Month: June 2013

Weighing Down on Beauty

This story happens more often than not – a customer goes into a nail salon asking for gel nails and comes out with “gel nails”.  This usually means acrylic nails that have a gel top coat of some kind and the client has been charged top dollar for this “premium” service.

This gal received one of those nail jobs, and she fought back.  I love it!  So, if any of you out there do go to a nail place like this one, please make sure you are getting what you actually ask for and pay for.  I’ve said it before a million times.  Gel nails use gel, and just like the name implies, it is a gel.  And it cures under a UV lamp that your whole hand fits comfortably in, not under a desk light.  Acrylic nails are a liquid and powder mixed together.  There’s nothing wrong with either product, but if you ask for gel and they pull out a powder, that’s not what they’re selling you. And, make sure your product is in properly labeled, brand containers.  If the product is in some no name, random jar that happens to have a label-maker label on it, walk away folks.

Pink Bling


This story happend to a fellow MUG, AmethystBeautyVA and she shared her story with us all here about a trip she took to treat herself to a salon to get gel nails. She got scammed on something that no one has really ever thought about. Here is her story:

Ok…as a treat to myself on my 1/2 Birthday today, I decided to go to a highly-raved salon to get gel overlays.

What I received makes me wonder if I was scammed and I’m reaching out to fellow MUGs for advice & opinions.

The salon owner did my nails and this is what she did and/or had me do:

1. Trimmed my nails to my desired length.

2. Used a coarse nail file to rough-up the nail beds.

3. Grabbed one of many identical brushes from a holder which was attached to her swing lamp.

4. Placed the brush into a small bowl of clear liquid to soak for a few moments.

5. Applied an odorless product from a brown glass bottle using the attached wand ala nail polish application. This product dried to a very matte finish.

6. Grabbed a small container of a very finely-milled white powder.

7. Repeatedly dipped the “soaked” brush into the powder and applied the mixture to my nails. When one hand was done, she had me hold it very close to the lightbulb of her swing lamp while she did my other hand.

8. Used a rotary file to smooth things out and taper the edges.

9. She did French tips using regular white nail polish and then she had me hold my hands near the lightbulb again for a few minutes.

10. She then applied a “Mirror Glaze UV Topcoat” and had me do a total of 6 minutes under a UV lamp.

When I asked her about the powder-to-gel she stated that it lasts longer than the liquid gel which requires several layers. She also told me that it would last 3-4 weeks.

I’ve had two people tell me that I received a set of “glorified” acrylic nails disguised as gel nails. After watching a few videos on YouTube, I’m beginning to agree with them! ALL the vids that I’ve watched CLEARLY show a clear gel substance being applied to the nail in thin layers with “cooking” time under the UV lamp between layers.

I’m irked that I was scammed and seriously considering disputing the charge ($41!) to my credit card.

So…my questions are:
1. Does it sound like I was scammed? Gel nails ($40 + $1 French) vs. Acrylic ($20 + $1 French).

2. Should I dispute the charge with my credit card company?

I didn’t leave a tip because she had stepped away while my nails were doing the 6-minute-UV-bake thing and came back REEKING of cigarette smoke.

There were many relpies that stated, yes, it defiantly sounds like you were scammed, and some stated that this was on one of biggest nail salon scams going on. She then went on to give us this update.

It. Was. EPIC!

So, I stopped by the salon on my way home from the office this evening…owner was very surprised to see me back so soon. There were approx. 6 ladies waiting to be seen and 4 ladies already receiving services.

She asked if I was there to have some nail-art (we had briefly discussed nail art while she did my nails yesterday) and I calmly replied “No, I’m here to request a full refund because I asked for gel nails and what you gave me was standard acrylic nails with a UV gel topcoat which certainly isn’t worth $20 when the bottle sells for $8.00 at the beauty supply store.”

She replied that she’s been doing powder-to-gel nails for 10 years and she “NEVER” gives a refund…EVER!

I then went on to say “There is absolutely no such thing as powder-to-gel nails but there IS such a thing as acrylics with a UV gel topcoat being passed off as gel nails and it happens to be the #1 nail salon scam in the country! Last night I contacted several friends in other states who have gel nails (my fellow MUGS, of course!) and I even went to YouTube & Google to do a search for “gel nails” and “gel nail scams” and EVERY video or article about the gel nail scam was IDENTICAL to what you did to my nails yesterday. Today I contacted two cosmetology schools and they confirmed that there is no such thing as powder-to-gel nails. The directors at each school advised me to contact Virginia’s licensing board for more information about filing a complaint and that’s what I did this afternoon. You committed fraud by telling me that I was getting gel nails and that’s why I’m asking for a full refund.”

O.M.G. I thought she was going to have a seizure right then and there!

She vehemently stated again that she doesn’t offer refunds and that I don’t know what I’m talking about! At this point, one of her techs came running over with a jar that had a home-made computer label that said “Gel Powder” and the tech kept saying “See…gel powder! Gel powder! You wrong! We right!”

I sighed and said, “Ok. When I called Virginia’s licensing board I was given directions on how to download this complaint form (at this point I took the form out of my purse and held it up which clearly showed that I had already filled in the salon name, address, etc.) and submit it for an investigation. You’ve stated twice that you don’t give refunds, so I have absolutely no choice but to file a dispute with my credit card company (which I had already done, btw) and submit this complaint form to the licensing board. I also have absolutely no qualms about contacting each of the three local TV stations because I have a very good working relationship with several of the reporters and newsroom directors at each station, so I have no doubt that one of the stations would be interested in doing an “investigative report” regarding this little scam you’re pulling on unsuspecting clients.”

She stood up.

She sat down.

We stared at each other in a stalemate for a few moments.

She then told me she’d give me a refund after she removed my “gel acrylics” and to have a seat and wait in line. I told her that my time was just as valuable as hers and given that I had already spent over an hour in her salon yesterday, I preferred to sit at an empty station and soak my nails while her staff continued to take care of the other ladies who were already waiting. (One of my local friends recommended that I stick to my guns on this aspect since all they’d be doing is having me sit at an empty station anyhow with my hands in a bowl of heated acetone.)

She stood up and looked at me as if I had two heads. I smiled at back at her and said “I think I’ve given a fair solution that will satisfy both of us AND allow you to take care of these ladies at the same time. It’s called multi-tasking.”

She sighed, said a bunch of stuff very quickly in Korean and pointed to an empty station.

I said “Great! But first, let’s process my full refund so that when one of your techs has finished removing these nails, I can leave straight away and we won’t ever have to speak to each other again.”

She processed my refund right then and there, all the while saying a lot of stuff very quickly in Korean (I’m certain she cussed me out during all that talking).

She took a cigarette break and while she was outside, one of the ladies who had been waiting asked me if what I had said was all true. I said, “Absolutely! If you have internet access on your cellphone you can google it and find out for yourself.”

In the mirror I could see her typing on her iPhone and a few minutes later she and her friend crossed their names off the list and left.

It took almost 40 minutes, but I have my nekkid nails again and I’ve slathered my hands in olive oil. Typing with gloves on at the moment is lots o’ fun, btw!

Yes, I’m still going to file a complaint with the state because if I don’t, this salon will continue to scam people.

Wow..I am so glad she stuck to her guns! I wanted to share this story with everyone because I would hate for this happend to anyone! Not very many people know what actual gel nails look like nor are that educated in the nail salon world. If a nail tech tells me me…’s gel a to powder manicure..I most likely wouldn’t think twice about and end up paying twice as much for it!


My Interview with Salon Magazine!

Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time to get started on your Contessa entry! In light of the rules changes to the Contessa Canadian Nail Artist category (formerly known as Nail Enhancement Artist), Robyn Schwartz of Polished + Pampered Hair and Esthetics in Grand Forks, BC, the Contessa 24 winner in this category, shares her secrets for putting together a nail collection that will wow the judges.


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Salon Magazine: What are some important factors when selecting a photographer?

Robyn Schwartz: The first thing I look at is their portfolio—can they capture the style and type of photo you’re looking for? For me, I want a look that is a more professional, editorial photo. Also, check out the cost, shoot location and accessibility—are they willing to come to you? For a Contessa collection, it’s pretty hard to get all the photos done in one day, so keep in mind that they will need to be available for two or three sessions.

SM: Can you share some tips on finding a hand model?

RS: Finding a hand model is not the easiest thing. I look for the perfect hand: a longer nail bed that’s not too skinny or too large, slender fingers and young hands. I do stay away from short, stubby or damaged nails rough skin and cuticles, short fingers and hands that are too boney. And, models need to be flexible because from start to finish—most shoots take an entire day.

SM: Since any artistic or enhancement technique is acceptable, can you suggest ways to create a strong theme in a nail collection?

RS: Theme is a major part of your collection. I make sure that each photo, from the actual nail to the props and the finished look of the photo works with one another. Colour, texture, style and even hand placement all play into your overall look.

SM: Fashion appeal is one of the components the judges will assess. How can nail technicians translate what’s on the runway to an outstanding nail design?

RS: This is a hard question to answer—what one person considers fashionable may not be the same to to someone else, which makes it hard to base an entry on fashion alone. I base my entries on what I know I would like to see and do with the nails. I do like to stay modern with the styles and colours, but I don’t necessarily base them on current fashion.

Putting together a collection is something I love to do. We get to showcase nails that we don’t normally get to do on a daily basis, ones that truly showcase our artistic ability. It’s also a great way to allow my clients to get to see the competition nails. That way, when they see the designs, they can pull elements they like into their everyday nails without being impractical.

Nails: Robyn Schwartz, Photo: Laura Wilby