TEPATITLAN, MEXICO – Patricia Oropeza, associate editor – I had no idea how hot it would be when I decided to visit my relatives in this dry, hilly town in the coastal state of Jalisco and only an hour away from Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-biggest city. But I braved the heat and headed to Unas Paty (Paty’s Nails), a three-salon chain in the city, on an early Monday morning.

Patricia Munoz Torres – whose nickname graces the salons’ names – and her family own the chain. According to Patricia, who’s been doing nails for 12 years, her family was one of the first to open a salon in the area, back in the late 1980s. Before that, people had no choice but to go to Guadalajara for a service. Today, she says that Tepatitlan boasts a nail salon on practically every corner. Not only that, many nail techs also work out of their own homes.

Although there is an abundance of nail salons, one thing that is sorely missing in Mexico is licensing and regulations, and that is precisely the reason why Patricia says many nail techs do not know what they’re doing. Like most of Canada, Mexico does not require nail techs to obtain their licenses. And although there are a few schools, would-be nail techs are not required to attend.

Patricia says she does her best to educate her technicians. She has traveled to the United States several times to purchase nail products and have even taken a few educational classes. Another concern Patricia voiced is the lack of quality nail products available. While Mexico does manufacture nail polish and the like, she prefers to purchase products from United States, simply because they’re better, she says.

Back to my manicure. While Griselda (who wouldn’t tell me her last name) worked on my natural nails, I looked around and saw that everyone else was getting acrylics. Patricia says acrylic nails are immensely popular in the area – much more so that manicures. I knew exactly what she meant. When I had asked friends and family to recommend a decent salon, everyone assumed I wanted to get acrylics.

As Griselda worked on my nails, I could see the Patricia meant about the lack of education and training. I felt that she rushed through the service, even causing my nail polish to bubble because she didn’t wait long enough before applying the next coat. And when I saw her getting ready to cut my cuticles, I quickly dissuaded her from doing so. I’m used to having them pushed back, not cut, and I wasn’t interested in seeing her cutting away with the scissors. However, she did apply lotion to my hands and forearms and gave me a good massage, so the service was not a lost cause. I’m sure that if Mexico imposed stricter regulations, the work coming out of the salons would be much better.

Owner Patricia Munoz Torres decided to follow her mother’s footsteps and become a nail technician. Her family, including her sister and mother, helps out at the salon.

Unas Paty (Paty’s Nails) is located in a busy shopping area, so while Griselda worked on my nails, I took in the sights and sounds outside.


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