The Science of Nails

On My Mind: A Tale of Two Labs

Editor Hannah Lee got to tour the City of Hope headquarters as well as CND's research and development lab and found that a lot can be learned by stepping out of the office or salon  and taking time to develop professionally.

A good portion of my job is spent sitting in front of a computer. With the magazine, plus our ever-expanding website (www.nailsmag.com) and social media sphere, ­sometimes it’s hard to tear myself away from the day-to-day grind. But one of my favorite parts of this job is getting out to talk to readers and manufacturers. I can’t tell you how useful and informative (not to mention fun) these visits can be. I come back reinvigorated and full of ideas for how NAILS can better serve the industry. And I love catching up with “old” industry pals and meeting new ones.

As nail professionals, I hope you also take advantage of time “out of the office” to expand your professional life in a different way than you do when you’re in the salon every day. That could mean getting out to take a class, attend a trade show, or go to a networking event. It could also mean heading to another salon to treat yourself to services and see how it feels to be a client. I love it when I hear about nail techs who trade services with each other.

Sometimes when I’m visiting a manufacturer’s facility or attending a product launch, I wish more nail techs could experience it with me. Two such occasions happened earlier this year and in a strange coincidence, both were centered around research labs.

My first field trip was spending a day with OPI’s George Schaeffer and other beauty industry bigwigs touring the City of Hope headquarters in Duarte, Calif. Many of you probably know that the professional beauty industry and City of Hope have a solid 25 year history. Each year, a Spirit of Life Award is given to a member of our larger beauty community. This year, George is the honoree, and he is committed to raising $5 million to help find new treatments and a cure for diabetes. (He’s actually matching $2.5 million on behalf of the George W. Schaeffer Endowment for Innovation in Diabetes Research. Turn to page 133 to see how you can get involved.)

As a leading research, treatment, and education center dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases, City of Hope is committed to turning scientific discoveries into new treatments available to patients faster. On our tour, we got to walk through working labs and hear from doctors working on treatments and cures for AIDS and diabetes. It was inspiring and hopeful.

A week later, I found myself in another lab down in Vista, Calif. And while CND’s research and development lab might not be saving lives (well maybe they are and they just didn’t tell me), they are pushing boundaries and creating some pretty cool nail products. The state-of-the-art lab is home to a team of chemists who work tirelessly to develop new products for the nail industry to help make your job (and your clients’ nails) better. A small group of us spent the morning in the lab taking part in experiments and learning how products are developed and tested. (Did you know Shellac was in development for five years before it was introduced? That’s some rigorous testing.)  

We got to mix up different batches of gel polish base coats and then we did “soakability” tests to see how well they came apart in acetone. We watched as they tested the flexibility of gels. And we got to mix a new color of Shellac. In addition to feeling like Mr. Wizard, it was also just an interesting way to learn more about product chemistry. It’s not really feasible for any product manufacturer to open up their facilities for tours. But I sure do think it would be cool if someone would create some “in the lab” videos so you could all get a taste of what it’s like behind the scenes at one of your favorite brands. I guess for now, you’ll have to rely on me to pull back the curtain as much as I can.

Keywords:   charity     CND     gels     Hannah Lee     how products are made     On My Mind     OPI products     shellac     women's health  

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Characterized by brittle, splitting, peeling, or cracking nails; often caused by dehydration; sometimes linked to health conditions such as hypothyroi...
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