Q&A

Why are my gels still dull after filing and buffing?

Q.

Why are my gels still dull after filing and buffing? What can I do to change this?

A.

Dull gels can be caused by a few different problems. The most common have to do with curing, file grit, and oil residue on the nail. If gel is not cured for the entire recommended time, it can appear dull. Always follow the manufacturer’s suggested time. Also, not all UV lamps are the same wattage, and some gels require a higher wattage than others. This leads to the most common problem: The bulbs in a UV lamp should be changed after a certain number of hours determined by the manufacturer. A good rule of thumb is twice a year. We change our bulbs when we change our clocks for daylight savings time.

Also remember that gel needs a dry, rough surface on which to stick. A coarse-grit file is needed with most gel lines in order to have proper adhesion. If the surface is not entirely roughed up, the gel will sit differently, and when cured, this could cause it to appear dull.

Finally, I often see technicians touching the surface of the nail plate or gel with their finger after filing. This is a bad acrylic-user habit. Acrylic isn’t as sensitive to oil as gel is, so wiping or feeling the surface of the nail isn’t as detrimental. Gel, however, doesn’t like any kind of oil residue or dust at all, so squash the habit of touching the nail plate with your fingers. There are many different lint-free wipes on the market you can use.

-MaeLing Parrish is a nail tech at Nail Sensation in Columbus, Ohio, and was first runner-up in NAILS’ 2005 AVAs in the Nail Technician of the Year category.

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