I always carry a camera with me. If I’m at a trade show, there are products and people to be shot. If I’m going to a salon, I want pictures of how they do things, whether it’s how the station are set up or how they display their license. I went through a period where I was taking photos at trade shows of badly dressed and poorly groomed salon professionals for an article idea I had called “Would you take beauty advice from this person?” I imagined it as a sort of Glamour Do’s and Don’ts for the salon set. I’d snap a photo of a woman with nails so long and unkempt you wouldn’t want them anywhere near you, or nails bitten so short they looked painful. I wrote the caption in my head: “Would you take nail advice from this person? Her own nails are so badly chewed that you’re afraid she’ll take a nibble out of yours when you set them on her manicure table.” I saw a very high-profile salon owner walking around at a show with a banana clip in her wet hair and sweatpants on. She was barely dressed appropriately to run outside to pick up the newspaper, let alone roam the aisles of an industry conference. Why is it, I wondered, that we left ourselves go like this?

You see all kinds in this industry, of course, and I’m not talking about just differences in taste and style. What I’m talking about really is sloppiness, and just plain laziness. If this industry is supposed to be on the forefront of style and fashion, we need to keep up on it ourselves.

If you’re a nail professional, do your nails. You really don’t have to wear acrylics or polish or even wear your nails long. But you should have nice-looking nails. You ought to play around with the different products on the market and try out what’s new on yourself. At the very least, shouldn’t you keep your nails clean? I’ve been to plenty of salons where the nail technician doing my nails starts the process by apologizing for her own nails. Why should she have to do that?

I’m the first to admit I let my own nails go sometimes. But when I do I’m self-conscious and embarrassed. Considering our access not only to the products, but also to any number of nail techs (there's a nail salon on every corner or you can do it yourself), is there any excuse? I know I don’t want to wind up with a black bar across my eyes as an example of what NOT to do. Do you?

Do your nails, comb your hair, and wear a smock over those sweat pants. People take beauty advice from you, for goodness' sake.

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