How Did We Lose Focus?

I was recently thumbing through my June copy of NAILS and stopped to read Jennifer Lambert’s “Just My Opinion” piece.
Now I don’t know about “getting along,” and I have tons of thoughts about why we don’t that don’t stop at the nail industry. But her thoughts did bring up a nagging question of my own: Why do we seem to be an industry divided on our opinions of the products we use?
I’ve been doing this a long time now. Acrylic was king of the nail “enhancement” — or artificial nail product — world for about ever. Even though gels have been around just about as long.
I was fortunate enough to have an instructor in my manicuring course who saw fit to obtain a kit and do a demo for us of gel nails. I knew as soon as I learned of its existence that I would offer gels. I didn’t know how long it was going to take me to figure out how to build a gel nail that looked anywhere near as good as my acrylics, or how long it would take for someone to offer gel technology that realistically competed with acrylic for strength and ease of use.
So for a long time, we all did acrylics. And I don’t mean “all.” Some manicurists have never done acrylics; they’ve stuck to natural nails, or offered wraps, or have even stuck it out through the growing pains of gel technology. But the vast majority of nail extensions done by salon professionals were done with acrylic.
Somewhere along the way, the thinking in the professional industry came around to a general acceptance that product did not damage nails, people damaged nails. Negligent or incompetent nail techs who filed into the nail plate or slopped primer all over the skin. Or sometimes ignorant clients who pulled, picked, pried, and bit the product off of their nails.
But Jennifer’s opinion article highlighted what I’ve noticed as the new thinking, one that is causing a sort of tech-versus-tech cancer in the industry: The industry professionals themselves are no longer more concerned with quality of workmanship, skill, and product knowledge — we’ve turned on each other in a “this product is better than that product” mudslinging spree.
I thought the education in product chemistry available to the professional industry — as well as the non-professional — had reached a respectable level where we understood that product is less a problem than poor application, maintenance, and removal.
It’s not supposed to be gel versus acrylic; it’s supposed to be competence versus ignorance.

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