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A Story About Improper Application and Removal of Gel-Polish

by Holly Schippers | February 12, 2013 | Bookmark +

The repeated bashing Dr Oz gives nail services is frustrating to say the least. What he continues to fail to mention is that there is a difference in the services from one salon to another. Something we need the public in general to understand is that difference in service. Unfortunately there is not a sign on the door that says beware! What do we want people to look for? Ideally a salon environment that is clean and a nail professional whose goal is to care for the natural nail. An industry term of non-standard salon or NSS has become a moniker we would like the public to better understand but let’s take a quick side trip to make sure we understand it ourselves.

The term non-standard salon springs forth as a descriptor that indicates a salon that does not follow industry standards. When choosing a salon we would like the public to be more aware of what some of those standards are. Price and race DO NOT determine if a salon is NSS. Failure to conform to industry standards in quality of service, care of the nail, and disinfection do. We encourage a salon patron to be aware that nail services should not require a Tylenol or a Band-Aid, pain is not a normal part of getting your nails done and should not be tolerated on a regular basis. We would also like the public to be aware that there are proper removal practices for all nail coatings and none of them involve ripping, pulling, or roughly scraping the coating from the nail. The natural nail is the foundation for all nail services and as such should be treated with care so that the nail coatings will perform to the best of their ability due to having a solid foundation. All metal implements should be cleaned between uses; there should be no sharing of tools even on family members or friends. All files should either be discarded or properly cleaned between uses as well, again no sharing. Now that we are on the same page as to what can be expected at a non-standard salon, let’s get back on track with some visual evidence.

Keren Clark, a nail professional, decided to put her own nails on the line to show that there is a difference in quality of service between a well-educated conscientious salon and a NSS, here is her experience.

“After the Dr. Oz report on gel-polish being a bad product for your nails, I decided to visit a local non-standard salon and see for myself how this product was removed, prepped, and applied.

My nails were wrapped with foil and acetone-soaked cotton. After all the nails were wrapped, the salon employee worked the spout of the acetone bottle in the foil and poured more acetone in. After about 6-8 minutes (I kept a close watch on my clock) she broke open her sterile package that included a cuticle pusher, toenail clipper and cuticle nipper. She grabbed the METAL pusher and went to town! She started scraping my nail (not the product) toward her and then up my nail toward the cuticle. A mini nail file was used to file on my nail, shape the nail and file and push around my cuticle. A mini buffer was used to smooth the surface and free edge. After everything was removed, cuticle remover was placed on my fingernails and they were put in a bowl of soapy COLD WATER! As that hand soaked she worked on the other one. When my hand was removed from the water she used the cuticle pusher to clean under the free edge (OUCH!) and push back the cuticles (AGAIN). By this point my nails were pretty sore.

Before my fingers were prepped with a PH balancer, I was told to put my hands in the UV light that was attached to the desk. Now since she couldn't see my hands go in without standing up, I left them out. There was no reason for my hands to be in that light yet. After 2 minutes she asked for one hand and put a product labeled "bonder" on my nails. Again I was told to put my hands in the light. Once again I didn't do as I was told because it was truly unnecessary.

The salon employee then applied a gel-polish foundation on my thumbs first and told me to put my thumb all the way in and keep it flat. After 5 minutes of curing the base on all of my fingers, my color went on (thumb first) my thumbs were in the light for 4 minutes by themselves and then the color was applied to my pinky and ring finger. The two fingers went in for 3 minutes (each hand) and then the whole hand went in for 4 minutes! My thumbs were in again by themselves for another 2 minutes and then the top coat went on and cured for 6 minutes. There were no timers on the built-in UV system and all of the in and out of the light was just a guessing game.

Day 5 of gel-polish manicure from the NSS: on my right hand ring the fingernail broke (maybe because it was filed so thin) and on my left ring finger the polish chipped off.

Day 7: I returned to have the gel-polish removed, but couldn't stand more scraping on my nail so asked for the service to cease while there was still color remaining. My nails are very sensitive, dry, brittle, and very short because the free edge was peeling.

What were some indications in this situation that should be red flags for salon patrons that a gel-polish service is being done incorrectly?

  • There should not be the use of a metal tool in the removal.

  • The gel-polish should not be forcibly removed, but gently flaked off.

  • The nails should not be soaked in a bowl of water or acetone.

Keren included pictures to go along with the experience, the photo of the nails following the final removal shows the damage inflicted on her nails. It is important that the public realize the damage was not done by the product but by the salon employee. Nail services are meant to be enjoyable experiences and can be great for nail care when you take the time to find a nail professional that is well-educated and willing to take care of your natural nail as if it were their own!

— Holly

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