So chatting away with my lovely galpal Athena Elliot of Nail Talk Radio, she asked for me to call in on her show and contribute. Sadly, technology got the best of us and calling in wasn’t quite as easy as it should be. Thanks again Elaine Watson for pitching in! Your sentiments mirror my own! I’ll link the show so further below so that you can listen to playback. Sorry if I sound like a nutter. I was a tad frazzled from the confusion of getting me online 😉
So here’s a recap of thoughts I shared prior to the show and during the show.
On a regular basis in nail tech chat forums, the question arises whether or not to do services on a child or a young adolescent. The debates fly back and forth and often end up with someone feeling butthurt (as they say). The following are my thoughts on the subject.
I used to offer a service called “Princess Parties”. This service involved showing up at a location offering mini-manicures to little girls at a birthday party. They would get to use an edible sugar scrub and wash their hands, then sit around a dining table in a group while I told jokes and got silly with them. All while filing and painting their nails, finishing up with ‘fairy dust’ straight from Tinker Bell herself. Sometimes the party was for older adolescents. Needless to say my ‘Fairy dust’ wasn’t the talk of those parties. hahaha
Some parties were great fun to do and the children were absolute angels. Other parties were a dreaded nightmare. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Regardless that the good parties far outweighed the bad, I still had to ponder why I offered this service. I questioned myself often about it. Gave it considerable thought. Especially as a Mother, not only as a Nail Tech.
As a Nail Tech, these were the concerns that plagued my mind. Children’s nails are very soft and retain a great deal of moisture. This is the primary reason that nail polish doesn’t last very long on children, and it doesn’t matter what brand you use or what techniques. Their nails are too pliable and the high moisture content prevents a good bond to the nail plate. Because children’s nails are very soft, the risk of damaging a nail is very high. Even the slightest nudge with a file or buffing block or orangewood stick could gouge a nail. Given that product is prone to lift off from a child’s nails, two more issues are presented. One being that bacteria and whatnot can be trapped in that pocket. As we know, children are dirty little critters. I know. I have two of them. I love them! But they are dirty little beasties and mine are cleaner than most hahahahaha You can nag until you are purple in the face, but they often have dirty hands and their hygiene habits are questionable at best. This means that children are high at risk for developing an infection on their nail plate between the bacteria and the high moisture content. Lastly, when product lifts from a nail plate, it can tear the nail plate. When product – whether it’s nail polish, gel polish or enhancements – tears from a nail plate, it damages the nail plate. This is irrefutable, we’ve all seen it.
As Nail Techs we are trained to perform a client consult before services to determine how to best meet the needs of the client AND to determine if the client is suitable to RECEIVE the services that they are seeking. We have to rule out contra-indications. We know that the product won’t stay bonded to the nail plate, and we know that there is a high risk of infection of the nail plate and then add to that we know there’s a high risk of damage to the nail plate. Are those not contra-indications and would it NOT be in the best interest of the client NOT to receive the service? Some Nail Techs make the statement that minors under the age of 16 are not covered under their professional liability insurance and in many cases this is true. But I also know of many techs that make that statement even if their insurance doesn’t state so because they are uncomfortable with providing services to minors. I wonder why?
Especially with acrylics and hard gel enhancements. On the Nail Talk Radio’s page, and on the show, we discussed an image of a pacifier-sucking toddler having acrylic nails applied. See here.
I stand by my original statement and see no need to explain myself. NO I do NOT think that this is appropriate. NO I do NOT think the person applying the enhancements is Professional (as in behavior, nothing to do with training). I also feel that it borders on child-abuse. Flog me if you like, that’s my opinion. Don’t like it? Too bad.
On several occasions I have refused hard enhancements to minors under the age of 16. On three occasions, the parents brought the children back to me because they had suffered injury at the hands of another nail tech and/or caused injury to themselves. One of my clients is featured in this newscast that I appeared in against MMA and NSS. As found here on youtube ” CTV News Salon Dangers “. Her younger sister had received services at the same salon, then injured herself playing with a ball a couple of days later. The force she hit her nail with caused it to rip from the nailbed clear to the eponychium (the cuticle for those unfamiliar). Her mother called me at 9pm that night, while she cried and howled in the background suffering. they came straight to my home, the child with skin pale like snow, and wearing a heavy bathrobe on a very hot August evening. She was in shock from the pain. We cleaned her finger and covered it. I couldn’t do anything until the wound healed. (this was before I knew better than to ‘treat’). Then I proceeded to remove the rest of the enhancements gently and safely. She was 12-13yrs old. One would ‘think’ old enough to wear enhancements. But children do play….
Children’s nails start to harden up around puberty. Now while their nailplates may have matured and might be ready, the child is likely NOT ready. I have only to look to my list of clients to know that many adults struggle with wearing enhancements. Consistently banging them and nibbling them, causing breakage. This breakage causes trauma to the nail plate. Damage. If adults have a difficulty coping with nail enhancements, children’s difficulties are even greater.
As a Mother, my concerns regards the current trend of mani-pedi services targeting children appears to contribute to the Lolita Syndrome. If you’re unaware of Lolita Syndrome, google “Lolita syndrome” and “Lolita phenomenom” to learn more and you’ll find that the issue concerns the sexual objectification of little girls. A very real issue among female children today. I’m confused by this trend. I thought quality time with children meant doing what THEY like to do. Such as playing in the park, making mud-pies, having tea-parties, and similar. Yes, playing dress-up is a part of life. Every little girl wants to be like their Mother. But when is it too much? When mother and daughter attend the salon; does this make the daughter happy because it’s what she really wants to do OR does it make her happy because it’s the only kind of quality time she gets with her Mother so she ‘chooses’ to like the activity to please her Mother? You have only to think back to your own childhood and compare it to children of today to see the tremendous differences. How much do ‘adult services’ such as mani/pedis’ contribute to this syndrome? How much is ‘safe and harmless’, and how much is too much? With my own children, I chose to err on the side of caution and discouraged them from becoming interested. I chose instead to focus on encouraging them to be CHILDREN instead of miniature adults, and encouraged traditional children’s activities. They are now 12 and 14yrs old and only starting to express ‘real’ interest and such things. When I compare them to some of their counterparts, I’m glad for the decision I made.
How does all of that play out in my salon? I choose to have a policy of no enhancements for children under 16, and no gel polish services for children under 12 AND I removed Princess Parties from my services menu several years ago. My decisions are based on my professional stance that nail health & client safety are a priority, based on my insurance AND LASTLY on my own personal opinions.
Ahhhh but what do personal opinions have to do with Business. Ordinarily, I would say nothing. In most cases, that is very true. Personal opinions have no place in business. However, I believe in raising industry standards, and I also believe the old adage of “it takes a village to raise a child”.
Call me old fashioned if you want. Heck, call me a nosy-busybody who ought to mind her own counsel and that it’s not my affair if a mother wants her child to have acrylic enhancements.
At the end of the day, my responsibility is to the CLIENT who in this case is a child who can’t possibly understand the ramifications and risks of an adult luxury service and I must put my client first. So in my professional opinion, it is NOT in her best interest to receive a service that can potentially cause her harm. As to my personal opinion, does it play part? I’m sure that it does. I could turn a blind eye and just take everyone’s money and not care. Many techs do that. “It’s just money”. I could ask parents to sign a disclaimer (which will be unlikely to hold any water in a court of law).
Think on this: One Princess Party I did, I was greeted at the door by a shocking sight. Little girls, ages 8 & 9yrs of age. Playing dress-up. Not in little princess dresses or animal costumes. No. They were attired in the sort of outfits one expects to see in a strip-club, complete with leopard print and see-through platform stiletto heels. I will never forget it. My stomach still churns at the memory. Clearly the mother had dug it out of the back of her closet because there was a LARGE collection of the attire and shoes. I was revolted and horrified. Teaching little girls that THAT is the way to be attractive.
Maybe that mother doesn’t know when it’s too much, but I do and the buck stops here. Keep your money, no thank you very much.
Listen to Nail Talk Radio’s episode here: Princess Party to Rotten Royalty.