Monday, September 7, 2015

Liquid & Powder Acrylic-Mix Ratio

Proper mix ratio is essential to creating a beautiful and durable acrylic enhancement. Different enhancement systems require different mix ratios. It is not possible to create a monomer liquid that can be used with any mix ratio so pay close attention to the manufacturer's recommendations in regards to mix ratio. Each product line mixes a little differently, and it takes some time to master the proper mix ratio. Weather and seasons can also throw your mix ratios out of whack. An easy way to spot an improper mix ratio is to look at how the bead appears on the brush (see the attached picture).
It is also highly recommended that you use the brush that your manufacturer makes for your acrylic system because this brush has been formulated to pick up the correct mix ratio for the system. Too big of brushes pick up too much liquid and throw off the mix ratio and are more likely to cause overexposure than the correctly-sized brush.
Lastly, you should never wet your brush with monomer to smooth down your bead on the nail - doing that throws off the mix ratio and also exposed your client to uncured monomer and puts them at risk for overexposure.
When the mix ratio is right, you will get:
• Excellent retention
• Strength and toughness
• Clarity
• Prevention of overexposure
• Proper set and cure times
When the bead is too wet, the monomers link to each other during the chain reaction, they hug each other tightly, causing the nail enhancement to shrink. When you work with too much monomer, all of that extra monomer links together and you have excessive shrinkage of the enhancement. The following can be the result:
• Potential lifting (especially pocket lifting) and weakness
• Bubbles
• Excessive shrinkage
• Overexposure
• Lengthened set and cure time
When the bead is too dry - the monomer holds everything together when it polymerizes. When you don’t have enough, it’s like trying to make a cake with too little milk.
• Lifting
• Weakness (lack of cohesion)
• Bubbles
When you mix and match liquids and powders from different manufacturers or product lines, it’s like using the wrong mix ratio. The reasons:
- Different powders have different chemical compositions, including different levels of initiator and catalyst.
- Too little initiator may weaken the enhancement or cause an allergic reaction.
- Too much initiator increases the risk of brittleness and discoloration.
- Mismatched liquid and powder can result in unreacted monomer. This monomer can soak through the nail bed to cause an allergic reaction.
Some advice on the perfect mix ratio from Nikki Birch, CND Education Ambassador: “When trying to achieve a perfect mix ratio, the first thing to remember is that you want a minimal amount of the bead attached to the brush hairs. This will allow for a quick, easy release onto the nail. If your bead is too wet, depending on the angle of the brush, the bead will flatten out on the brush hairs and drip off. And if your bead is too dry, the bead will likely have a dry powder coating and will not have a smooth surface. The ideal bead should be smooth, round, and plump, and suspended lightly on the brush hairs. Achieving a proper mix ratio takes practice and repetition, but it is an essential skill to master. Improper mix ratios can have serious effects on enhancements, leading to signs of service breakdown within 24 hours of application.”

See this article for some great chemistry regarding mix ratio from Doug Schoon.

Join the conversation: Mastering the mix ratio is hard! How do you know when your ratio is "off"? What do you do to correct it?