Acrylic Nails

The Help Desk Answers Your Technical Questions

This month our readers want to know about a shadown on a backfill, a client with a splitting thumnail, and yellowing acrylics. 

Science & Medicine Panelists: Dr. Harvey Abrams, Phoebe Rich, M.D., Doug Schoon, Johanna Youner, D.P.M.

This Month’s Nail Technician Expert: Angie Gross is a nail tech at Soge Hair and Body care in Atlanta

Suzanne Hassinger is a nail tech at Applause Salon in Scottsdale, Ariz.

When doing a backfill I always seem to have a shadow. I think I’ve drilled down deep enough through the pink, but still seem to get this shadow. Is there a surefire way o knowing when you’ve file down enough?

Angie Gross: there are two things i do to guarantee no shadows in my backfills. The first starts with the full set. Although using a white tip for your full set is easier. It is harder to backfill over it with no shadowing. This is because the tip is white through and through, whereas the backfill are is not - it’s one quarter natural nail color where the tip has grown out. When you thin this area out, the color won’t look the same because it’s not the same. So I always use a low-well, natural color (not clear) tip I use the simple line on the low-well tip as a guide for placing the white acrylic during my full set. Just don’t place the tip too far back on the nail and don’t blend away the well.

During the backfill, I file down the entire white area up to where I want my new smile line to start, removing three-quarters of the acrylic. I only blend the pink area of the cuticle side; i do not thin out the entire pink. This leaves me a nice “wall” for the white acrylic to flow into. It also creates crisp, white smile line.

Take your time filling down this area, so you don’t create friction. I use an electric file with a carbide bit on medium to medium/high speed. At this speed, carbides need very little pressure. I swipe over the nail three times and then put my finger over it to check for heat. Repeat this sequence until I get down to where I want to be. I prefer to use a sander band or a diamond bit on very low speeds (they don’t conduct heat like carbides), etching over the new free edge area to perfect my smile line.

Recently a number of my clients returned for fills and their acrylics had all turned yellow. Could that be caused by extra primer or by mixing products?

Doug Schoon: Both of these can be cause for discoloration. Acid-based primers will discolor enhancements on contact. Product should never be applied over wet acid primer and it should never be allowed to touch old product during a rebalance. Also, monomer liquids should only be used with the powder for which they were specially design. The powder carries the ingredient use to harden the monomer liquid. Different companies used widely varying amounts of hardening agent, so it is crucial to use the correct powder. There is no such thing as a “universal” powder.

I have a client with a thumbnail that is splitting at the cuticle. It looks like it might have been split with a razor blade. As the nail grows out a little, it kind of mends back together. What would cause that?

Dr. Abrams: Horizontal depressions across the nail plate, whether at the nail bed of free edge of the plate, are due to temporarily stop growing. When several or all of the nails are involved, it’s usually due to a systemic process such as severe illness or the client taking certain medications such as chemotherapy. When it occurs on just a single nail, it is almost due to a local injury to the proximal nail fold and underlying matrix. Such injuries are often caused by cuticle removers, over aggressive clipping of the cuticle, jamming the nail in a doorway, or habitually “clicking” the nail. It’s common for the nail to look like it mends as it grows out. The nail plate blinds down to the nail bed, making it seem like it has been mended or repaired. Unfortunately, injury to the matrix often results in permanent disfigurement to the nail.

Under what circumstances should you prime more than one time?

Suzanne Hasslinger. If a client has extremely oily nail beds (in which case her skin and hair will also produce more than average amounts of oil) and they don’t stay dehydrated for even a short time after you cleanse them, a second coat of primer may be used. Keep in mind, however, to try everything else first: Properly clean any dead tissue from the nail plate and use an orangewood stick wrapped in cotton to apply a cleanser to exposed nail and underneath. At this time primer can be used. Apply thin coat, avoiding cuticles, and let dry. The nail should be chalky and ready for product. If still oily, apply a second coat of primer and let dry.

How long does it actually take before nail polish is thoroughly dry with base coat, two coats of polish, and top coat?

Schoon: Drying time depends on three things: the formula of the products, the thickness of each coat, and temperature. Even a “fast-dry” formula can take many hours to completely dry if applied in thickly and/or if the hands are in a cold environment. Under normal circumstances, most products will completely dry to a smudge-free finish in about one hour.

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