Competition in the nail industry has never been more fierce, with new salons and nail bars popping up like mushrooms, many offering extraordinarily cheap deals for manicures, pedicures and other services, with high volume and fast turnover of clients.
This is a bonus, of course, for the cash or time-strapped, or those simply looking for “the deal”.
But at what cost are clients getting a bargain? It may be fine when having regular manis and pedis, but when it comes to the use of colour gels and acrylics, the situation gets trickier, with the potential for causing damage to natural nails escalating.
We’re not saying that just because a service is fast and cheap that it will necessarily be inferior – after all, it’s eminently possible to get poor or adverse results when paying premium prices in “upmarket” venues.
But what all this creates is a potential point of difference for you business – focusing on nail health, which more and more clients are seeking.
“Unfortunately these days, too many nail technicians are not trained extensively, or at all,” says Gina Hendriksen, OPI educator and school co-ordinator.
“It means they generally don’t understand the health and care of the natural nail. While the Australian industry has standards, there’s no one to monitor them.
And without a nail technician licensing system anyone can `do’ nails without qualifications.”
Gina says it’s seldom that the application of gels and acrylics is the source of damaged nails, “unless of course a drill has been used on the natural nails, thinning them out unnecessarily. And it only takes a little bump and the electric file has caused traumatic damage by cutting into the nail plate, sometimes drawing blood”.
She says the culprit causing the natural nail plate to break down is the removal process – especially when there is constant use of 100 percent acetone on the natural nail plate time and again.
“If removal of acrylics and gels are not handled with respect, layers and layers of the natural nail peel off, causing trauma to the nail plate,” she says.
“What I mean by `respect’ is that gel colours and acrylics should NEVER be peeled off or removed by slipping a tip or other item in between the natural nail and the acrylic or gel.
“Also, if artificial nails are applied and refilled in unsanitary conditions (for instance, dirty work space, dirty/reused implements including files and buffers), this also can result in nail infections, nails separating from the nail bed and especially bacterial/fungal nail infections.
“It can take four months or more for a client’s damaged nails to recover – or they may not recover, depending on the damage.”
Rose Bolam, educator for Jessica Cosmetics Australia, and her daughter Chantelle co-own Artfully Polished Beauty in Newcastle, NSW, whose prime focus is restoring and maintaining a client’s natural nail health and strength.
“Beautiful nails are not born, they are carefully cultivated,” says Rose. “By using the correct products and an individually customised regimen you can help any client achieve healthy beautiful natural nails. This proves to them that you are worth coming back to.
“Damage to the nail plate impedes regrowth. It can result in chronically thin, weak, soft, dry or flaky nails that lack lustre or colour, constantly split, crack or break and simply won’t grow. Nails can also be extremely sensitive and tender.
“As hair and skin differ from person to person, so do nails. Thus the same treatment protocol cannot be right for everyone.
“Jessica’s is a complete system that cultivates natural nails, bringing them back to health so they will grow long and strong.
“At Artfully Polished Beauty, we don’t just do `regular’ manicures anymore but Analyze, Cultivate, Customise and Prescribe for optimum results, especially for clients whose nails are damaged.
“It might sound like a waste of time but it only takes two minutes. Otherwise, it’s a bit like a doctor prescribing medicine without a consultation!
“Too many salons focus mainly on the cosmetic look. If the nail foundation is unhealthy, polish or gel will not last and nails will keep deteriorating. This is a key factor in why many salons are not successful.”
Rose attributes the upsurge we are seeing in damaged, infected nails and cuticles (“cutting cuticles is an absolute NO-NO,” she stresses.
“By doing so you are removing the natural seal, which exposes clients to infections and hangnails”) to some key factors:
- More “fly by night” nail bars and salons
- Increased internet purchases of cheap imitation products
- Internet self tuition
- Low cost start-ups, attracting inexperienced or untrained nail technicians because they are cheaper
Salons that regard nail services as low profit and so are lackadaisical about these services; ergo, poor screening of nail technicians and will settle for anybody who can just do a paint. “The nail industry has to be taken more seriously and the potential for poor outcomes recognised,” Rose says.
THE ROAD TO REDEMPTION
- Weekly manicures, including regular use of a nail strengthener such as OPI Nail Envy (there are five types to suit specific problems, all with hydrolyzed wheat protein, vitamin C and calcium).
- Reconditioning oils and creams should be used by clients on a daily basis at home, applied on the nail and around the cuticle area to help stimulate blood flow to the “matrix” or “mother” of the nail (the area between the cuticle and the first knuckle, where the cell growth area is).
- When applying gels, either at home or in-salon, the system should include products that help the natural nail keep in good condition while the product is on, such as OPI Bondaid nail prep. We use it to remove excess oils and moisture on the nail plate, bringing the nail back to a neutral PH balance of 5.5 and, most importantly, minimise the medications a person is putting into their system. This way gel products adhere to the natural nails without dehydrating, weakening or damaging them.
- At Jessica, we teach salons Natural Nail Cultivation. By providing this service you will retain clients. If and when clients need a break from gels, it also enables them to switch to natural nail care.
- Everyone should have these Jessica products for hands and cuticles, for home care and in-salon: Nourish: a therapeutic cuticle formula.; Phenomenon: the wonder oil to maintain and hydrate; a good hand cream to avoid dry patches around the nail groove (try Hand and Body Emulsion, which contains super hydrating soya); a good hydrating basecoat, such as Jessica’s Reward. It should be used at all times.
- And I can’t stress enough that leaving nails uncovered to “breathe” is a myth and creates more nail dryness, peeling and breaking.