Monday, September 7, 2015

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.