloves during pedicures.  She says you should also make sure you’re going to a “Certified Nail Technician,” who has an active license with city or state.  While many customers find a technician by word-of-mouth, she also recommends checking websites like ‘Yelp!” for reviews.  Martine says once you arrive at the salon the first time, take a quick look around and make sure the place is spotless BEFORE you sit down and surrender your hands. “You just can’t be too careful when it comes to being clean and sanitary,” she says.

steve oldfieldManicure2sm

KNOW THE LINGO: Martine will ask you if you want “a free edge” (showing a little of the white part of the nail) or only pink.  And just like when you get your shoes polished, you have a choice of a “buff” or “shine,” finish to the nail.  Some men may opt for a coat of clear polish. You can even get a polish designed just for guys, “Matte for Men,” that dries quickly without any trace of a shine.  While many men want a manicure that isn’t obvious, some clients are happy to show off their lacquered nails.

“It’s just a matter of preference,” Martine says, adding that even the most masculine clients have nails as shiny as the finish on their sports cars.

Martine prides herself on getting all of her first-time clients to settle down and enjoy the experience.  For the nervous ones, she often completely finishes one hand before starting on the other.

“That way, they can see that this girl knows what she’s doing,” she says. “Then they settle down and it’s fun.”

Image Credist:  Brian Urlacher Photo: Watercoolersports.com, Salon Exterior: Giltcity.com

Posted By: Steve Oldfield


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