Leighton Denny MBE

Leighton Denny MBE is a leading expert and an internationally recognised figure in the beauty world with a multi-award winning range of Expert Nail and Sun Believable tanning products. With a vast amount of significant achievements, he also possesses a star-studded client list that includes Kate Moss, Penelope Cruz and Adele.


Why is CEW membership important to you?

A body like CEW is crucial for our industry – it creates a platform for the beauty industry to showcase our importance to the British economy and to have power in numbers to lobby for change on behalf of members. It supports, helps and broadens industry appeal, moving our profession to a more respected status. It is also there to ensure standards are kept high and that we are all rightfully proud of what we achieve every year. I love its role in encouraging and mentoring young professionals too and the wide array of inspiring talks it promotes.

What is the most exciting aspect of your current role?

Where do I start?! I feel reinvigorated and so excited to be back as the driving force behind the brand. After five years concentrating on other projects, I have re-injected the core DNA into the brand - the creativity, the expert knowledge, the heart and soul, the energy and the fun with which it was originally created. We’ve refocused to concentrate on the customer, on innovation, on education, on spear-heading new product development and shaking up the nail market. It is exciting and fulfilling creatively, coming up with new ways to push boundaries and drive the nail industry and my brand to more accountability in terms of the environment. I am also now back on shopping tv which is both exhausting and thrilling, As I am now front and centre at Leighton Denny Nails again I am busy managing my team, with events, npd, design, talking to manufacturers about more responsible ways to manufacture, talking to customers and press and media! It’s a whirlwind!

What do you love most about working in the beauty industry?

This industry is the best! What a wonderful way to spend your career! No two days are the same and it calls on all of your skills – creativity, planning, customer service, marketing, branding, manufacturing, educating, financial planning, selling, writing, presenting, media skills, dreaming . . . I feed off the creativity and passion of other people and have met so many talented people along the way. I love my customers – they constantly offer feedback, most good and sometimes challenging us to do better . . . The industry is ever evolving and you cannot stay still for a moment – every five years it has changed and developed and I love that pace and energy!

What are you most excited about for your business in the next twelve months?

The next twelve months will be one of the busiest times of my whole career . . . having just taken back control of the brand we are already selling out on Shopping TV. We are exporting to US, Australia and New Zealand. We have lots of npd in development and have worked tirelessly on industry innovations to ensure our new products are as eco-friendly as possible, challenging our manufacturers and setting industry standards. Thanks to modern technology, we’ve been able to update many aspects of our products - you’ll be seeing more plant-based and vegan formulae, a reduction in single-use plastic, more recycled, and recyclable, packaging and of course new ground-breaking treatments, tools and polishes. We’re also manufacturing as much as possible in the UK and EU to reduce our carbon footprint. I am proud to be able to be more sustainable and planet-friendly without ever compromising the high performance, results-driven Leighton Denny brand.

What advice would you give to someone starting in the industry today?

Do your ground work and your home work! Get qualified and learn as much as you can. Go to trade shows, read trade publications. Keep up with the latest technologies and trends. Learn from those above you. And nothing takes the place of hands-on experience. To me, fast track is fast track to disaster. Learn from the ground up! My own success was born of almost two decades of very literal ‘hands on’ salon experience. For years, I worked in my own salons across the country every day talking endlessly with clients about their nail concerns. This helped me understand the confusion people had regarding nail care, the psychology of their choices - and that there was a great need for education and simplification. I saw how customers used tools and that the ‘one product fits all’ mantra did not apply to nails. My concept for my nail brand was skincare for nails, recognising different nail types and it was a game-changer for the market. This came from years of hands-on experience and listening. But enjoy it too!! As my dad used to say, ‘If you love your job you will never work a day in your life’. That’s certainly been my experience, exhausting and stressful as it often is!

What are the books you’d recommend and why?

Well I am severely dyslexic (and an Ambassador for British Dyslexia Association) so as I always say, the first book I ever read was the one I wrote – How I Nailed It!!!! I am currently enjoying Alison Young’s new book, The Beauty Insider though – as down to earth and insightful and helpful as Alison always is.

What’s the most important piece of advice you have been given during your career?

As often getting back up again after a disappointment is part of running any business, I often think of the advice I was given when I was young ‘you only fail when you stop trying’ – that has kept me going through many a difficult period.