This month readers want to know about triple-priming, how hydrogen peroxide works, and why polish stays longer on acrylics than natural nails.
The Help Desk
To prevent lifting, I’ve been told to triple-coat primer. Does this work and is it safe? It never seems to dry completely, so I’m concerned about it creating a situation where fungus can develop.
Shari Finger: There’s no need to worry about the moisture from primer causing fungus under an enhancement, but you do need to worry about fungus if your nails are lifting.
In my salon I allow techs to prime a maximum of three times. But I feel that is. Not the way to go. There are many reasons your nails might be lifting. Take a look at the following checklist to see if your technique is lax in any of these areas:
Lifting Do’s and Don’ts
1. Properly remove any excess cuticle from the nail plate.
2. Remove oil from the nail bed with a sanitizer.
3. Prime per the manufacturer’s instructions.
4. Do not touch, or allow the customer to touch, the nail plate.
5. Make sure the liquid-to-powder ratio is correct for the product you are using. (Don’t work too dry.)
6. Don’t apply the tip to cover more than half the nail plate.
7. Balance the nail properly so that it’s thicker at the stress area and thinner at the cuticle and free edge.
8. For clients with longer nails, make sure the length of the extension is appropriate given the length of the nail bed.
9. Make sure clients don’t misuse their hands. When a client comes in for a fill, note if the polish is worn. If so, it could be a sign that she is misusing her nails.
10. Make sure all chemicals are fresh.
LaCinda Headings: Primer is a great help, but when it is overused it can cause problems to the soft tissue. Most primers are irritating to soft tissue and when the nail plate is over-saturated, it could seep into the sidewalls and down to the nail bed, causing skin reactions such as redness, burning, and swelling. For this reason, you should always follow the manufacturer’s directions when it comes to primer usage.
If you find yourself relying on more than one or two coats of primer, you may want to look at your other prep and application procedures to find the cause of the lifting. Lifting occurs when there is a barrier to adhesion. Cuticle on the nail plate, natural nail shine, and surface contaminants are all barriers to adhesion. Use the proper consistency when applying product and keep the product a narrow margin away from the skin to prevent lifting.
What can you tell me about hydrogen peroxide? I know it will take the colour out of things, but does it sanitize or not? Is it OK to apply this to any cut or scratch, or could someone be allergic to it?
Doug Schoon: Sanitizing is very different than disinfecting. To sanitize means to significantly reduce the number of disease-causing organisms (pathogens) found on a surface, whereas to disinfect means to destroy virtually all pathogens (bacterial spores are the only exception). Hydrogen peroxide is a sanitizer, but not a disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide is a very safe and effective antiseptic for skin and it will not cause skin allergies.
Some nail polishes stain the nails even if I’m using a base coat. What can I do to stop the polish from staining?
Headings: This is a challenge when you have clients who like to switch between French and bright colors. You can try applying two layers of base coat (base coats are usually pretty thin and dry quickly) to provide a thicker barrier against the pigments in the polish. Another option is to apply a coat of resin from a wrap system instead of base coat. Besides protecting the nail from polish pigments, it provides a strengthening layer to reinforce the natural nail. Be sure to prep the nail properly — push the cuticle, remove any shine, and cleanse with the system’s prep product. Use the system’s resin accelerator to dry the resin quickly.
Finger: When polishing a natural nail, you should use a base coat created to retain the health of the natural nail. When polishing an enhancement, use a base coat that was created to seal and fill in any imperfections. If you are already using quality base coats, then get rid of the polish!
Why does nail polish last longer on artificial nails than it does on natural nails? Is there anything I can do to make nail polish remain longer on natural nails?
Schoon: We want our natural nail plates to be flexible but dry nail polish doesn’t like to be flexed, stretched, or twisted. As the nail plate flexes, tiny stress cracks develop in the coating. Moisture can also cause the nail plate to change shape and swell, creating more stress cracks. To add to the problem, moisture coming through the nail plate from the bed can push the polish from the nail. Luckily, artificial nails are not affected by water to the same degree as natural nails. These polymer coatings flex less, so there is less stress cracking. Base coats are your best option to improve polish wear and adhesion. They should even be used over artificial nails to prevent staining.