“MYTH IS NOURISHED BY SILENCE AS WELL AS BY WORDS.”
-- ITALO CALVINO, ITALIAN JOURNALIST AND WRITER OF GREAT IMAGINATION
Myths exist in the world of nail care and they often get passed around as “truth” from one ear to the next. Whether they are based in fact or fiction, sometimes the narrative is just too irresistible. Here are a few that make the rounds in the salon. Gel is better than acrylic for the natural nail, true or false? Do my nails need to “breathe”? Will your clients run for the hills if you raise your prices? Does the bogeyman exist? We sift through it all and debunk what we can right here.
MYTH 1 SHOULD I CHOOSE GEL FOR NAIL HEALTH?
Myths are born when a particular origin story is stretched thin. Even salons find it hard not to fall for this one. We can promise you that today this myth about gel being healthier than acrylic is false. Nail techs with decades of salon work under their belts will recall that the nail products they first used in the 80s and 90s are vastly different from what they are working with today. Thankfully, nail products and nail techniques have evolved. More than twenty years ago when everyone had a perm and used an aerosol can of hairspray, a nail tech would prep the natural nail with a coarse 80 grit nail file and an acid primer for acrylic enhancements. The acid primer would etch the natural nail with little holes, breaking down the structure of the nail. With gel, the nail prep at that time didn’t require the use of a non-acid primer and spared the natural nail some of this more aggressive treatment. Thus the beginning of the gel vs. acrylic myth. Nowadays gel and acrylic should be prepped in exactly the same way. We use YN Protein Bond for both, a safe and effective non-acid primer. It doesn’t have to be aggressive and compromise the structure of the natural nail. Neither gel or acrylic should be elevated as more healthy than the other; since today neither product actually damages the natural nail but rather works as a scaffolding for the nail providing structure and support. Gel basically is acrylic worked with in a goo form. It is helpful to note that from a chemical bonding perspective, gel performs best on a client with a healthy natural nail; while acrylic performs miracles on clients with more pesky problematic natural nail health like thin, splitting, or ski slope nails.
MYTH 2 NAIL CPR AND DO YOU NEED IT?
This one is an oldie but goodie. While well intentioned, we hate to break it to you…hair and nails do not breathe. They are basically already dead and so there’s no need for resuscitation. Hair and nails are made from a protein known as keratin which is the same stuff from which animal horns and hooves are made. Their entire purpose is meant to be a tough protective layer. Nutrients and oxygen are delivered to nails via the bloodstream not from their surfaces. It’s hard to say where this myth started. Some say it officially got its start in a salon with a wheeling and dealing nail tech trying to promote new services that caught on among the clients. Others say that this particular myth was incorrectly taught as cosmetology school fact. No matter the murky beginnings, it is one of the hardest myths to dispel. As a reputable nail tech, clients wearing nail enhancements do not need to have their full sets removed if they are healthy and receive regular maintenance. Some nail techs who take on a new client may recommend removing a full set and this would be due to any uncertainty about the structure of the old product properly meshing with the new. The recommendation might be a color correction for aging products or to avert a potential infection. Whatever the reason, sure clients can choose to take a break and let their nails grow out but this doesn’t really allow the nails to breathe. Maintaining your natural nails and/or nail enhancements are the surest way to keep nails consistently happy and healthy. The products themselves rarely do the damage to the natural nail, rather it can be nail tech error like over-soaking in acetone or incorrectly using an e-file during removal. Over the years and based on the rigors of our social media campaigns, our steady need for hand models has landed upon our own YN team. We have worked on the same hands that get full sets applied twice a week for our regularly scheduled tutorials and posts (a frequency well beyond what the standard client would receive) where the natural nail is beautifully preserved.
MYTH 3 PRICE BUMP EQUALS CLIENT SLUMP
Fear is a powerful emotion and can stop a reasonable person right in their tracks. The mere thought of raising prices and the potential of losing existing clients conjures an undefeatable bogeyman who traumatizes nail techs and mentors worldwide. The truth of the matter is that if you make an informed decision (in favor of business self-preservation) to increase your income; you can raise prices successfully if done gradually over time. The anxiety of announcing the price hike is scarier than the simple act of communicating and posting the new price list. Whew, what a relief! Ditch the trauma. When you believe in your own worth and do the work; you have to trust you’re going to be ok. We’re not saying to slap your clients with a 300% price increase overnight. For sure, that would result in the instant vaporization of your client book. Instead, make a commitment to adjust your pricing slowly and incrementally at least once a year. Consider it a standard price adjustment for the increased cost of materials, product, utilities or rent. Maybe turn it around and consider it a raise you pay yourself to account for your sweet level of skill, speed, and expertise. If you are doing nails every day, almost 365 days a year, you are not the same nail tech from a year ago. You are an even better one and you’ll find your clients aren’t going anywhere. Imagine this as a reality, instead of wondering IF you are worth it. Underpriced by $40 compared to the current market value; what is the story you’re telling yourself? You are afraid and you already have rejection and self-sabotage taking up space in your head. Visualize your own dream of success. What does it look like to you? Manifest it. This dream could be seriously life changing. A small price increase equivalent to the cost of a cappuccino, is rather affordable. Clients against it are those who prioritize a good deal and will go anywhere for one. It’s not you they are coming to see. Their relationship is with the dollar. The benefit of raising prices among all your clients is that they will cover that loss until you find a new client who values what you do and who you are. If you raise your price by $1; it could put an extra $2000 a year in the bank. You’re a business owner and you are allowed to give yourself a raise of 10% on your $50K a year earnings that would equal an income bump of $5000. This looks like 60 clients a week, $60 a week = $240 a month. Let’s do $5. It’s not a big deal to the customer but it makes a huge difference to you.
MYTH 4 BIG BAD NAIL ENHANCEMENTS
Nail enhancements created from acrylic or gel can be thrown under the bus and cast in an unflattering light because of this we are left to wonder if they are bad for us? Nail enhancements can bring major style and joy. They are body adornments, a statement of confidence and self-expression; all of which are a natural part of attraction or evasion in the animal kingdom and humankind. You’ve seen it on Netflix’s Our Planet series, right? It’s curious that some people might want to classify them as a threat to your natural nail health. There are often two camps when it comes to this, the natural manicure folks and the nail enhancement folks. Nestled in the middle are the natural nail folks who gush over the lasting power of gel polish. If you're a nail naturalist, it’s unlikely you’ll change camps. There is a greater distance in the divide. However gel polish fans are actually close first cousins to the more dramatic flair of acrylic and gel stiletto enhancements. Gel polish is packaged in the familiar bottle with brush but is prepped/applied/cured in the same way as acrylic and gel. The main product differentiation being the lack of length build out. A competent and thoughtful nail pro can help anyone wear nail enhancements with the right strategy for their lifestyle. Nail enhancements are purely an aesthetic choice. There is nothing wrong with that. The nail product and the nail tech are only part of the equation to maintaining lasting nail health. The final part of the equation is the client. It is more common for the client to tip the first domino in a chain reaction that leads to a damaged set of nails; subconscious nervous habits. So before a client or naysayer can blame the process, ask them to take a look at how they themselves treat their hands. What does their skin and nail care look like? Are you the type to absent-mindedly pick, lift, bite or overbuff your natural nails? How do you think this type of person will respond to the responsibilities of nail enhancements?
**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, DEBUNKING COMMON MYTHS ABOUT NAILS! which originally aired on December 1, 2020.