Monday, September 7, 2015


So we have sanitized ours and our clients hands, done a client intake, PREPped the nail and applied tips or forms (if that was what we decided to do smile emoticon ) What's next? Applying product! Generally, the first part of most product lines is priming the natural nail plate to promote adhesion, so lets discuss the ins and outs of primer.
Primer Means “First Coat”. A primer’s job is to join two surfaces that naturally do not slick together well. Whether or not you need a primer depends on your product. If you are applying Cyanoacrylate based systems (like wraps or "tip and dip" systems) or a primer-less acrylic you do not need a primer. Conventional acrylic liquid and powder *will* stick to the nails without primer, but it won’t necessarily stick very well.
The condition of your client’s nails determines whether and how much primer you need. Most manufacturers recommend a single application of primer. Clients with very oily nail beds and chronic lifting may need a second coat of primer. Some medications cause clients to have lifting problems, so those clients may need a second coat of primer.It’s best to start with a minimum of primer and only use more if the client has developed lifting. If you’ve used two coats of primer and the client still develops lifting, your preparation and application technique may be the problem. “Don’t use primer as a crutch for poor technique.” ~ Doug Schoon
Primer acts like a double sided tape - the molecule has two sides - one side is attracted to the natural nail proteins and the other side is attracted to the product.
Original primers were made of methacrylic acid (MAA - not to be confused with MMA). The artificial nail industry as a whole evolved from the dental industry and this is one of those items that came with it. It is a very reliable primer and is a super-dehydrator. MAA primer can also burn the skin, it has a strong, unpleasant odor, and it can thin the nail plate due to the etching mechanism (meaning the acid etches microscopic nooks and crannies into the nail plate). Re-priming the same area more than once doesn’t make the surface more “sticky.” In fact, over-priming with an acid based primer can damage the nail. These still exist today - Tammy Taylor and No Lift Nails are two major brands.
Non-MAA primers (aka Protein Primers) were originally developed for the veterinary industry to repair split and fractured hooves and evolved for the nail industry. It is not as corrosive to the skin and can’t enter the bloodstream via the nail bed. Non-MAA doesn’t work by etching the nail in order for the acrylic to grab hold of the nail surface. It works like a coat of adhesive. Non-MAA primer contains an ingredient that causes a temporary change in the pH of the natural nail (slightly acidic) to make it closer in pH to that of the product (highly alkaline). This pH change helps the product adhere. The nail eventually returns to its natural pH level, and the adhesive strength of the primer diminishes. (Most companies nowadays have this type of primer - CND, Young Nails, etc)
The first coat of an MAA primer should be allowed to dry completely. If you apply a second coat, depending on the particular primer you’re using, you can either wait for the second coat to dry completely, or you can apply the product while the primer is still semi-wet. Doug Schoon warns against applying product on wet primer because it can contaminate the product and cause yellowing, cracking, and bubbling. Non-MAA acid should be allowed to dry completely or its adhesive ability will be negated.
Some other tips:
- Primers should be used extremely sparingly; use just enough to dampen the natural nail. It should not flood the nail or skin in any way.
-Primers only go on the natural nail - never on tips as it can cause cracking of the plastic.
-Do not apply primer on the skin

Now what about using a primer with a primer-less liquid?
Primer-less liquids are created with covalent bonds - the strongest types of adhesive bond in nature. The result is a product that bonds the nail enhancement tightly without the need of using an Primer. What is interesting is that if you use a primer with this type of liquid, you almost always diminish the bond of the liquid to the nail. Think about it - in a traditional gel or liquid/powder acrylic system the molecules are attracted to the primer BUT in a primer-less systems the molecule is attracted to the nail - and not the primer. Which means even though the primer is trying to grab onto the product, the product wants to grab the nail instead but is being thwarted by the primer. Of course, there are some clients who just have lifting issues and prier might actually help in their cases, but they should be the exception not the rule. If you use a primer-less liquid and find you have to use primer, something else is wrong.

One more thing  - liquid primers like MAA and Protein primers are generally interchangeable. I am a big proponent of using a product system (same brand Liquid and Powder, etc) but primers are the exception. HOWEVER, when it comes to gel bonders/base gels that are UV cured, those are not interchangeable. They really are the first step of the gel system, nut a primer as defined in this post. And they can definitely not be used with liquid/powder acrylic!