1997 will go down in nail history as a pivotal year. The nail industry is not the place it used to be; frankly, it’s harder than ever to keep a business growing and competing in today’s market, not just for salons, but for manufacturers, distributors, schools, and everyone else servicing the professional nail salon industry.

This year, state boards took a beating, especially in California (though it remains to be seen whether the suspension of that state’s board is such a bad thing at that). Several other states scrutinized whether they even need licensing at all, yet fraud is more prominent than ever. Schools have been closed, and reciprocity was suspended in a couple of states.

Product safety, always a dominant issue, gained momentum this year with the FDA’s reiteration of its stance against salon use of methyl mehtacrylate (MMA) and the NMC’s commitment to enforcing that stance. Suddenly, nail technicians and salon owners are using this guideline as a strategic marketing tool. You’re going to start hearing “We don’t use MMA” as a salon promotional slogan. Chemical awareness is a good thing, but the MMA controversy is a double-edged sword: There is the distinct possibility that consumers will become confused by the products that are acceptable and determine that artificial nails are not worth the trouble at all. Use this tool very carefully.

The Vietnamese salon industry has never been more influential. There is a lot of attention being paid to the Vietnamese salon market, both negative and positive, and I think it’s time for the leadership within the Vietnamese salon community to address some of the serious problems it’s facing. If the price wars continue to rage, no one will be able to make a living. Vietnamese nail technicians need to be informed of the serious dangers of improper drill use, inattention to salon sanitation, and the dangers (physical and legal) of MMA use.

The states are getting higher: 1998 is looking very interesting

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