Does the photo above remind you of your manicure table? Mmmmm, so clean and ready to make my nails look great, right? No, how about no. I would turn around and GTFO. There’s probably a dead body in there.

Clients, I don’t blame you at all for staying away from a scene like this. The creative process finished looks so beautiful, but getting there involves a lot of mess generally. Usually you don’t want to see what’s going on behind the big curtain (I do, but that’s because I want to know who, what, when, where, why, and how about almost everything.)

We all admire organized people and places. Well, ok sometimes I laugh at them because they can be sort of neurotic. But when I can’t find something, I lose my shit and organize everything like a labeling tornado. Then gloat when people admire my psychotic episode completed in all its’ glory.

Being organized will help you in so many ways, especially with the gobs of tools and supplies we use to do our job. This post will go over in full detail on how to organize your workstation. You’ve been putting it off, you don’t want it to look that way anymore, and your sloppy station really turns your clients off. Your pot of glitter whatever that you were going to swatch today can wait. This task will benefit you almost immediately.


I know this may sound like a mundane topic, but back before I went to beauty school, I regularly had my nails done at different salons since I couldn’t find a tech that wouldn’t hurt me. It didn’t matter if I went to a chop shop, or a high end salon that shoved its nail tech into a closet somewhere to make itself extra money; their workstation looked like a war-zone of equipment, past filings, paint, adhesives, and god knows what else. Techs would open a drawer and dig around like they were rummaging through an estate sale bin for supplies, and their lack of care for their equipment really disgusted me and set the tone of ‘I don’t care about my job’.

You’re Going to Have the Most Professional Looking Workstation, Because We are Going to Exploit Something Called Halo Effect, Disambiguation,  or Physical Attractiveness Stereotyping.

Halo Effect is something where an individual’s overall impression of another person influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties. It was named by psychologist Edward Thorndike. In boiled down terms, if someone looks attractive, an individual will assume the person is also angelic i.e. they are truthful, honest, kind, giving, nice, smart, wealthy, have good relationships, are educated, healthy, and friendly. All this without the person viewed even saying one word. There’s also another stereotyping called Horns Effect that is exactly what it sounds like: unattractive people are stereotyped as dumb, lazy, poor, selfish, evil, mean, loners, and sick.

That’s why people are so surprised when the clean cut, attractively styled, blonde haired, blue eyed, and sweet voiced character in a story is actually the bad guy. Ted Bundy was a serial killer and it threw the jury off during his trial because he made himself to look very attractive in court. We’re not Ted Bundy though, we’re just trying to help our establishing clients see that we’re going to make them look and feel great though our work and materials.

We are representative of the beauty industry. Unless we represent it by writing at desk in a cubicle for a beauty magazine, then our image is being looked at by our clients to gauge how devoted we are to our craft. It shouldn’t be that way, but we are visual animals. Shine, symmetry, patterns, colors, lines all come into play with visual first impressions, especially when we are servicing a client. Basically if a client came to a salon to look better, and they’re shown to their seat by a professional that looks like they just rolled out of bed and lives out of their workstation, a client is not going to buy anything that professional recommends. It’s in your best interest to be at least organized at work. This is actually psychologically proven to help set you up for success professionally.

Now us professionals know that usually the best people in the industry are so busy with clients that they don’t have the time to sit and have services done to them, but I’m talking about a typical person that doesn’t know the difference between a blue based red and a yellow based red. Make it easy for them to understand that you’re going to do a good job by having a nice looking workplace.


If You Look Like Ass and Your Workspace Looks Like a Bomb Went Off, Then Your Client Will Assume Your Work is Just as Awful.

In addition to Halo Effect in psychology, Gregory’s Theory states that what we see is combined with instances we have experienced in the past to make an assumption. For example: you walk into a restaurant, and see a big fat cockroach run across the floor and climb up the wall. You know that dirty places have cockroaches from past experiences, and then assume the kitchen of the restaurant is dirty too, so you’ll get food poisoning from eating at this restaurant.

If you have a junked up cluttered workstation and don’t look put together, your client is going to assume you’re going to handle product improperly and make their nails a home for fungus. They’ll tell their friends. You’ll lose business. And it really isn’t necessary to have plastic tubs of supplies chucked into it stacked up behind your chair. You can make it look as nice as something on tv. And if you set a date in your calendar to do this each 6 months, you’ll have no overhauling to do. So let’s clean up our workstation!

It’s pretty straightforward:

  1. Take a before picture of your workstation in all its heinous, unorganized glory!

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  1. Take out all your stuff from your workstation, including all your miscellaneous nail art pieces.
  2. Check items to see if they are junk: unusable, expired, dried up, outdated. Toss or recycle that stuff.
  3. Put similar items together, and prioritize which items will be closest to your dominant hand.
  • In my first right drawer, I put my manicure items (files, buffers, pushers, cuticle softener, nippers, cuticle oil) since that’s always my first step before doing extensions or art.

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  • In the second drawer on the right, I have my extension supplies, like adhesives, tips, forms and tip cutters


  • In the third drawer on the right, the deepest drawer, I put my overlay/extension gel supplies: my lamp, my led curing lamp, my gels in a drawer space saver tray, tabletop acetone, tabletop alcohol, cotton pads, gel remover foils.

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  • In the first drawer on my left, I store my nail art supplies: art brushes, dotters, glitters, rhinestones, tweezers, tapes, stencils, stickers, ect.

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  • In the second drawer on my left, I store my brush on gel color and pots of colored gel.
  • In the third drawer on my left, I have my practice hand, my bottles of disinfectant, alcohol, acetone, and whatever other liquid extra supplies or tall supplies I have from buying that don’t fit in my right hand drawer.
  •  I have a rings of swatches for clients to figure out what color they want, so my bottles of color stay out of sight. I only have 30 colors of polish and 30 of gel. I buy one set of seasonal colors for polish and gel, since in 3 months the trend colors will change and likely won’t carry into the next season.

Drawer organizers are your friend. There are some that are slim and can fit over the top lip of your drawer to make a second stacked mini drawer within for small supplies like brushes, flat jars of glitter, gel jars, and so on. When you use drawer organizers, you can visually check when you’re low on supplies and not buy doubles or triples of things you already have. It’s an effective and tidy way to make things easy for you to find so you won’t go digging around for things and look unprofessional.

Also if you want to pull out colors of small items like glitter or decals, drawer organizers allow you to pull it all out at once, neatly laid out, for your client to select. It saves you time in retrieving and putting your supplies away. They’re inexpensive too, I bought a couple at a dollar store and they had both of the fused together as one block kind as well as the separate compartment kind. I would get a type that has a solid bottom so that they’re easy to clean as opposed to having to also wipe out your drawers.

  1. Write dates on items to know when you’ve purchased it. If you’ve still got a full pack of stickers from a year ago, it’s not worth keeping and taking up valuable drawer space.  If it’s really killing you to toss it, you can put them in an envelope and write ‘discard by : (date for one year from now)’ and put it in your extra supplies drawer. If you haven’t opened it by that date, then it belongs in the trash.
  2. Clear polishes from your tabletop and get a slim cabinet with doors to store them in behind your chair, but up higher on the wall so your client doesn’t have to bend down to select a color. The more open your tabletop appears, the more organized and professional you visually project yourself to your client. If you have a table with built in polish stands, put photos there or your framed license/certification copies printed to scale there instead.
  3. Buy a small serving dish/toiletries dish to hold your clients manicure items so that it looks framed out on your desk. Doing this will also keep your train of thought together on what steps you have already done for your service.
  4. Put a vase of flowers or something nice for your client to look at instead of your lamp arm, disinfectant jar, or whatever else is on your left that is not nice to look at.
  5. Take an after picture of your workstation to revel in all of your accomplishment!

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Lastly, if you are a single booth renter, don’t buy in bulk. It’s not worth saving $5 or whatever dollars to take up so much room at your table.

If you can spare $3 for a bouquet of mums or these peruvian lillies they have a nice spread to them, last over a week, and distract your client from having to look at your discarded tools on your left side.

That glass ball I have on the towel is to keep my client’s wrist loose and their fingers propped up when I am not using my gel lamp. I got it at HomeGoods for about $20. Since it’s glass it’s non porous and I just clean it with my Better Life Spray between services.

How is your workstation organized? Post pictures of your before, after, and how much trash you found in there in the comments section!