On My Mind: Let's Not Mess Up a Good Thing

Editor Hannah Lee discusses the importance of following proper gel-polish removal procedures.

<p>Hannah Lee</p>

The gel-polish market has been a boon to our industry. We’ve seen steady growth over the course of the last several years for brands and salons alike. Nails have never been so popular. And unofficially (we don’t have specific client statistics but we’ve talked to plenty of nail techs), more clients are opting for long-lasting gel-polish manis. Officially, I can tell you that in 2012, 71% of salons offer gel-polish services. That’s up from 49% in just two years.

But we’re starting to see a little backlash. (And I’m not talking about the safety of UV lamps. Medical experts have said they are safe. Now we just need to get that message to Dr. Oz and his cronies. But that’s another issue for another time.) No, this particular backlash is coming directly from the individuals who are wearing gel-polish — your clients. They are starting to complain about damage to their nails after removal. So they’re blaming it on the product. But as far as I see it (and many industry experts agree), it’s all about proper application and removal.

Knowing that nail damage caused by improper gel-polish removal could be a blow to our industry, I’m on a mission to get the “safe removal” message out. Last December we ran a story about how to properly remove gel-polish. (You can read it online at Industry chemist Doug Schoon is passionate about the issue for the exact same reason. “Gel-polish should come off easily with no heavy-handed or forceful scraping,” he told us. “If you have to force the product off at all, you are doing something wrong.”

I’ve seen more nail techs who do it right than wrong. But I’ve seen some techs who I consider top-notch try to hurry the process. By not waiting long enough you will be forced to use more force to remove the product. And in doing so, you’ll also be removing a layer of the natural nail. This is exactly where the point of damage occurs. It’s not the product. It’s the process.

In addition to following protocol for removing gel-polish, it’s also your job to educate your clients. I’m a perfect example of a client who loves gel-polish. I wear it pretty regularly. But like a lot of clients, sometimes I peel the gel-polish off my nails. Hi, my name is Hannah and I’m impatient. I know it’s wrong and I’ve been much better about making regular salon appointments so it isn’t an issue.

Make sure your clients are aware of the proper removal techniques in case (like me) they might be tempted to peel the gel-polish off. Let them know why your in-salon soak-off technique works (it breaks the bond between the product and the natural nail plate) and that there should be minimal pushing. As you probably know, when done correctly, the removal process is a little like a magic trick. I love seeing the gel-polish layer lifted up off my nails after I remove the wraps.

If you missed the December issue and our article about proper removal, find the story online and make sure you’re following industry protocol. It’s up to the entire industry to make sure we can keep this gel-polish momentum moving forward. Let’s not let the actions of a few mess this up for the rest of us.  

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