The nail world can be a vicious one at times. I’ve talked about indie brands and double standards before but we’ve all (well, if you’re far enough down the rabbit hole to be a part of facebook polish groups) seen brands torn a new one for fading polish, curling glitters, etc. And while those things are perfectly reasonable to not be happy with- there’s a situation that happened recently that isn’t seeing an ounce of the outrage you’d expect. I’m talking about Mentality Polish causing reactions of nail lifting, burning, redness, etc.
I shot off a quick facebook post this morning before leaving to work and was shocked by how many people still hadn’t heard of what’s been going on, so I decided to take the time to write a quick post about the issue and my thoughts on it. I’m not going to write out a detailed timeline but here’s the basics that you need to know-
Customers began experiencing what Mentality refers to as ‘sensitivity’ (a real misleading word for the Onycholysis people are experiencing IMO) from using polish produced by them from April through June of this year.
It was not limited to a particular collection (although I believe many people experienced it with their neons) which made them narrow it down to their base. They issued a statement on their facebook page and encouraged those who experienced the ‘sensitivity’ (again, really BS calling it just that) to contact them for replacements. I believe refunds were not initially offered but are now being offered with a delayed timeframe (which is understandable as this is a big hit to a small business).
There are rumors of bloggers knowing in advance of the issues and not saying anything (which I don’t want to believe that anyone could keep their mouth shut on that while knowing it could be harming their readers) and of the actual reason this batch of base is bad (citric acid as an ingredient was being thrown out as a potential explanation at first but many argued that it is also in bath bombs and other nail products and is unlikely to be the sole cause) but what I really want to talk about is the brand’s reaction. Because it really, really has sucked.
What should they have done? In my opinion, immediately close shop for a day or two while formulating a plan for replacements/refunds/figuring out what exactly was the issue with the polish. At this point, they first should have IMMEDIATELY taken the time to compile an email list of those who purchased during this timeframe and should have sent an email directly to them warning them of the potential dangers of using the polish. If they then needed to have a sale to help with the turnaround time of refunds- explain upfront to the customers their reasons for doing so and only start that after every single customer has been informed directly of the issue.
Here’s the problem- they posted once on instagram and (possibly? hearing varying stories) once on facebook. Both posts were quickly buried because…..oh, they’re releasing new polish. According to some of you on my facebook thread, some of your emails requesting refunds or replacements were ignored. And the co-owner is making wonderfully professional statements such as this:
Not everyone is active on facebook and instagram and while sure, it’s okay to only post information about sales and new releases there- when you have a product out in the world causing ACTUAL BODILY HARM to your customers, you should be doing anything in your power to notify your customers ASAP. Yes, post on FB & IG but send out a mass email, too! At the time of this post, there is nothing on their actual shop website, either!
Do I feel for them as small business owners? Absolutely, this is a nightmare of a situation but do you know who I feel worse for? The customers whose nails were ruined, and even those customers whose aren’t but who now have to deal with the hassle of waiting a long time for refunds and not being able to use what they purchased. And I think an appropriate response from the company in the first place (with a little less condescending responses from the co-owner) would have made people a lot less upset.
If this had happened to me as a nail blogger and they’d attempted this kind of response to the situation? My Eagle Freedom American sue-happy self would be calculating damages!
If fading polish, bleeding and curling glitter, restocks with low stock and stockists deciding to close sends the community into a frenzy, an actual serious health issue like this should as well. That’s my two cents on the situation. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments below!
P.S. I knew I was sick of neons for a reason
EDIT 2: Please check out‘s comments below! She shared some very helpful screenshots to give you an idea if your bottles may be part of the bad batch. The sad thing is the date stamp in the photos, though….4 weeks and still no direct emails to customers from Mentality.
EDIT 3: It’s gone from bad to worse. Here is their latest update (again, via their social media):
Elsewhere, the only person I see answering the questions THEY should be answering is one of their bloggers. It’s a sad situation with a loss of credibility all around- but their latest update truly makes my blood boil for all of those of you who have purchased from this brand (‘sensitivity’ experienced or not). This response just confirmed for me (in my opinion) that they did not originally contact customers because of issues obtaining email addresses and but because they did not want the issue to be widely known about.
I think the community as a whole has given them plenty of time to handle this properly and they have failed again and again. I encourage anyone who had any type of reaction to report it to the FDA. If you’re in paypal’s claim window, I’d suggest filing it there as well.
EDIT 4: A reader just sent me some really troubling information, especially considering their facebook update this morning. Turns out, Mentality filed as a corporation on 06/29/2015. Just speculating here- Mentality’s first public acknowledgement about the issue was 07/22/2015. Did they know a month prior to that and were just preparing themselves for potential lawsuits and issues? There were rumors that some swatchers/bloggers knew mid june. Did they wait until customers contacted Edgy Polish (a day or two prior to 07/22/15) about the issues they were having to say something (at that point only because it’d been brought into the public because of someone else)?
EDIT 5: This was their response to one person filing a paypal claim. Please, if you’re within the 180 day window, file a claim.
EDIT 6: Aaaaand now they’re having a 50% off sale. Just as one last fuck you to the community, I guess.
EDIT 7: There’s some indication that the affected batches may span back longer than Mentality is indicating- @spilledmilknails had a similar reaction 40+ weeks ago but at the time attributed it to acetone overuse, not the Mentality Nail Polish she’d been swatching. You can read more on her instagram here. It is being insinuated by some people currently that this indicates that Mentality KNEW a year ago about this issue- I think that is untrue as @spilledmilknails did not even realize it was Mentality until others started coming forward recently. There is enough crappy things that Mentality has done in this situation without needing to add misinformation to it.
However, it does indicate that the polishes that were part of this bad batch may be more than they thought/are claiming. Personally, I’d be wary of using anything from the last year at least.
EDIT 8: I will continue responding to comments later, just updating what happened overnight quickly before I head to work. Just some more baffling updates from Mentality (who is now deleting comments on their facebook page)- including ‘firing’ their bloggers. Which is a strange way to put it, if you’re not paying them, they aren’t your employees. As far as what I’ve seen, no one has been bullying any of their bloggers- however, people are (rightly so) wary of trusting anyone who has worked with Mentality in the past and is not making some kind of statement/warning to their readers now.
The worst part? One of the only people who had been standing up for them (this is the swatcher who went to them in June with her concerns) wasn’t even given a heads up about it:
Oh, and they also introduced their gel line- phrased in another condescending manner.
A few more random comments sent to me-
This is also just speculation at this point, but many other brands think that Mentality blaming the base is just using Arminex as a scapegoat (and thus why they are not turning to them to make them whole financially). I’m not sure if the brands want to be tied to their suspicions publicly so I won’t list their names here but I’m thinking it’s likely not just the base alone.
Comment #1 – It’s possible it was the neon pigment that is the culprit, not the base. Some illegal pigments can react and produce copious amounts of formaldehyde. Someone said that they work in a lab or something and got formaldehyde on their skin and it turned brown like some of the nail photos are showing. That sounds pretty reasonable to me, especially since people are saying the polishes smell really bad.
Comment #2 – Ok this Arminex base? no maker i know of had heard of it in july. I dont think Arminex makes it; they import it? There were 2 base companies left in 2012, a third opened later that year due to demand and it’s out somewhere further inland in CA, wonder beautys base. I guess I need to hunt around and ask. so they pretend like its a common name among indies; its not at all. the biggest indies I know of hadnt heard of it.
I know a lot of people may feel wary of indies in general right now, but there are so many wonderful brands who IF they had an issue like this (which is still pretty unlikely, all things concerned- and many test much more extensively) would have handled this much, much better. I asked you for brand recommendations over on facebook. I know that to a certain degree this is going to change the indie polish world as a whole but keep these amazing brands in mind who don’t deserve to be painted with the same brush.
ALSO ADDING THIS IN AT A READER’S REQUEST RE: DISPOSAL: If you choose to not keep your Mentality Polish, I encourage that it be disposed of properly, as the EPA (in the US) classifies polish as HHW – Household Hazardous Waste. It doesn’t belong in a landfill.
EDIT 9: A few more things that were sent to me to include here-
Some information from a former NUBAR employee (Mentality is claiming their base is the same as NUBAR’s):
Some now-deleted comments from Cosmetic Chemisist (?) Mike Levine which suggest that Mentality was possibly making their own base (illegal without a specific lab setup as far as I know) or adding components to it-
EDIT 10: A little more speculation from Mike Levine:
EDIT 11: Some indication that Mentality was looking into the requirements to manufacture their own base in early 2014-
And hey- we made it onto Jezebel! If anyone is here after reading that article, please take note that the vast majority of indie brands are awesome and simply mixing glitter, pigment, etc into pre-made base that they purchase that comes along with MSDS info and batch quality testing. If you’re new to indie polish- don’t let this one bad apple spoil it for you!
Speaking of Jezebel, Danny posted his entire email to them on Mentality’s facebook page:
Labmuffin posted a great read on some of the speculation going around about what caused the nail lifting issue and what’s truly likely.
And just for fun- join in our fun with google translate and a Russian nail communities discussion of this issue over on my facebook page! I then do varnish will not fly until the memory is not gone, I’ll erase polish Golden Rose.
EDIT 12: Mentality has posted a Cease & Desist letter from Nubar on their facebook page. They have also allegedly hired a security guard. I’m a bit dubious of that claim as they have already claimed to be $30,000 in debt and unable to afford further refunds or insurance.
It also looks like they’ve made their instagram private- I’m assuming so they can still market their new lines to unsuspecting fans who follow the account.
EDIT 13: Mentality blames Arminex even further and issues a recall notice before the cease & desist deadline kicks in. Kind of an odd, rambly statment- I guess the pressure of the story being featured on Jezebel, Refinery 29, Nail It Mag, Seventeen Magazine and Cosmopolitan etc. was too much for them. How unfortunate that they had to cast a dark shadow over the entire industry before starting in the general direction of the ‘right thing’. At this point- it’s too late.
Hey, while you’re here- why don’t you check out some actual reputable brands featured on my weekly Indie Insight series?
EDIT 14: Mentality’s instagram account is gone. Also, Zoya must have caught wind of this whole thing and are doing their typical earth day polish exchange early- check out the healthier is happier exchange details here if you’re wanting to get rid of your current Mentality bottles.