I was told that learning gels was a waste of time and money because gels were dying and soon wouldn’t be available. I’m pretty sure the instructor didn’t know how to apply gels, so she couldn’t teach it.- Brenda Palmer, Classic Design, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

In School (and still today) people use the terms mold and fungus when they see a green spot. The one thing I am adamant about is telling new techs to stop using these terms. It is a bacterial infection, and we need to get the industry to stop calling it mold and fungus. However, it was in the books when I was in school, so we learned what we read in black and white.

We were told not to go over acrylic once it had been applied. Today I know that we can add more to what has already been applied.

Another biggie I learned was to polish a nail in three strokes. I have never been able to do that! Can anyone do that to all their clients? What about the ones with wide nails?- Lynnette Madden, Salon 29, East Greenville, PA

In school we learned to take the dust off the nails with a big, fluffy makeup brush. Since then, of course, we’ve realized it’s not only unsanitary, but it could also put oil back onto the nails.”- Veronica Suttles, Nails by Veronica, Port Charlotte, Fla

We were told to reuse the paraffin wax – to pull it off the client and put it right back in to melt down and use on the next person. Also:

  • It’s OK to share a pumice stone and implements between technicians during services
  • It’s OK to scoop cream out of a large container with your hands, rub the cream onto the client’s feet, and then wash your hands in the client’s footbath
  • It’s OK to re-use single-use items, such as files and buffers

I also learned all about my instructor’s boyfriend and everything they did the night before. She would talk about her personal life, and the other students seemed to be interested. I was not. I wanted to learn to do nails! Later I “learned” where to get the answers to pass the state boards! My instructor was so bad she ended up getting fired.- Betty Davis, Sanitation trainer, Beaumont, Texas

They told us, “apply the product any way you can; you can file it off later.” What bad advice! We learned no application techniques that would help us reduce filing time.

They also said, nippers, clippers, and a file are the only tools needed for a manicure or pedicure. No way! You need special tools for special problems.- Maisie Dunbar, owner M&M Nails, Silver Spring, MD

I had a student once who slapped a client’s nail fi the client complained of feeling heat as the product cured. Her nail instructor had said that slapping the hand would stop it!

I recently had someone who constantly blew on the nail to blow away dust. She said her instructor taught her to do that, and the instructor did it all the time… yuck!- Shari Finger, Finger’s Nail Studio, W Dundee, III. (left, below)

I was taught to finish a manicure by polishing the client’s nails. However, when I started working in the salon (and clients would return with feedback), I found out that the polish would come right off. I couldn’t understand it. Nobody ever told me I needed to clean the nail plate before applying polish. I as polishing right over all the oils and moisturizers I had used during the manicure. No wonder the polish was coming off! Finally, the owner of the salon took me aside and told me to take polish remover and clean the nail.- Anne Marie Ferranti, Friends & Co., Johnson City, N.Y.

We were told there’s no need to worry about learning wraps, gels, and pink-and-whites because we won’t use them when we get out of school.

One day, the owner of our school – (arguably) a prominent cosmetologist – cam through our manicuring theory class and told us the best product to use was one that was made by combining the powders of two different manufacturers. We were told to mix the two powders together and use them with the liquid from one of the manufacturers.

To cut down on costs and reorders, the school purchased acrylic product in bulk. Students received small containers of product in kits to use for personal practice, but once we were on the clinical floor and working on live victims, we were to use the school’s product from the back bar. We would take our little dappen dishes to the back, fill them up with enough product for the service from the bulk containers, and then proceed with our service. When the client left, we would take the product left over in our dappen dishes to the back room and dump it back into the bulk containers!- Maggie Franklin, Attitudes Salon, Visalia, Calif.

I was told: “When your orangewood stick gets dull, take it outside on the sidewalk and move it back and forth to sharpen it.”- Pam Smith, from beautytech.com

I’ve heard it all:

  • Use a nail tip to separate the acrylic from the nail; slip the tip in between to pry the nails off
  • Leave the nail dust on the nail when you prep them – it helps with the bond
  • Clean the acrylic brushes with milk
  • Glue down any lifting acrylic before you fill the nails
  • Use white buffer blocks because the customers cannot see that they have been used
  • Apply your acrylic in wet primer. (When we used an acid-based primer this would cause the nails to yellow, not stick better.)
  • Use an 80-grit file to prep the nails. Do this in a north to south direction (as the anil grows for better adhesion.
  • Pour used liquid back into the original container to save it.- Vicki Peters, educator for Kupa’s Vicki Peters Signature Series (left)

I heard, “Cover your mouth/nose when you sneeze” Ugh… I know it’s what your mother taught you, but you work closely with the public, hand in hand. Please turn your head away from folks or excuse yourself when the urge strikes, then wash your hands and use hand sanitizer!”- Erin Snyder Dixon, Nail Care Services, Newport News, VA

We were told we couldn’t put out feet up under the manicure table. We were to sit twisted with our feet out to the side; meanwhile we had to fact the client. I don’t know if that was in the book or not, but it’s what we were told we had to do. Needless to say, that stopped as soon as I got out of school!- Donna Schur, owner of Nails by Donna, Huntsville, Texas

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