How YouTube learning is damaging the nail industry

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions but in January I set myself a professional goal – to push my abilities as a nail tech by attending at least six training events. I vowed I would learn new skills, meet more techs and do more networking in the industry that I love. 

Here we are in July and so far I’ve attended two courses and a three-day brand training session. Each of these events has taught me something I didn’t know and what I realised is, if you don’t continually better yourself then you miss things. 

In this fast-paced industry you have to keep learning, but the education needs to come from professionals instead of online videos, which is now becoming the norm. Here in lies the problem.

Issues affecting the nail industry

I’ve read up on the issues currently affecting the nail industry – modern slavery and the dangers of at-home DIY gel-polish kits for example – and I’m shocked by the amount of misinformation that’s being fed not just to nail techs but to clients and enthusiasts who “just do nails for fun”. 

The amount of chemical sensitivities and allergic reactions happening is destroying consumer confidence as well as nail techs abilities to work within the industry. Some of the images I’ve seen have been truly horrific and it's because people haven’t been trained in how to properly use the products. 

I believe in education and it is up to us to make changes within the industry for the better, so these things don’t happen. We need to invest in ourselves and in our staff, as well as educate our clients on what to look for in a reputable nail tech or salon. However, here comes the next pitfall – not all education is the same

I love watching nail tutorial videos on YouTube and there are really incredible, experienced artists who are pushing the boundaries and inspiring others. However, I’ve also come across others that make me cringe – videos of things that should only be done by a trained professional and yet amateurs are doing it and doing it wrong. 

What’s the solution

It's hard to know what the solution to this is. Education is a key factor but I think that the solution needs to go way beyond this. Regulation of the nail industry would go a long way to making the industry more professional. Perhaps licensing should also be considered as well.

I know that there are a few boroughs in London which require you to apply for a licence to work, which once you have met the criteria is issued for a few years. I know that the big movers within the industry are trying to get regulation and I'm personally all for it. We need to challenge the publc perception of "it's only nails". After all, they wouldn’t let their mate down the street colour and cut their hair. 

We also need to inspire techs to become better educated, not only with their skills but of their knowledge of the industry. This way they’ll be able to protect themselves and their clients. 

Recently, I was on a stand with a brand at a trade show and I was amazed at the comments from attendees (budding nail techs) who weren’t interested in further education. On stand, there was an international brand artist demonstrating how to use the nail products, wanting to explain how they work, and yet the amount of people who were disinterested was incredible. 

The most common comment made that day was that “I only do nails for fun so why is it necessary to know about this training”. With so many enthusiasts out there we have an even greater hill to climb. 

Lee MooreLee Moore is co-founder of Rock & Rose Beauty based in Pinewood Studios and also a Professional Beauty Awards judge. She has 13 years’ experience in the nail and beauty industry.