Acrylic Nails

Trouble Shooter: Taking the Heat Off Clients’ Nails

If your clients experience a burning sensation during a nail service, chances are you’re preparing the nail improperly or applying the product incorrectly.

Wood also cites improper etching of the nail plate as a probable cause for the burning sensation when applying primer, saying, “Some technicians use a 180-grit or a 200-grit file to do this. Since these finishing files lay flush with the natural nail, they can remove layers of the nail plate and thin it out. I recommend using an 80-grit file for etching, which has ‘hills and valleys’ and doesn’t lay flush with the natural nail. If used correctly, this file will leave the nail plate intact.”

Technicians who use a drill instead of using a file to prepare the nail for the acrylic service can remove too much of the nail plate if they’re not careful, says Wood. In this case, a burning sensation may result when applying primer, she says. This can also occur if the nail technician accidentally drills into the natural nail when doing a fill, says Wood. In fact, improper use of the drill itself, she says, can cause a friction burn to the nail bed.

As a general rule, Wood discourages mixing product lines, which, she says, can result in a chemical reaction that causes a burning sensation.

Deb Bordeaux, director of sales and education for Cosmic (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), who is based in Worcester, Mass., also agrees that primer can causes a burning sensation if not used properly. “Primer is not meant to be applied to the skin at all – it should only be applied directly to the nail plate.” Also, says Bordeaux, if your brush contains too much primer, it can spread into the cuticle area and the surrounding skin or soak through an overly thin nail plate. If your client does feel a burning sensation, Bordeaux recommends immersing her finger in a mixture of baking soda and water for several seconds.

To remove excess primer from your brush, circle the tip of the brush inside the neck of the bottle, then blot the tip of the brush on a clean paper towel, Bordeaux advises.

Another time your client may feel a burning sensation is when the liquid and powder sets up. Explains Bordeaux, “If you use a fast-setting product, as the polymerization process begins, the client may feel heat as the chemicals are setting up,” says Bordeaux. This happens very rarely, though, she says.

According to Pattie Petersen, owner of Basically Natural in Mundelein, III., and an educator for OPI Products (N. Hollywood, Calif.), the only burning sensation she’s ever heard of with acrylics is when technicians use methacrylic acid primer, which can cause a burning sensation if too much is used, she says.

Improper preparation of the nails can also cause a burning sensation, says, Petersen. “Overusing the nipper when removing lifted acrylic during a fill can result in removing layers of the natural nail, which makes the nail bed thin and can cause a burning sensation when using a methacrylic acid primer, she says. “It’s best to file down the acrylic no matter what type of primer you use, but be careful you don’t overfile, which also can cause a friction burn.”

Adhesives Can Burn a Thin Nail Plate

A client with a thin, weak, or damaged nail can experience a burning sensation when it comes in contact with the glue, says Sharon Cooper, a nail technician at Najah Salon in Royal Oak, Mich., and Midwest regional coordinator of education for IBD (Gardena, Calif.). For example, gluing a cracked nail, than applying liquid and powder can cause a burning sensation, which is associated with the curing process of the glue, she says. “The catalyst in the glue makes it bond, which in turn can cause a heat sensation,” explains Cooper.

Also, using too coarse of a file on the nail and then using glue can cause a burning sensation, says Cooper.

Says Petersen, “Using glue that is too thin and too much of it can cause a heat sensation when applying a nail tip. Some people say that thinner glue sets up faster, but setting up too fast can cause a burning sensation. I recommend a medium-viscosity glue. I place on drop on the tip and spread it across the base of the tip, then tap the excess off on my towel before applying it.”

In the case of fiberglass, Wood says some nail technicians place a thin layer of glue over the entire nail to protect the nail plate before applying the fiberglass. “If the glue is applied too thickly in one area or it isn’t spread out evenly over the entire nail, a burning sensation may occur when you spray on the activator,” she says.


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