March 2013

Jaime Schrabeck

The Nail Extension | by Jaime Schrabeck


The Name Game: False Advertising or Just Marketing?

It's not uncommon for beauty writers to use social media to request information for their upcoming articles. Writers, particularly those without their own experience as beauty professionals, rely on the knowledge of others, and those that contribute gain exposure from being quoted.

I'm not able to respond to every request I receive (my expertise has its limits), but am more likely when I feel strongly about the topic. Assuming that the topic is relevant, the information valid, the article well-written and the quotes accurate, everyone can benefit, mostly the readers. 

A recent experience with another writer inspired this article; her request was for information about what nail professionals name themselves (nail technician, nail artist, manicurist, etc.) and how that might affect client perceptions.

Rather than respond via email, I called the writer, Tracy Morin, and we had a stimulating discussion. I haven't read Tracy's finished article, so I don't know how much, if any, of my information she used. However, for this article, I want to merge that seemingly benign "name" topic with the larger issue of false advertising and misrepresentation. 

If that seems like a stretch, let me assure you, it's not. But for the sake of argument, let's begin with a more common example of false advertising found in nail salons: the misrepresentation of products and services.

How often do consumers believe that they're wearing gel enhancements when in fact they have traditional liquid and powder acrylics? This happens so frequently that I often find myself explaining my preferred products and how I use them. 

I advise consumers that no matter what salon they patronize, they're entitled to the truth about the products applied to their nails. Salons that falsely advertise any artificial nails as "better than acrylics" reveal how ignorant and gullible they expect consumers to be.

For example, consider this description of "diamond nails" advertised by a salon: "They are strong and durable like acrylic, except with less odor. They are applied by brushing resin glue on to the nails and then dipping the nail in to diamond powder." The powder is not "diamond;" it's acrylic. Instead of acrylic liquid (ethyl methacrylate), this dip procedure uses an adhesive (cyanoacrylate) with acrylic powder (ethyl and methyl methacrylates).

Other falsely advertised nail terms and services include:

If misleading consumers about products and services is wrong, why do some service providers believe it's acceptable to mislead about their qualifications and licensing? In a perfect world, consumers wouldn't have to be concerned about whether their chosen beauty professionals are trained and licensed. After all, that's the MINIMUM requirement of the law.

While license types vary by state, each has a "scope of practice," which defines what licensees are allowed to do. If someone chooses to limit themselves to specific services within a license type, that's their choice, but they still need a valid individual license. That is, an unlicensed person cannot legally provide "just pedicures." Moreover, advanced education doesn't expand the professional scope of practice, no matter who provides the training/certification, how much time it takes or how much it costs.

California's Board of Barbering and Cosmetology recently released a statement advising consumers to verify licenses of individuals and salons advertising on the internet. What complicates the verification process is the fact that even licensed individuals and salons advertise with "fake" names.

In my perfect world, all individuals and salons would be required to advertise with their legal names and license numbers.

My California individual license (111051) lists my legal name and license type, "Manicurist" and that's how I advertise. My scope of practice is no different from any other licensed manicurist in California, regardless of what they name themselves.

Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D. owns Precision Nails, an exclusive nails-only salon in Carmel, California. She can be reached at