Damaged Goods or Damage Is Good?

We spend a lot of time insisting that — when applied, maintained, and removed properly — enhancements do not damage the natural nail.


A few months ago we had a rather lively debate about this on one of the message boards, and just the other day I read an editorial in an industry magazine where the editor referred to her natural nails as "weak" from wearing acrylic for so long.


I have long since admitted that natural nails tend to be brittle for several days after removal of product, as a result of dehydration from the products. Mostly, I base this conclusion on years of personal experience from removing my own enhancements and observation from what I see when I remove product from my clients. But a few days of applying cuticle oil and my nails always seem to go back to normal.


I think it's mostly an illusion. I think that we get used to the added strength of wearing product, which allows us to wear our nails longer and treat them less carefully. I think that when the reinforcement of the product is so suddenly missing, it's natural to assume that our natural nails have been "weakened" from the product. Because, all too often, we try to leave our natural nails longer than we would normally be able to wear them and it takes a while to remember they won't withstand the same amount of abuse that enhancement products will hold up to.


But I still wonder, how much does product "damage" the natural nail?


You know, different people have different nails. For instance, I can prep my own nails with the most gentle of buffers and still get noticeable marks on my own nails. I have very thin natural nails and very delicate nail beds. But it's not uncommon at all for me to notice that you can't tell AT ALL that several of my clients have had enhancements on after I've removed them. On the other hand, when do I get to stop taking the blame for the damage left on client's nails?


Hey! It is not my fault if a client insists on talking with her hands while I'm working! Or texting. Or just generally flailing about. What are these people thinking? "Oh, it's only a dental drill spinning at 20,000 rotations per minute; it's no big deal." Gee, thanks for the trust lady, but don't get mad at me when there's a slight dent in your own nail at the end because you wouldn't listen to me when I said you needed to relax your hand and stop flailing. Geesh.


So I guess I'm willing to admit that not every client walks out of my salon without any damage done to her nails. But where does that stop being my fault and start falling on her shoulders?


Another thought that comes to mind: I hate doing my hair. Just hate it. I don't want to get up two hours early just to fuss with it. I can't stand having product junking up my hair. It doesn't stay curled, so why bother? I always end up having to pin it up to get it out of my face and away from my drill anyway. So it's been more than one hairstylist over the years who has chided me for having very healthy hair.


Yeah. Like it's a bad thing.


I've had several stylists tell me that my hair needs "a little damage" in order to hold a style. So it strikes me that there is an acceptable amount of damage in the hair styling world — and consequently, in the minds of the hair-having public.


But that doesn't really translate to our industry, does it? Damaged nails don't hold product better than undamaged nails. Or maybe they do? Maybe we have to "damage" the nail as a requirement to "prepping" the nail? But we don't like to admit that prepping the natural nail "damages" it at all.


So what constitutes "damage?"


Well I don't know. I'm not offering any insight here; I'm making it up as I go along. I just thought it was interesting.

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