Saturday, November 28, 2015

Enhancement Aftercare for Clients

One of the most important things you can do to ensure the integrity of your client's nail enhancements is to train them on caring for their new nails.  Just because this is not the first time someone has had nails does not mean you should skip the maintenance talk - clients who have frequented discount salons or do their nails at home are often not aware of proper maintenance and even clients who have had their nails done by good techs over the years often tend to forget what they should be doing (they do not live and breathe nails like we do!)

If you choose to guarantee your nails will last a certain length of time, it should be with the caveat that clients are doing their home maintenance (at a minimum, a good quality cuticle oil daily!  This helps keep the enhancement plasticized and the cuticles soft.). The tech and the client are partners in keeping the nails looking good.  You can't do your part effectively without the client doing theirs.

When I was active in the salon I would keep mini cuticle oils in my desk and each full set would get an oil and instructions.  This way I can control which oil they use (no mineral oil!) and clients like to get "free" stuff (of course I do work the cost of the oil into the full set). Also, if they are using their oils, they will need to buy one from you at the next fill, so you will have a retail sale AND you will know if they are following instructions or not.

Below are some examples of handouts given to new clients that I have collected over the years (can also be used as wall posters). Some of these are from the Beautytech.com message board.  I encourage you use what works for you and re-write what does not. The FAQ's at the bottom are great to laminate and keep in your waiting area.


These are MY 10 commandments that I felt were of importance to MY clients. You may have
others to include. Here goes: I shall: 
1. Apply solar oil to my cuticles daily (maybe even twice a day) 
2. Use hand cream or lotion often during the day (and especially at bedtime) 
3. Wear rubber gloves when exposing my hands to water or cleaning products (I'll try really hard on this one) 
4. Wear gloves when doing yard work (especially when I dig in dirt)
5. NOT pick at my acrylic/gel/polish (wow-that's asking a lot) 
6. NOT pick at my cuticles (it ruins the look of my nails) 
7. Brush under the free edge daily (that is part of the look of my nails, also) 
8.Refresh my polish with topcoat every 2 days - keeping it shiny (this is an easy one) 
9. NOT use my nails as tools, scrapers or levers (i'll find an appropriate substitute) 
10. Keep my appointments at 2-week intervals (makes my nail tech happy and keeps my nails looking their best)
There you have it- works for me. I think it makes the client a little more aware of their home maintenance when they see something in writing.



Believe it or not, when I saw your previous listing of your '10 commandments' I had to laugh. Just a
few days before I thought it would be a neat idea to do that too, and I wrote up my own '10
commandments'. I drew an old scroll and placed the 10 commandments in them. Hadn't thought of
running off copies and giving them to each client though, that is a neat idea. Here they are (I thought
it would be cuter if they were in the style of the 1611 King James Version):
1) Thou shalt wear gloves.
2) Thou shalt not pick at nails or cuticle area.
3) Thou shalt exfoliate once weekly, and replenish your skin with lotion or cream in abundance.
4) Thou shalt apply cuticle oil no less than once daily.
5) Thou shalt use the retail that thou hast purchased.(ever get the feeling that what they buy gets 'collected' at home?)
6) Thou shalt not use thy nails as tools, find a proper substitute.
7) Thou shalt not cut 'cuticles'.
8) Thou shalt clip hangnails, not pull them.
9) Thou shalt buff nails that peel, and wear your top coat (see commandment 5).
10)Thus sayeth the Nail Technician: Let nothing come between me and thee (in other words keep
your appointments) - and thou shalt have Beautiful Hands!

I know, may be a little corny at times, but they get the point along with a good laugh!

Caring for Your New Nails at Home

In caring for your new nails, you may need to modify some bad habits. Your new nails are strong, but not unbreakable.  The less pressure put on your new nails, the longer they will last. Just as playing with a paper clip by bending it back and forth will eventually break it, your nails will also break with repeated stress. They can only take so much pressure before they crack and/or break.You will need to treat them properly to keep them looking great for a long time.
  • Apply Solar Oil to your cuticles every day. The oil penetrates your cuticle for healthier skin and promotes flexibility in your nails. The application encourages growth in the matrix area. 
  • Be very deliberate when using your hands. Start using the ball of your finger and your knuckles instead of your nails. 
  • Always use the proper tool! Your nails were NOT created to be used as a screwdriver, can opener, and the ultimate-unwedger-of-all-things!
  • Do not put your nails in harsh chemicals such as cleaning products. Wear gloves when gardening, washing dishes, and any heavy duty cleaning.
  • Do not leave your hands in water for long periods of time. Water eventually breaks down just about everything including nail adhesive.
  • Apply hand cream whenever you wash your hands. This will help to keep your skin looking healthy and promote flexibility in your nails.  


How Long Will They Last?
Your new nails will need to be maintained every 2 to 3 weeks. Maintenance work takes approximately 60 minutes and includes re-filing and re-shaping of the nail, repair of up to 2 broken nails repairing any cracking or lifting nails, fill-in and rebalance of new growth, and polish, if desired. When you do come in for any nail service, please remove your polish before your appointment. By having your nails regularly maintained, you will avoid most of the problems associated with artificial enhancements. In fact, most problems associated with artificial enhancements are caused by improper maintenance.


Congratulations on your beautiful nails!

Below are some tips that will help keep them looking beautiful longer:
  • Remember this above all: treat your nails like jewels, not tools! 
  • Wear gloves when you do housework and gardening. 
  • Use a tool for opening soda cans or other nail-destroyers. 
  • Learn to do things with the pads of your fingers rather than your nails. 
  • Never do anything that would put pressure on the tips of your nails. 
  • We all love to soak in the tub or spa, but your nails don't. 
Natural Nails Maintenance:
Carry a very fine grit emery board with you to smooth out any snags you may develop between appointments. Nothing drives you crazier than a small snag that keeps catching on things. Every day, massage some oil into your cuticles. Every other day, use a top coat to keep your polish looking nice longer. Should you decide to change your own polish, make sure you remove all traces of oil and moisture before polishing the nails. This will allow the polish to last longer on your natural nails. Make sure to use a base and a top coat.

Acrylic Enhancements Maintenance:
You should get your acrylics re-balanced every two weeks. If you break or crack a nail, or it begins to lift, come in to see me as soon as you can. I do not charge for up to two repairs on full sets or re-balances on full sets originally created by me (within two weeks). Please don’t use a bandage on a lifted nail, as it will trap quite a bit of unwanted moisture. Moisture underneath a lifting nail can start the growth of a type of bacteria called Pseudomonas. Its pretty much harmless, but not very pretty. The by-product of this bacteria is a green color that some people mistakenly call “mold” or even “fungus”, which, of course, is inaccurate. If you see this on a nail, come in to have me remove the nail and stop the bacterial growth.

Make sure any lotion or cuticle oil that you use to keep your hands and cuticles soft and moisturized does NOT contain mineral oil or lanolin. Mineral oil and lanolin are the primary suspects in lifting of acrylic nails. The best thing to use on your nails is Solar Oil by Creative Nail Design.

If you decide you want to remove your enhancements, please, please do not bite or pry them off! This will damage the nail plate (not to mention it will look horrible). Please call me and I will either schedule a time to remove them for you and give you a mini-manicure, or explain how you can remove them yourself with minimal damage to your natural nails.


Client Home Care Guidelines
In order to maintain your Nail Enhancements for long-term wear-ability, please read and follow these simple guidelines.
  • Oil nails twice per day to maintain inherent flexibility. Product that is allowed to become brittle will crack and break. 
  • Repetitive or severe pressure on the nail extension will lead to cracks that result in full-blown breaks. Treat your nails as jewels, not tools! 
  • Nails that are too long for your lifestyle and activity level (repetitive downward tip pressure) result in service breakdown. If your nails become too long between appointments, shorten the length with the 240-grit file. 
  • Properly applied product will shrink when cured and create an airtight seal. Mechanical forcing of product through extreme pressure, picking or nipping rough edges will result in lifting. Use a 240- grit file to remove rough edges or blend any lifting into the natural nail plate. Holding the file flat to the area of lift, gently file in the direction of the lifted material until the area of lift is removed. Do not over-file! Over-filing removes vital nail plate layers and will weaken the natural nail foundation. To re-seal the product, massage a drop of oil into the nail surface, then buff to a dull shine with the 360-grit buffer. 
  • When changing polish between maintenance appointments, remove polish with regular polish remover. Non-acetone polish remover requires more time to soften polish, thereby remaining on the product surface, softening and weakening the surface layer. After the polish has been removed, wash hands and scrub nails with a soft toothbrush. Apply cuticle oil to the product surface and massage into the cuticles and overlay. Using the 360-buffer, buff the oil into the nail surface to re-seal the product. Apply one thin coat of base coat, two thin coats of polish and a thin application of topcoat, allowing the layers to dry between coatings.
  • Greenies are caused by an air-borne bacteria  trapped between the overlay and the nail plate layers. These bacteria require food to eat and moisture to grow. The nail plate layers contain oil and moisture. Should any lifting occur between visits, buff away the area of lift - do not attempt to glue the lifted area. Most instant glues are not moisture resistant. Instant glue also sets-up the instant it is exposed to air and cannot ‘re-seal’ lifted material and may incorporate air-borne bacteria into the area of lift. The bacteria will be trapped between the nail plate and the overlay, utilizing the natural nail oils as food and the moisture to grow. The results are a greenish to brownish stain on the nail plate. The stain is a by-product of the infection. Should any area of lift be too large to remove by filing, or visible discoloration is present, please call for a nail repair appointment. 
  • To prevent the spread of communicable diseases, never share your files or implements with others. 
Client FAQ's
1. "Can artificial nails ruin my real nails?" - Wearing nail enhancements will not cause damage to your natural nails. The only way damage can occur is if your nail technician caused damage during application or if some outside force caused damage such as slamming your finger in a door, running your nails into things often, etc. It is not the actual products that ruin your natural nails
  •  Improper removal of the enhancements - The natural nail can become thin and weak. It is important to have your enhancements removed by a professional should you want them removed for any reason. If you really must remove them yourself, call your nail tech and she can tell you how to do it safely.  Damaging or "popping off" a nail - This will cause some of the top layers of the natural nail to come off, leaving it thin and weak.
  •  Bumping nails into things - Even if you don't see a problem right away, every time you run your nail(s) into something it weakens the hold of the product on the nail and will eventually cause the nail to come off. Carrying boxes is also a BIG problem, always be very careful when doing this.
  • Over filing - In order to apply enhancements the natural nail only needs buffed enough to remove the shine and oils so the product will adhere.
2. "I bite my nails, is there anything that can really help me?" A lot of people have acrylic nails applied for that very reason. They are much tougher than natural nails which makes biting them much harder to do. In addition, the very idea that you now have nice nails (which many nail biters may have never had) is an added deterrent and will help to remind you not to bite. This is a wonderful way to have long beautiful nails.

3. "Why would somebody want to spend that much money for artificial nails?!" There are many reasons a person would want nail enhancements:
  • They look good. The hands are one of the first things others see about us, and well-manicured nails and/or nail enhancements often help to make a good first impression.
  • Nail biters often find they are able to kick the nail biting habit much easier than without enhancements. If they decide not to continue wearing them once the biting is stopped they have that option. Often they decide to keep them because they like the way they look!
  • To lengthen the nails. Often, a person can grow their nails long but then have the problem of breakage, or maybe your nails don't seem to grow out as you would like. Enhancements are tougher than natural nails, you can have them any length you like them to be, and can change the length any time without waiting for them to grow out again. And with enhancements, if one does break or crack they can be easily repaired right away!
  • Some people have naturally thin, weak or brittle nails. Nail enhancements are stronger and tougher, and also provide protection for this type of natural nail.
4. " What if I decide I don't want to spend the money on nails anymore?" I suggest you come in and have your nails removed professionally. I soak your nails in a solution to remove the acrylic and send you home with a Maintenance Kit.

5. "I have to have my acrylic (or fiberglass or silk, etc.) nails taken off every 3 months so my real nails can breathe." Absolutely false. “Real nails” are not living tissue. They do not need to breathe. You can keep your enhancements on as long or as short a time as you prefer. I know many people personally that have worn acrylic nails several years without ever having them removed (with proper periodic maintenance and home care!), with no adverse effects.

6. " Why are my nails yellow?" There are many reasons nails may become yellow. Some reasons are cigarette smoking, tanning lotions/UV light, cheap polish and not using a good base coat. Make sure you always use a good base coat before applying any color polish. If you smoke, try holding the cigarette in a manner that will not allow the smoke to waft up on and around the nails on the fingers you hold it with. As for cheap polish, get a good salon brand polish. They do cost a bit more but are of a much better quality than even the best over the counter brands. If you tan, make sure and wash off any tanning lotions you may get on your nails as soon as possible, especially if you tan in a tanning bed. The lotions made for tanning beds usually contain ingredients to help speed up a tan.

7. "I could get AIDS from having my nails done!" Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in 1981 at least 3 billion nail services have been perform in the US alone. Never once has anyone even been suspected of getting an HIV infection from a salon service. Since the odds of being killed by a shark are estimated to be 1 in 2 million and the odds of being killed by a dog are 1 in 700,000... you are best advised to stay out of the ocean and wear full body armor when you go to the park. HIV infections are not spread by salon services. It has never happened and I doubt it ever will. There are several destructive forces in our industry who profit from your fear. They believe that the more afraid the public and nail techs become, the more disinfectant they will sell. These person(s) have actively lobbied many of the State Boards and filled them with these irrational fears.

The main thing to remember is to go to a salon that practices good sanitation. If the implements, files, etc. are sanitized, as they should be, you will not contract any infection or fungus from a salon. You must also take care of your nails at home to help prevent getting an infection. Use gloves when gardening to keep out germ-filled soil, when using dirty mop water, or washing dishes. You would be surprised how many germs you come in contact with in a day’s work. Keep your nails clean and take these precautions and you should not have problems with infection. This is a good rule to follow any time, not just when you have nail enhancements.

                         

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Business Basics: Lowering Prices

So you have decided that you want to adopt a low-end competitive pricing strategy, remember that your profit margin per sale is going to be less so you’ll need to focus on reducing your costs.

The Iowa SBDC recommends several best practices for this approach:
  • Obtain the best prices possible for products
  • Locate the business in an inexpensive location
  • Closely control inventory
  • Limit retail to fast-moving items
  • Design advertising to concentrate on "price specials"
  • Offer limited services
Lets take a look at these individually.
 
Obtain the Best Prices Possible for Products
Buy in bulk and stock up during sales.  Find less expensive substitute products - every penny counts when you have a slim profit margin (this is a huge reason so many discount salons turn to MMA! Don't be tempted... there are plenty of inexpensive EMA brands out there). 
 
Locate the business in an inexpensive location
You will need to assess your location and determine if moving your business to a cheaper location is worth it - will it be too out-if-the-way for a lot of walk in clientel?  Is it in too seedy of a location that your regular clients won't like to drive there?  There is a difference between inexpensive and cheap - do your research and figure out where your business might thrive. 
 
Closely control inventory
This one is a bit harder, but determining how much liquid and powder should be used per service and making sure to charge for longer nails that take more product will be very important.  Using only one paper towel and 2 cotton pads per service WILL make a difference.  Remember, every cent counts.
 
Limit retail to fast-moving items
Retail can bring in a lot of money, but don't stock items that will languish on your shelves for months - you will not want to have your cash tied up in retail that is not moving.
 
Design advertising to concentrate on "price specials"
This is a given.  Since your target market will be clients who are looking for the best price, you will need to make sure to entice them.  That also means your services should be priced with a profit margin that allows setting sale prices and still making a profit.  This is why it is so important to know your numbers!
 
Offer limited services
The more services you offer, the more of your money will be tied up in stock.  If your clients never get gel nails, don't offer them - otherwise you will have a lot of money in product and equipment sitting in your desk not being used. Have a limited basic service list so you can have limited stock. 
 
 
 
Negative Aspects of Low Pricing
Remember: cutting prices can have a number of consequences. The SBA (Small Business Association) points out:
  • It lowers the perceived value of your brand and product –even the big brands are guilty of this and the effect over time is detrimental. Like everyone else, many mall-based clothing chains are struggling to hang on to their market share in this tough economy, and are literally handing out online coupon codes and deep discount sales on a weekly basis. This in turn leads the customer to know and expect price cuts, and, of course, any informed buyer is going to hold out for the next sale rather than pay full price for a product they have come to see as over-priced.
  • Once you cut prices it’s hard to put them up again – anyone who has ever bartered or sold anything can tell you that once you take that price down it’s very hard to justify adjusting those prices up again.
  • It attracts customers who only care about price points – a business’s unique value very rarely hinges on price; it’s usually a combination of price, product, reputation, and value that it brings to the market it serves. By changing your market strategy to focus on cutting prices you are essentially undermining all the good work you’ve done to build your brand, and there’s no going back – you’ll find yourself having to cut prices on every service you offer.
  • It’s a war you can’t win – cutting prices across the board is never a good idea because when you cut, the competition cuts, until the business willing to tolerate the lowest margins prevails and it’s usually the lower quality competitor. There are no winners here.
Focus on Value Instead
With all this talk about price it’s easily forgotten that most small businesses build their brand and their success on the value they deliver. Value is so much more than price, it embodies the product, your team, your leadership, and customer service – and it can help differentiate you in a crowded and competitive market.

Selling on this value instead of price will consistently differentiate you for the long term despite the temptation to fall into a price war with the competition.

How do you do this? Know your target market, your competition, your product and your advantage.
Remember price is a reflection of your value.



Resources and References
https://www.sba.gov/blogs/how-avoid-falling-price-war-focusing-value
http://www.nailsmag.com/article/90938/the-pricing-problem
https://www.iowasbdc.org/Portals/0/ClientDocuments/How-to-Price-Your-Products-and-Services.pdf

Thursday, November 5, 2015

MMA Regulations

Below are the regulations I have found (as of November 2015) relating to MMA.  Please let me know in the comments if you have any information to add or update! (I am still working on this page - I know there are least 30 states in the US with regulations, it just takes time to research!)

Australia: MMA is not a banned substance in Australia because MMA can be used safely. However, it is important for people to be aware of the risks associated with this product.

Canada: Does anyone know?  Let me know in the comments...

UK: Does anyone know?  Let me know in the comments...

US FDA: Based on its investigations of the injuries and discussions with medical experts in the field of dermatology, the agency chose to remove from the market products containing 100 percent methyl methacrylate monomer through court proceedings, which resulted in a preliminary injunction against one firm as well as several seizure actions and voluntary recalls. No regulation specifically prohibits the use of methyl methacrylate monomer in cosmetic products.

US OSHA: (artificial nail products, though banned for use in many states): asthma; irritated eyes, skin, nose, and mouth; difficulty concentrating; loss of smell

US States with MMA Regulations:
Arizona: The Board's rule, A.A.C. R4-10-112(M) prohibits the use of products containing hazardous substances banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) such as MMA (Methyl Methacrylate monomer) and methylene chloride from being used in a salon or school.

Arkansas: The use of Liquid Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) Monomer is prohibited

California: The use of products that contain the ingredient MMA is prohibited for use in Board licensed establishments.

Colorado:

Delaware: Prohibit the use of methyl methacrylate (MMA).

Florida: Pursuant to Section 477.0265(1)2(h), Florida Statutes, it is unlawful for any
person in the practice of cosmetology to use or possess a cosmetic product containing a liquid nail monomer containing any trace of methyl methacrylate (MMA). If MMA is being used or stored in a salon, this could prompt a case by an  investigator. If this happens, legal charges may be brought against you/or the salon. Using or possessing MMA is a 2nd degree misdemeanor punishable by $500 fine and/or imprisonment not to exceed 60 days.


Illinois: The use of nail products or the distribution of nail products containing monomer Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) is prohibited.

Indiana: (a) A person licensed under this article may not use acrylic liquid monomer formulated with methyl methacrylate (MMA). (b) A person who violates subsection (a) may be disciplined under IC
25-1-11.

Iowa:  No salon or school shall have on the premises cosmetic products containing substances which have been banned or otherwise deemed hazardous or deleterious by the FDA for use in cosmetic products. Prohibited products include, but are not limited to, any product containing liquid methyl methacrylate monomer and methylene chloride. No product shall be used in a manner that is not approved by the FDA. Presence of a prohibited product in a salon or school is prima facie evidence of that product’s use in the salon or school.


Kentucky: It is illegal for nail salons to apply methyl methacrylate (MMA) to customer’s nails due to various nail deformities caused not by the toxicity of the chemical, but from the physical nature of the chemical once it hardens. If salon inspectors discover this material on the premises, it will be considered an illegal product subject to fine and immediate disposal.

Maryland: If a Board inspector discovers evidence of the use of MMA in a salon, the inspector will report the finding to MOSH, which will follow up to ensure enforcement of the state’s workplace safety and health laws.
 Minnesota:  Licensees must not use any of the following substances or products in performingcosmetology services:(1) methyl methacrylate liquid monomers, also known as MMA;

Mississippi:  No product containing the ingredient methyl methacrylate (MMA) can be used in any manicuring or pedicuring procedure. All products must be correctly labeled, and manufacturer’s data sheets for any nail product must be readily available for review by any agent of the Board of Cosmetology.

Montana: Possession or use of the following items is prohibited:methyl methacrylate monomers for artificial nails
 
Nebraska: No product containing MMA is used in the establishment;
New HampshireA licensee, at no time, shall apply Methyl Methacrylate (MMA).

New Jersey: A licensee, licensed shop, or school of cosmetology and hairstyling shall not utilize any
product that contains methyl methacrylate monomer.

New York: No owner or operator of an appearance enhancement business shall knowingly and willfully: sell, use or apply to any person monomeric methyl methacrylate; or direct any agent or employee of such business to sell, use or apply to any person monomeric methyl methacrylate.

North Carolina: Licensees or students shall not use or possess in a cosmetic art school or shop any of the following: (1) Methyl Methacrylate Liquid Monomer, a.k.a. MMA;

Ohio: No person shall do any of the following: Use or possess a liquid nail monomer containing any trace of methyl methacrylate (MMA).

Oklahoma: Each licensee shall be knowledgeable of product ingredients. If not listed on the product, the manufacturer should be contacted for content information. The use of methyl methacrylate (MMA) is prohibited.

Oregon:  OHLA prohibits the use of MMA.

Pennsylvania:  I couldnt find the specific law on the books but did find that the state fined someone in 2015 for  operating "as a nail technology salon in a grossly incompetent and unethical manner through the use of methyl methacrylate substances. "
 Texas:  Licensees may not use or possess any of the following substances or products in performing cosmetology services. Methyl Methacrylate Liquid Monomers (also known as MMA).  For the purpose of performing services authorized under the Act, no licensee shall buy, sell, use, or apply to any person liquid monomeric methyl methacrylate (MMA).
  Utah: Unlawful conduct includes: using or possessing a solution composed of at least 10% methyl methacrylate on a client
 Virginia: No shop or school shall have on the premises cosmetic products containing hazardous substances which have been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in cosmetic products, including liquid methyl methacrylate monomer and methylene chloride. No product shall be used in a manner that is disapproved by the FDA.

Washington:  Use of 100% liquid methyl methacrylate monomer and methylene chloride products are prohibited. No product must be used in a manner that is disapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
West Virginia: The FDA prohibits the use of products containing methacrylate monomers (LMMA/MMA).  These products are toxic. The Board also prohibits the use of these products


US States with No MMA Regulations Found on their Online Pages
Alabama
Alaska - though they do say "Liquid Monomer containing Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) is prohibited for use during NIC practical examinations."
Connecticut (no nail licensure)
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Kansas
Kenkucky
Louisiana
Maine
Massachussettes
Michigan
Missouri
New Mexico
Nevada
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota - though they do say "Liquid Monomer containing Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) is prohibited for use during NIC practical examinations."
Tennessee
Wisconsin
Wyoming








http://www.nailpro.com/state-boards/



MMA: Methyl Methacrylate

In 1954, dentist Fred slack accidentally created acrylic nails when he repaired a broken fingernail with some products he had lying around the office. At that time, Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) was a common monomer used for dental prosthesis and that is what he used for his fingernail.  This, of course, led to it being the monomer of choice for nail technicians of the time.
 
Fast forward to the 1970's. The FDA ( US Food and Drug Administration) was receiving numerous complaints about nail injuries and allergic reactions and decided to issue its first ban on MMA for use in nail products.  At that time, manufacturers voluntarily took MMA out of their formulations and the FDA did not pursue further legal tactics.  However, no specific federal law was ever enacted prohibiting the use of this chemical in nail formulations which led to new manufacturers deciding to sell it.  Since the late 1990's most states (though not all of them) in the USA have banned the substance for use in their state, but of course that doesn't stop unscrupulous salons from obtaining and using it.
 
In September 1996, in a letter written to the Nail Manufacturers Council , the FDA stated “We continue to believe that liquid methyl methacrylate, when used in cosmetic fingernail preparations, is a poisonous and deleterious substance. Generally speaking, the agency is prepared to consider regulatory action against fingernail products formulated with liquid methyl methacrylate monomer as one of its ingredients.”   
 
Also referred to as "dental acrylic" or "porcelain nails", MMA is cheap - up to 1/3 the price of EMA (Ethyl Methacrylcate - the "good" acrylic monomer) and is often used to keep costs down in shops with low profit margins.
 
One more note - MMA is only a problem in the acrylic monomers (liquid) NOT the polymers (powder) and NOT with true gels or wraps.
 

Facts

MMA is not intended for soft tissue, it is used to repair bones and teeth - and dental prosthetics are cured outside the body so therefore never come in contact with the soft tissue.  MMA is also used in road markers and plexiglass signs.
 
 
Reasons not to use MMA From Doug Schoon:
  • "Reason 1. My research shows that MMA has terrible adhesion to the natural   nail. The only way to make it stick is to severely abrade the nail, which   weakens the nail plate tremendously. Any product will stick well if you   shred up the nail plate, even MMA.
  • Reason 2. MMA creates enhancements that are stronger than the natural nail.   In other words, too strong! If an MMA enhancement is jammed hard enough the   weakened nail plate often breaks and bleeds, instead of the product   cracking. That's bad news! When designing a nail enhancement product, my   premiere goal is to make the product weaker than the natural nail, to  prevent serious nail plate damage. MMA does the opposite.
  • Reason 3. MMA cannot be easily removed from the nail plate, in fact it's   very difficult. MMA is insoluble in all safe solvents, i.e. acetone.   Because of this, MMA is usually ripped off the already thin, weak damaged   nail. This can lead to severe nail infections and severe nail plate damage. It can even cause permanent injury to the nail bed and plate. Look   around at all the damaged MMA nails, now you know why!"
 
    Issues for Nail Techs:
  • Chronic (long term) health effects can occur at some time after exposure to Methyl Methacrylate and can last for months or years
  • Repeatedly breathing in the vaports can cause symptoms such as "pins and needles", numbness, weakness, and changes in the ability to remember and concentrate.
  • Exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, and throat - High exposures can cause you to feel dizzy and lightheaded 
 

Fiction/Myths

From Doug Schoon:
"Unfortunately, most people who talk about MMA don't understand the issues.  Most of the misinformation about MMA is being spread by misinformed nail techs and those who have a financial interesting in clouding the issue with lots of bogus, scientific sounding arguments.

  • Myth 1- "There is nothing wrong with MMA. The "big" companies are jealous and just trying to put us little guys out of business."  If that were true, why don't the "big" companies make an MMA product and  really put them out of business? I could make a MMA product that be many  times better than anything on the market. I don't for two very good   reasons, 1). The FDA says don't use MMA monomer and 2) MMA monomer isn't a  good nail product ingredient (and I have many years of research, observations and experiences to back up that claim.)
  • Myth 2- "MMA is just a safe as EMA" and people who are trying to scare you about EMA say "EMA is just a dangerous as MMA". Here's the trick- this   isn't even the issue! It's designed to fool you away from the real issue. MMA isn't dangerous to nail technicians health. Neither is EMA. Workers in   hundreds of types of industries use both of these monomers and there are   reams of studies which support the fact that both monomers are safe to nail   technicians (but sadly not for clients). Remember, any chemical CAN be dangerous. Vitamins CAN be dangerous chemicals. Water CAN be a dangerous   chemical. Wine CAN be a dangerous mixture of chemical. The question is, are   they dangerous when used correctly? The answer is no. MMA is no more "dangerous" than EMA and... EMA has TWICE in seven years been declared safe  to use by the highly prestigious CIR expert panel of world renown dermatologist, toxicologists and doctors (and the FDA agreed with the   finding). Give me a break, how much more proof does it take? Here is the   real issue. MMA is used in bone cements. It's perfectly safe for that use.   But, the properties that make it great bone cement, makes it a terrible   nail enhancement product which damages the nail plate and bed. 
  • Myth 3- "MMA and EMA cause liver damage, kidney damage..., etc". Hey, what   doesn't? Especially if you really overexposure yourself, all sorts of   things can happen. You could die from eating too much baby food. Fact: Under the conditions nail tech use these products, they are safe and will  not cause any these problems related to long term, mass overexposure. Anyone can come up with a list of all the things a chemical CAN do, even water! Water CAN kill you... if you stick your head in a bucket of water  for five minutes (don't try this at home <g>). "

  Other Myths/Misinformation
  • Methyl Methacrylate has not been proven to cause cancer.
  • MMA does not "eat through the nail bed", though the severe roughing up of the nails that is required for it to stick will cause damage.
  • Methyl Methacrylate has not been proven to cause lung damage (though overexposure can cause symptoms listed above in the Facts section).
  • There is no proof it will damage a developing fetus.

Signs of MMA Use

  • Strong odor that physically affects you. Beauty services involving chemicals often have offensive odors, like perms. However, while the smell may offend you, it should not physically affect you. If you experience any tightness in your throat or chest, tingling in your fingers, lightheadedness, dizziness, or an odd taste in your mouth, it is possible that MMA is being used - this odor doesn’t smell like other acrylic liquids and is often described as a "fruity" odor.
  • Ammonia-like odor when filing cured product (for fill-ins or repairs)
  • Enhancements which are extremely hard and very difficult to file even with coarse abrasives.
  • Enhancements that will not soak off in solvents designed to remove acrylics (or take a very, very long time to soak off and when they do turn gummy rather than flakey like EMA).
  • Cloudy or milky color when cured.
  • MMA turns yellow after time, "requiring" the client to get a new full set periodically.
  • Unlabeled containers – technician will not show or tell the client what brand of product is being used (this one is not "proof" necessarily but should make you question why they won't show you)
  • It used to be said that if you were paying significantly less than the "normal" price for acrylic nails then you should suspect MMA (becasue MMA costs so much less than EMA), however nowadays there are many techncians using EMA who have priced their services to compete with the discount salon segment, so this "sign" of MMA is no longer necesarily true, though it is not a bad idea to always question how a salon can be significantly cheaper than their competetors.
 
 
References/Resources
http://www.nailsmag.com/article/108385/easing-the-transition-to-ema

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Enhancement Troubleshooting: Fill Lines and Lifting

There are two types of "lines" that you can see after filling an anhancement. One is a line where there was lifted product that was not completely filed away and another is a red ring from overfiling (called "rings of fire" in the US).  This post will address the first type.

Preventing Lines
Karen from Key West once said on the Beautytech forum: "to get control of fill lines, you have to get control of your product and eliminate the lifting. Fill lines generally happen when there is a teeny bit of   product along the regrowth area that is lifted off the nailplate. If you can  get your product under strict control so it is sealed down all the way   around your cuticle and sidewalls, you'll see the problem will solve itself. "  And frankly, that is the absolute best piece of advice there is when dealing with fill lines.  No lifting = no lines.

To get control of your product we go back to prep, product application (not touching skin - ever) and, for acrylic, mix ratio and not mixing systems.  Any one - or all - of these things could be causing your lifting problems and you need to practice to get them under control. 

I must reiterate - if product touches the skin at any point in your application (even if you remove it right away), you will have lifting. Its a given.  (not to mention the possibility of client overexposure.  But I digress)

Make sure you've reviewed the instructions for your product line...and that you really are doing what they suggest. Another thing that Karen form Key West points out is that too much filing at the cuticle will cause lifting. "If you have  a lump or bump and press the file down on it to file it away, you will   actually force the nailplate down and away from the product, or cause a  lift, in other words. So again, it comes down to control and really   thinking about each bit of product as you work and make sure you have to do   as little filing near the cuticle as possible."


Getting Rid of Lines
OK, so you haven't mastered produt application yet, so how do you remove fill lines?

First, lets address what NOT to do:  DO NOT nip away lifted acrylic, use extra monomer or primer to "soften" or hide the lift, glue down the lift or ignore the lifted area.  These all will cause more problems in the long run, causing yellowing, overexposure, damaging natural nails, exacerbating lifting, etc, etc.

The only real way to deal with lifting, other than complete removal of the enhancement, is by filing
it away.

Karen from Key West has some more advice on how to deal with lifted areas: "One is to file a little bit "behind" the lifted area. Take your file and move it a bit beyond the end of  the lifted area, and file a groove....BE CAREFUL and do not file into the nail plate! But if you watch closely, you will be able to see the line where you are filing lighten, and at that point, take the corner of your nipper and flake away the lifted/filed away area. What you will have left is acrylic that is sealed down to the nail and should not show fill lines.

"Another technique is to  blend what you can, then use one of the adhesive promoter products available to reattach the lifted area. I personally don't use this technique, because I found I was relying on the product to do my blending for me...and I ended  up with nails that had lost their integrity after a couple of fills. But that's me. Another thing you can do is to blend the entire product area so  that it is very thin...and then work on just the lifted spots as above. "
 
Georgette (also from the Beautytech boards) offers this advice: "Fill ins do not start with the fill in. they start with the original product application. Filing flush at cuticle. take the tip of YOUR fingernail and see you feel anything by flicking your fingernail where the cuticle and product meet. If you can feel or hear anything keep filing till there is no dust but do not go onto the natural nail. Then when the nail grows out it will be  sealed and flush. Clients will not be hooking product into the hair etc. "


But I use Cover Powder, so who cares if there are lines?
I am a bit wary with how popular cover powders have become in the last few years.  Yes, its cool to have permenantly colored nails, but you cannot see what is going on under the enhancement.  Greenies?  No idea. Onycholysis? Can't tell.  Damage? *shrug*  I have seen nail techs on Instagram show their prepped nails and it is obvious there is still a small amount of lifting on the nail but becasue they are using cover powder they don't seem to care.

Remember, a fill line is a tiny lifted area and if you are covering it up without fixing it you are leaving an opening for bacteria and water to enter and are also leaving the strength and integrity of the nail compromised so that it is more likely to break or lift in the future.


I will leave you with a Tip of the Week Vicki wrote on this subject many years ago - but, as usual, her advice still stands today

TIP OF THE WEEK #26      FILL LINES by Vicki Peters

One of our biggest challenges is getting those fill lines out when doing pink and white nails. We file and file, get frustrated and finally end up quitting after we see we have filed right into the natural nail and make a big hot spot, making it worse. Can you relate? I can because I did it myself for years.

The only simple solution I have to offer here is if you're having trouble getting those lines out - plain and simple have not done enough filing. Now I am talking the average nail with the average amount of lifting. I am not talking about a set of nails that have yellowed, have major lifting or should have been filled three weeks ago. That is a new set in the making. I am talking about your average client with the average fill challenges.

I know I file better on one side of the nail than the other and you probably do too. So looking at the nail as you file it I can get the left side of the nail down flush and have to work harder on the right side. So what I do is instead of filing the fill in area at the cuticle to a point (Like a upside down V) I file across the nail at the cuticle area from side to side instead. I hold the nail sideways so I am viewing it from the "profile" and I can see that I am not digging into the natural nail and I file from left sidewall to right sidewall, taking all the product off at the cuticle area down about 1/3 of the nail. I can see that I am graduating the acrylic down to the natural nail for no lines.

This may seem silly that I am taking off more product than needed but it does two things here: 1. Get the lines out quickly and 2. Refreshes more of the product keeping the nail more stabilized in the long run. I find that I do less new sets because I kept the nails more refreshed in color and retention by doing more filing.

You also want to file the entire nail and take off 25% of the top surface. This also refreshes the nail and removes any discoloration. When I filled I usually pulled a bit of the pink at the cuticle area over the entire nail replacing that 25% with clean new pink acrylic, which also helps to keep the nails in a more stabilized shape. You can us clear for this as well not worring about pulling the pink over the white.

Now if one of the lines eludes you - you have a few options here:
  1. Most cushioned files are too fat to see what you're doing, use a Flowery Silver Streak thin wood 180/180 board to get into tight spots. Or one similar. CND has some nice wood boards.
  2. Use a file that does not bend as you file with it - you will have more control over what you're doing. EZ Flow has a great 150/150 cushioned that is sleek and can get into tight spots and will not bend. If you're bending your files maybe try a higher grit - you may be pressing too hard trying to do something your file cannot do - so go up one grit and maybe you won't have to press so hard.
  3. Use your electric file instead of your file. Now many of you may be afraid of this and the key is to use a cone bit and keep the bit on the acrylic and off the natural nail. Use a cone that has a tapered rounded edge or the "V" bit from Kupa - yes it was named after me. It is a carbide cone with a flat cut off tip. Diamond cones are good too. I use the "V" bit on my cuticle areas after I have done my shaping. Aseptico and Medicool have some beautiful soft tipped cone bits you may want to try as well.
  4. Use your dehydrator - like CND Nail Fresh, OPI's Bond Aid or a comparable product. If you think you have not filed enough, a way to check is to dust the nail, apply the dehydrator to the nail, quickly, as it is still wet it will give you a window to what the nail will look like when the acrylic is applied. You may have filed enough and don't know it and this is a sneak peek into the future to see if you got the line out or not. Don't be afraid to do this two or three times, just to make sure.
  5. Don't let the dust fake you out. Sometimes we are trying to file the dust  thinking it is a line - so clean it out with your dehydrator and see if it  was only the dust.
  6. Use NSI's Line Out. This is an incredible product and one of a kind.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions and after cleansing the nails apply  Line Out to the fill line. Now I can't express this loudly enough, this is  not the answer to your lifting problems and it should not be used as a  crutch. If you have lifting problems then you need to address your  application procedures. NSI's Line out is for those hard to get places and  should be used wisely. I have used it over a bad-lifting area and later down the line that same lifted area lifted again but now I had encased it  with two fills and had to replace the whole nail eventually. I have used it  when I had a difficult line to get out and it worked perfectly. So be wise when using this wonderful product.
So the bottom line is file more, use your files and bits properly and go the  extra mile and you will be pleased with your results. If you want the  numbers to any of the manufacturers mentioned in the tip of the week - you  can look them up in your Nailpro Gold Book. And when you look them up - go  through the Gold Book again and see what a wonderful source guide it really is. Lots of hard work goes in there and I reference it at least once a day.

DISCLAIMER
Any products mentioned in the "Tip Of The Week by Vicki Peters" is not an endorsement of any kind.

Vicki
The Peters Perspective
"When you stop learning your career ends and your job begins"


 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Smile Lines

TIP OF THE WEEK #10 SMILE LINES By Vicki Peters

DISCLAIMER
Any products mentioned in the "Tip Of The Week by Vicki Peters" is not an endorsement of any kind.

When we tackle smile lines in our pink and white nails they don't always come out the way we envision them too and because of that many techs stay away from offering pink and white nails. I hear techs often say, " my clients don't want pink and white nails" yet they get a French manicure which does not make sense to me. I think it is because we are afraid of them so we don't do them. I admit it can me a frustrating technique to conquer, smile lines take time to master and it is definitely hard work but there are some simple steps that can help.

GOOD SMILE LINES / BAD SMILE LINES
A smile line should mirror the shape of the cuticle, so if you were to bend the nails in half they should match. That should be your goal. The sides should be just as high on each side and the center of the smile line be at its lowest point in the center of the nail. The shape should be centered, as the tip of a round nail should be.

THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
We need the right tools to make the job easier and a square brush does not cut it. You definitely need a pointed brush with a perfect tip to achieve a good smile line. The brush should come to a perfect point when submerged in the liquid before wiping. My preference is about a size 7 - 9 oval brush. My perspective on the brush I use is that it is a round brush with a good point with a crimp in the ferule, which makes the brush two sided instead of completely round. I prefer this style of brush because I easily get a flat side to press the product in place and also a good point to the brush for wiping. You can achieve this with a round brush but you have to consciously reshape the brush as you work with it to flatten it out. I also prefer a brush that is not so long it bends as you wipe. It should have some vice to it but if it bends too much you won't have the control you need when pressing the against the white powder as it dries.

  Your white tip powder must be dense enough to get good color. Most of us work with medium to fast set powders and you must completely understand your liquid to powder ratio or you will either make a mess or can't get the product off the brush fast enough. The dryer the white tip product the denser the white color. Blue liquids and how thick the product is can play a part in the final color and we will discuss that later in the application section.

APPLICATION TECHNIQUES
Use a 1-ball method to get the base of the white tip applied. Applying with several smaller balls will show with most products because not every ball will be the exact same consistency and you may see the difference in color. The key is here is having good control of your product. Understanding your liquid to powder ratio and knowing exactly how much liquid to use will give you the control you need. Too wet will make you have to chase it around and too dry of a ball will dry too fast not allowing you the control to press it in place. Now I am speaking about the average size nail, a longer one would take more applications.

STEP 1
Pour enough liquid into your dappen dish so when you submerge your brush it is completely. Then wipe all the liquid out of the brush. Make sure your dappen dish is stable and will not move when you wipe up against the side of the dish.

STEP 2
The dip the brush in to get the amount of liquid you need to pick up a medium to large size ball that will cover the tip area. Place the ball of white tip powder right in the center of the tip with the top edge right on the smile line and not over it. Wipe your brush gently to remove any acrylic in the tip without wiping the rest of the liquid out and bring it back to a point. Wiping your brush will do two things here 1- bring it back to perfect working order and 2- allow the acrylic to start setting up a bit so it is not sticky as you work with it. We tend to dig into our product too fast sometimes making it difficult to control, let it set a few seconds before playing with it.

STEP 3
With your brush that has been brought back to it's perfect shape press the product into place to the left and then to the right and then gently wipe down to the tip, smoothing and covering the entire tip. Be sure not to press too hard or you will wipe the product off.

STEP4
Re-dip your brush to moisten it, wipe the liquid out again and bring it to a perfect point before wiping your smile line. Hold the brush straight up with the tip pointing to ceiling and from the center to the left side of the smile line wipe and then from the center to the right side wipe. You may need to do this two or three times before you get the perfect shape and the product is set enough to stay where you wiped it. As the product dries you may want to wipe slower.

From the time you picked up your product and placed it on the nail and patted the product into place should be about 15-20 seconds at the most. You have to work fast and not waste time wiping your brush, get it done quickly. Then you should spend another 15-20 seconds wiping the smile line, maybe a bit more if your product has not set up too much. If your white tip does sets up too fast try using a bit more liquid.

  STEP 5
  Check to make sure the white product is tall enough from the side view and all the whites match in height. You want to build it up enough so when you apply the pink it meets it at the smile line and barely goes over the white. Too much pink will mute the color. If you use clear and pull it over the white tip that is not tall enough you will not get a sharp look because the white in thin. If you do wipe a bit of the pink over the white remember you are going to file the top surface and you will probably end up removing it.

STEP 6
Add the ears after wiping the smile line to the desired shape. Use small dry balls of product and wipe slowly bringing the edges right up into the sidewalls of the nails without going over and touching the skin. Use the very tip of your brush for application. Be sure to check the sides for coverage making sure you have wrapped the product around the sidewall enough so you don't file it out later.

I apply the white tips to all ten nails at once. It keeps me focused and allows the white to be dry before applying the pink. If you apply the pink right after the white you can press it too hard and smoosh that perfect smile line you just worked hard to apply. After applying the white tips, pour out the liquid you used and pour in fresh liquid for the pink. Most of the liquid you used may be milky from the white powder, which will mute your pink.


STEP 7
Apply the pink or clear powder to all ten nails.

APPLYING OVER TIPS
If you prefer to work with tips instead of sculpts prep your tips and blend them. I prefer to cut my wells out and in doing so I place the cut out area right on the natural smile line if I am not blending. However I learned a new trick in a competition I hosted in Portland, OR, recently. Cut the tip wells out, shape them and place them below the smile line on the free edge and blend more. I say to blend because you want a smooth line. Then apply your white tip powder above the tip smile line at the natural nail smile line and wipe as if you were working on a sculpt not paying attention to where the tip edge meets the nail. It is more work but the end results in good.

  
SOME TRICKS TO MAKING SMILE LINES EASIER
 Some techs wet the nail plate before applying the white tip powder. The reason is to make the product flow better and I see this in nail competitions all the time. However I would not suggest it in the salon. Eventually that nail plate will be overexposed to the liquid and cause problems later, including pocket lifting in the center of the nail. When applying liquid and powder products we should never get the skin or nail plate wet. Using large brushes and pressing the product on the sides of the nail with the belly of the brush makes contact with the skin at the sidewalls and cuticle areas.

Wiping your smile line with another brush and a cleanser product is the safer way, however time consuming switching brushes and dipping into another dappen dish with the cleanser in it. It can be done comfortably when you are used to it so if this is a method you prefer put it right into your systems as you work and it will become easier.

Cutting the smile line out with a tip is another trick I have picked up in a nail competition. Place the white tip product on the nail and let it set about 60%-75%. You must use a full welled tip with a nice rounded top edge that will resemble the shape of the smile line you want to achieve when turned upside down. Size the tips to fit each nail and set them out on your table. With the tip you have already sized out to match the nail, apply the white tip powder on one nail. When the product is dry enough dip the edge of the tip's contact area (holding it with the tip's edge up and the contact area towards the table (another words upside down) into the dappen dish of liquid monomer. With the tip wet but not dripping, like you would a cookie cutter, place the rounded edge of the top of the tip at an angle, in the white tip powder where you want the smile line to be Cut out the smile line by pressing the tips edge into the white tip powder and cutting out the white product. Wipe it away from you. If the product is too wet you may have to use a new tip and do it again, so practice and know your product when it is dry enough to do this perfectly. You may want to finish the smile line for a more perfect shape by wiping it with your brush after cutting it out with the tip. Sounds complicated but it really is simpler that building a smile line and wiping it into shape.

CUTTING BACKFILL SMILE LINES
This is another challenge and takes practice. And believe me there days we do killer smile lines and days when we look at our work and wonder what came over us! Backfilling is one of the most difficult techniques we perform. I use a large medium carbide back fill bit. I like it because it is about 45% the size of a regular barrel bit, I can cut and remove the product without having to switch its, which saves me time.

You will want to make three cuts. Starting on the right side of the nail, from the highest point of the ears section holding the bit with the top edge at a 45% angle make the cut about one 1/3. Curve the cut from the top of the ear to about 4 O'clock on the smile line. Turn the nail so you can view it from the profile and cut the next third flat across the bottom of the smile line. Then turn the nail so you can view it from the top and angle the last 1/3 from the 8 O'clock position up the left side to the top of the left ear. Rock the finger to meet you as you work.

You can also use the French Fill bit the same way or a regular barrel bit. Which bit you find more comfortable to cut with is what you should use. Bits are preference; there is no one bit everyone should use for cutting smile lines.

The idea of cutting a smile line into the nail for backfilling is to make a wall that you can use to press the product right up against when replacing it on the tip. If you cut smoothly enough there may not be a need to wipe the smile line with your brush.

I have seen backfill smile lines cut with diamond bullet bit held flat on the nail and curved around in a back and forth motion to create a smile line. And one of the best backfills I ever had was done with a large tapered rounded tip titanium carbide barrel bit. A smile line was never cut. The tech held the bit at an angle from the smile line area of the nail to the tip making contact from above the smile line to the tip thinning out the entire tip of the nail as you would if you were hand filing. She replaced my white tip powder as if she was doing a new sculptured nail.

SHADOWS
Oh where do these little shadows come from anyway? The elude us and drive us nuts, especially in nail competition. There are several reasons for shadows but don't confuse shadows with swirling or marbelizing.  If you use a product with an extreme blue liquid you may experience what I call swirling. Competitors prefer a clear liquid in competition for this purpose. The bluing agent in the liquid causes this. So blue it enhances any inconsistent liquid to powder application, even if you do it in one ball. If the liquid is extremely blue and you work wet the swirling will be more prominent than when you apply the white tip powder much drier. These companies claim there is just as much white pigment in the white tip powders, and I believe them, however their educators who I have seen apply their products without the swirling have mastered the application of their white tip powder, where we have not. It can be a sensitive application process. But again, you can see the swirling, most of your clients don't.

Shadows appear for several reasons.
You wiped your smile line holding the brush incorrectly. Wiping with a brush that is not held straight up but towards the client will make a cavity in the edge of the white smile line that looks good until you apply the pink and the pink fills up the cavity muting the crispness. Applying the white powder on the lower edge of the natural smile line. The only way I can describe this is when you have a new full set that the edge of the white smile line has grown to the perfect spot right on top of the natural smile line. This is such a precise point that the next day they appear slightly grown out and you can actually see the edge of the natural free edge through the pink acrylic now. Your natural smile line is actually clear. If you apply the acrylic to the top of the natural smile line or above on the nail plate and wipe the smile line so it is very sharp, you will not have a shadow. If you apply the white powder to the bottom of the smile line you may have a shadow. Another reason for shadows is a shadow with the pink over the white. Going back to making the white tip powder tall enough when you apply it when looking sideways will stop this from happening. If you don't place the white perfectly on the smile line and make it not tall enough, you will have to pull the pink over the white tip to make the arch you may need for shape and support. The pink fills in thicker over the white and makes a pink shadow. Make sure the edge of the smile line is straight up and down and bring the pink high enough to meet the white instead of pulling it over. The same thing happens to me when I rush through a set of white tips with pink and white over them. If I don't pay good enough attention to making the smile line of the white tip powder cover the edge of the white tip I applied at the smile line area the pink will fill in and mute my smile lines ruining the crispness I had with the white tips. So I always use clear over white tips when in a hurry so I avoid this happening.

HARMONY & BALANCE
We are artists and we need to be more cosmetic in our thinking when we do a new set. There are so many ways to fudge the shape of a nail nowadays with tips and colored acrylic that we can always produce a nice set of nails even on the most challenging natural nails. I hate to see a new set with white tips that are set up so high on the nail plate there is hardly any pink. There is no excuse for that anymore. Harmony and balance should come into play when creating nails. It is like having the right haircut - it just fits. The strength of any nail is in the product, not the tip or form. Cut those tip wells out and place on the very edge of the free edge to stretch the look of the natural nail or blend them invisible. Place the white tip powder lower than the free edge and use a muted pink to fake the size of the nail. Perfect for that client that wants long nails when she has short nail beds. Design the smile lines the same way. If someone has a short nail bed wipe the smile line lower in the middle - right down to the natural free edge and higher on the sides. Stretch that shape for all you can get. When a client breaks a nail so low with no free edge when you repair it make sure the size of the white tip matches the others. Never make the white longer than the pink, that is the rule for good harmony and balance.

Each smile line should be approximately the same size. By applying the white tip powder on all ten nails at the same time you can focus on the size consistency as you apply. The index, ring and middle fingers should match with the pinky and thumb in proportion.

Working within a system when applying your white powder and wiping smile lines will help you design more consistent smile lines. Practice makes perfect and if you would like to see some perfect smiles lines watch a nail competition. Don't talk during your smile line application, concentrate. Talking is for when you file. Are smile lines really more work? Yes at first, at least until you make it part of your routine and get better at it. Set aside an extra 15 minutes per client when you first start until you get your time down and don't expect perfect smile lines for months. And be sure to establish at the beginning of the appointment that the client is not going to wear polish before you do all that work "showing her your smile" lines!!

WORKING WITH FORMS

Forms are challenging enough but when applying the white tip powder on a form you have to be good control of your product because the form is slightly slicker than a tip can be and your product can run a bit more. Place the white tip powder slightly below the natural smile line and press your product in place staying within the desired lines of the form extension. Those lines are there for a reason so use them to make your application easier. Press the powder up over the form edge to the desired smile line placement and wipe. It is similar to applying over a tip however you need slightly more control over what you are doing because it is easier