Knowing some of the tricks and shortcuts will make applying fiberglass a breeze.
One of the most common complaints about fiberglass is that you can’t build a pink-and-white nail with it. But fiberglass “queen” Anita Lime proves that you can, as her work on the cover of the September 1994 issue of NAILS Magazine proves. Making clear fiberglass nails that can be worn naturally depends on choosing the right mesh, sizing and placing it correctly, and using the right resins at the right stage.
When purchasing fiberglass mesh, your goal is to find the clearest mesh possible. This is important because you don’t want to see strands of the fabric in the finished nail. The clarity of the mesh is determined by the amount of adhesive on the back side of the material. Adhesives tend to prevent the mesh from soaking up the resin, which makes the strands show through. Therefore, the less adhesive on a mesh, the more transparent it will be when saturated with resin.
To judge mesh without having to test it with resin. Lime says to flip it upside down, pull off the paper, and hold it up to the light. You should be able to see through the weave. If it is heavily covered with adhesive it closes up the weave and you will see this. Also, watch out for tinted adhesive on some mesh, as it will show up, too.
When you need a mesh that is totally see-through, use mesh with no adhesive. This type of mesh is harder to work with, so Lime doesn’t recommend it for daily salon use.
There is an extra step when preparing the nail for laying down the mesh, whichever kind you decide to use. Use out or two thin coals of resin as a base for the nails. This is to help prevent natural nails from being damaged from tip blending. Lime says if you are doing a natural nail overlay, those two coats give added reinforcement.
Although placing mesh on the nail is important, Lime says many nail technicians spend too much time at this part of the service. “It should take only five to seven minutes to place the mesh on 10 fingers; the trick to doing it that quickly is to measure by eye how much material you need to cut,” Lime says.
To gauge the length of mesh you need quickly and properly, determine the length of finished nail the client wants, and then eyeball how long you need to cut a length from the cuticle to the free edge of the nail. This would be from mesh you cut from a strip instead of precuts, mesh. Lime doesn’t use precuts, as she feels they waste too much material. She buys her mesh in two-yard strips.
Be careful when you cut mesh. You want to make sure your scissors are very sharp in order to cut the mesh without picking it up and fraying it. This is crucial because frayed material may curl or lift. Do not use kitchen shears. Lime is so careful on this point that she buys new scissors for competitions. Another trick is when you are pulling the paper off the mesh, cut the maternal after you remove the paper. Only pull off enough for that nail, and you should have no problem.
Laying the mesh on the nail is not difficult, but there are a few points to remember. Put one corner 1/16-inch away from both the cuticle and one sidewall. You already have the cuticle line and the side-wall line sized because it is squared off. Now cut the other sidewall 1/16-inch away from the side.
Affixing the mesh to the nail just light is an area where knowing the secret is pretty important. Now that you have the mesh cut out, press it on the nail once with your fingertip. Do not rub the mesh because that will put oils from your finger on the fibers, possibly causing the dreaded fraying. Some people use a plastic bag over their finger or a glove, but using a light touch only once on the nail should be fine, according to Lime.
As with sizing and placing the mesh, applying the resin is not difficult, but it has its tricks to get it quickly and cleanly. First, saturate the fiberglass (already adhered to the nail) with resin. Apply the resin straight from the bottle. Some resins come in a bottle with an extended nozzle that works great for application, and helps to press the mesh on the nail as well. Lime uses a thinner resin at this point than the resin she uses when building the arch. Apply enough of the thin resin so it doesn’t set up too quickly and to make the mesh clear. If it sets up too quickly, you will see white spots. This step has to be done quickly and the resin needs to be thin and even. If you go too slowly, the mesh will harden and may curl, which will make it show through. This step obviously takes some practice to get the speed and resin amount just right. Activate the resin after the mesh and resin are applied.
Now, apply the thick resin which is used to build the arch and to give the nail its strength and shape. Lime uses a brush with the thick resin, although the versions with extender nozzles will move the product for you.
Now you are ready to apply the final coat of resin. Use a thin coat here for the finishing coat. Let it dry without spraying the activator; there is enough activator from the last coat to let it dry on its own. Another reason for not activating this last coat of resin is that the resin cures more smoothly and leaves and shinier finish, Lime says. “By the time I finish the second hand, he first the second hand, the first hand is dry. You already have enough of a base with the first two coasts, anyhow,” she says. The last coat is important to fill in areas that need smoothing and to level out the entire nail.
Finish the nail as you would an acrylic or natural nail, and let your beautiful work shine! Your clients will have natural-looking nails the can be worn with or without polish.