John D. Rockefeller said that he always tried to turn a disaster into an opportunity. That notion seems to pervade the nail industry in the way new products are developed. At a recent tradeshow I saw an abundance of products that have been developed in direct response to a recent industry disaster, and it got me thinking.

The now infamous case of a California salon igniting a bacterial outbreak is the disaster that launched a thousand new pedicure products. In the last year at least a dozen new pedicure soak systems introduced are in specific reaction to the case. The California case made apparent that new products were needed: we needed more soak solutions that dissolved completely and didn’t clog the drains; we needed disinfectants that could attack hard-to-see and hard-to-reach areas in the bath; we also needed whole systems and units that made the cleaning process simpler and more fail-proof. Today, nail professionals have more choices, better equipment and products, and clients have peace of mind.

When methacrylic primers got a bad rap years ago (mostly from a few unfortunate accidents involving spilling), several manufacturers set out to create enhancement systems that needed little or no primer. Today you have your choice, whether you choose an acrylic system without primer or you opt for a gel or wrap system, which is inherently primer-free.

And of course, who can forget the mother of all nail disasters: fungus! What most people think is fungus isn’t actually fungus, still there are so many fungicidal products on the market you’d think we were an industry overrun with the stuff. In the early days of “artificial nails,” many women grew green underneath their nails or developed genuine infections as a result of long wear and poor maintenance. Many blamed the products themselves or the technicians who applied them, neither of which was usually at fault. But then, enterprising chemists went into the lab, and brought to make market a veritable pharmacy of antifungal products, and today “greenies” and the like are controllable annoyances and not a smirch on the industry’s reputation.

I’m always worried about new disasters striking the industry and causing business and industry reputation to suffer. But I know that eventually we’ll see new products that make the industry that much safer - and provide that much more opportunity.     

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