Because You Need To Know: Debunking Jamberry

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In today’s Facebook connected world, you will inevitably encounter an invitation to a friend’s (or a friend of a friend’s) new at-home business endeavor. They usually involve food, jewelry, weight loss aids, cosmetics…something to help a woman “have it all”. I recently received an invitation to someone’s Jamberry Nails party…nothing out of the ordinary with the Scentsys, Mary Kays, Avons, thirty-ones, etc., so I disregarded it, until I saw a post comparing Jamberry products to nail polish and Shellac.

First and foremost: I am a state-licensed nail technician. While I am not currently employed as a nail technician, I keep my educational and licensing credentials up-to-date since it is important to me personally. While I think the main focus of this advertisement is to be used as a marketing tool, it is very misleading to a potential customer. There are few things I hate more in this world than misleading advertisement…so I’d like to take this time to debunk the claims listed.

WHY NOT POLISH?

  • cost $4-12 a bottle

I LOVE OPI’s Funny Bunny. It is my go-to for a squishy white jelly base…I probably have used it at least ten times in the last year since I have purchased my bottle. I estimate my bottle is down about maybe 15%; right at the dots separating OPI. If I did my math correctly, that would be around 67 manicures to finish my bottle…and if you divide the $9 retail price of an OPI bottle by 67, you get $0.13 a manicure.

13 CENTS. People, I have a pro discount. I didn’t spend $9 for a bottle of OPI. With all the Ulta specials and coupons out there, I don’t think most of you did either. An added perk? Nail polish lasts practically FOREVER with nail polish thinner. Germs don’t want any of that chemical business.

  • Last what? A couple of days tops

Unfortunately, nail polish is a your-mileage-may-vary product. You may have not found your holy grail base coat, top coat, nail growth product (check out Aprill’s awesome results here!), etc., yet! Also, some nail polish brands interact differently with different body chemistries. I have friends who swear by Rescue Beauty Lounge’s wear but I can wear it for an hour and it’s chipped on me…is it the polish’s fault? Not necessarily.

  • Chipping, peeling, smudging

I hate to say this, but that’s not a nail polish-only problem. I’ve had the same things happen with other nail appliques.

  • Discolors your nails

A good base coat will usually circumvent this problem, but there are some problem children nail polishes out there, usually a strongly pigmented blue (here’s looking at you, Zoya Liberty).

WHY NOT SHELLAC?

Okay, this is the part that made my brain explode. Hold on to your hats.

  • $30 to $40 every two weeks

That really depends on the salon you go to. I know some that are as low as $20. From what I heard from salon regular friends, nail technicians love Shellac services more than traditional acrylics. I can’t blame them: it’s easier, faster and has a higher turnover rate: it’s a financial bonanza.

  • Can only be applied by salons

Au contraire! The actual Creative Nail Design brand Shellac may be a salon-only product, but there are PLENTY of at-home gel systems available nowadays. The biggest and easier to find brand is Nailene’s SensatioNail. If you shop around, you can find a starter kit for that proposed $30-$40 price with coupons and promotional discounts.

  • Methyl Methacrylate! YUCK!

This is the most misleading item on the list. I hope you have some popcorn, we’re gonna be here a while.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation with a reminder that methyl methacrylate (MMA) is prohibited for use in another Florida cosmetology salon and has been since 2004. That should be a no-brainer for a cosmetology professional.

However, I’m sure many of you are like, “Well, what the heck is methyl methacrylate, anyway? And why should I care?”

First of all: if you are just using Shellac or soak-off gel polishes, you are not dealing with methyl methacrylate (MMA) products. I don’t even know why this is on the list, other than to add big boogieman words.

Acrylic nail enhancements consist of two things: a monomer (liquid) and a polymer (powder). Ethyl methacrylate (EMA) is the standard product used with nail enhancements, but costs a lot more than MMA. If a salon has really cheap prices for acrylics, this may be why: they don’t have to pay out for standard EMA monomer, which can cost about 6 times more than MMA.

However, as with all things in life, cheap things do have a price. MMA nails do not easily bond with a natural nail so a nail tech may excessively etch it with an electric drill, thus damaging your natural nail bed. Once it has bonded, it is incredibly strong but at the expense of your natural nail when it comes to either an accident or removal. Traditional EMA nails will take approximately half an hour to soak off while MMA nails will not budge. Many salons tend to resort to manual removal, which can be painful and can result in natural nail damage. This does not include the other MMA exposure symptoms (skin irritation, redness, sensitization, respiratory problems, fungal/bacterial infections) that may occur.

I’m not trying to keep you away from a nice discount manicure, but keep your eyes peeled when it comes to scoring a beauty deal. Prior to obtaining my nail license, I was a frequent discount salon customer myself and have experienced many of these things. Please don’t make my mistakes.

  • Damages your nails and skin

I think the problem with all nail enhancements is that too many people assume the Ronco philosophy: set it and forget it. I’m sorry, life just doesn’t work that way, and neither will your nails. Keep your nails and skin moisturized at all times, no matter what you have on your nails, be it polish, gel, acrylic or shields.

  • Can only be removed by a salon

NO. Just don’t.

I can almost guarantee you have EVERYTHING to remove your gel polish at home as we speak. Even my beauty minimalist mom has all the things to remove gel polish at her house…here’s what you need:

  • Foil
  • Cotton balls
  • Acetone

Unroll your cotton balls into strips and divide them into small finger-sized tabs.

Cut foil into strips that can be wrapped around fingertips.

Soak cotton tabs with acetone. Press on nail. Wrap foil strip around fingertip. Repeat on rest of hand and sit for 15 minutes. Remove excess (if any) with orange stick and acetone. Repeat on other hand.

THAT’S IT.

…and it’s not an acetone soak!

  • $15 for 3 to 4 mani’s or pedi’s

Yeah, that’s nice, but I think $0.13 a manicure beats that by a long shot.

  • Stays on fingers 2-3+ weeks, stays on toes 4-6+ weeks

Let me pull a Whitney here…I want to see the receipts on this one. I’ll give them maybe a week, tops. We’re talking about vinyl here. I know Jamberry’s nail shields are applied with heat, so they probably have a bit more staying power than the Sally Hansen ones I have used in the past. However, without any other reinforcement such as top coat, there are still crevices exposed to the elements such as air and water thus making them susceptible to lifting and separating.

  • No chipping, peeling, smudging

I call shenanigans on this. If you wear a product long enough, it’s going to do one of those things. It may not be immediate, but it will happen eventually. There are no foolproof products.

  • No damage to the nail

This product is applied with a hair dryer…there may be damage. Granted, it may not be acetone, but there is heat exposure rather than chemical exposure. The vinyl bonds to the nail with heat and removal also involves either using a hair dryer or warm water. Either way, the removal of that bond still has a physical risk to the natural nail, whether or not acetone is involved.

Am I against Jamberry Nails? Not necessarily. Hey, nail appliques are cute…as I’ve said in the past, nail art isn’t my forte. It’s a great way to easily put on a complicated nail design you may not be able to put on yourself or a fun way to match an outfit. However, if you are going to start your own business, I hope you go out there honestly promoting your product and not making misleading claims about the competition.

(Full disclaimer: Jamberry Nails is a direct selling marketing company. For more information on companies like these, here’s a great video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJOeS6im864)

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About Janice

Janice Agagas-Welch is a Filipino Navy brat raised in Northwest Florida living the good life in the Lowcountry. She’s a married dog mom and licensed nail technician who has owned over 2000 polishes over the last 5 years. She also loves food, cider, mid-1990s R&B, college football and anything Peanuts/Snoopy-related.

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  • PCB Jams

    Hi Janice! I enjoyed this post. However, I think it is extremely interesting that you basically did a product review without trying the product. I am a Jamberry Consultant. I love the product because I have tried multiple things on my nails and Jamberry is BY FAR the best method I have found to date! Acrylics and Gel/Shellac damage my nails. I can not for the life of me get polish to last more than two days on my fingernails! I am always sure to clean my nails really, really well, dry out my nail beds with alcohol/acetone, etc, but it just does not last! So, I would love to send you a sample sheet of Jamberry Nails if you would be willing to apply them as per the directions and put them to the test. Maybe even do some nails with polish/gel/etc and some with the wraps. Then after you have tried them, give them a “real” review . . . message me if interested :-)! They do indeed last up to two weeks (or longer) if properly applied (must not touch skin or cuticle). I really think you’d love them, if you would just give them a try! You can find me at pcbjams@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/PCBJams to let me know what style you want to try! I will order any one set of wraps out of the current catalog and send it to you! http://pcbjams.jamberrynails.net/