The Science of Nails

Something to Talk About: Product Lifting

Back when everyone was wearing acrylic nails, it was pretty easy to determine the cause of lifting. Today, with so many different products on the market, the cause is harder to pinpoint. But one thing hasn’t changed: More than likely it has something to do with the tech’s technique.

Some causes of product lifting are out of a tech’s control: Exposure to elements, environmental conditions at the job, and bad habits (particularly picking) on the part of the client all play a role in lifting. But a good place to start troubleshooting is with the person behind the chair.

The technical aspect of our job becomes so routine, we often forget that the smallest change to our prep and application procedures will change the outcome. As a professional, we benefit from an honest evaluation of what our clients’ hands are telling us so we can modify our technique where necessary. Even if you only suspect something you did caused the lifting, an honest approach builds credibility and trust. That conversation could go something like this.

Client: I don’t know what I did to my nails. They didn’t hold up well at all.

You: You do have a lot of lifting; but, oddly, it’s happening only on one hand. Did you notice when it started? Did you do anything different in the last few weeks?

Client: I don’t really know when it started. I felt my hair getting caught and realized the nail wasn’t tight near the cuticle. I may have helped it along, because I sort of picked at it. When I realized it was making it worse, I left it alone.

You: Yes, once the seal is broken, water and debris get under the nail and it lifts easily. The first thing I want to look at is if any of the product ran over your cuticle. If so, it can’t adhere to the nail plate, and you’ll definitely have lifting. Hmm … No, that’s not it.

Client: I heard some medications can cause it, but I’m not on any prescriptions.

You: Short-term medications generally won’t cause lifting. They only affect the nails if they are in your body for long periods of time, such as with chemotherapy. Some say certain heart meds might cause lifting, but their effect wouldn’t show up immediately in the nails.

Client: What else could cause it?

You: Oh, gosh, so many things. Often it’s from oil or dirt being left on the nail. The surface of the nail needs to be cleaned thoroughly or the product won’t bond to it — something as small as someone running her hands through her hair after the nails are prepped can affect adhesion. Another problem could come from not dehydrating the nail’s surface, or from the product being too wet, too dry, or not curing correctly before a tech starts to file. Other times it’s a result of mixing products from different manufacturers or using the wrong light to cure gel. But I don’t do that, so I know that’s not what happened here.

Client: At the last appointment, you got up to do something and I reached into my purse to get my phone. My nails came out with some fuzz, so a rubbed them on my jeans to clean them up. Could that have caused it?

You: Absolutely. It’s a relief to know it wasn’t something I did! Well, now you know all that goes into making sure nails don’t lift — and why I tell clients to keep their hands on the desk.

 

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