I remember, back in my first year as a nail tech, wrestling with my product. I just couldn’t seem to find that sweet spot that allowed me to pick up a bead of acrylic that was just the right size, shape, and consistency to be able to lay it down and build something that resembled a nail. We learned the “three-ball method” in school which, not surprisingly, left me with the impression that I was supposed to be able to sculpt a nail with only three balls of acrylic.
More like the 21-ball method!
You’d think I’d have had that part figured out already, after seven years of doing nails as a hobby on myself and friends. But no. Not even close.
So there I was, day after day, trying to sculpt acrylic nails that looked like nails. Instead of the “I built a big glob and then filed a nail out of it” method.
Then, one day, I ordered a couple of size-14 sculpting brushes. Wow! The difference was amazing and the results were immediate. It was like, suddenly, I was working with a tool that felt right for me. Those two brushes lasted me nine years.
Then I got snared by the competition crowd, and all those educators insisting that you shouldn’t be working with anything bigger than a size-8 brush. And I fell for it. Bought into the whole spiel that using anything bigger than a size-8 was somehow unprofessional or a sign of using the brush to compensate for poor skills.
(sad pouty face)
So I switched out my beloved size-14s for size-8s. I went through so many brushes in that size range. Sure, I can sculpt a set of nails with a size-8 now — with three balls or less even — but it just never feltright in my hand.
Then the “one-ball method” became a sought-after skill and size-22 brushes started showing up all over the place.SIZE-22! Now that’s a big brush! Some of the brushes I see sold as sculpting brushes look more like blush brushes. HUGE.
And the “nothing bigger than a size-8” crowd got pretentious, while the “bigger is better” crowd got defensive.
Well. I can’t really get behind telling someone they’re doing it wrong if it’s working for them. You gotta sculpt your own sculpt, right? In the end, I shrugged it all off and went back to my size-14.
I figure, as long as you can work inside the lines, use whatever brush works best for you. Just remember, it is sorta important to work inside the lines in this business. A brush that won’t come to a point gets monomer all over the finger, which leads to overexposure down the line. It’s sloppy, and sloppy isn’t the brush’s fault, it’s yours. So go big if that’s what you like. As long as you’re working safely and creating nails that your clients love, you’re doing it right.