Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dip Systems - take 2

If you read my previous post, you would see that a major con of “Tip & dip” systems is that they just do not last as long as acrylics or hard gels. I don’t mean they don’t last as long between appointments – that, of course, depends on nail prep and the growth rate of the client’s nails – rather, they tend to break down after a few fills as nail resin is not cross-linked and therefore is very porous and susceptible to moisture and the environment. They crack and yellow and need to be removed periodically and reapplied.
Young Nails SlickPour System

Since my last post on the subject, the trend seems to have shifted in the use of these systems to be not so much an alternative for acrylic or hard gel nails, rather they are now being touted as an alternative for Gel Polish, something I am finding very interesting indeed.

Basically, techs are now soaking off and re-applying a whole new set at every appointment. They are not using tips and they are using colored powders instead of the traditional clear or pink and white powders.  Personally I think dip systems are much better suited to this type of application then the “tip and dip” acrylic alternative method that has been pushed since the 1980’s. 

Only time will tell if this usage of the dip system will finally make it a staple in the nail industry or if it will once again fade away only to be resurrected a few years later as the “latest and greatest new thing”.

Tell me - how do you use dip systems? 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Business Basics: Professionalism

The contrast between my life in the beauty industry and my life in the business sector is astounding. I used to work in a Human Resources support role for a Fortune 500 company in their Organizational Development department. In that role, I was exposed to training and expectations for their high level executives. The expectations for business professionals is vastly different from how the majority of beauty professionals act nowadays - and its not that beauty professionals have a less important job by any means, its that business and the importance of professionalism isn't even touched  in the beauty industry unless you take a rare advanced training beauty business class.

Look, I get it. This is a creative industry. You did not go to school for business because its too stodgy/ boring/{insert adjective here}. Except you DID go into business - the beauty business.   


Professionalism is a set of character strengths and values directed toward high quality service to others through one's work. It encompasses the skills, knowledge and behavior that you use at work and that you present to the outside world as a beauty professional, even if not at work . Let me repeat that - even if not at work.   If you are representing the company in any capacity - even just talking about where you work to an acquaintance -  your behavior will be judged in relation to your job.

Professionalism isn't how you look, it's how you behave.  It's saying what you mean, doing what you say, and getting the job done.  People who act professionally are regarded better by both peers and clients, make more money and are seen as experts in their chosen field.   People who act professionally are valued by their company. Professionalism establishes boundaries to clients. It promotes respect and minimizes conflicts.

Of course, how you look still matters. Being neat and clean is important in order to look professional. What would you think if you went to a doctor who was wearing a sloppy, stained sweatsuit and had matted, messy hair? Your opinion of their professionalism - and probably their competency - would go down and you might even be uncomfortable seeing them.

Characteristic of Professionals - in ANY Industry

  • Neat in appearance - while professionalism is a set of behaviors, appearance still matters, ESPECIALLY in the beauty industry.
  • Polite and well-spoken but not cocky
  • Reliable
  • Competent in their role and always striving to become experts in their field
  • Ethical
  • Organized
  • Accountable for their actions - they admit their admit mistakes and correct them and don't try to blame others
  • Maintain poise - they keep their calm in difficult situations
  • Respectful of others - customers, superiors and co-workers alike

Professionalism is important, even if you do not work for a Fortune 500 company. By maintaining professionalism, you will go further in your career, make more money and be regarded as an expert in your field.  Its a win-win situation!

Unprofessional Behavior

Unprofessional behavior happens, but a true professional will strive to not let it happen and to minimize issues when it dies happen (to them or someone else in their place of employment.

Unprofessional behavior can include:
I love this picture! from LinkedIn

  • Being late or skipping work.
  • Discussing taboo topics or your personal life
  • Swearing
  • Being defensive
  • Being unresponsive
  • Being disrespectful
  • Not keeping promises
  • Blaming other people
  • Being fake
  • Lying and stealing
  • Poor communication
  • Arguing in front of clients
  • Insults, verbal comments, or criticism intended to belittle or berate others
  • Verbal outbursts
  • Conduct that can be considered harassment or discrimination
  • Verbal or physical threats of violence, retribution, or lawsuits
  • Any of these examples

I highly encourage you to keep reading and researching on the subject of Professionalism and even take a class if you can. It is an extremely important piece of making a viable career that is not talked about often enough in this industry.

Resources and References

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Business Basics: Communicating with Clients

This is your new mantra: Clients are not your friends.  They pay you to do a service.  You are a professional.

Acting professionally isn't just about how you carry yourself while at work, nowadays with social media, it is also about how you carry yourself in your online presence.

Social Media

Clients are not your friends.  They pay you to do a service.  You are a professional.

Social media: noun; websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or participate in social networking. See: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Tumbler, Snap Chat, Periscope, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn, blogs, et cetera, et cetera.

Social media has made it so easy for an average Nail Tech (or any one else) to market themselves quickly, cheaply and effectively.  For a small business, or even an average technician looking for clients, social media is an amazing invention that allows free, instant self promotion. However, it is that "instant" piece that gets people into trouble. Always think before you post! I have seen nail techs post the most unprofessional things on their business pages. From one person who literally posted that they were looking for a surrogate to have a baby, to another who posted a meme that was taken as anti-religious and who lost a lot of religious followers due to that single post. And many, many more who post negative things about other businesses, people, their baby goes on and on. Your personal life and professional life should NEVER be intermixed in your social media.

Spelling and Grammar Count!

A professional social media page needs to be proofread. Misspellings and poor grammar bring down your professional image and credibility.  I know typos happen to the best of us - but if you do not know the difference between your and you're or too, two and to, look it up before you post something. It may sound trivial, but it absolutely brings down the image of you as a tech, the image of the industry as a whole and perpetuates the "nail techs are just dumb people who can't hack a real job" myth.  Poor grammar and spelling comes across as unprofessional and gives the impression that you don't take your role seriously.  In the business world, you will never see an advertisement with misspellings or poor grammar because that would present a very poor image of the business.

Similarly, proper punctuation and capitalization show professionalism just as much as proper grammar and spelling.

Social Media is Advertising

As I said above, in the business world, you will never see an advertisement with misspellings or poor grammar because that would present a very poor image of the business.  Social media is your advertising platform, treat it as such. There is an entire profession of people who do nothing but craft advertisements and marketing campaigns. If you are going to compete with corporate salons who use professional marketers and advertisers, you need to act professionally on your business social media pages. Period.

Text Messages

Clients are not your friends.  They pay you to do a service.  You are a professional.
No one is saying you can't text your clients - in this day and age more and more clients prefer to text over calling for an appointment. The main thing is that you set boundaries with your clients.

If your lawyer or doctor or dentist texted you at 11 pm "smh. I SAID I would get you in on sat. you hv to lmk when"  What would you think?  Not very professional, right? Personally I would find a new lawyer/doctor/dentist if that happened.

Ideally you would have a separate phone number for work, but if for some reason you cannot do this, you will need to learn to manage your work texts.
  1. There are many services that you can set up to take online and make text appointment reminders.  Yes they have a service fee but it may be worth it to you to save your sanity. Acuity Scheduling is one and is only $10 a month  and Appointment Tell is a service that reminds clients via text, email or phone message and may also be helpful if you don't need a full scheduling software ( I am not affiliated with them, nor have used them, just pointing out these services exist).
  2. Use Google Voice - you can get a second phone number that forwards to your cell/home/work phone and you can dictate hours in which to receive calls and texts.  Use that phone number for clients.
  3. Make it very clear on your business cards/websites/social media that clients can text your phone during business hours only (of course there will always be clients who don't read or care about what you put out there...)

In Your Chair

Clients are not your friends.  They pay you to do a service.  You are a professional.
Having said that, yes you will sometimes have actual friends in your chair.  And some regular clients become very close with you after years of seeing you.  But in your chair, they are clients.  They are paying you to do a service.  You need to wear your "professional" hat and put the "friend" hat away for later. Yes, you can be friendly but keep in mind that topics of conversation in any workplace should not start a debate or invoke strong emotions.  Politics, religion, your health, your finances, risque jokes, sex and sexuality, problems in your relationships, gossiping about coworkers...all of these are majorly "off limits".  I realize it is hard when the person sitting across from you has know you since grade school, but remember this is your career, not your living room, and if you work in a salon or spa with other people anyone could overhear you.  Keep it neutral.

By keeping your place of work professional, clients will respect you.  Once you start becoming too informal, they start to think you are friends and should give them discounts.

Say it with me now: Clients are not your friends.  They pay you to do a service.  You are a professional.

You can do this!

References and Resources:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Myth of Solar Nails

In the 1970's the Nail Industry was an unregulated industry and most nail technicians used MMA from dental supply houses to form acrylic nails. One day in the late 1970's, a patient of Dr. Stuart Nordstrom, a dentist from California, remarked that the product that he was using to prepare temporary caps for her teeth smelled like the product that was used on her nails (called "porcelain nails" instead of "acrylic nails" back then). This sparked Dr. Nordstrom to develop SolarNail, the first acrylic nail product formulated to be thin, non-yellowing and strong. Which lead to his company - CND (Creative Nail Design) being formed in 1979.

Over the years CND has innovated and produced better and stronger products and the original SolarNail Liquid was discontinued. However, Radical SolarNail - a much improved version of the original SolarNail liquid - still exists. "SolarNail" remains a trademark of CND.  In the early 1980's SolarNail became synonymous with Pink and White French acrylic nails due to a marketing campaign done by Creative Nail Design. The marketing said that SolarNails were better than regular Acrylic/Porcelain nails because they were formulated specifically for nails (or something like that).
Notice Solar Nails on the menu :(

Fast forward to today. There are salons that still advertise "Solar Nails" as being "better" than acrylic nails. This is referring to the very old marketing campaign I mentioned above which said that said that SolarNail was superior to the MMA acrylic commonly used at the time. It was superior at the time. The thing is, they didn't really highlight that SolarNail was a brand of acrylic. They were trying to differentiate themselves from the thick, yellow, horrible acrylic or "porcelain" nails of the time. And it worked.  CND has a habit of marketing themselves as something different - take Shellac, which is a brand of gel polish made by CND. It is gel polish, but their marketing campaign is such that it calls itself a hybrid and claims to be something completely different than other gel polish. Chemically, there is a bit of difference between Shellac and most soak off gels, but that doesn't change the fact that as a product category, its just gel polish.

Unfortunately, CND's marketing works so well that to this day, there are people who believe that SolarNail is a completely different product from acrylic nails.

OK, so what have we learned?

  • SolarNail is acrylic nails (remember, Liquid + powder = acrylic)
  • SolarNail is an old, discontinued brand name of acrylic from CND
  • Solar Nails almost always mean Pink & White nails, though almost never mean they are using SolarNail products (being discontinued and all).
  • Clients are very trusting and believe salons that tell them Solar Nails are a thing.
  • Salons that use the term "Solar Nails" are stuck in the 1980's and/or are knowingly misleading clients. Is this the type of salon you want to patronize?


The Problem With Social Media "teachers"

Eep! I just realized it's been over a year since I have posted anything!  Ah, life tends to catch up with you doesn't it? Well I have tons of post drafts just waiting to be edited and I hope to start geting them out there for you soon!

Just a few years ago, we had to rely on books and in-person teaching and an occasional online forum (hi,!) to learn and collaborate with people.  Social media is amazing and the ability to share ideas, learn, network and more is there at the click of a mouse button.  Instagram is a fantastic place to see other tech's work. YouTube has a proliferation of videos on "how to do nails".  Facebook has groups galore with nails as the subject. It can be the best place to learn new things. Or the worst.

I follow a number of people on Instagram and YouTube - online nail "celebrities" - and am appalled at the number of problems I see being shown in the short videos they post. And so many of them are offering classes - even though they have never trained to teach and are using outdated and potentially harmful techniques.

I am not saying don't use social media, just to take what you see with a grain of salt. Over filing the natural nail, too much liquid and mixing product lines are all things I see online way too often. As an informed tech, it is up to you to do your research, know what is acceptable and what is not  - and when you see a tech online doing amazing nails - except they are slopping monomer all over the finger and mixing acrylic brands - you can take the good ideas that you see and leave the bad techniques.

Do what you can to keep this industry safe and healthy! There is no point pointing out to the tech that they have a bad habit or were poorly trained - you will get called a troll and there will always be people to stand up for them no matter how much you make sense  (been there!)

Keep Learning!!