Your clients look to you to keep their hard-earned natural nails in tip-top shape. With a little help from your favorite nail products, you can handle common natural nail problems easily and prevent them from recurring.
Manicures and natural nail care are on the rise. Still, when faced with occasional problems like breaks, cracks, splitting, and discoloration, you’ll often find your favorite nail enhancement products will keep natural nails looking their best. When discussing a needed repair with your client, try to use language that emphasizes the natural nail, such as “nail enhancement” or “natural nail support.” Doing so will help clients appreciate what technology can do for them, without giving up their “natural nails.”
It’s also important to help natural nail wearers develop habits that will preserve their nails. If breaks and splits do occur, our client hand-out teaches at-home emergency fixes and makes sure they have the right tools on-hand.
Problem #1: Breaks
Possible causes: Broken nails are commonly caused by using the nails as tools or subjecting them to rough use. Nails that have grown too long for a client’s lifestyle may be susceptible to breaking. Seasonal changes may also cause dehydration, leaving nails weaker and more prone to breaking than normal.
Repair: How short is the break? If just a small amount of length is lost, filing the other nails to match may be an option. If the remaining nail is very short, a nail extension will be necessary. The most common extensions would be a tip and overlay or a sculptured extension.
Using a tip and overlaying it with a wrap material (paper, silk, or fiberglass), a thin layer of liquid and powder, or a layer of gel will produce a repair than can grow right out with the nail. Keep the overlay very thin at the cuticle and as the nail grows and the client returns for manicures, simply buff the overlay and shorten it appropriately. You can use your favorite brand of nail enhancement product to achieve natural nail repairs. The goal is to keep them as thin and natural-looking as possible.
Long-term care: Encourage clients to schedule regular manicures. Instruct them to use nail and cuticle oil and high-quality hand lotion on a daily basis. Keep the nails at an appropriate length and show the client how to file her fingernails at home.
Problem #2: Cracks
Possible causes: Dry, brittle natural nails are more prone to cracking than their moisturized, well-cared-for counterparts.
Repair: Sometimes all that is needed to stop a crack is to file the fingernail. Other times it will be necessary to apply a partial overlay to support the area until it grows out. Fiberglass or silk wraps are well-suited for this purpose.
Long-term care: Keep nails moisturized. If you see that nails are cracking, assess the activity level of the client. A shorter nail may be more appropriate.
Problem #3: Discoloration
Possible causes: Natural nails are porous and are susceptible to staining and to absorbing agents that affect the color of the nails. Common staining agents include self-tanning products, cosmetics, nail polish pigments, and cigarette smoke.
Repair: To remove surface stains, manicure and lightly buff the surface of the nails using a very fine natural nail buffer before applying a professional base coat and polish. Investigate nail whitening scrubs and soaks made specifically for natural nails. Resist the urge to use preparations and chemicals not designed for human tissue. Prevention of stains is your best solution.
Long-term care: Wearing gloves when doing housework or chores in the garden will protect your client’s manicure. Encourage them to avoid contact with staining agents and always use a base coat to protect from nail polish stains. Keeping the nails moisturized will prevent them from soaking up staining agents. When discussing staining with clients, try using the analogy of a sponge. When the sponge is moist it does not absorb spills, but dry or wrung out it will soak up anything wet.
Problem #4: Splitting
Possible causes: Splits in the fingernail may be due to a defect in the matrix, a trauma, or both. Splitting is commonly seen in clients with severe ridges.
Repair: A natural nail overlay can prevent the split from continuing. Using language like “nail enhancement” or “overlay” will help your clients see this service as support for natural nails, rather than something artificial.
Long-term care: Splits may tend to occur in the same place again and again. Regularly manicuring the nails will prevent splits from traveling. Hot oil and paraffin treatments, along with a good home-care regimen, may help re-hydrate the nails. Encourage your clients to pre-book appointments and stay on a regular schedule of weekly manicures.
The Wrap: Perfect Preventative Care
Some clients with important events planned may choose to have a set of overlays applied to protect their natural nails from breaks. A natural nail with an overlay is much stronger and can be worn a little longer than a virgin natural nail uncovered.
A simple wrap could be accomplished by lightly removing the oil shine from the nail with a very fine abrasive (240-grit works well), then cleansing the nail with a dehydrating prep product or pure acetone. Brush on a thin coat of professional nail adhesive. Apply a small piece of fiber material (paper, silk, or fiberglass) that has been precut to the shape of the nail with small cuticle scissors. Apply a coat of brush-on nail adhesive over the wrap and allow the nail adhesive to dry before buffing with a three-way buffer.
Erin Snyder Dixon is a nail technician, salon owner, and author based in Newport News, Va.
Keep clients on course with this Client Handout