Client Health

Help Desk

The Help Desk answers all your questions. Today readers ask about deep cracks in feet and the difference between dry skin and athlete's foot. 

Please tell me the difference between cuticle nippers and acrylic nippers. Does using acrylic nippers make that much difference in your fills?

Michelle Fidler: Cuticle nippers are designed to cut the excess skin around the cuticle of the nail. These nippers usually come in four different sizes; 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and a full jaw (this does not pertain to inches). A cuticle nipper is a finer, sharper implement and contains less metal; therefore it does not have the strength to be used on acrylics or gels. If you did, not only would damage the cutting blade, but you could break the implement, thereby voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.

Acrylic nippers - which are designed especially to cut acrylic and gel products - are thicker and contain more metal, giving them the strength to remove the product without breaking or damaging the implement.

Acrylic nippers are used during a fill to remove loose, lifted acrylic. Techs could also use a file or drill for this according to their preferences.

Will oiling your acrylic brush make nails lift or discolor?

Paul Bryson: Many oils will definitely cause acrylics to yellow, and in some cases the oil residue on the brush will noticeable change the working properties of the next set of acrylics. As for lifting, oil gets anywhere near the interface of the natural nail and the acrylic nail. I recommend against oiling your brush.

How do you prevent acrylic from curing too fast in hot water?

Carla Shappelle: When your product is curing too fast in hot weather, I would first check the temperature in the salon, and then the wattage on your light. Stay with a 65 watt bulb to ensure you don’t get rapid evaporation, which will also cause the product to cure too fast. Next, I would try to go wetter with your mix ratio. Always know the recommend mix and go from there.

Pam Karousis: Some product lines will cure faster than others, depending on the mix ratio and other properties of the formula. You might experiment with different products to see if you can find one that works well in heat. Before switching products, you should make sure you’re using a low-wattage bulb in your station light. You could also try keeping the liquid in a cool container and taking out only enough for each service throughout the day (but be careful not to over-cool as crystallization could become a problem).

Why is it that polish tends to stay on acrylic nails better than natural nails?

Doug Schoon: Water passes through the nail plate creating poor natural nail adhesion for polishes. The nail plate will also absorb large amounts of water, causing them to quickly change shape and flex, which affects the wear of any type of nail polish. Artificial nails add thickness and stability to the nail plate and they don’t absorb nearly as much water, so their shape doesn’t change as dramatically as the natural nail. This is the primary reason for the better adhesion of nail polish to acrylics.

I have had pedicure clients (usually elderly) who have deep cracks in their heels. The cracks don’t bleed or appear to be an open sore. Is it safe to work on these clients? Is there anything the client or I can do to start the healing process?

Dr. Rich: Heel cracks often occur when there is thickening of the skin of the heel which is not supple and flexible, so that minor pressure causes it to crack. Gentle exfoliation after soaking the feet well will help some. The main way to manage this problem is to keep the skin very soft and flexible in that area. Use a moisturizer that has a keratolytic (a substance that dissolves thick keratin in the outer dead layer of skin called the stratum corium).

The moisturizer that works best for my patient is Am Lactin (available over the counter), which has ammonium lactate, gently keratolytic. The client must use it daily for several weeks to be effective. Do not apply it to the cracks because it can sting. The cracks can be sealed temporarily with liquid bandage (available in drugstore). Keratolytics are urea and even some of the AHAs. If your client with cracked heels is diabetic, you must use extreme caution so that she does not get a serious infection in her skin, she should see her her doctor if she has cracks anywhere on her feet that appear to be open sores.

Also, a type of fungal infection called moccasin tinea pedis can cause scaling and thickening of the heels. That would need to be treated with an antifungal cream. Lamisil cream and Lotrimin ultra (not regular Lotromin) are the best over-the-counter antifungal creams; both were previously prescription antifungal creams (terbinefine and bultenifine respectively) and are very effective.

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