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Should Nail Products Be Sold To The Public? Let's Talk About The Elephant In The Room

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

This seems to be the big debate in 2023 as many of the big boys in the nail industry have started to do just that! The big question is should they be? Is it safe for everyone using them?

Let's talk about it.

This is really nothing new and it has been going on for years in the hair industry. Big companies sell to the general public. Let's examine what happened in the hair industry for a few moments. Was it good or was it bad?


I remember when this started in the hair industry. I was about 14 or 15 years old and the story back then went like this....there was a big name hair company who's products were sold exclusively in almost every hair salon and they were amazing products. The couple who owned the company went through an ugly divorce. During this divorce one of the owners decided to start to sell their products in retail stores to make big profits. They used cheaper ingredients changed the packaging slightly and kept the name. I can recall seeing this brand in the grocery store and being so excited that it was much cheaper than when I bought it at the salon. My excitement over this cheaper version didn't last long because I didn't get the same results as when I bought it from a salon. Clearly this was not the same product. The sad story here is this company is no longer around but they were the pioneers of this movement....at least that's how the story goes.


Through the years many companies have followed suit and offer cheaper versions of their products in groceries stores with different packaging and reserve the best of the best products that usually come with a money back guarantee as long as it was purchased in a salon. Don't try to return your store bought version to a salon to get your money back because you will learn it's not the same product and it's not guaranteed.


Will the nail industry follow suit? It does appear as though some are. The question remains are the products the same? If these big name companies offer lesser quality products to the DIY person then I'm all for it. That leaves the best quality products for the professionals which I support. If these companies start to offer what used to be their professional products to the public then I won't support them or use their product but that's just how I feel about it. Some nail professionals may not care and that's ok as well.


What's the Harm Of Doing Your Nails At Home


I'm sure we all know at least one person who has purchased hair colour from a store and messed up their hair then had to pay big bucks to get a colour corrections and have it fixed by a hair professional.


We are certainly starting to see this happen more and more in the nail industry. DIY people are doing their nails at home and having to go to nail tech to see if they can hopefully have them fixed. Fixing your nails isn't cheap as it often requires a removal of whatever product you have used on your nails followed by a fresh set. This can be a lengthy process for your nail professional.


Not everyone can and not everyone should do their own nails. Nail Technicians are taught many things not just how to polish a nail. My course was a year long. I learned all the bones in the hand and arm, all the various nail diseases, product chemistry, how to safely use the tools of the trade and so much more.


Years ago I had a girl walk into the salon who had been doing her own nails for at least 10 years. The local beauty supply store thought she was professional because she purchased product from them for so many years. Although she was using professional product she lacked the knowledge on how to properly use what she was buying and she didn't have the education to understand nail anatomy and as a result of this she caused herself serious damage.


Whenever she would come in the salon we would chat about nails. Sometimes she would sit next to me while her hair was processing and watch what I was doing. We had become nails buddies. She showed me her hand and talked about how sore her fingers had become her family doctor diagnosed her with 'eczema under her nails'. After examining her nails I couldn't believe what I saw. They weren't just red, they seemed to have bled under the nails it was like nothing I had ever seen before but at the same time it looked like severe over filing.


I asked her if she would allow me to do her nails for 6 months. If she agreed during that time she wouldn't be able to touch them herself and hopefully we would see improvement to the condition of her nails. She was very intrigued by my challenge and agreed. She promised to not touch her nails for 6 months but only I used the exact same brand she did as she didn't want to risk a reaction from another brand. We were in agreement.


At our first appointment she asked many questions about my product application. Why was I doing this with that product etc...it was clear that she didn't know what her products were designed for. She knew the application steps to follow but she had no idea what each product actually did. Just as we were finishing and I was wiping off the dispersion layer she asked why the product I was using wasn't blue like hers. I looked at her really confused and explained to her the only product this brand ever had that was blue is their antiseptic. I showed her my bottle and she said she used that to wipe the nails and said it was horrible to work with because everything got stuck to it and she would always have to wash her hands really well afterwards. She was using antiseptic as a nail cleanser!!!! Needless to say we both had a good laugh about that one.


She continued to come and we started to see progress. The damage was slowly growing out. She learned a lot about nails and about their anatomy. The cause of her sore nails was that she had actually over filed her nails so much she had filed right through some. I was able to show her holes in her nails as the free edge grew out.


The moral of the story is that there is so much more to our profession than people realize. We do so much more than just paint nails!!


Are The Products The Same


It's really too early to tell as this is a trend that is just starting to happen in the nail industry. I don't know if all the companies that are selling to the public have changed their products to a lesser quality version or not but I think they should.

The nail industry needs to have some type of standard. If companies are going to sell to the public they need to offer separate brands one that is exclusively for professionals and one that is for the DIY person. The professional brand should always be far superior and your nails should last so much longer with a professional product and application than with a DIY brand.


What are your thoughts? Do you agree with companies having 2 brands like this? Or do you feel it's acceptable for them to sell all their product to the public?



What About Allergies and Contact Dermatitis


What is contact dermatitis or product allergies and how can we prevent them? Contact dermatitis is an itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. The rash isn't contagious, but it can be very uncomfortable.


How many times have you seen photos from DIY'ers showing off their work with product all over their cuticles. They have no idea that over time this can cause serious skin allergies.


Then let's not forget about the importance of using a proper curing lamps. Not all lamps are created equal and not all lamps are designed to cure all brands. People are buying sub standard lamps that aren't curing their product so their nails are covered in product that is not fully cured. The lamp they used may not strong enough to cure the product they have used. Don't even get me started on those one finger lamps with only 1 bulb.....that's an allergic reaction waiting to happen!


Sadly as more and more people start doing nails more and more people will develop skin irritations and sensitivities. Will regulating the industry help? Personally I don't think it will. If people want to do something bad enough they will find their way around it. If the public has access to professional product then there needs to be some type of education for the DIY person. A QR code on the product with a link to a basic how to video would definitely help. A little knowledge goes a long way!


This Is Where We Are Headed


Since the days of covid we have seen a huge spike in DIY nails. Companies have no doubt felt the effects from all the shut downs on their business as much as we have. I understand some of them scrambling to regain some of the profits that were lost during that time. Our industry took a huge hit.


If the big companies are going to sell to the public I feel they need to it responsibly. We as nail techs have to shift our thinking and figure out a way to embrace this trend in the most positive way. I started out at a DIY nails person. I found I loved it so much I went to school and made a career out of it. If companies learn to work with trained professionals and keep some type of separation between the professional and DIY'er than this can benefit everyone.



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