May 2008

Vicki Peters

The Nail Extension | by Vicki Peters


Considering the Special Needs of the Mature Clientele

In keeping with this month’s theme on mature clients, I reached out to a few friends who specialize in manicures and pedicures catering to mature clients. Manicures and pedicures on someone older take a bit more consideration to their needs, especially when health issues are involved.

Client consultation is always important but has an even bigger function in the case of a mature client. We should always take the time to do a consultation prior to starting the service. Mature clients can be fragile and their information can give you a heads up on issues. Knowing about circulatory, ambulatory, arthritis, diabetes and pain issues are critical in giving a manicure or pedicure safely and enjoyably.

Darlene Donovan from New Hampshire says her older clients are between 62 and 85; most of them have arthritis and some severe joint pain. When she begins the manicure service, she always asks if they are experiencing any joint pain, so she can massage them appropriately. Many of us have a lot of strength in our hands from working with them all day, so we need to be careful that the massage isn’t painful. Donovan uses slow and gentle movements with a lighter touch than normal so she does not bruise the skin.

Using a light touch with all your movements, even pushing the cuticles back, is critical, according to Penny Sadler from Ohio, who also has many mature clients. She always asks if there are any changes in their health or medications, or if there is anything their doctor says they should not be doing before she begins her service.

Jennifer McCormick from Oregon discounts her paraffin services for the elderly and makes it part of the manicure because of the arthritis they may have. The warmth helps with arthritis and will help them relax a bit more during the massage. McCormick also uses a sloughing style lotion to remove the dead skin instead of an abrasive because it is kinder and gentler on their thin skin.

Consider using a gentle file when filing their fingernails. Too coarse of a file may be uncomfortable and too aggressive, and may shred their already dry, brittle nails. Buffing the top surface needs to be done gently as well, don’t over due it. Ridges can become thicker as you get older and they can stand to be buffed. However, over buffing can thin them out too much, so be careful. Use a soft buffer and do not buff too fast as you can cause discomfort with heat.

Most mature clients prefer shorter rounded nails. Others prefer pointed nails, which is an old-fashioned style. Filing this shape is usually done in from the sides of the free edge, which compromises strength -- be sure to explain this to them. Round the nails gently without taking off their sides. French manicures are popular with mature clients and you need to have a stock of “mature colors” on hand such as mauve and pinks. Toes may be a different story -- conservative clients may want that French manicure on their fingernails but will throw caution to the wind with toe color.

Penny Sadler assists her mature clients with everything, sitting, getting up, putting on or taking off their coat, greeting them at the door and walking them to the door when they leave. Most of these people are in their 80s and above, but you wouldn’t know it as they are on the go, not sitting around in a nursing home. She feels she is a little more cognizant of their age. Sadler said as she was writing this she realized it would be a very positive thing if we treated everyone who walked through our door this way. It shouldn’t just be for the older generation.

Building the fine touches of our salons and services around our mature clients is a wonderful gift to that section of our society. It also makes us more aware of ways to take care of everyone we meet. Hopefully, the consideration these few stylists have shared with us will inspire us all to excel in catering to our mature clientele.

Vicki Peters is a 26 year veteran master nail tech, competition champion, judge, international educator, author and manufacturer and serves on the Nail Manufacturer Council. For more information visit or email her at