Nail techs, how often do you get a client whose nail enhancements or polish just can’t seem to stay on? Although clients can share some of the blame for things like using their nails as tools, picking at their polish, or nail biting, sometimes we just have to look into the issues of application and admit what we could be doing better.

Here are 10 reasons why your enhancement services may not be lasting as long as they should, along with strategies to correct your application.

1.  Improper Nail Prep


Any oils, debris, or dead skin on the nail bed can stop product from adhering properly. It’s important to push the cuticles back or very carefully cut them off. Take care not to clip too much as this can easily lead to bleeding and infection. Only get rid of the excess dead skin. Then clean the nail plate with a dehydrator or alcohol. Without these steps, your product won’t stick!

2. Unbalanced Enhancements

When sculpting nail enhancements, it’s important to construct an apex over the stress point of the nail. The location of the apex depends on the length of the nail. Product should be a bit thicker at the point where the nail is most likely to break, and the whole shape should have a natural curve. This balance will make your clients’ nails less prone to painful breaks. And make sure they come in for regular fills!

3. Forgetting to Apply Primer Before Acrylic


Acrylic doesn’t stick well to the natural nail, which is why we use primer in preparation for acrylic applications. Primer is made of monomers that bond to the nail below and the acrylic above. Just don’t apply too much! Excess primer can decrease adhesion as well.

4. Thick Gel Polish Application

Applying thick layers of gel polish can cause it not to cure completely, which leads to peeling. Make sure your layers are thin, and apply two coats for opacity, curing in between. The three-stroke method is helpful: one stroke down the center of the nail, then two on either side.

5. Not Pinching the C-curve

If the nail enhancement you create is too flat and lacks a C-curve, it can look awkward. To create a nice C-shape, pinch the sidewalls of the nail with your fingers or special tweezers when the product has almost hardened. Don’t pinch too hard, or you risk damage to the enhancement.

6. Incorrect Acrylic Ratio


A runny acrylic bead is too wet, and a powdery acrylic bead is too dry. You want a smooth, round bead that will release from the brush quickly and easily for a flawless application. A good bead will be easy to mold.

7. Neglecting to Change UV Lamp Bulbs

If you’re noticing a thicker tacky layer, cloudiness, or air pockets after curing your gel, it’s probably time to change the bulbs in your UV lamp. How often you should change your UV bulbs depends on how many gel clients you see per week. 30-40 gel clients a week? Change bulbs every four to six months. 20 or fewer? Once a year should be sufficient.

8. Not Capping the Free Edge


Gel shrinks during the curing process. If the free edge is not capped, the gel can recede back over the top of the nail. Make sure to run your brush along the tip and free sides of the nail to seal it.

9. Over-Filing

Filing too much leaves your client with a thin, weak nail bed, which is more prone to fractures and breakage, even with enhancements. Thin nails might also cause product to seep through the nail plate, which can trigger allergic reactions. Always be conscious of how much you’re filing, especially as you get close to the client’s natural nail.

10. Improper Product Storage

Product that has gone bad makes for bad enhancements. Store all nail products in a cool, dry place with lids tightly closed. Do not allow your gels to be exposed to any sunlight to prevent it from hardening. Acrylic lids should be closed especially tightly to prevent moisture from the air getting into the powder. If you notice that your polish has become difficult to work with, throw it out.

If you find that you’re guilty of any of these mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. Whether you’re a brand new or seasoned nail tech, they are easy errors to make. Try implementing the corresponding fixes and your applications are bound to last longer. And your clients will certainly thank you!

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