Let’s face it, COVID-19 has got a lot of us strapped for cash. Some of us are even out of a job entirely. Nowadays, people are getting into all sorts of unconventional services to make up for the lack of green–like selling their closet items via Poshmark or Depop or posting risqué photos of themselves on Only Fans.  As a more conservative girl,  I’m taking this time to hone into my favorite hobby, nails, for extra cash! 

Businesses like Namaste and Crochet and  Nana + Livy are hobby-turned-business brands that I personally draw on for inspiration. Long before COVID-19 hit I hopped on the side hustle trend, and I’m so glad that I did. My nail obsession has turned into a steady stream of income, and the same can happen for you!

I know what your thinking, who likes taking advice from strangers? It isn’t my preference either, so let’s get acquainted. My name’s Annie and I’m a UK native living in Essex, which is about twenty minutes outside of London. My once booming suburb has been hit quite hard by COVID-19, just as yours probably has. When I’m not trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, I’m writing on beauty & wellness topics for Zoe Elle Co. The beauty and lifestyle worlds are lifelong passions of mine–especially where they intersect with self care because I love how amazing that makes you feel. 

Ok, girlie now let’s get back to business.  In the past, I was constantly paying out money to have my nails done at the salon. Whenever I wanted to skip the mani and save some cash, I would get FOMO from seeing perfect manicures on Instagram. It was a lose-lose situation for me so I decided to try out a new venture and became qualified in gel manicures so I could do them myself. 

I tried what felt like every color under the sun on myself, friends and family then decided to set up a side hustle and began soliciting clients.

Along the way, I’ve learned lots of  tips and tricks, dos and don’ts, and what’s hot and… what’s not. Whether your a nail enthusiast who doesn’t want to catch COVID at the salon or are interested in turing this love affair into a paid endeavor, here are some inside tips I’ve learned along the way that’ll help you get started. 

Master your prep:

The preparation stage is key to getting a salon quality manicure. At what point you begin your prep depends on the formula you are using. If you are using normal nail polish you want to start your prep at the basics. Make sure to work on your cuticle area, file, buff and exfoliate and moisturize. It’s important you do this at the start because polish can take a long time to dry completely and there’s nothing worse than spending time on your manicure just for it to smudge when you go in with hand cream.

 For those working with gel polish, it’s important you exfoliate and moisturize as your last step. The nail bed needs to be completely dry and clean for the gel polish to fully cure– if it’s greasy or oily from the products you’re using won’t cure correctly and won’t be as long-lasting. Once cured and you have removed the tacky layer from the topcoat, apply your cuticle oils and creams.

A cuticle oil that I personally love is Lauren B Beauty’s cuticle oil, it’s formula is a lightweight oil with a custom blend of plant, nut and flower oils. 

Lauren B beauty has a wide range of nail care products including a polishing hand scrub and a nourishing hand cream. Their products are vegan-friendly and free of harsh chemicals. Check out our earlier article for more on the company

I’m a real bright color girl, I love my blues and my reds, but I know there’s nothing quite like a classy nude. Lauren B beauty has a gorgeous nude collection with five polishes designed to suit every skin tone.

How to avoid chipping: 

If you’re experiencing chipping around the free edge, slightly round off the end of your nail with the file so the edge is no longer square and sharp. I have found if the chipping tends to be in the cuticle area, it means you need to spend a lil’ more time pushing back your cuticles, removing any dead skin in that area and giving it a good buff. 

Look after your mani:

A mantra I’m constantly telling my clients (that they’re probably bored of hearing) is to use your nails as JEWELS and not TOOLS. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true! Look after your mani and it will look after you. So, ladies, no opening a can with your nails, try and use the side of your finger/thumb.

Don’t pick or pull:

I’ve also found that the healthy nail beds are the nail beds that keep polish on for longer. It can really be a pain when you get some chipping, or your nail snaps and you want to pick the polish off but that can really cause trauma to the nail. It’s worth keeping a nail file on you always and if you want to be super cute, keep some nail polish remover pads in your purse.

Good for you and the planet:

Before you set up shop on your vanity and start inviting your first customers, let’s be real–do you know how your nail polishes are made? Nail polishes have their fair share of  best-to-avoided ingredients like: Formaldehyde, Toluene and Camphor to name a few. That’s why I stick to eco-friendly, non-toxic polishes that’ll be safe for my clients and the planet. 

I recently chatted with eco-friendly nail brand Tuesday in Love’s founder, Dr Umar Day. His brand is one of my go-to’s because they are a halal certified water permeable nail polish brand and they’re cruelty and child labour free. 

The color I’m currently wearing is called ‘Dream of You’. It’s a neutral pink/purple shade and with their topcoat gives a really glossy finish. It applies really well and evenly and I only needed two coats. I have found that it dries much faster than normal nail polish, which is great if you’re someone like me who cannot sit still for 5 minutes! Next I’ll be trying California Girl which is a real hot pink color– I always love this kind of shade on toes.

Hugs and Kisses is the perfect summer color. It looks slightly orange in the bottle but applies as a nice pink with coral undertones. It dries slightly matte but their top coat brings it out a nice gloss finish. 

When working with clients, I use Premier Gel. I have found this to be one of the best formulas out there and I love their selection of shades. They are cruelty-free and vegan which is super important to myself and a lot of my clients.

Happy side hustling, ladies!