The NAILS Help Desk Responds to Your Questions

This month readers want to know about odorless acrylics, diabetic clietns, and splinter hemorrhages. 

Before applying a quality base coat, I wipe the nails with acetone to cleanse. My polish still chips in one to two days. What am I doing wrong? Is alcohol a better polish prep?

Sue Irwin: While acetone is a great solvent for glues, fats, oils, and waxes, pure acetone can cause peeling and splitting, skin rashes, and nail brittleness.

Although alcohol has many uses as an astringent, when cleansing the nail plate prior to polish application, we want something that leaves no oils or residues behind. Rubbing alcohol is typically only about 70% pure. Substances called “denaturants” have been added to make it undrinkable; these denaturants are usually a type of perfume oil. The addition of the oil defeats our purpose.

Instead try any one of a number of products developed by the professional nail industry to cleanse the nail without leaving a residue. These products are generally intended for cleansing the nail prior to artificial application, but they transition well for polish application.

As for chipping, the first place to look is at the condition of your polishes. Polish chipping typically indicates that it has either been applied too thick or the polish itself has gotten too thick. Consumers have a natural tendency to apply thicker coats; however, if the polish is professionally applied, the problem more likely is that the polish has thickened.

If this is the case, thin it with a compatible polish thinner. Never thin polish with polish remover—removers are formulated to break down polish chemistry for easy removal.

Can you address splinter hemorrhages? How are they caused?

Dr. Phoebe Rich: Splinter hemorrhages are tiny dark brown or black ap­pearing lines that run lengthwise in the nail. They look like wood splinters under the nail but really have nothing to do with foreign objects like splinters.

They are very common and are due to tiny bleeding points in the nail bed under the nail plate. The reason they are oriented longitudinally is that the nail bed is made up of a lot of longitudinal parallel grooves, the base of which contains capillaries. If there is a minor bump to the nail, a small drop of blood from one of the capillaries can run into a groove and take the form of a splinter hemorrhage. Most splinter hemorrhages are due to minor trauma to the nail, but they are also seen m psoriasis of the nail and some nail fungus. Most of them occur in the distal (toward the free edge) third of the nail. If splinter hemorrhages form near the cuticle it could be a sign of an internal medical problem like endocarditis or trichinosis.

Science & Medicine Panelists:

Phoebe Rich, M.D., Doug Schoon, Johanna Youner, D P.M

This Month’s Nail Technician Experts:

Sue Irwin is national sales & marketing manager for Poshé (Dallas).

How can I make odorless acrylic products cure faster?

Doug Schoon: Using an incorrect ratio of liquid to powder is the most common mistake made when using liquid-and-powder products. This is especially true for odorless products. In general, the wetter the mix ratio, the slower the cure. Odorless products require a very dry bead consisting of equal parts liquid and powder. Why? Odorless products aren’t fast-setting, by nature. The curing agent is found in the powder, so if you use too little powder the product will cure even slower and make the enhancement weaker. Using the correct ratio is very important and cannot be ignored. The ratio is determined by the product’s chemistry, not nail tech preference. This is true for all liquid- and-powder formulations.

The best way to tell if you’re using the proper ratio is to make a bead as you normally would and set it on a tip without pressing. Watch the bead for 10 seconds. For odorless products, the bead should hold its shape without sagging or drooping. The proper mix ratio will ensure the best set time and help prevent service breakdown.

Salon temperature is also important. Odorless products are especially sensitive to cool temperatures. Use a warming pad under your client’s hands to keep them warm and increase the wattage of your table lamp to 100 watts. I do not recommend warming your monomer liquid. Devices that warm the monomer can speed evaporation and cause the chemical makeup of the liquid to change more quickly. Overall, it’s far better to control the temperature of your work area and use the correct product ratio than to heat your monomer liquid.

My rule for servicing diabetic pedicure clients is never to use cuticle nippers or cut anything. My diabetic client told me her physician, who specializes in diabetics, said that it was OK to nip cuticles as long as the patient has feeling in her feet. Can you please clarify this for me.

Dr. Rich: Great question. I agree entirely that you should not cut the cuticles (technically, the eponychium) of a client with diabetes. Diabetes is a complicated, multi-system disease and two pertinent problems of diabetics are 1) increased susceptibility to infection and 2) loss of sensation in their lower extremities. This combination is a disaster waiting to happen. If during a salon service a diabetic experiences an accidental nick or cut around or under her nails and cuticles, it may escape notice due to the lack of feeling and could ultimately result in a serious (limb-threatening) infection. So I agree with you— don’t cut diabetics’ cuticles.



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