Acrylic Nails

The Help Desk

Get the scoop on laying acrylic, product contamination, and wide nail beds.

I’m a newbie. How can I lay acrylic on a nail without it going onto my client’s cuticle?

Tanis Darling: Practice is the key. Use a practice finger with a tip on it to perfect the art of applying the acrylic ball at the cuticle. Usually the suggested ratio this ball makes it a little wetter (check you particular manufacturer’s instructions) and the ball should be smaller if you are sculpting or tipping with a three-ball method. It is important that you lay the acrylic down at the cuticle not on the cuticle-as this will cause overexposure and lifting-not to mention discomfort for your client while you remove the excess product from her skin.

Using the tip of your brush, lightly touch the back edge of the acrylic ball at the center at approximately a 45-degree angle. Press, pull, or pat (again, depending on your manufacturer’s instructions) through the center of the ball. Then, repeat this action on the left and right side of the acrylic ball. This will ensure a thin application at the cuticle to establish a tight yet flexible bond to the nail. It will also create a softer-looking outgrowth between the natural nail and acrylic product, which will please your client between appointments.

Lynnette Diaz-Madden: First, be sure to read your manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as every company has its own directions and recommends different liquid-to-power ratios. The ball your place at the cuticle area should be much smaller than the balls you place on the stress and nail bed areas. Until you get your technique down, I suggest that your use an orangewood stick to lightly swipe around the cuticle area immediately after placing the product. This will give you the right amount of distance between the product and the cuticle. Check with your local distributor to see if it offers classes, or call the company that makes the product you’re using to see it offers a video on application.

Can reused monomer become contaminated and cause or spread fungus?

David Dyer: No, the organic solvents in the solution will destroy any disease-causing germs in the product. It would really have to be a monster germ that could survive exposure to those types of chemicals. But remember, when the organic solvents have dried out, such as after the acrylic nail has cured, the germ-killing power of the monomer is gone. 

Doug Schoon: Monomer does not contain water, so neither bacteria nor fungi can survive in it. There’s no need to worry about this as a potential source of infections. Both nail enhancement brushes and monomer liquid are “self-disinfecting.”

Some of my clients have nail beds that are wider than the widest (size O) tips. How can I place the acrylic so that the tip will look right?

Lynette Diaz-Madden: Many manufacturers offer tips that have “cut-outs” in the middle, which allow a little give for those with wider nails. It is not wise to use tips that are smaller than the nail, because over time, the tip will pop off the nail. Should you find the cut-out tips are still too small, try this technique: Place a paper form under the new tip. Use your white powder and sculpt out on the sides, making sure to bring the acrylic over the whole tip. If your client wears colored polishes, you could use pink or clear powder. Your other choice is to sculpt all the nails so you can control the look and width of the nail. To give those with wide nail beds a thinner-looking nail, taper them in slightly on the sides, rather than squaring them off.

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