Monday, October 4, 2010


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: 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. 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's gel a to powder manicure..I most likely wouldn't think twice about and end up paying twice as much for it!


Here are some more websites that cover this scam and give more detail into what a UV gel nail should be:

Not what I asked for
UV Gel Nails
Do you wonder what liquid and powder gels are?

Also, if you feel you have ever been scammed or ripped off by a company, you can report them to:
Better Business Bureau

If you have a similar story or know more info on this...please share :)


KayKay said...

wow im so glad she stuck to her guns and got her money back. i know the nail people were probably cussing her in their language and they obviously talk about people there. thanks for posting. i miss your beauty posts but stay focused on school :)

DebDobDoorNob said...

This is a great post. There are so many people (inc me) who would probably never question this type of thing and would continuosly be scammed over and over.

thanks for keeping us informed :)

icosmeticRN said...

no problem ladies!!! worries my beauty post will back soon!! Lately I have been alot of neutral looks..but I have all the pics..just need to upload them..but they will be back I promise!

Thanks for the support!!

the Honey B said...

great post, Jess! i rarely get acrylics because my nails are pretty long usually but this is GREAT to know!

Anonymous said...

wow thanks for sharing! i'm desperate to get my nails done as soon as possible, so this was very helpful for me :)

Janine aka J-Ezzy @ *La Dolce Vita* said...

wow - i don't think i knew it was an actual gel, i'm such a fool! now i'll never get ripped off! i haven't had gel or acrylic done in years, but still, now i know.

i just did a post on my recent gel nail polish experience, i had a great result and i'm in love!

Devon said...

This has happened to me and not until after the fact when I had gone back a few more times (for fill ins etc) had I actually asked if they were giving me the wrong type. I said to the nail tech, I actually wanted gels and she said this is gels and I said oh, looks exactly like acrylic and she goes on to tel me how it is pretty much the same just the formula is different and that with acrylics you dont have to put them under the light... so obviously me figuring I dont know what I'm talking about since I'm not a trained nail tech and dont entirely know about the subject matter, thought she was right. until however I asked around with some friends who do nails and have gone to school and are licensed. they told me I'd been ripped off considering I had paid 40 dollars and was not receiving what I had asked for its a horrible thing that theyre doing and sadly getting away with because not everyone is in the know when it comes to little details like that but I love the story and glad she stood up to them! get it girl!

tiara gibbs said...

There are gel powders. U guys need to research and the nails come out super shiny like liquid gel. I'm a Cosmetology instructor, I'm positive of this. Look in a nail supply and u will find it. I've had them done professionally and I've bought it. You're not getting ripped off.

Hillary Fry said...

While it is important the customer get what they want, it is important to know what you are asking for. Things to know:

1)This line of thinking implies "acrylics" (aka liquid & powder) are different from gel. They are not. Gel is a pre-mixed form of the same.

2)The choice to use either comes from the condition of the nail as well as the ability of the tech. Both applications require skill. Gel tends to be harder for many people to apply.

3) There are gel & powder combined systems out there, used often for 3D competitions and now getting into salons.

This kind off outrage implies there is something wrong with liquid & powder systems when they are acrylates, just as gel. Perhaps the problem is that techs should not differentiate in price.

Black Butterflye said...

I have been doing nails for almost 11 years and gela since I started. My clients would come back from the US saying thwy filled me in woth gel. I would thwn filw down to thw aceylic and show them that thw rest was just that...acrylic. smh.

Lynnette Madden said...

Hey, this blog was on my friends Facebook page and I just had to jump in here to give a bit more info.
The "gel scam" is rampant in almost ever single CHOP SHOP out there.
What concerns me more than the scam is that the liquid that they are using is a chemical called Methyl Methacrylate. Please look this up. Almost every state board has banned the use of this on the natural nails. There is no solvent that will completely remove this from the nails. I have seen soooo much damage from those places as they tear the product from the nails after you soak.
Please feel free to contact me or any of my EDUCATED AND TRAINED nailtech colleagues.
We are out there. But you will not get $20 nails. The right products and the education that goes along with it costs a lot. There IS a difference.
I am glad you did your research and passed the info along.

Ange Tidwell said...

Tiara, I shudder to think what kind of education your students are getting if you are truly a COS instructor. Yes, there are some powder gels, LeChat is one but a true professional would know that this is more of a resin/powder product. True gel products come in a pot or tube with a gel texture and must be cured after each layer. I am a licensed Nail Technology Instructor in the State of Alabama.

Ange Tidwell said...

WTG Lynette, I didn't expound on the whole chop shop MMA scam but this place does sound like it fits the bill! Thanks for adding that information , my friend. Knowledge is power to the unsuspecting public. Educate yourselves on products, proper application and most of all SANITARY practices. These places are giving moral and responsible nail professionals a bad rep.

Nail Talk Radio-AthenA said...

I have co-developed a survey for consumers that's based on sanitation and likelyhood of catching a nail salon infection. Since it's conception we have made over 100 changes. This is a serious topic one of my nail associates Lynette has championed. I will be including sonething more to address this issue along w nail damage associated w these types of salons. In the mean time, if you have a android phone plz dl my app
Safe Salon Rating...or go to the and ADD BY CONSUMER this salon w address and rate it. Leave coments. This will help other consumers avoid salons who practice deceptive business. Thank you

Kati Silliman said...

I am i cosmetologist in Iowa and I own my own salon. I also went to school for nail tech. I am dual licensed to do artificial nails. Gel prowder does exist and is better than the gel that comes out of a tube or jar. how do you think they make the jelly gel? It all starts as powder. I do believe this was a scam because that is not how you apply gel powder. but if you say it doesn't exist and you're supposedly an instructor you need to go back to school.

justin said...

perfect and awesome beauty blog