Monday, July 12, 2010

to Salon or Not to Salon


There’s a new nail polish product on the market that’s getting a lot of media buzz.  It’s made by CND, and it’s called Shellac.  The reason everyone is talking about it?  Because it’s simply amazing, that’s why.

I was lucky enough to be trained on how to apply Shellac by CND education ambassador, Holly Schippers, while I was in school.  I also had the opportunity to give it a test run on my own nails, and I can tell you from my own personal experience that this polish will NOT chip or scratch AT ALL, when applied properly.

Imagine that, a nail polish that will stay on your nails until you take it off, or it grows out.  Pretty cool, huh?

Now, I’ve been reading quite a bit of the press on Shellac, and it seems to have sparked a bit of a debate on professional services verses at home services.  The reason for the discord is because Shellac is only available in salons.  You can’t buy it at your local Sally Beauty or Wal-Mart and paint your own nails with it.

A lot of people are saying “Hey, I paint my own nails all of the time, what makes this any different?  Why do I have to spend extra money at a salon just to get my nails painted when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself at home?”

The answer to that question lies in the product chemistry of Shellac.  It’s not simply a polish, if it was it would act like every other polish and chip off your natural nails within forty-eight hours.  It is, in fact, a hybrid Ultra Violet (UV) gel product.  It may look, and almost act, like a nail polish, but in reality it’s closer to a nail enhancement.  To apply it properly, your nail plate needs to be prepped for the product, and the product itself has to be cured correctly in a UV lamp made specifically for Shellac.  If not applied correctly, at best it will chip, scratch, or pop right off your nail; at worst, improper application can cause severe skin reactions and long term chemical sensitivity to the wearer.

So that’s the long and short of it; the reason it’s only available as a salon service, and the reason why even if you could do it at home, you probably wouldn’t want to.

Unfortunately, there are many nail professionals who come up a little blank when confronted with these questions, and instead of remaining blissfully silent, or contacting the company to learn the proper answers, they’re throwing out all kinds of misinformation and lame excuses.  For example, I recently read a discourse between a nail tech and a potential Shellac customer where the tech answered that question by stating “It’s a salon service because CND said so, and who are we to argue!”

Ugh…  Really?  *eye roll*  Tell me, when you were a rebellious teen, and you wanted to go to the dance with Spike, who drove a smokin’ hot motorcycle, did the argument “Because I said so!” hold any weight with you when your Mom or Dad told you no way in hell?  No?  You just snuck out of the house and went with Spike anyway?  So then what do you think the chances are that the potential Shellac customer mentioned above is now seeing if she can score some on ebay?  Pretty darn good, would be my guess.

I’ve also heard nail professionals trying to explain that the start-up cost of Shellac is likely too high for the average consumer.  It’s a better argument, but still not the right one.  To properly apply Shellac, you need CND’s Cuticle Away, which is only available to salon professionals, manicure tools, a CND UV lamp, base and top coats, and last but not least, the Shellac.  All of those things together cost about $225.  You could probably get Shellac’d in a salon for a year or more for that amount of money.

However, most people are going to think, “Hey, I can get cuticle remover at Sally’s for $3, and they have a UV lamp there for $40.  Manicure tools?  Who needs manicure tools, I’ll just use these old popsicle sticks to push back my cuticles.  That brings the total cost of Shellac to under $100!”

The problem there is that you’re not going to be applying it properly.  Sally’s cuticle remover won’t prep the nail plate properly, and the Shellac will end up chipping or popping off.  The UV lamp you  purchase may cure the top layer of Shellac, but it won’t cure the underlying layers, leading to the nasty skin reactions and product sensitivity I mentioned earlier.  It may not happen the first time you Shellac yourself, but in the long run you’re going to cause more harm than good.

In my opinion, getting a skin rash on my fingers every time someone comes near me with a nail product isn’t  worth it to save $10-$20 at the salon every few weeks.

Plus the fact that while you can paint your own nails, it can be a pain in the rear, and it’s soooo much nicer to be pampered and have someone else do it for you once in awhile.  Get a manicure while you’re there, those arm massages are da bomb, and will have you melting in your chair!

Lastly, just as a side rant, one lady in on one of these debates was acting a little snarky, and said that she had a real college degree (in law), not just a stupid manicurists certificate.  Since she was clearly more intelligent than those of us who only went to school for a few months, she was perfectly qualified to Shellac her own nails. 

To her I’d just like to say that intelligence has nothing to do with education, or qualification.  If you’re sooo much more intelligent than those of us who only hold a certificate, then you should have no problem cutting your own hair, doing the maintenance and repair on your vehicles, building and repairing your own house, plumbing, electrical systems, air conditioning and heating…  I could go on and on.  There are plenty of fields of work where people only hold a certificate, that doesn’t mean anyone not educated in the field can do it themselves.  I would be an idiot if I represented myself at a murder trial, just like you’d be one if you tried to re-wire your house without any training as an electrician.  Just because you can screw in a light bulb, it doesn’t mean you can put in a new circuit breaker, and just because you can paint your own nails, it doesn’t mean you know what I know, or can do what I do.

Don’t take my word for it though.  Go ahead and give it a try.  When your fingers are covered with a blistering rash you can give me a call.  Of course, I’ll just chuckle and refer you to a physician, because I know where my field of expertise lies.