I’m reluctant to apply gels or acrylics to girls younger than 16 because they pick and can’t maintain the nails. At what age do you think it’s OK to use gel-polish on kids or teens?
It’s great that you have a policy in place for applying enhancements to younger nails. Children’s nails tend to be thin and flimsy, which provides a poor foundation for enhancement products. When you add in the active lifestyles of most kids, along with bad habits like picking and a lack of maintenance, it’s a recipe for disaster. Those factors should also give you pause when you consider applying gel-polish on children. Many companies warn that their gel-polishes will not wear as well on clients with thin, flexible nails. The younger a child is, the more flexible her nails are, and the sooner you can expect the gel-polish to chip and lift. Then, if she starts to pick and tear at the loose edges, she’s going to damage an already thin nail plate.
While it’s not necessary to restrict gel-polish applications to those over 16, you should have an in-depth consultation with both parent and child so they both understand the risks involved and the importance of proper maintenance. Additionally, because younger skin is much more sensitive than older skin, be meticulous with your application. Keep the product off the skin and cure it properly or you may inadvertently give your young client an exposure allergy and contact dermatitis! — Anne Schlegel
Anne Schlegel is a nail technician and the owner of Nailed It! in Racine, Wis.