Frequent manicures and thin overlays strengthen peeling nails while allowing the client to wear her nails natural.
nail technician Vicki Peters says she finds peeling nails are most common on the middle and index fingers, and the thumbs. This client's nail has peeled back behind the free edge and the edges are continuing to lift and peel (left). To begin, give the client a natural manicure, pushing back the pterygium and shaping the cuticles (right).
The number-one frustration for women who wear their nails natural is peeling,” says Vicki Peters, nail technician and NAILS Magazine Shows manager. If more than two or three of a clients nails peel back from the free edge, she may need to wear overlays if she wants attractive nails that are all one length. But if she has just one or two nails that peel, she can keep her nails natural.
“She doesn’t have to give up natural manicures,” says Peters. “As the full-service nail technician, you have to know how to modify your service to give the nail strength without giving the client a ‘fake’ nail.” Peters recommends reinforcing the natural nail in one of several ways. She describes here how she services a natural manicure client who has peeling nails.
Book a weekly manicure. “I can’t stress enough the importance of weekly manicures for any natural nail client. Clients with peeling nails especially need them because peeling nails have no strength and tend to tear and break,” she says.
Sometimes weak, peeling nails are caused by age, illness, or genetic codes. More often, however, they are caused by wear and tear from your clients’ hobbies or occupation. Peters educates clients on how to care for their nails between appointments, reminding them that nails are not tools and should not be used to pop open soda cans or pound on a computer keyboard. She instructs clients to apply cuticle cream or oil daily, a strengthening top coat every other day, and to use a fine-grit file to smooth any rough edges.
Reinforce the natural nail. A program that includes strengthening top coat and regular manicures may do the trick, but if the problem is chronic, you may need to reinforce the peeling nail with gel, a wrap, or acrylic. Which product you use depends on the client’s lifestyle and your preference.
First, lightly buff the peeling area with a fine-grit buffer to smooth the unevenness. Be careful not to thin the nail any more than it already is. Next, even out the nail surface by applying a thin layer of gel, wrap resin, or clear acrylic over the peeled area.
Peters usually tries a brush-on gel first because, she says, it goes on fast and thin. “Since I brush it on like polish, the client doesn’t think of it as ‘fake.’ It doesn’t require any primer or mesh,” she says.
If the client is prone to lifting or is hard on her hands, Peters recommends reinforcing the nail with fiberglass or acrylic. “If she wears her nails short and doesn’t abuse them, I’ll apply a fiberglass wrap. If she is rough on her hands, wears her nails long, or is prone to lifting, I use acrylic.
“I only cover about 50% of the nail with the product. I can really buff it and graduate the thickness into the cuticle area. This way, you can’t tell it’s there,” she says. Peters applies a thin layer of product and shapes the edges with a medium-grit file. Then she uses a medium-grit buffer to graduate the thickness and a fine-grit buffer to give it a high gloss.
When applying gel or a wrap resin, pull the product over the free edge with your brush to seal it or the product will lift, says Peters. If you’re applying a wrap reinforcement on a client who wants to wear a French manicure, Peters recommends laying the mesh on a wet base coat of resin, then putting a wet coat of resin over the top and curing as normal.
“Everything should look completely natural. You shouldn’t be able to see anything on the nail,” says Peters. “This is a test of your skills because you’re trying to make one unnatural nail blend in with nine natural nails, which is not as easy as it sounds.”