Sunday, 23 August 2015

Some thoughts on the Mentality situation and my own nail issues ( a very long and wordy post!)

Over the last few weeks and months, I have been out of the nail loop. I skim through Feedly, but haven't really bought any polishes in ages. I had totally missed all the stuff which has been going on with Mentality polishes causing lifting. In fact I only heard about this on Friday evening when I got an alert that a comment was waiting approval on an older post of mine where I had mentioned issues with lifting I had had last year and had shown some pictures of a Mentality polish.  I guess the person who commented had been Googling for info on it and found my post. I was straight on Google myself!

The first post I found was from Anne at Betty's Beauty Bombs, this basically informed me that affected polishes were mainly neons purchased from April-June. I don't have any.  I have picked up the odd bottles from sales pages on Facebook, but really the last time I saw any polishes which wow'd me into wanting to "buy all the polish" was the piCture pOlish limited editions - so that will be about 18months ago! The story with Mentality is that the suspension base caused lifting with regular exposure.

I sat on the fence with regards to this issue right up until now, almost two days after I first heard of this when with absolute outrage I read the following on the Mentality Facebook page.  I took the liberty of copying and pasting the whole lot as Facebook posts can be deleted or amended.  It's a black square saying Update posted 23/8/15 at 12pm GMT.

Important: Due to a massive surge in requests this weekend for remakes of polish made in the Arminex base, we unfortunately will no longer be able to grant any further remake requests or process any further refunds. We have reached a physical and financial limit.

If your request for a remake has been responded to, then we intend to process it. We have processed all initial reports of sensitivity to the Arminex base, many many non-sensitivity remake requests, and are completing the remainder in order of receipt. We are processing all international sensitivity reports that have requested, and we are pouring all of our current assets plus allocating future resources into this final list of approved requests. Then we must focus on purchase of laboratory tests of our reserved quantities of the problematic Arminex base and stored barrels so we can create a proper incident report to the FDA, as we now have a set of verifiable, quantifiable, and qualifiable data that is required to pursue that outcome.

We want to express a huge round of thank yous to the bloggers and Instagrammers that came together with their wealth of experience to help us identify the issue with the Arminex base, and then helped spread the word. This was even under an unfortunate surge of peer pressure backlash and reports of bullying, for which none of you deserve, and yet you still stood resolute. You inspire us to continue with your stories of personal strength in the face of adversity. None of you deserved to be harassed by the select few of our customers that chose the route of confrontation and a great many of our non-customers that engaged in trolling. Your examples of belief in self worth are why we endure.

Our active customer base is the size of a small city and a great many of our customers actively sell into the secondary market and numerous grey markets. It would have been impossible to achieve that level of reach through private emails, much less could we have hoped to convince those that resold our products to reach out to their customers, or convinced those with muled products to reach out to us. We could not have compiled or processed the mountain of remakes that we have and pursued the task of deep market channel message conveyance without each of your contributions. Notification to those persons was only achieved by the combined result of each of you coming together to help us spread the word, both positive and negative, through the power of social media and multiple disclosure posts.

We do feel that it is important to state that we are saddened by the loss of some of our fans through this event. You will be missed but we must move forward without you.

A special thank you goes out to all of our detractors. Your vociferous energy has helped us keep the issue with the Arminex base alive in the innumerable forums. We are not members of the various groups that you are in, or specific social circles, and without your unilateral contributions, we may not have been able to convince others of the issue with the Arminex base. Your efforts helped give this issue life which helped us locate and corroborate this sensitivity issue in other brands and products. While you may never accept it, a “touch gloves” is offered. We look forward to seeing you in the next round.

A continuous series of thank yous goes out to all of our fans. The incredible level of support you have offered with you kind words and purchase of new collections as we worked to replace months of work, is quite honestly the only way that we made it through this last month. It has been a monumental effort for the two of us that we did not know how we were going to accomplish or afford. We refused to give up, but we could not have done it without each of you realizing that while we make nail polish, we do not make the nail polish base, yet.

We will update when there is further pertinent information that is complete enough to communicate. Until then, there is a least 30 days work worth of remake orders that will ship over the next month and perhaps longer. Look forward to upcoming releases that we intend to use to finance the rest of the remake material purchases and shipping involved with this undertaking. We promise to continue to work non-stop. Yes, we are shipping worldwide, and UV Gel swatches are starting to come in. Wait until you see what the UV Gel bloggers have been up to.
Reading the above has left me outraged.  Initially they stated the would rectify anyone affected, suddenly in this social media post, that is being retracted.  I am sure if anyone were to take them to a small claims court this would be found in favour of the buyer.  I understand that Danny and Hillary are just two people who started making polish and not some big company with lots of assets, but c'mon guys, people have been in pain because of something they purchased from you and you haven't even been through purchase records and emailed them once you were aware there may be a problem.

I am saddened that for a time I raved on about how much I love this brand - it feels now like they have become victims of their own success, churning out masses and masses of products.  It felt like at one point they had a new collection out every two weeks.  I don't know how much testing they did, but testing is a big thing with indies - I recall Kerrie of Pish Posh and Polish stating about her brand Quirk, that she would test and test, three months became four months, four months became five.  Perhaps Mentality became complacent about testing?  Will this make them the next Lynderella?  Only time will tell.

I have experience lifting just like the people whose nails have been shared in this post by The Mercurial Magpie. My hands have looked like that and far worse than those pictured too.... In my last post I mentioned right at the end that I had had problems with my skin. I didn't go fully into what had happened.

Back in about February of this year I started reading about Acrygel base and how it really helped people grow their nails as the combination of gel and acrylic powder was like a coat of armour.  I had had an odd bottle of Duri Rejuvacote and my nails were shit, there's no other way to describe them.  I sourced my supplies from Amazon and tried it out.  Within two or three uses I started to experience pain when using the LED lamp,  just a few seconds of tingling burn.  I began to wonder if I was doing something wrong, I am not a trained nail tech after all, just a hobbyist.  I was a bit embarrassed by it all and never asked in any nail groups. I do remember someone who was trained once commenting they on a Facebook post you should always use the same brand lamp and polish, but thinking how expensive that would be and how much space you would need for storage. Maybe she was right, I wondered, as I felt the burn under the lamp.

After a few weeks I started to see that my nails were lifting. I never associated this immediately with gel and just kept using them - I had had issues like this last summer too, maybe it was some kind of seasonal allergy I wondered. Then my hand eczema flared up. I never associated it, writing it off to being stress.

In the end my nails were so painful that normal everyday stuff hurt, woe betide me if I caught my hand against anything. My finger tips felt like cartoon hands when someone whacks them with a hammer and they turn bright red and thumping.  The worst point came when my skin was weeping none stop, I even had to wear plasters to try and stop the oozing and also to protect my hands.  At this time, I stopped using gel - mainly as it hurt like hell when soaking off.  The lifting got so bad on my little finger that maybe only the last 3mm was attached, the rest was loose.  My nails were growing up away from my finger tips as the base they are normally attached to wasn't there to anchor them and I got some crazy ridges.

These pictures were taken in May.

I can't believe how swollen my finger tips were!

When I stopped using gel's so I didn't have to soak off, my hands settled down well - knowing the way my skin reacts I had to do a week without any hand cream, oil or lotions.  I did occasionally use the steroid cream I have from the doctor though.  The sore skin dried out and hardened, then the hardened skin came off in big sheets.  I remember telling people at work I didn't have leprosy, just manky skin trying to make a joke out of it before they could look at it and wonder what the hell was going on. Within about a month they had really improved. In June, things were going good until I was washing the pots and my rubber glove had sprung a leak. My skin was already sensitised from a relatively recent outbreak so the contact with the washing up liquid really set my skin off.

Then came the day - also in June - when I wanted to use vinyls over a white base - foolish me - rather than waiting for normal polish to dry I used the gel polish on those nails, this is the mani I shared in my last post.  This is when I realised what my problem was as my skin, already sensitive, immediately broke out.  More itching finger tips, starting to swell and weep.  I dealt with it much quicker this time, soaking off the gel as soon as I realised and throwing out my polishes to ensure I don't get tempted again.

The real irony in this story is that during the time my hands have been healing I have been using "safe" products.  I have used hand creams and oils which I know calm and sooth my skin, I even went back to using OPI Nail Envy as I never had any irritation when using it.  I have been wearing the same polish for between four and seven days.  I couldn't have naked nails, they look horrendous!  And what have I been wearing for colour?  Quite often my older Mentality polishes as they always wore really well....

My hands are now ok.  I am being very careful and wary of using anything new.  Going through the last couple of months with my hands being so sore and looking so horrible had really killed my nail interest, which is in part why I have written so few blog posts of late.

Over the next few weeks I have scheduled some posts from June when things were relatively settled.  At present my hands feel the most "me" that they have done in ages, no longer some throbbing sore monsters.  My nails are reasonable, nubbins with a bit of ridging.  I hope to get back into blogging again now I can enjoy it again.  I really hope any other nail lovers who have been affected by Mentality polish or any other triggers causing issues like I have had is able to get back to enjoying their hobby soon too.

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  1. Oh my goodness. What an awful experience. I have read of others becoming allergic to gels and that it can happen completely without warning - i.e. you're fine using gels for ages and then all of a sudden you're allergic and get this sort of reaction. I hope your nails and hands and quickly back to normal.

    And as for Mentality, I am appalled by their statements. I'm sure there will be some lawsuits coming their way. And to talk about the next collection - how arrogant! I think their customer numbers will be way down.

    1. Hands are certainly on the route to improved now. Just have to maintain the steroid cream a little longer and avoid contact with my usual triggers (washing up liquid and raw potatoes!)

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about the pain and lifting that you experienced. As a nail art addict I know that it had to be very hard. So happy to hear that those days are now past, and that you are on your way to healing and back to blogging your beautiful designs. Be blessed dear and welcome back. I think that Mentality should honor their original statement and rectify all customers who were affected don't you?!

    1. Thanks Myishia, I definitely think they should stand by the original statement, although today Danny has posted on Facebook they had no liability insurance and that if anyone sues they can have the business as it is $30,000 in debt.

  3. Hi Em, I was the person who posted the comment on your old post, it just seemed too coincidental that you'd been a heavy user of Mentality and then experienced the same issues.

    Thanks for writing this comprehensive post and I completely understand your anger at the Mentality FB post, the more I read about this situation the more it seems there's no way back for them as a brand/company. And that post is the final nail in the coffin. I don't know how much culpability Mentality have for the issue but I do know they haven't handled it appropriately. In my mind they should have made every effort to contact everyone who'd bought from them, they have their email & physical addresses and they should've posted more frequent, more visible warnings. And as for these weasel words about 'sensitivity', I don't think I'd call my nails being painful to touch, lifting and even falling off as 'sensitivity'. I've been a nail polish addict for 30+ years and I'm horrified to discover than the hobby I love could seriously damage my nails. Up to now I've not really dabbled in indie polishes beyond Cult Nails and Pretty Serious and this whole thing has certainly not made me want to explore further.

    I'm really glad that your nails are on the mend and I hope that's the last you see of this painful and distressing condition.

    1. Thank you for bringing it to my attention! I am wondering now just how safe they are to use at all, as there seems to be more stories of older issues arising, maybe they were to blame for my trouble last year. It certainly makes me not want to use any more Indies and stick with bigger mainstream brands like OPI and Barry M

    2. Yes, I've seen some of those posts about older bottles and wondered if perhaps that had kicked off your issues which then made your nails more susceptible to problems with gels.... I think what continues to confound me is if that base is so widely used (Nubar etc) then why aren't we seeing issues with lots of brands?

  4. Please file a report with the FDA if you have not already.

  5. Four years ago at a blogger meeting we (the bloggers in attendance) were discussing holos and why there weren't many holo polishes. The reason was at the time there was only one manufacturer for cosmetic grade holo pigments. It also came to my attention that some (indie) companies were using automotive pigments (specifically for holos) which causes similar damage as seen with your nails. In Mentality's case it's possible, since they do not list the actual pigments used nor the Color Index number (CI #), that they knowingly or unknowingly are using automotive pigments for their neons. I know they claim on their site the pigments are cosmetic grade but without an independent lab analysis there is no way to be sure. Since the base is also being used by other well known companies and those companies are not experiencing similar issues I have to speculate that it's not the base but the pigments used.

  6. So sorry to hear about your experience. Good luck on the healing process.

  7. I am SO sorry you went through all this, Em! I'm sensitive to UV gel lamps too, but haven't had any lifting or damage from using them, just painful tingling numbness. I switched to an LED lamp & use the same brand for my acrygels & this helps (my fingers just tingle a bit on the last cure), but it def sounds like UV/LED gel manis are not a good thing for you to do. I'm glad you're healing & I hope your polish love comes back! <3


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