In this post I am specifically taking about adhesives used to apply tip and wraps (some tip application notes are at the bottom). The first few paragraphs came from my notes on the chapter on adhesives from Doug Schoon's Nail Structure and Product Chemistry book (aka, the nail tech bible)
Adhesion is a force of nature-molecules of one surface are attracted to the molecules of another. It is what makes two surfaces stick together. - An adhesive is a chemical that causes 2 surfaces to stick together. - Glues are made from proteins, usually animal proteins (think: Elmer's glue). (You will find that I am a big stickler for proper terminology)
Adhesion occurs when 2 surfaces are compatible - removing oils and waxes changes the nature of the surface and clean, dry undamaged surfaces allow for better adhesion. Moisture can interfere with an adhesive bond and heavy abrasives strip off the natural nail plate, leaving it thin and weak.
Nail Adhesives are cyanoacrylates - which are a class of adhesive that must be protected from air moisture as they are are sensitive to water, alcohol and weak alkaline. They are not cross-linked so they are easily attacked by polish and remover solvents. Extremely fast setting adhesives give lower strength bonds and break down faster with exposure to moisture.
So if you think of nail adhesives being on a scale of 1 - 10 with 1 being the viscosity (thickness) of water and 10 being a super thick gel, the adhesives on the lower end of the spectrum will set the fastest and break down the soonest while the thicker adhesives on the high end of the spectrum set up the slowest but also break down the slowest. I personally prefer to use a gel bond when I use tips (which is rarely) because I would rather my clients not have their natural nails separate from the tip by the first fill. Yes It takes me a bit longer to apply the tips because I have to hold them for a few seconds, but i fond it worth it. Now I know other techs who value the speed of the fast setting adhesives and that is perfectly fine. The point is to know the pros and cons and decide what is right for YOU.
As for applying adhesives on a tip, there are many ways to do it and not one it "right" or "wrong". I like to put the adhesive on the well of the tip. Others put it on the natural nail. Still others put it on both. And yet others hold the tip on the nail and use a very thin adhesive and drip it on the seam where the tip meets the nail so it "sucks" up under the tip. The most important part of applying a tip is to make sure that it is flat on the nail and that there are no bubbles in the adhesive. Bubbles mean its not adhered and can allow for bacteria to set up shop under the nail.
One more thing I should mention - "Super Glue", Nail Adhesives and medical "liquid stitches" are ALL cyanoacrylates. BUT they are NOT interchangeable! Super glue contains etching agents and is not manufactured in sterile environments. Nail adhesive is made to go on the body and is manufactured accordingly. Medical adhesives are similar to nail adhesive but are manufactured in the strictest sterile setting as they are meant to come into contact with sensitive tissues and possibly blood.
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