Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Enhancement Troubleshooting: Pocket Lifting

Pocket lifting is a term used to describe when an enhancement gets a "bubble" in the middle of the nail plate but the area around it is still sealed down.

To understand center pocket lifting, you have to understand the concept of shrinkage in enhancement technology.  The wetter something is, the more likely it will be to shrink as it dries - shrinkage can be excessive and have negative results when there is too much monomer in your brush. 

With Gels, excess shrinkage can occur when there is too thick of a layer of gel applied (or if the bulbs are dirty or old)  so that the UV rays do not penetrate to the bottom of the gel layer, which makes it not fully adhere to the nail plate.

Why can’t I see it when I am filing, buffing and finishing the client’s nails?  
All products will shrink during polymerization. It takes a liquid & powder system 24 - 48 hours to completely cure.  The product cures to about 60% in the first hour, which leaves 40% to occur over the next few days.  The wetter the mix, the longer it takes to fully cure.  The simple reason why we cannot see the pocket lift during the filing process is because the full cure of the enhancement has not taken place.  If pocket lifting occurs; it will be evident when the client returns for a rebalance.

Why does it only happen with certain clients and not all 10 nails?
A larger or more curved nail plate can exacerbate shrinkage.  The apex is the highest part of the nail enhancement, hence the area with the most product.  Shrinkage will place force on the apex and on the center of the plate.  If this force becomes excessive, the product can pop free at the apex (or center of the nail plate).  We usually see it on the thumbs and/or middle fingers (the larger fingers) of the client.

How do I prevent pocket lifting?
The solution to this problem is simple.  Be sure to use the recommended mix ratio for optimum results.  If you have center pocket lifting, use a slightly drier mix ratio.  This should eliminate the center pocket lift. However,  be aware that too dry of a mix ratio could also cause lifting problems if the bead is so dry that it hardens before it fully adheres to the natural nail.  Proper mix ratio is key! You should always use the mix ratio recommended by the manufacturer.

With gel nails, make sure your bulbs are clean and within their optimal use strength (if you cant remember how long its been since you changed the bulbs, its time to change them!  Basically, that's every 3-4 months if you mainly do gel nails, 6 months or so otherwise. Some lamps have bulb life timers on them.)

Much of this article comes from:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Common Nail Disorders: Nail Fungus

Onychomycosis/tinea unguium or nail fungus could be indicative of other medical problems or it could have caused complications. Fungus can become systemic (spread throughout the body).People with compromised immune systems (Lupus, HIV, etc) with invasive fungal infection have higher risk of complications and death.

In about one out of two dozen cases, the fungus migrates to other parts of the body, like the hands, back and legs, said Dr. Boni E. Elewski, a professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who specializes in nail disorders.  For people who have nerve damage and poor circulation -- someone with diabetic neuropathy, for example -- this can have serious consequences. “Podiatrists frequently cite this as a cause of diabetic amputations,” Dr. Elewski said. “The fungus paves the way for bacteria, and it can definitely be a problem.” 

It’s not at all uncommon for patients with toenail fungus to also succumb to athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm. “If your immune system isn’t functioning at its very strongest, the fungus will work against you to open the body up to other attacks,”  Dr. Nadia Levy explains. "The longer you wait, the harder it is to treat"

Dermatologists estimate these fungal infections account for 50% of all nail disorders they treat. Recent studies suggest that as much as 13% of the U.S. population has a fungal infection of one or more nails. As the fungal infection advances, the separated nail appears yellow and opaque, then appears crumbled and can brown.

Aging is the most common risk factor for onychomycosis due to diminished blood circulation, longer exposure to fungi, and nails which grow more slowly and thicken, increasing susceptibility to infection. Nail fungus tends to affect men more often than women, and is associated with a family history of this infection.

Onycholysis is NOT Fungus
Onycholysis refers to the detachment of the nail from the nail bed, usually starting at the tip and/or sides and is often caused by an internal disorder, trauma, infection, or certain drug treatments.

If addressed quickly, this common nail disorder poses no danger to clients. In general, clients should clip the affected portion of the nail and keep the nails short, keep the nail bed dry, avoid exposure to contact irritants, and wear gloves for wet work. The portion of nail that has separated will not reattach to the nail bed, so you will have to wait until the nail is fully regrown for the condition to be completely gone.  It is not recommended that the client have enhancements put on the nail until the onycholysis is gone.

Because the nail is lifted off the nail bed, creating a nice warm "pocket", onycholysis can allow fungus to more easily take root on a nail so it is important to keep an eye on the nail while the onycholysis is growing out.

As a nail technician, know that if you get a client with a nail fungus you must refer them to a doctor for treatment. Giving advice regarding nail fungus could be considered practicing medicine without a license.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Giving Medical Advice

You are a nail technician/manicurist/nail stylist NOT a doctor - it is illegal for you to give your clients medical advice.  This includes advice on what to do about nail fungus or even a bleeding, broken nail. While there may be some home remedies that might work for various issues, telling your client to use them is practicing medicine without a license.  Remember, you are licensed (assuming you are in a location that licenses nail techs) to beautify the nails, not diagnose or treat them.  When in doubt, refer to a doctor.

Scope of Practice
In the United States, every state that licenses nail technicians has in their law books a scope of practice.  In order to get a license you need to take a law test so you should be familiar with the scope of your practice.  Unfortunately, it seems a lot of techs forget the legalities as soon as they pass the test.  For example, in California, "Manicuring is the practice of cutting, trimming, polishing, coloring, tinting, or cleansing the nails, or massaging, cleansing, treating, or beautifying the hands or feet of any person."  If what your client is asking for is outside of this scope, you are not licensed to perform the service or give advice.  Please know your state laws!

The crime of practicing without a license can be a very serious charge depending on the circumstances. State and country laws vary on this issue, however some possible consequences could include Fines, Incarceration, Paying Restitution and Probation. (

What could happen?
Let's say you are giving a client a manicure and she mentions she has had nail fungus on one of her toenails for years and its spreading to other toenails now.  You tell her that you have read on the internet that Vick's Vapo-Rub works for fungus.  She tries it for a few months and it doesn't work. Later she goes to a doctor who tells her that it has become systemic and since she is diabetic  she has developed ulcers on her feet and neuropathy and now they have to amputate some toes.  The doctor mentions that had she come in 2 months earlier it could have been caught soon enough.  The client realizes that the reason she didn't go in earlier is because her manicurist told her to try this home remedy. She sues.  And wins in court.  The manicurist's insurance refuses to pay because she was practicing outside the scope of her license.  She now has to come up with the fines and restitution out of her own pocket.

Yes this is a made-up (and rather extreme) example, but search the internet for "Nail Salon Sued" and you will see that it happens more than you would like to think about.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rebalancing Nails (Part 2 - Procedure)

Now that we have learned why we rebalance a nail in part 1 of this article, lets talk about the actual process of rebalancing. (We will talk about rebalancing a French nail in a later article)

  1. Just like with a full set, we will start with a Client Intake and Analysis.  Now, if this is a long time client our intake may be just a few seconds long, confirming the length and shape of the nails and assessing if there are any major issues. For a new rebalance client we want to take a bit longer, asking questions about the nails, what they are looking for as an end result, what they have on their nails currently and assessing if there are any major issues that need addressing (breakage, cracks, lifting, yellowing, greenies, etc.).
  2. Next we will sanitize our hands and begin the process of preparing the artificial nail for a rebalance.
    • Shorten and reshape the nails
    • Thin out the free edge back to the original thickness - it will be thicker after shortening due to the out-grown apex.
    • File over the stress area and taper the sidewalls until flush to the natural nail.
    • Prep all cracks for repair by thinning the area around the crack. Thin all the way to the root of the crack (which is usually down to the natural nail plate). 
    • Thin any areas of lifting until the separated product flakes away and a new seal is found.
    • Thin product until it is flush with the natural nail and there are no areas of lifting visible. Avoid nipping or mechanical force when removing lifted areas – sliding the nipper under a lifted edge and pulling up leads to service breakdown. It can also pull up layers of the nail plate, which will weaken the foundation of the enhancement. Nipping can also lead to onycholysis, and perpetuate excessive filing to remove the ridge left behind. Proper nail care is of utmost importance.  You must do everything you can to protect and preserve the integrity of the natural nail plate
    • Review entire file prep to be sure remaining product is thin and even, and that there is no lifted material left. 
  4. PREP the exposed natural nails.
  5. Apply your chosen product per the manufacturers instructions, filling in the growth area and rebalancing the stress area on all nails and addressing any broken or cracked nails in the process.
  6. File and finish as usual

Pictures from :



Rebalancing Nails (Fills)

The bread and butter of many nail tech's business is not the full set of nails but rather the nail rebalancing service (called "fills" in the US or "infills" in the UK). Once a set of nails is applied, customers are required to come back every 2-3 weeks for a rebalance. 
The word "fill" makes a person think that the sole purpose of the procedure is to "fill in" the growth at the cuticle. This is simply wrong and is the reason I don't use the word "fill" in this article. The true purpose of a rebalance service is to rebalance the structure of the nail and - yes, fill in the growth area, though this is truly the secondary reason for the service - hence the reason I prefer the term "rebalance" over "fill". 
Do you remember how much time we spent building a perfect nail? Over time the balance/structure of the nail is lost and clients will end up with weak nails that can crack easily and break. A rebalance restores the balance and structure of the nail by repairing any cracks, chips, and breaks, reducing the length back to what it was, replacing the smile line back to where it should be and replacing the apex back to where it should be and of course replacing the product in the grown out area, This brings the nail back to as good as they were when they were first applied and also removes the need to have to soak off and reapply full sets of nails every month or two . A client could conceivably continue to rebalance her nails and never have to put on a new full set (unless they wanted to do a drastic change, like colored acrylic, etc.).
The Physics of Nails
Did you think you weren't going to use physics again after 8th grade?? Wrong :)
First a few definitions:
  • Fulcrum: The point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots.
  • Torque: The product of force and distance from a pivot or fulcrum.
  • Balance: A body is balanced when it is stationary. That means there must be no net force or torque. Hence, any forces and/or torques on the body must be canceled or balanced by opposing forces and/or torques. If an object does not have a uniform weight distribution then the center of gravity will be closer to where most of the weight is located
OK, so what does this MEAN???
Lets think of the stress area of the nail as the Fulcrum and the weight of the Apex of the enhancement as providing Torque.
When we build a set, we take the time to put the arch in the stress area so that the nail is balanced. If we have a long nail we elongate the apex so to counter-balance the length of the nail. Balance is not the same as symmetry and symmetry is not the same as balance. What we are striving for is balanced nails.
After a few weeks (usually 2-3) the nail has grown enough so that the arch is now far enough past the stress area to start causing the nail to become off balance. (The weight of the apex is now exerting more pressure (torque) on one side of the nail and the nail is no longer balancing on the stress area.) 


You will notice that nowhere are we concerned about how much of a "gap" is at the cuticle - our concern is with the location of the apex and the imbalance it causes. For some reason techs nowadays find that it is "ok" for clients to wait 5+ weeks before a "fill" because the gap at the cuticle isn't that wide or they haven't broken a nail. This is the absolute wrong way of thinking.   Waiting too long to rebalance an artificial nail places undue stress on the free edge of the nail which can lead to lifting and breaking of the artificial nail.  The natural nail and nail bed can be affected by leukonychia, tenderness, peeling, cracking, splinter hemorrhages and bruising due to repeated stress placed on the nail bed and matrix of the nail trying to overcome the weight of the overgrown enhancement. 
Because pricing is dependent on so many factors, including location, I am going to leave you with some links on this topic. 



 See part 2 for an overview of the rebalance procedure!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Electric Files

First and foremost, lets make something very clear. A drill is defined as "a hand tool, power tool, or machine with a rotating cutting tip or reciprocating hammer or chisel, used for making holes."  Unless you are planning to drill a hole in your client's nail, please do not use the term "drill" when referring to a professional electric nail file.  [Yes, it is a commonly used term, but it isn't a correct term (like cuticle vs eponychium).]

Electric files emerged in the early 1980s, patterned after tools used in other industries, including the medical and dental fields.  By the mid-1990's electric files had gotten a bad reputation.  Some nail techs seemed deathly afraid of them, saying they were too noisy, they took up too much space, they intimidated clients, and they damaged clients’ nails. Despite their wide use, there didn’t seem to be consistent or widely available information or education on their proper use in the nail salon. It’s not hard to understand why electric files were often misused. Without formal education, the risk of using improper tools or using the right tool the wrong way remained high.

In addition, if a client has had a bad experience with an electric file in the past, explain what you’ll be doing differently. Communication is important during any salon service, and electric files are no exception.

In 1995, Creative Nail Design’s Jan Arnold said she’d do away with electric files entirely if she could. Her biggest criticism was that the files’ vibration and high-speed grinding loosened the acrylic mix before it had a chance to fully cure. That, in turn, led to microscopic cracks that caused breaks and chips in the acrylic nail.  Today, "Creative Nail Design has realized electric files are being widely used in the industry,” says Doug Schoon, vice president of science and technology for Creative Nail Design. “We decided that if they are used correctly they are safe.” The fact that a well-known industry figure who once disapproved of their use is now advocating safe electric file usage says a lot about how far these tools have come.

Lets pause for some Trivia!
Rings of Fire
  1. The metal or rubber bits that hold a sanding band are called ______
  2. Leaving a file bit in disinfection solution for more than _____ at a time can cause it to rust 
  3. Which type of bit produces the LEAST airborne dust ?
  4. You should never use ______ to remove bits from disinfectant solution 
  5. What is a common cause of the bit grabbing the nail?
  6. To reduce the risk of rings of fire, it is recommended that you_____

  7. What is a recommended solution to micro-shattering?
  8. True or False: When a bit is dropped, it should be replaced 
  9. True or False: Pedicure bits are  usually made of carbide 
  10. What is the standard shank size for a salon-grade electric file?
  11. Most nail technicians use electric files with a range of __________
  12. The reverse option on an electric file is needed only for __________
  13. If your hand piece creates excessive vibration, it is recommended that you ________
  14. The standard electric file bits include __________________
  15. Carbide bits are measured by___________
  16. The grooves carved into a client's nail by filing with bits at the incorrect angle are known as___________
  17. _________ bits cannot be effectively disinfected

And now back to our regularly scheduled post...
Steve Wallace, national sales manager of Medicool Inc., in Toronto, California, points out that there is a prevailing motion that electric files will help nail techs do 10 sets a day. Electric files “will help prevent fatigue and can help with carpal tunnel syndrome. And they can reach certain areas that a hand file just can’t. It can help refine their work, but it wasn’t designed to make the process faster.”

Many people still believe an electric file is harmful, but in reality it isn’t what causes damage, it’s the person using it. That is the most common misconception and that’s why education is key. “In my opinion, the greatest single problem plaguing electric files is that people think because they can buy one, they can use it. Until you get formalized training you’re not qualified to use it,” says Schoon. 
It’s like allowing people to buy cars and not teaching them how to drive. Of course when people start driving without getting the proper instructions, they’ll get hurt.

The now defunct Association of Electric File Manufacturers used to teach intensive 8 hour electric file clinics. Even though they no longer exist, the list of topics that they covered in their intensive clinics is a good list for any technician to have under their belt.  Some of these topics include:

  • Types of machines and guidelines for purchasing a machine 
  • The basic techniques of prepping for enhancement products 
  • Upgrading your machine
  • Bit selection and proper use
  • Safety precautions and client protection.
  • Fill-in and maintenance procedures
  • Refining and finishing
  • Using an electric file for manicures and pedicures
  • Pink and white enhancement application and maintenance. 

Kupa has a great play list on how to use various bits on YouTube as does Nail Career Education


  1. mandrels 
  2. 10 minutes 
  3. carbide bits 
  4. an un-gloved hand 
  5. improper speed 
  6. reduce the amount of pressure applied during filing and do not hold the bit at an angle to the nail
  7. Use a slower speed, Use a finer grit bit, Make sure the bit is not bent. 
  8. True
  9. False
  10. 1/32"
  11. 5,000 to 20,000 RPM
  12. left-handed nail techs 
  13. have it serviced immediately
  14. carbide bits, diamond bits,  natural nail silicone bits, ceramic bits, sanding bands,  High-shine buffing bits (Chamois or goat hair)
  15. the number of flutes in each bit
  16. rings of fire
  17. High-shine bits (Chamois or goat hair)

Acrylic Brush Care

Taking care of your acrylic brush seems to be a controversial topic nowadays!  Let me lay out the facts for you:

FACT: Most brush cleaners are made from acetone.

FACT: Hairs in the brush are made from animal fur, just like fur coats. Would you soak your fur coat in acetone?  Acetone is very drying to the hairs on your brush.

FACT: Contaminated liquid is the #1 cause of yellowing in nails.  Using brush cleaner is willingly introducing a containment into your brush.

FACT: The ferrule holds the bristles in the brush with glue. This glue is very soluble in acetone.   Therefore soaking your brush in a brush cleaner can loosen hairs from the ferrule.

FACT: Storing your brush upside down allows liquid to drip into the ferrule which also loosens up the adhesive holding in the bristles.

FACT: Storing your brush in the springs of your lamp allows for dust and contaminants to stick to your brush. (Unless you are covering up your brush somehow.)

Back in 2001, Vicki Peters did a Tip of the Week on this very subject.  I will leave you with her expertise

Tip Of the Week #4 : Brush Care

 Everyone experiences bad hair days, bristles falling out or acrylic stuck in their application brushes. There are some things you can do to prevent this from happening and hopefully these tips can help.

On-going Brush Care
Wipe in-between, after and before and all the time.  I find that I waste more liquid than use, sometimes, keeping my brush in shape as I use it because I constantly re-dip into the liquid and wipe the brush out to keep my point and shape as I work.

I dip my brush into the liquid then wipe it against a dappen dish that is firmly on the table so I can press against the inside of the dish without the dish moving. Then I twirl the tip on my table towel to bring it back to a point. When doing so wipe the tip and reshape without wiping all the liquid out of the brush. Wipe the brush gently instead of bending the bristles at the feral beating it up on the table towel. I find most techs do not care for their brush as gently as I do and I end up replacing my brush less often because of it.

 Application Stickies
 Another little thing I do when applying the white tip product to my nails (most white powder tends to be sticky when first applied). So I dip the brush into the liquid, saturate the brush and wipe it completely out, then re-dip it to the liquid I do want. Pick up the white tip powder and drop it on the tip of the nail. Then wipe your brush gently without wiping all the liquid out and bring the brush back to its original shape. While you're doing this, the product has set up a speck and is not as sticky so you don't have to make a mess as you press it into place.

Digging right into freshly applied acrylic when it is still sticky will only smoosh the acrylic into the brush and if you keep working the acrylic is drying in the brush and then you can't get it out and can't make a smooth nails because there is dry acrylic in it.

When you put the brush away
 If you do not wipe your brush well and put it away the acrylic will dry in the tips. If this is the case do not comb out the dry acrylic with your cuticle pusher or orangewood stick or nippers, you will only break the hairs and you won't like the brush anymore. Get a shot glass or a slammer glass for those who have never been to Mexico and don't know what a slammer is it is a taller shot glass. Suspend the brush with a clothespin. Fill the glass with enough liquid to cover the bristles without touching the bottom of the glass. Let it set for about 30 - 60 minutes and the dried acrylic will eventually melt out of the brush.

There are lots of brush cleaners on the market but I feel they can be harsh and disturb the chemical balance of the liquid. I do not believe you should soak them in acetone either and some brush cleaners have acetone in them. Use liquid monomer to soak the brushes if needed. Remember the hairs in the brush are made from the same animals fur coats are made from and you would not soak your fur coat in acetone would you. Now don't slam me about fur coats ok??? (I don't own one for a reason.)

Traveling with your brush
I found a silver metal flat brush case for $8 at the art store that stores brushed without moving perfectly. It has two springs one at each end for the brush to fit in so they won't move when traveling. The box is about 3/4" by 8' by 4" can fit up to 8 brushes, won't bend and is not plastic so it won't melt if the brushes happen to touch the metal. I have not ruined a brush yet in the box.

If you're booked and work full time you will probably replace your brush every few months if you take good care of it. Brushes can cost anywhere from $10 to $45 or more. The average brush cost is about $25. You get what you pay for that is for sure. There are only two or three true brush manufacturers that make brushes for companies in the nail business. Shop around and try new brushes all the time.

Brush care is a constant thing, take good care of your brushes as you work with them and always have a spare just in case you're having a bad hair day!

The Peters Perspective
"When you stop learning your career ends and your job begins"

Fiberglass, Silk and Linen Wraps

Developed in the early ‘80s, nail wraps are thin products made from paper, silk, linen, fiberglass, mesh, or other fabrics applied to the nail for extra reinforcement.  Fabric nail wraps used to be one of the "big" nail enhancements. Nowadays many nail techs aren't even taught them in school! 

However, as clients are moving toward a more natural nail and the trend is short, many nail techs are using nail wraps as a way to give their clients stability while still maintaining a very thin, natural look. Nail wraps are great for clients who are allergic to acrylic or primer, clients who are looking for a very thin nail enchantment, and natural nail repairs. Nail wraps are also great for clients who are giving up acrylics and want to grow out their nails. “When you have acrylics, you don’t have to be too careful with your hands,” says Elaine Watson. “If you reach for something and bang your nail, it probably won’t break. But when you’re going back to natural nails, this can be shocking. When wearing nails with an overlay, you’re going to tend to adjust to them better as they’re growing out.”

The Chemistry of Wraps 
by Doug Schoon, excerpted from

The monomers used to create wraps are called cyanoacrylates and are members of the acrylic family. They are the same monomers used to create many fast setting adhesives such as Krazy Glue.® Professional nail products are specifically designed for use on fingernails and are far superior for this application. These monomers are sensitive to alcohol, water, and weak alkaline substances, and in large amounts they can cause almost-instant polymerization. A drop of water or alcohol on wrap monomers will cause ‘shock cure”. They will harden quickly and turn cloudy white. They turn cloudy because shock curing causes thousands of microscopic crack. They are invisible to the eye, but the cracks will scatter light reflecting from the surface. Small amounts of these substances cause slower, controlled reactions which result in polymers which are clear, flexible and strong. Wraps, however, do not have the advantage of being cross-linked.

Water-sensitive monomers must be protected from moisture in the air which is why they are sold in containers with small nozzles. This prevents air molecules from gelling or thickening the product. As with other monomers, inhibitors are used to prevent gelling. Even so, leaving a container open for too long will thicken the product fairly quickly. You might think this moisture sensitivity is a negative, although it actually is a positive. The nail plate contains enough moisture to polymerize wrap monomers, and just touching the nail plate is often enough to react the monomers. (This is one reason why cyanoacrylates so easily adhere ones fingers together.)

Catalysts speed up the polymerization and reduce cure time from minutes to seconds. Spray or brush-on catalyst causes an almost-instantaneous reaction. The catalysts in wrap systems are generally weak alkaline substances which may be listed as “aromatic amines’. Rapid reactions cause rapid heat build-up. Incorrectly used, these catalysts may heat the nail plate to a blistering 170° F. A small amount of warming is beneficial and will improve strength; however, pain-causing heat may cause serious burns to the nail bed. To avoid over-heating, some catalysts must be sprayed from a distance. Always wear the proper mask when using these systems to protect yourself from the vapors of mists and sprays.

Clients who frequently wet their hands should be warned that all cyanoacrylates are moisture sensitive, and should be instructed to wear gloves whenever possible. This is true of both tip adhesives and wraps.

Choosing a Fabric:
"A lot of new techs are unsure whether they should use fiberglass or silk. I always ask the client first how tough she is on her nails. Is she breaking her nails often? Or only once in a while?  If she says she breaks her nails frequently, then I’ll go straight to a fiberglass wrap because they offer more strength — about double that of silk wraps. But if she says she only breaks or chips a nail every once in a while, then I’ll start her off with silk wraps and take it from there. If she needs more reinforcement we can switch to fiberglass." ~Backscratchers educator Christine Vargas

There are three main types of fiber traditionally used on nails:
Fiberglass: Very strong, cross-weaved fiber but mesh can be seen on the nail if you look closely
Silk: Turns completely transparent when saturated with resin, but not as strong as fiberglass or linen.
Linen: thickest fabric, opaque, very strong but rarely seen nowadays

Application Methods:
  • Tip and Overlay
  • Natural Nail Overlay
  • Natural Nail Repair
  • (Sculpting with wraps is a very advanced technique and not usually done)
Generic Application Procedure: (as always, follow the manufacturers instructions for your chosen product)

  1. PREP the nail as usual - use a very fine grit to remove shine
  2. Lay down a base of resin on the natural nail and apply accelerator as directed by your system
  3. Apply and blend tip if desired - if you are going to apply a tip lightly remove the shine from the free edge of the resin base before applying tip.
  4. Place full strip of chosen fabric on nail, cut to fit with 1/32" to 1/16" space around edges. DO NOT Touch the fabric with your fingers as natural oils will inhibit the resin from penetrating the fabric.
  5. Apply a thin resin, saturating the fabric. Spray activator.
  6. Optional: apply a second layer of fabric or just a 1/4" "stress strip" across the tip line for additional strength.  Apply a thin resin, saturating the fabric. Spray activator.
  7. Apply 1-2 additional layers of resin and activator.
  8. Use a medium-fine file to smooth the nail - do not over file.  Wraps file much easier than acrylic or gel nails.
  9. Use a block buffer and a 3 way buffer to finish the nail.  You may also apply gel polish to finish.

Wrap Removal:
Because wraps are not cross-linked like acrylics, removal time is greatly reduced.  Generally they will come off in around 10 minutes of soaking in acetone.  Of course, this means you also need to be very careful when removing nail polish on wraps and most manufacturers suggest a non-acetone remover so as not to "melt" the resin when removing polish.

Application Video

Some Brands of Wraps:

Much of this article was excerpted from: and

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Business Basics: Time is Money

The following is a reprint of a 2001 post by Vicki Peters

Time is Money 
by Vicki Peters
I just read the e mail from the tech who has a hard time charging for extra services like broken nails. This is all about self esteem and it is sad.
Time is money and there are times we should give services away - because they  will help build our client base and loyalty. But broken nails should be part  of the equation when you set prices or they should be a la carte.

We are in the service business, we should position ourselves as service  providers making money for every moment we are working. Just like a cashier  at a store. If you go into the nail business with the attitude no one is  going to like you or your services you will not be "sure" of yourself. So here are a few things that may help you.
  1. Remember this is a business and treat it like one. 
  2. Hone your skills so you don't feel bad about providing a service you're not  happy with. Practice and get private training - one on one - is the best and  there is a seasoned tech somewhere out there you can pay for training. No  manufacturer class can give you that.
  3. Remember that "touch" is part of the service you provide, above and  beyond the nails you do. The clients are coming to get their nails done but  they are also coming to relax, so relax them. 
  4. Position yourself like a pro at what you do no matter how inexperienced  you may be. You will gain your client's confidence and they will stick with  you as you improve. Visit other high end salons for pedicures or haircuts so you can watch and see how the techs & hairstylists, receptionists meet and greet the clients and treat them. This is all a part of the service.
  5. Here is some recommended reading:
    • Doing what you love loving what you do by Dr. Robert Anthony
    • Passion by Susie Fields Carder
    • Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard 

We manicurists are special people providing a special service that connects  us closely with our clients. Remember that. We touch, guide, and make out  clients feel good and we should feel good about ourselves because of that.


The Peters Perspective
"When you stop learning your career ends and your job begins"

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What the heck are hybrid nails?

Hybrid: noun - a thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture

Simply put, hybrid nails are a combination of different types of systems.  There is no standard definition in the nail industry as to what type of products are being mixed.  Which means if someone says they want hybrid nails, it could mean just about anything and you will need to ask questions to find out exactly what they are talking about.

Some examples of hybrid nails:
  • CND Shellac: Markets itself as a UV Gel - Nail Polish hybrid
  • Tip and Dip systems: a hybrid of wrap and acrylic systems; uses resin and powder to create an enhancement. 
  • AcryGel/Powder Gel:  (not to be confused with gel powder which is just clear acrylic) - this is a hybrid of UV Gel and Acrylic. It is similar to a tip and dip system except instead of resin there is a thin UV gel and instead of dipping, you spoon on the powder.  Le Chat and Star are two well known brands.
  • Nuni Torres Method [I don't know what else to call these :)] Instagram star and Boss Nails tv show alum, Nuni, uses a thinner acrylic layer on the nail bed and then sculpts the tip with Gel, going over the acrylic on the nail bed with the gel as well.

Have I missed any other types of hybrid nails you have come across?  Comment below!

"Tip & Dip" Systems

Every 5 years or so, nail dip systems pop back up.  This year its Signature Nails Systems (SNS) and Dip It. Sally Beauty sells their ASP system. Star nail has their So Fine system. When I was active in the business it was Backscratchers Extreme and Glitz and Glamour.  There are many, many other brands and they have been around at least since the early 80's (when it was know as a "French Dip" nail)- no matter what SNS (or any other brand) tries to sell you, this is not a new type of system!

These systems are often known within the industry as "Tip & Dip" systems because the process is just that - apply tip and then apply adhesive and dip the nail into a powder.  They are great for women who have become allergic to traditional acrylic since they are not chemically the same as traditional acrylic, natural nail repairs and "temporary" nails for proms and such.  They are easily and relatively quickly removed by soaking in acetone.

This system is not an acrylic system.  It is closer to wraps than liquid and powder acrylics because it is a resin based system.  You could consider it a hybrid of wraps and acrylics since the the main components are resin adhesive, like a wrap, and a fine inert powder, like acrylic.   I like to point out that the powder is inert because it does not have any additives in it like acrylic powders, which means you would not be able to use it with monomer.  Likewise, it is not a good practice to use traditional acrylic powders with this type of system as you cannot predict how the additives would react with the resin or resin accelerator.  Likewise, if you mix systems you cannot guarantee the outcome - yellowing, cracking, heat spikes and allergic reactions are all possibilities.

Generic steps:

  1. Sanitize your clients hands and PREP the nail
  2. Apply a base layer of resin adhesive
  3. Apply a tip, if desired. Blend if a natural tip or just remove shine if a white tip.
  4. Apply a layer of resin and tip the nail into powder; brush off excess powder
  5. Apply another layer of resin and dip again; brush off excess powder
  6. Apply last layer of resin and spray or brush on resin activator.
  7. File and finish nails.

Pros of Dip Systems

  • Easy to apply
  • Easy to learn
  • Fast application
  • Very thin

If they have been around so long, why aren't they more popular? (Cons)
As a resin based system, dip systems have similar "cons" to wrap systems.
  • Resins are simple polymers and not very water or solvent resistant. 
  • They have a tendency to become brittle and yellow over time and develop spider cracks after a couple of fills.  (This is why many techs recommend them only for "temporary" applications.)
  • Can be cloudy or grainy looking if you use the wrong powder (like regular acrylic powder) or do not brush off excess powder.
  • Can be unsanitary if clients all dip in the same tub of powder.  This can be overcome by putting only the powder you will use for your client in a small dish and when done, throw away and leftover.
  • Nails can be flat.  A more experienced tech can learn to build up the nail in layers and sections but this negates the "ease of application" in the pros section.
  • Hard to re-balance a French tip
  • Not as strong as gel or acrylic.
  • Often seen as an "unprofessional" product

Backscratchers Extreme Video

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Shaping Nails - Beyond Square

Shaping an enhancement in this day and age is much harder than it was 15 years ago when 90% of people wanted basic square nails!  There are five basic shapes: square, round, oval, squoval, and pointed. In the last several years, variations of these shapes - and new shapes all together - have been added to the list - everything from Lipstick, to Coffin/Ballerina to Edge and even Duck Foot nails!

Lets start with the basic nail - the square.  Many of you are thinking, "yeah yeah, I can do a square nail", but the square nail is actually the basis in all other shapes so let's review it. To best file a square nail to shape, use a medium-grit file to shape  the side walls first. File the side wall straight up and then change the angle to blend. Repeat this on the other side.  Then, holding the file straight against the edge of the nail - either vertically or horizontally - file the free edge straight across.  Then turn the client’s hand around so her fingers are pointing "up" and you are looking at the nail and straighten the free edge from that angle When looking at it the file should be perpendicular to the nail to achieve the hard square.  One tip I was given many years ago that has stayed with me to this day is to keep your elbow by your side when filing sidewalls!  If your elbow sticks out, your sidewalls will not be straight.  Its simple but so effective.

Once you have a square nail, it is just a matter or changing the angle of your file at the free edge to start shaping into most other shapes (extreme shapes such as duck foot, lipstick or edge are the exception to this rule). As an example,  for a squoval nail, instead of holding the file at a 90 degree angle to the nail, we angle it down a bit.  The more we angle, the rounder the tip becomes and if we hold it nearly flat under the nail we end up with an oval nail.

Watch the videos below and watch how Elaine Watson angles the file to get the perfect shape to the tip.

Filing Almond Nails

Filing Square Nails

Filing Round Nails

Stiletto and pointed nails are popular right now, but you cannot use the beveling method to get those shapes. The best advice I have for them is to visualize a line going down the center f the nail all the way to the edge of the tip. Now, use your file to "draw" the sides of a triangle from each side to meet at the point where you visualized the center of the nail at the free edge.  Use the same number of strokes and the same pressure on each side.  You need to make sure the top of the lines (at the hyponychium) are directly across from each other - you are basically visualizing a triangle.

Similarly, ballerina or coffin nails would be done the same way except in stead of coming to a point at the center, the angles would end the same distance from the center. You could visualize a longer triangle that ends off the free edge OR you could start with a stiletto and then "cut off" the tip, but you would have to start with making the nails longer to begin with.

The below video show sculpting a stiletto nail and filing into shape.
Build and File a Short Stiletto Nail

I hope this helps you start thinking about shaping the nails in a different way, By using your high school geometry you can learn to make some gorgeous shapes! (and you said you would never use geometry!)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Liquid & Powder Acrylic -the Importance of Systems

There is a LOT of misinformation going around about this topic out on the internet right now. I present to you the scientific reasons why you should NOT mix acrylic brands and systems.
Monomers and polymers are formulated to work together as a pair. To get the optimum results you should use the full system of any brand. Each systems' powder has a certain amount of catalyst in it, that amount is precisely required to complete the polymerization (cure) of the enhancement. Each system has different amounts of catalysts and different reaction speeds. Some brands put the catalyst in their powder and the initiator in their liquid. Others do the opposite. Unless you work for the chemistry division for that company you are not going to know what is in a product and in what concentrations.
"All powders contain various ingredients and levels of ingredients. One very important ingredient with most powders is Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO). BPO is one ingredient that is responsible for controlling the curing of your monomer. Too little means a slower cure time (in some instances a nail that never fully cures). Too much and you will 'shock cure' the enhancement. This is why mix ratio is an important part of working with your L&P system. The wetter of a mix you use, the less BPO. The drier of a mix you use, the more BPO. This can radically affect the performance (and more importantly) the safety of the application." (Quoted from Sam Sweet, CND Educator). This is why mix ratio and using the same brand is so very important.
In addition it can be dangerous to mix monomer and polymer systems. It may SEEM fine on the outside, but you are putting your client at serious overexposure risks that may not manifest themselves for months after. You could also be found legally negligent - a client could very easily sue you if they develop a reaction and your insurance company will NOT cover you because you were not following manufacturer's instructions not with any of the manufacturers back you up. ***It is not always obvious to the naked eye when things are not quite right.*** Yellowing, premature break down, cracking, lifting, overexposure...the list goes on and on. If you like Brand A liquid, use their powder. If you like Brand B powder, use their liquid. Safety and security for clients should NEVER be negotiable.
One last thing I found on the SalonGeek message board when researching this topic - I have not fully researched this fact so I am presenting it to you more as a thinking point that I find interesting and very plausible - "Most of the companies that say their polymer is 'universal' are the same companies that do not have an R&D facility and to me seem more interested in making a quick sale then investigating the reality of the situation."

Acetone versus Non Acetone Nail Polish Remover

By guest blogger Joan Yvonne Kahn

Many people are under the false impression that "acetone free" or "non-acetone" polish remover is somehow safer or better for your nails. This just isn't true! Acetone is an extremely safe and effective solvent when used properly. It's just as safe as any other type of nail polish remover. Acetone is used safely in much (MUCH!) larger quantities by other industries. You will not become overexposed to acetone by using the small amounts needed for manicures.
Just follow these easy rules:
• Use it in a well-ventilated room. Don't huff it!
• It's not intended for consumption. Don't do shots!
• It's flammable. Don't do your nails by romantic candlelight!
Is it bad for your skin?
Because acetone is just temporarily dehydrating, with the addition of oil to nail enamel remover product there's no need to worry about it as your skin will naturally restore its moisture levels within about 30 minutes. Acetone removes nail polish quickly off the nail plate so it is more effective to remove varnish off natural nails.
About 15 years ago, scientists formulated new solvents, and began marketing remover’s labelled “non-acetone,” which made some people think acetone was toxic. But acetone is present in the human body (a product of fat breakdown) and has been mass-produced by scientists for nearly 100 years. There’s no scientific basis to say acetone is more dangerous than the alternative solvents. Acetone is one of the safest solvents other than water.
Non-acetone/acetone free polish remover is actually MORE drying for your skin, simply because it's a less effective solvent. It works more slowly so you have to use more of it for a longer amount of time. This means you spend more time in contact with it and are exposed to more of it. Unless you are actually allergic to acetone, there's no need to avoid it. Non-acetone removers were developed for the artificial nail market.

I believe the main source of confusion about the safety of acetone comes from the marketing attached to non-acetone removers. These removers are usually made from either methyl ethyl ketone or ethyl acetate, but the main phrase advertised on the bottle is "acetone free". Without actually lying to us, those words imply that acetone is something we should avoid. So don't fall for this marketing trick; if you want to use acetone remover, then go right ahead! Acetone is a quick, safe and effective way to remove your nail varnish from the natural nail!

Note from JessMN: Acetone is produced and disposed of in the human body through normal metabolic processes. It is normally present in blood and urine. Ketogenic diets that increase acetone in the body are used to counter epileptic attacks in infants and children who suffer from recalcitrant refractory epilepsy. Now, I'm not saying its safe to drink the stuff, but it is definitely not the harmful substance some people make it out to be.

Common Nail Disorders: Powdery white spots under polish

Someone asked me a question about white spots on the nail - not your "normal" Leukonychia - but the kind that is under polish and is almost powdery.
Keratin granulations are the result of excessive dehydration of the keratin molecules that have turned into a chalk like substance on your nail surface; they are completely harmless and are easily corrected with a few weeks of moisturizing treatments. This is the most likely reason for the spots, especially if they appear after removing nail polish.
However, as nail techs, we all also need to be aware of white superficial onychomycosis.
This type of infection is the second most common type of infection you can get that commonly affects the toenails and not the fingernails. The main cause of this type of nail fungus infection is the dermatophyte, Trichophyton mentagrophytes.
This fungus has the unique feature to develop on the top layers of the nail, and eventually spreads on the entire nail-plate.
Initially, tiny white patches appear on the surface of the nail-plate. As the fungus spreads, the nails may dry out and the surface of the nails flake and crumble.
The fungus feeds on the nail protein, keratin, to obtain its nutrients, which further weakens the nail-plate, and makes it distorted. White superficial onychomycosis is spread it is spread like any fungus - unsanitary tools and files for one - but also locker rooms and other places people go barefoot . it's interesting to note that not everyone exposed develops it though, it's a very complex thing
Of course, we are not licensed to diagnose things like this so if there is ANY question, your client should be sent to a doctor.

Filing and Finishing Nails

After you apply your product of choice, your next step is to file and finish the nails to smooth, shape and refine.
For this post, I am going to copy/paste a "Tip of the Week" circa 1999/2000 from the great Vicki Peters (RIP, we miss you!). 

Two notes: 1. She mentions acrylic but any enhancement can be finished the same way. 2. If you prefer, you can apply a gel seal coat (finish gel) and cure per manufacturer's instructions after step 8 instead of smoothing and buffing the nail.

by Vicki Peters
As a request from Jill Johnson and an e-mail to the list from Janie Robles last week I though that a tip on filing techniques was in order. What I am going to do is describe my filing system and under no means is it the end all system for everyone. I am just sharing mine - which works for me. Everyone needs a filing system or a system for anything if you think about it. A filing system can save you time and keep you focused - which will give you better results.
A story first.
My sister Diane had her license for a few months when I visited and she did my nails for me. After applying the acrylic she went to file them and pulled out four black files. She spent 15 minutes filing in no special order picking up one file after another and switching back and forth from nail to nail. She was making me nuts and not getting the job done. I took all four files away from her and asked her to identify the grit on each one as to which was coarser. She did not know. What she was doing was flipping back and forth between a 100 and 180 files sometimes using the 180 first then the 100! She would file one nail, then move on to the next and then go back again. She had no system. So I took the 100 grit file and told her to file all ten nails, then I gave her the 180 and told her to do the same thing. She saved time and was much more effective with a system she was now developing.
Vicki's filing system:

I use a 100 grit file. I like the larger thinly cushioned files that are square ended. I like these files because I do not like files that are too cushioned or bend. I cannot get a clean line from a file that bends. However for the finish a cushioned file will hug the nail better. I also like a large board because I can get more surface contact, which allows me less filing time.
Another thing I do which may be wasted time and acrylic to some but works for me is I build every nail square even if I intend to make it round. I get straighter edges in my final nail this way.
STEP 1 - Parameter
Just like in a haircut you must file a guideline. Take your 100 grit and file the tips of the nails all straight and the same length. Hold your file straight up, not at an angle in which will make the tip inverted or at angle under that will undercut the corners off. Flat to the tip's edge.
STEP 2 - Measure the nails
Nail to nail, cuticle to tip - forget about the smile lines not lining up - that is another tip of the week! The thumbs and pinkies should be in proportion and the index, middle and ring nails should be the same length.
View the nails from the top - do not turn them so the hand is pointing up and do not turn them around and measure the size of the free edge that you can see over the tip of the finger - this will sure mess your length up because not all nails are on the fingertips at the same exact place.
Measure now at this step and you won't need to worry about it later.
STEP 3 - File the sides
Viewing the nails from the top with the file straight up and down - holding the file straight - not at an angle - file the side shapes of all ten nails.
STEP 4 - File the undersides.
Turn the nail so you are viewing the underside of the edge of the nail in a nail profile position - where it leaves the groove wall and becomes the free edge extension. With the file tucked into the groove wall and with the file touching the whole edge of the underside of the nail where is may have an overhang, file the underside edge of the extension. File both sides of the nail so now you should have all clean edges.
Most techs try to achieve the last two steps in one stroke and wind up flipping the file around as they file. This does not make a straight sidewall edge and ruins the corners. So if you flip the file try using my two steps for filing the sides. Using a file that bends too much by applying too much pressure trying to get a straight edge will also be difficult to achieve a straight line.
STEP 5 - Making round nails
At this point if you want to round the nails take your file and press it flat - up to the tips' edge, then angle the file so is slips slightly underneath the edges allowing you to remove the underneath corners of the tip.
Then after taking the corners off shaping the nail round will be easier and more consistent.
STEP 6 - Shaping the top surface
Now with your 100 grit file go over the surface of all ten nails. I stay away from the cuticle and focus on lower BE of the nail down to the tip.
STEP 7 - The cuticle
Now I would do all ten cuticles.
STEP 8 - The "V" bit
I then take my Kupa "V" bit - yes named after me! And refine the cuticles. The "V" bit is a medium carbide cone with the tip cut off so it is small and flat so it fits right into the cuticle area. I view the nails from a profile so if there is a "humpage" at the cuticle I can remove it and have a nice clean blend of acrylic down to the natural nail.
STEP 9 - 180 grit file
Now I repeat all the steps I did with the 100 grit file with my 180 file to refine what I have already done. This makes for a consistent shape.
Sometimes if I have made really smooth nails I use a 150 file for both steps eliminating some time and achieving the same results. I don't always make smooth nails tho!
SECRET TIP - one thing you need to do in between grit changes is to remove the dust left behind by the coarser file. If you try to use a 180 to smooth the nails after using a 100 grit you will file into the nail the 100 grit particles left behind - gaining no ground at all. Sop don't forget to remove the grit dust in between switching files
STEP 10 - The white block
Again, dust the nails and use the coarse side of a white block, or your favorite block. Make sure you are graduating grits - some blocks can be coarser than you think. Make sure you go over the entire surface smoothing the nails completely. Go underneath and smooth the edges too - without re-shaping the edges. Use a good amount of pressure when doing this.
STEP 11 - The white block again with cuticle oil
Dust the nails again and apply cuticle oil and rub into the cuticles. Most oils you would use for buffing will be mineral oil based cuticle oil, perfect for buffing, but will not penetrate the cuticles as well as some other natural ingredient cuticle oils. Another words cheap oil is better. With the softer side of the white block buff the nails again to graduate the surface smoothness. Yes you will ruin the buffer but they are super cheap when purchased in bulk.
STEP 12 - Chamois or 3 way buffers
Wipe the nails clean with a dry cloth or towel, you want to remove the excess oil without removing it completely. Use a three-way to get a high shine or a chamois buffer.
I use two chamois buffers. Now don't give me grief about sanitation here - if you want to use a clean one wash them in the dishwasher or buy one per client. I use a chamois with EZ Flow buffing cream on all ten nails. Use a good amount of pressure without heating the nails up - so keep an eye on that. Then I use a clean chamois with less pressure to bring the shine up even higher.
If you graduate your grits properly, use the right files and make sure each file covers the entire nail when filing you should be able to high shine a nail without a three-way buffer.
Any products mentioned in the "Tip Of The Week by Vicki Peters" is not an endorsement of any kind.

“Powder Gel”

I will be honest, I have a hard time talking about this subject without going on a rant. Since this blog is about facts, this is going to be short and sweet. But feel free to add your own opinions and comments below!
In recent years the term “Gel Powder” or "Powder Gel" has cropped up into the nail industry. Professional nail technicians know that a “gel” nail is called that because the form of the product is a gel, like hair gel.
There are two main products that are touted as “powder gel”. One product is truly a UV Gel that an inert powder is sprinkled into before curing. The second product termed “Gel Powder” is, pure and simple, clear acrylic powder. It is called “Gel Powder” because it is clear like gel, not because it bears any resemblance to gel or is UV cured. 
Salons who use these terms do so because:  
  1. The manufacturer is selling the product as such and  
  2. Their “usual” acrylic color is a milky color and not clear at all
As a professional, I encourage you to not denigrate a salon who uses the term because they may be buying the product labelled as such, however clients need to be educated that Gel does not come in powder form - it is scientifically impossible.