Friday, September 25, 2015

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!