When kids are younger it seems like they can’t grow up soon enough. They spend days dreaming about what adulthood will be like (I dreamt that I would be a nun who smoked cigarettes), and they mimic the adults they see in their lives — parents, teachers… Jessica Simpson.
Watson takes an opposite stance: “As a professional and an educator, I just don’t recommend it. It’s not that the chemicals are bad, but kids are just still in the developmental stages. They’ve got so much more oil and chances of breakage, and they’re not as careful.”
They Say It’s OK, If You Say It’s OK
So, manufacturers are leaving it up to the techs and parents to make the decision about minimum age. Many of the techs we talked to thought that if the client isn’t old enough to drive, then she isn’t old enough for enhancements.
“I will not put enhancements on a client who is under 16 and only on clients 16-18 with a parent’s permission,” says Bethany Boyd, a tech in Tucson, Ariz. “I would rather do natural nail manicures on younger girls for the health of their nails.” Lori Jensen Preato of Las Vegas agrees on the age minimum but has a different reasoning. “I personally would prefer not to put enhancements on anyone under 16 due to the responsibility factor,” she says. “At 16 they are old enough to hold down a job to be able to afford nails, and by paying for them, they appreciate and know the responsibility.”
One exception to age policies seems to be if the client has a special occasion. “The youngest client I’ve put enhancements on was 9, and it was a treat for her for a wedding,” says Phoenix’s Toni Carrano.
Competition veteran John Hauk has tried enhancements out on even younger kids. “I have no age limit, but it would depend on the reason and having the consent of the parent,” he says. “I put nails on my daughter Nikki for her fifth birthday and for Christmas. She now is eight years old and has worn every product enhancement known to man. She’s a nail queen!”
But I Need Them!
One of the main reasons techs offer enhancement services to younger clients is to break them of their bad habits. “Ironically, the number-one solution to nail biting is nail enhancements,” says Creative Nail Design’s Arnold. “That’s why I recommend nail enhancements for teenagers. Enhancements give them instant order, and it completely conceals the rough or irregular edge, which removes the temptation to fix (bite) it. The nail enhancement protects the nail and gives the free edge and hyponychium a chance to settle down.”
That’s exactly why Renee Borowy, owner of VIP Salon, made an exception to her 15-for-enhancements policy. “I had a client whose daughter was a terrible nail biter,” Borowy explains. “When she was 10, I worked with her to try and break her habit. She was under strict supervision from me, and I required her to come in every five to seven days. That way I could make sure there wasn’t any kind of lift. It took more than six months, but it was well worth it. She is now in her 20s and remembers everything we went through.”
I Didn’t Want That Anyway
Not all girls want enhancements, and not all techs and salons want to offer them to younger clients. If you’re in the focus-on-natural-nails camp, you still have to decide how young is too young.
I’m a Natural Nails Kid
Many techs agree that 4 seems to be the age when kids are able to handle nail services. “I would do regular manicures on pretty much any age,” says Laura Campos, a tech in Gainesville, Fla. “I have been doing them on my own daughter since she was about 4. For infants and toddlers, I would only trim and shape their nails. I don’t use polish of any kind; they are more likely to put their hands in their mouths, and polish is not something they should ingest.”
Shari Finger, owner of Finger's Nail Studio in West Dundee, Ill., agrees that 4 is a good age to start kids on natural nail care. “Manicures are a great way to teach a young girl how to take care of her nails,” she says. “They can head off problems such as biting and picking.”
“It’s never too young to do nails,” says Weiss-Fischmann. “I’m teaching my 12-year-old daughter about caring for the nails and feet. It’s like oral hygiene. It’s part of grooming.”
That’s Not Fair!
Salons that cater only to young adults, teens, and kids, often price their services slightly lower than the other local salons that cater only to adults. At Simon Says, a salon that caters to kids in Skokie, Ill., a recent package included a $22.50 per child fee for a manicure, pedicure, and facial. “The services are modified and tailored for younger kids,” says Simon’s Scott Knapp.
Techs who serve a broad clientele agree that a fair price to charge is your normal rate. “I charge $35 for a spa manicure, period,” says Hauk. “The spa system and products I use are the same no matter the age, so the price should be the same as well.”