Many of you are probably aware of the segment that ran on “The Dr. Oz Show” in December. (You know who Dr. Oz is…the latest “guru” who was catapulted to fame, fortune, and his own TV show by the power of Oprah.) Well, he ran a segment on his show entitled “How Manicures Affect Your Health” (watch it online at how-manicures-affect-your-health), where he pointed out three things consumers should avoid: wearing acrylics, nail biting, and using acetone. I can agree with one out of the three. Don’t bite your nails.

But the whole piece reeked of sensationalism. (Complete with two “fear factor” style demonstrations.) So on behalf of our readers — professional nail technicians who make a living off doing nails — I’d like to take a minute to speak to Dr. Oz.

Dear Dr. Oz,

I’m sorry you felt the need to use scare tactics to keep women out of nail salons. A more educated piece could have been done that would have benefited the millions of women who collectively spend more than $6 billion a year on nail care services. You could have educated consumers on what to look for in a good salon. Aside from being sensationalist, there were a few simply inaccurate things in your segment on nails.

1. You know the demonstration where you handed the woman a piece of cardboard GLUED to a piece of plywood and asked her to tear them apart? Two things: First, acrylic isn’t glued to the nail plate. Monomer and polymer are combined to create bonds that adhere to the nail plate. Second, glue or no glue, we would never recommend anyone to rip the acrylic from her nail plate. That would, obviously, be damaging to the nail. In the industry we advocate a soak-off system that is not harmful to the natural nails. (But I’ll get to that point in a minute.)

2. The pictures you showed onscreen of the ridges due to acrylic damage were pure comedy. As a magazine editor who runs countless pictures of nails each month in my magazine, I know Photoshop work when I see it. The average viewer might be swayed by your example, but using the same finger in both shots (with the exact same hangnail to show a healthy nail and an acrylic-damaged nail) simply won’t fly with me. Ridges are simply a common nail condition that come with age.

3. People shouldn’t bite their nails. I agree with your point that it could leave openings for potentially harmful bacteria, which could in turn lead to other issues, like paronychia. But that has nothing to do with whether a woman (or man) gets their nails done in a salon. Thanks for the tip on the natural antibacterial though; that was useful.

4. Your “science experiment” where you showed how acetone melts Styrofoam? Nice try, but Styrofoam and acrylic are two entirely different substances. And according to our industry chemists, acetone is actually the safest and “greenest” polish remover. Other chemicals either produce significantly more photochemical smog (ethyl acetate, methyl ethyl ketone) or are more dangerous to people (methyl acetate) and have already been banned in California. Soaking acrylics off in acetone is the safest way to remove them.

I urge you to get your facts straight and halt the fear mongering that just helps your ratings and doesn’t contribute to a wiser consumer. Anytime you’d like to do an accurate piece on the nail industry, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Sincerely,  Hannah Lee

Risé Carter of NSI, Doug Schoon of CND, Paul Bryson of OPI, and numerous other manufacturers and nail techs have sent letters to Dr. Oz. I encourage you to do the same. Go watch the video and then click on the Contact Us link at the bottom of the page.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.