The Science of Nails

Extreme Nailing

Depending on conditions, clients’ hands and feet may be puffy, moist, and sweaty or cold, dry, and numb. A tech needs to know how to compensate for these changes so she can apply product to a consistent, stable nail surface each time.

While all of us are dependent on thermostats to keep our workplace at the ideal temperature, concessions must be made when the extremes of nature influence the atmosphere of the salon — and the body temperature of clients. Depending on conditions, clients’ hands and feet may be puffy, moist, and sweaty or cold, dry, and numb. A tech needs to know how to compensate for these changes so she can apply product to a consistent, stable nail surface each time.

Heat, cold, and humidity change not only the air and our body temperature, but also the products themselves. An inexperienced tech might wonder what unseen force is messing her up, but with experience (and a few tricks), techs can work around limitations in the product no matter what the season. The next time you’re wondering why the product is unmanageable and making your job so hard, check the thermostat.

Nail Polish
Nail polish is made up of solvents, resins, pigments, and a few additives. As nails are polished, the pigment imparts color and the solvents evaporate to create a vapor, explains Vivian Valenty, founder of VB Cosmetics. In low humidity with comfortable temperatures, the vapor dissipates into the air, moves out of the way, and the surface of the polish cools down and dries fully. In warmer temperatures, the solvents within the nail polish evaporate at different rates; some of the solvents evaporate even before the polish is complete, making the polish on the nail gummy. Add humidity to the equation, where the thick, stagnant air hangs without moving, and problems are compounded. The humidity stifles the air flow that moves the vapor out of the way, disrupting the drying process.

Typically, the drying rate for polish isn’t a problem for techs, since the humidity level and temperature is controlled in the salon. However, in humid areas, clients experience problems when they leave the salon too early. “I’ve had clients tell me their polish was still wet an hour and a half after they had left the salon,” says Vicki Adams, owner of Nail Mogul in Houston. “It’s not wet to the touch, but it can still be ruined because it’s soft underneath,” she explains.

To compensate for polish problems, Jim McConnell from Light Elegance suggests techs use a lamp with a warm fan to aid in the drying process. “A nail polish dryer is suggested, but a red heat bulb with a small fan would work very well,” says McConnell. The idea is to move the evaporating solvents out of the way so more can evaporate to complete the drying process. “Picture a gate at an amusement park,” says McConnell. “If a crowd of people are coming through the gate, but aren’t being moved out of the way, the people in line behind them aren’t going to be able get through the gate.” The same applies to the drying process for nail polish — you need to get the air moving around the fingernails so the rest of the solvents in the nail polish will be allowed to dry.

Next page: Acrylic, hard gels, and gel-polish

 

Keywords:   acrylics     cold weather promotions     effect of weather on nails     Gels     polish  

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