Sayreville, N.J.-based nail tech Michelle Martin's experience as a nail tech of 28 years helps her evaluate nail products on a professional level. For the past six years, she has worked as a product performance evaluator for L'Oréal. She became involved in the process after a friend recommended her to be part of a focus group at the company. "They were looking for nail techs that were experienced with gel-polish early on," she explains. After about six months, she was brought on board to perform product testing four days a week.
"A full cosmetology license is needed to be a contractor working in this department for L'Oréal," she says. "I evaluate the whole process, from application to wear checks to removal." To avoid conflicts of interest, the products are tested blind, so Martin doesn't know what specific product she is applying. The process starts as soon as the brush comes out of the bottle. "One of the attributes we look for in this step is viscosity," she explains. "In gel we look for things like shrinkage."
Martin applies a different product to each hand, and when the client returns, she look for a difference in wear, including chipping and loss of shine. Depending on the study, consumer testers may return two to four times. On the last visit, wear and removal is evaluated. "The consumer are paid, so they are usually very happy to get their nails done," Martin adds.
Martin enjoys working with chemists and engineers as well as cosmetologists. "Working here made me really understand how much work and time goes into a study," she says. She balances her time between product testing and working in the salon. "I work six days a week, but it doesn't feel that way because it's two different worlds," she says.