Acrylic Nails

Seven Secrets for Beautiful Tips

Katie Craddick goes over her tips for applying tips. 

As the director of technical research and product development for Nu Art Beauty Products, I am constantly being asked. “What are the secrets to applying durable and long lasting nail tips?’

The first secret is a basic understanding of the product. For example, is the tip you are using made of an ABS plastic or another type of plastic? There is a difference. The ABS plastic tips hold up better to varying heat conditions and job related impact problems over those tips made from other types of plastics Also ABS plastic tips do not require special polish removers since they are acetone resistant, and the product is compatible with all acrylic products available on the market. Another area to examine would be to familiarize yourself with the different shapes and contours that nail tips are manufactured in. By examining all the tips and their shapes you can best choose a tip that will fit the overall look of your customer’s hands.


This is very simple I would recommend the selection of an ABS plastic tip that will best fit the overall look for your clients hands.


Have your equipment at your station clean and ready to go to work. For a straight tip application I recommend you have your selection of tips, cuticle scissors or nail clippers, a medium fine grade emery board, a buffing disc and glue.

Make sure your customer’s nail bed is clean and healthy if necessary, push back the cuticle and shape the free edge of the nail so it will properly fit the recessed area of the nail tip to be used.



Nail tips are manufactured in a number of sizes generally ranging from “1,” the widest, to “10,” the narrowest. Most manufacturers stamp each tip with its size number. Select a nail tip size that will best fit the nail bed to be worked Once in a while a nail tip, regardless of its size, may be just a bit to wide for the nail bed it is to be applied to When this happens, simply file the edges of the tip as necessary to eliminate any contact with the cuticle.

Prior to gluing the tip on, many manicurists will cut the recessed area out of the tip when they are going to do an acrylic overlay. They seem to think that the acrylic overlay will bring back or add to the strength of the tip. This is a dangerous philosophy. Never cut the recessed area out of a tip. As you can see in Figure A, the manufacturer designs a “stress point” into the tip 30 if a breakage should occur it will happen at that point. This stress point of the tip is always positioned at the free edge of the natural nail. You can see in Figure 8 how the stress point is moved when the recessed area of the tip is cut out and acrylic is used as an overlay. The stress point moves directly over the nail bed. Our experience has been that when a breakage occurred, it cracked in the acrylic over the nail bed and in many cases actually caused damage to the natural nail bed itself.

As you well know, a crack in the natural nail bed is extremely dangerous to the customer, as well as cause for a lot of pain There is no need to put your customer as well as your reputation in this kind of jeopardy 1 am not saying you cannot use an acrylic overlay- I am saying only that you must never cut the back of a tip out to do an overlay. Apply the acrylic overlay over the entire tip and keep your application of product thin. In other words, let the tip do the job it was intended for.

In summary, secret #3 is actually a three in one secret. Select the proper size tip for the finger. If any part of the recessed areas of the tip overlaps the cuticle you should file the area down only enough to eliminate the overlap. And last but most important, never cut out the recessed area of a nail tip.



There is a number of instant glues on the market today; I have found that the thickest consistency glues work the best for tip application. The thickest glues are easier to control thus eliminating mess and air pockets Air pockets occur when the glue has not been applied properly and will show up as white spots indicating airspaces between the tip and natural nail. Air pockets are undesirable because of the possibility of fungus growth and the nail tip may come off at a most inopportune time such as right in the middle of a romantic dinner (Realizing that she has lost a nail, your client may end up looking for it in the meat loaf or the tossed green salad).

Never rough the bed prior to tip application. Roughening the nail bed does not make the tip adhere better and only causes unnecessary damage to the natural nail bed. Be sure to clean the nail bed with alcohol to remove any excess natural oils from the bed itself.

Now apply a small oval drop of glue down the center of the natural nail. That’s correct, apply the glue to the natural nail The glue drop should extend from the free edge of the nail back to where the recessed area of the tip will fit. Don’t get carried away with the amount of glue used. It should only require a small amount. By applying the glue to the nail bed, the glue will spread more evenly when the tip is applied and thus reduce the possibility of air pockets.

Place the tip over the nail, making sure the tip is properly positioned and that the recessed area is fitted up against the free edge of the nail. While holding the tip in place, and supporting the finger being worked, apply a slight downward pressure to the tip. After just a few seconds, release your pressure and check the tip for proper contact or air pockets and remove any excess glue.

In summary, secret #4 is the use of a thick glue that is applied directly to the natural nail without roughening the nail bed.



There is realty no great secret to trimming. I prefer to use cuticle scissor to cut the free edge of a nail tip to the desired length that will best suit the customers hands. Using a 120 or 180 grade emery board, I then recommended finishing the shaping of the free edge of the nail tip.



With the nail tip glued into position, you will now file the nail tip recessed area edge covering the natural nail bed. The secret here is to blend or feather the edge of the recessed area to the natural nail bed as shown. In the photo you can see where one half of the tip has been blended to the natural nail bed and one half has been left so you can see the difference of before and after.

The blending of the edge is started with what I consider a medium fine emery board with a grade of 120 to 180. As you start to blend the nail tip to the nail bed you must be careful not to file too hard. Too much pressure could cause unnecessary damage to the nail bed area.

Keep in mind that filing is a two- part operation. Once the basic blending has been completed you will finish out using a fine grade buffing disc. Buff the blended area until it is smooth to the touch.

Remember, you only want to file enough of the recessed area so as to maintain a nice contour between the tip and the natural nail bed.

Secret #6 then is a matter of technique in blending the recessed area of the nail tip to the natural nail bed.



There are any number of ways of finishing out a set of tips including acrylic overlay, a silk wrap, a linen wrap and the list goes on. For a straight tip application 1 like to finish out by applying two very thin coats of glue over the entire recess area and then wiping off any excess. This helps to seal the tip in case of any small imperfections in the tip surface then help the customer select a polish color and apply the polish to the tips.

There is one final note: when dealing with an acrylic overlay you only need to prime that area of the natural nail bed that is not covered by the tip. There is no need to prime an ABS plastic tip.

In conclusion, I sincerely hope the techniques presented in this article as secrets will not be misunderstood. These techniques do work, and, when put to proper use, will improve your ability, save time, increase customer satisfaction and your profits.

Facebook Comments ()

Leave a Comment


Comments (0)

Subscribe to NAILS & SAVE!

Get a free preview issue and a Free Gift
Subscribe Today!

Please sign in or register to .    Close
Subscribe Today
Subscribe Today