Elaine Watson — global education director and vice president of marketing for Star Nail — shares some of her favorite technical tips:

1. Use a stick of spaghetti to pick up rhinestones. Dip the spaghetti in water and the starch becomes sticky. Then use it to pick up the stones. If you get top coat or glue on it, just break off the tip and redip it into water.

2. When creating 3-D colored acrylic designs that require prefabrication, you can add a little bit of acetone to your monomer to make the molding stage last longer. This gives you more time to bend and manipulate the design before it hardens.

3. For an interesting look you can tint your monomer with drops of any non-metallic polish. Just add several drops to some monomer and use it with your clear or white powder. The possibilities are endless and really cool.

4. Don’t be afraid to work with different consistencies when using colored acrylic. Different flowers require different consistencies. For example, to get really beautiful leaves you should work very wet. Since you are working very thin and tiny, you don’t have to worry about incorrect ratios. Your final cap of clear acrylic over the entire design will give you the strength and structure.

5. On really hot days, or in a warm salon, keep your gel cool by putting it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before your service. This will prevent fast self-leveling into the skin.

6. To prolong the life of your resin (nail glue) store it in the refrigerator.

7. To keep your nylon gel brush in top condition, try not to clean it in alcohol too often. This dries it out and fans the hairs. I always leave a bit of gel on my brush and pinch it in paper towel, then pull to wipe off the excess gel. Then I put a light-proof cover over it to prevent exposure to UV light that might cure the gel and ruin the brush. I always keep spare brushes for colored gel and keep a brush just for clear, pink, and white gel.

8. A tip for airbrushers: The centers that you pull out of your nail forms (the kind on rolls) are perfect to use as a stencil when doing a French manicure.

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