Nail techs have long debated the wisdom of applying artificial nails on teens, with many refusing the service or agreeing to do it only with a parent’s written permission. Yet you may want to reconsider your reluctance: Teen People’s recent survey of 9,000 self-appointed “leaders of pop culture” ages 13-21 found that more than 25% of the teens visit a salon for nail care.

“I think kids are getting hooked on coming into the salon,” says Kathy Blanks, nail department manager at Roberts Salon & Day Spa in Greenwood, Ind. Rather than refuse them the service, Roberts’ nail techs recommend a manicure instead of enhancements and use the time to educate the young clients on home maintenance.

“They’re looking for information, and they love tips about daily routine,” Blanks comments. When teens do request artificial nails for prom or another special occasion, Blanks obtains the parent’s permission and instructs the teens on the dos and don’ts of artificial nails. In addition to the standard tips such as using their fingertips rather than their nails for life’s little tasks, and they warn teens to keep their nails away from matches and candles. Artificial nails and polish both can catch on fire or melt, as a number of teens have learned the hard way.

Blanks also cautions them against picking at or pulling off the artificial nails and tries to get them to book a follow-up appointment to have the acrylics soaked off and to get a good manicure. Not everyone takes the advice, she admits, but she finds that it prompts them to at least soak them off themselves.

Blanks also tries to reach teens through their mothers—her regular clients. “Tell them to take a look around at the salon their daughter visits to make sure that they’re disinfecting their implements and using good common sense as far as hand-washing practices.”

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