Can robot manicures and traditional nail salons coexist?

There are now self-driving cars, computerized cashiers, and robotic delivery vehicles, so it’s only a matter of time before the technology begins to penetrate the beauty industry. To some extent, it has already done so. Thanks to artificial intelligence software, you no longer have to go to the store to try on makeup or try out new hair colors, and the average consumer has access to a home machine that lets you do everything from making your own lipstick shade to giving it to NASA-backed research. Do your own facial.

Technology, especially robotics, is even starting to change the service side of the beauty industry. In California, you can use Luum’s robotic eyelash extensions, and in London, Amazon has opened a hair salon, bringing the convenience of its digital storefront to brick-and-mortar stores. But the nail industry could be the next beauty field to see some dramatic changes from robotic manicurists, like Clockwork.

The Rise of Robotic Nail Art
Launched in San Francisco in 2020, Clockwork offers the first robotic manicures. “Clockwork’s fully autonomous robot uses proprietary artificial intelligence, 3D cameras and sophisticated algorithms to paint nails in under 10 minutes and is the first to be deployed in public,” CEO Renuka Apte told POPSUGAR. robot.

Monochrome nail polishes cost just $8 right now, and while they’re still in limited locations, the goal is to expand. “We want to continue to expand our retail footprint so more people can get their nails on the go, and eventually create robots for other grooming services beyond nails.” Clockwork means incredibly fast and easy , and does not require human interaction.

This new technology comes as no surprise to many manicurists and salon owners. “Technology is taking over almost every industry,” says Julie Kandalek, a celebrity manicurist in New York City and founder of JK Nail Artelier. Oakland, Calif.-based celebrity manicurist and owner of Saunders & James, Michelle Saunders, actually got his nails done when Clockwork first launched. “I hadn’t heard of the possibility of robotic manicures before the COVID pandemic started,” Saunders said. “I understand the grand idea of ​​’no-touch’ manicures because hands were the conduit for the virus at the time.”

Will Robotic Manicures Replace Nail Salons?
Many of the experts we interviewed can see the value in a machine like clockwork, but they don’t think it can replace traditional nail salons. During the pandemic, we have experienced a near-total absence of human contact, which has negatively impacted the mental health of many. The person-to-person interaction you get in the cosmetic process can be therapeutic. Beauty professionals are often in a unique role where they double as confidants, which is one reason why Tennessee requires hair stylists to undergo anti-domestic violence training as a resource for clients.

“Technology is an incredible thing – but it will never replace human interaction and connection.”

“Technology is an incredible thing — but it will never replace human interaction and connection — which is invaluable to our everyday lives,” Kandalek said. “People go to the salon for many reasons other than changing their nail polish, and they really want to indulge in the ultimate self-care. Small, but addicting touches like hand massages, lavender-scented hot towels, And of course there’s a sense of community, and these are just some of the many services that robots can’t replace.”

Still, according to Clockwork, that’s never been their goal — not so much to replace, as they want to work in tandem with beauty experts. “We don’t see ourselves as competing with traditional beauty salons,” Apte said. “Think of clockwork as a ‘quick service’ beauty. Kind of like what a takeaway or fast food restaurant does to a restaurant.

When to use a robot manicure vs. when to go to a salon for a manicure
Sanders thinks it’s good to have such a quick and easy machine in those peak times when every manicurist is being persuaded. “If you put the oil changer near the front desk, providing the oil changer can bring in more customers and more revenue,” she said. However, since robot manicurists can’t do the maintenance work that usually accompanies the service (at least, not yet), such as filing, shaping and cuticle cutting, “their hands must be pre-trimmed by a professional manicurist to achieve ideal effect”.

Kandalec agrees that there is a time and place for robotic manicures. “I was home for Easter and got to the airport almost two hours early,” she said. “The nail salon in the terminal doesn’t have enough staff and the wait time is too long. But in this case, a robot manicure would be perfect for a quick change of nail polish in 10 minutes.”

To some extent, this partnership is already happening. Clockwork does not have the ability to do fancy designs and manicures, which are very popular these days, so there is still a strong demand for highly skilled manicurists. “When people want a refined, pampering service, they go to a salon,” Apte said. “Our automation gives users a new option when they need the assurance of speed and quality, or when they’re not in the mood for the luxury and expense of a salon experience. Both services are in demand, and we work harmoniously to provide Serving on different occasions.”