Honing Your Skills

Enhancement Troubleshooter

You learned a lot in school, but once you start working full time with clients you’ll see that minor mishaps with nail enhancements will occasionally pop up to frustrate and challenge you. To help you out when they do, here's some handy troubleshooting advice on fixing the more common acrylic and gel problems.


Problem: A line where the tip joins the natural nail

Solution: Etch the top surface of the well with a 100-grit file before application. When the tip is on the nail, brush tip blender or acetone over the etched area. Wait about 20 seconds, then use a 100- or 180-grit file to roll the softened plastic off the well area. Then graduate to a 240-grit to complete the blending. Tip: Try using well-less tips.

Problem: Nails “pop” off in one piece

Solution: Possible causes are: 1) Product applied over the cuticle. 2) Oil left on the natural nail. 3) Over-prepared nail plate. File natural nail very lightly only. 4) Product was applied too dry. 5) Forgot to prime. 6) Tip covered more than half the nail bed.

Problem: Cloudy pink or clear acrylic on the nail bed

Solution: Try using a wetter application. Also, make sure your monomer is not contaminated with residue from the white powder. Use a separate dappen dish of monomer for the white powder and the pink or clear powder.

Problem: Bubbles in the pink or clear

Solution: Submerge your brush completely into the monomer, press the side of your brush down on the bottom of the dappen dish, then lightly wipe the extra liquid on the side of the dish. Another method is to set the ball of acrylic on the nail bed and, using the belly of your brush, press the acrylic flat. For beginners, try submerging your brush, wipe excess off, and form a smaller ball.

Problem: Pits in white tip after you file out the nail

Solution: Use more monomer with your white powder. (Different ratios apply to different products, so see manufacturer’s directions.)

Problem: Smile line is cloudy, not crisp

Solution: Apply the white near the smile line higher than the pink used to do the nail bed. When the nail is filed out, file the area that is higher away and the smile line will be crisp.

Problem: Lifting around the eponychium area

Solution: Clear all traces of excess cuticle, dust, and oil from the nail plate. Leave a 1/16 of an inch margin between the product and the eponychium area.

Problem: The eponychium area is  thick and has  a distinct ledge

Solution: Use several small balls around the eponychium area. This gives you less product to manipulate before it starts to set.

Problem: Poor C-curve (the nail has a flat appearance)

Solution: Before the product is fully hardened, mold the curvature using a wooden dowel (shown) or sculptured nail form.

Problem: Acrylic setting faster than normal

Solution: Heat will cause your product to set quickly. Beware of spotlights or changes in salon temperature.

Problem: Crystalization (a frosty appearance, usually around the cuticle area)

Solution: Crystalization can be caused by cold temperatures in the salon, because the monomer is cold, or the client’s hands are cold.

For video troubleshooting tutorials, visit www.nailsmag.com/nailstv. You’ll also find helpful information on the latest troubleshooting techniques at www.nailsmag.com/technique.


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