A group of veteran nail technicians ask the NMC its stand on vital issues facing today’s nail industry.

As the Nail Manufacturers Council (NMC) marks its fifth anniversary, concerns about sanitation, education, product quality, and more still abound in the nail industry. Although the NMC is a manufacturers – not a nail technician – association, the group is concerned about many of the same issues that nail professionals are. We asked a group of active nail professionals what they’d like to know about the NMC and its stance on key industry issues. These questions were posed by Maggie Boyd, owner of Avante Nail Studio in Barrington, Ill.; Kathy Haller, co-owner of Elegante Nails in Arlington, Texas; Katherian Harris, owner of Nail Creations in Odessa, Texas; Rosemary Hoops, owner of Colorado Nail Supply and Services in Aurora, Colo.; Jackie Martinelli, a nail technician at Beautique in Westboro, Mass.; and BeaLea Somerville, a nail technician at The Head Quarters Salon in Midland, Texas. NMC president Sunny Stinchcombe answers their questions.

How does the NMC serve nail technicians?                                       

Stinchcombe: Remember that our primary function as an association is to serve the manufacturing arm of our industry. In keeping with that, the more education and proper information we can provide for our end-users – professional nail technicians – the more the benefit to us, the manufacturers. By collecting and compiling non-manufacturer specific information concerning regulations, sanitation, ventilation, ingredient information, and much more, we give the nail technician a source for generic, unbiased answers to her questions. In turn, we have better educated end-users and a higher level of professionalism in the salons.

What makes the NMC think that it knows what’s best for nail technicians?

Stinchcombe: We are not here to tell nail technicians what’s best for them. We try to provide them with the most up-to-date information and material from which they can make their decisions. As we are involved on a daily basis with new issues and product information, it stands to reason that collectively we are the best source for answers concerning much of what is going on in our industry.

What is the NMC doing to ensure that educational information on a variety of product lines is available to nail schools?

Stinchcombe: We do not solicit or distribute company or brand specific information on products. We can refer schools to our member companies for specific product information. Any of the information we do collect is easily available to schools by calling the NMC.

What is the NMC doing to improve the quality of products while keeping the cost down for nail technicians?

Stinchcombe: Bear in mind that we are a voluntary membership association and not a rule-making or enforcement group. While we do have a code of ethics and, in many cases, peer pressure to help keep us all honest, product quality and cost is the responsibility of the individual manufacturer. However, I always like to remind myself something my mother has told me since I was a little girl, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price has faded.”

What steps does the NMC take to make sure manufacturer or distributor educators are properly trained?

Stinchcombe: Again, the quality of any specific manufacturer’s educators is strictly the responsibility of that company. Most of our members are companies that intend to remain in the nail industry for many years to come. Because we are committed to our industry, we do everything we can to ensure its health and future growth, including providing quality educators. After all, we could have the best product in the world, but if our educators couldn’t teach it properly, who would buy it?

Does the NMC lobby governmental agencies on issues affecting the nail industry? If so, what recent issues have been addressed?

Stinchcombe: While we do not currently have a lobby group specifically for us (this is very expensive to do), we are very pro-active when it comes to dealing with issues that affect our industry – either positively or negatively. We have recently been very busy with California’s Proposition 65, specifically the toluene issue. And, through the quick action and team effort of several of our manufacturer members, we were able to act quickly on some governmental issues involving ethyl methacrylate (an ingredient found in most liquid and powder sculpture products). We are currently working with the organization of state cosmetology boards to try and help with state regulations regarding nail services. We are also compiling a booklet regarding national governmental regulations that affect nail salons. As these issues arise, we are better equipped to deal with them as a unified voice of many rather than as individual companies with their own agencies.

What form of education is available to an advanced nail technician to keep her up-to-date with the industry?

Stinchcombe: Nail technicians should first see if CEU’s (continuing education units) are required to update licenses in their state. If they are, request a list of qualified classes you can attend. Most manufacturers are now offering classes that go beyond basic “hands-on” instruction, such as business building, client retention, advanced technique, etc. Contact either your product manufacturer or your local professional beauty distributor to get information on these classes. Many of the larger tradeshows offer excellent educational classes. The NMC offers a “Day of Education” in conjunction with the Midwest Beauty Show in Chicago in March. These classes are generic (non-manufacturer-specific) classes covering everything from marketing to salon safety to nail anatomy and disorders. To find out more about classes and education, contact either the NMC, your product manufacturer, your local distributor, or look in the back of NAILS Magazine for an extensive schedule of classes.

Do you agree that nail technicians should be required to take refresher courses in order to keep their license current?

Stinchcombe: As with any profession, the most educated and up-to-date professional becomes the most proficient and the most successful. There are so many things happening within the nail industry right now that affect us every day that the smart technician will try to learn as much as possible. This does not include only product knowledge and technique, but state and national regulations, business building, marketing, and more. I personally believe that CEUs are definitely valuable and serve to create a higher standard for licensed nail professionals.

I recently purchased some nail products from California and was told by the manufacturer that all of the ingredients wouldn’t be listed on the bottle because of shipping regulations. In the future, how can I know for sure that all of the product’s ingredients are listed on the bottle?

 Stinchcombe: According to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, all cosmetic packages are required to carry full ingredient listings. Some professional products may fall outside this regulation, but you should check that out with your manufacturers. The main way to ensure that all information you need is available to you is to know and trust the manufacturers of your products. Ask other nail technicians, ask your beauty supplier, and ask your manufacturers.

Does the NMC have any literature on proper ventilation in the salon?

Stinchcombe: We do have literature available on salon ventilation, and our safety and standards committee has been working on information regarding salon ventilation. As soon as their work is finished, we will have some very solid data available.

When purchasing a nail product, how can I ensure that the product does exactly what the manufacturer claims it will do?

Stinchcombe: When you purchase a nail product or system from a manufacturer, there are several things you should do to ensure your success and satisfaction with that product:

  • Know your manufacturer. How long have they been in business? Are you familiar with other products they make? Do you know anyone using their products? Will they accept a return if you are not satisfied with the product?
  • Use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions. To do this, you must first read those instructions. Don’t assume that because you have used someone else’s system you know how to apply any system of that type. Products vary, as do application methods.
  • Watch one of the manufacturer’s educators apply or use the product and ask questions. Some manufacturers are happy to let you do this and can guide your use of the product.
  • If you are buying a system of products, use that system. The products were designed and formulated to work together to give your optimum results. Just because one activator or acrylic powder is cheaper than the one in the system doesn’t mean you can mix it with the rest of the products within the system. Most manufacturers will guarantee their products if you are using the complete system according to the instructions.

What is the NMC’s position on standardized education for nail technicians throughout the United States?

Stinchcombe: In a perfect world, we would have standardized education throughout the United States, and not just for nail technicians – for lawyers, doctors, nurses, architects, and many other professions. However, the regulations regarding licensing of most professions are done by the state government, not the federal government. Each state has its own regulatory rule-making board for nail technicians, and there are many differences from state to state. It would certainly make it easier on our entire industry if the requirements and education were standardized, but for now we must live within the framework as it was built.

What is NMS’s position on sanitation in the salon?

Stinchcombe: Sanitation has become one of the most important issues we deal with. It would take an entire article or two to answer this question fully, so I’ll keep it brief. The NMC has a suggested Salon Sanitation Guidelines poster available through our office, and we are currently involved in several states with providing information and opinions on proper regulations regarding salon sanitation.

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