Ok, so it’s true that nails have to breathe and there’s no real reason to soak off a perfectly good set of nails. To find out what circumstances do warrant a fresh full set, we asked two nail techs known for their high standards when they fill and when they remove.

Maisie Dunbar, owner of M&M Nails & Wellness Center in Silver Spring, Md., rarely soaks nails off unless there is discoloration of the product. “My clients usually wear their nails very short, therefore we are consistently cutting back and applying new product,” she explains. “But if the client is a tanner (which may lead to discoloration), we may have to remove product every four to five months.” As a general guideline, Dunbar recommends removing old acrylic if a client is experiencing serious lifting, product yellowing, or fill lines you can’t get rid of.

Rhonda Taylor of Nubiance Hair & Nails in Stone Mountain, Ga., soaks off nails if the client wants a fresh look—such as two-color acrylics—or if she encounters uncontrollable air pockets, fill lines, or excessive aging of product. “If a client wears her nails too long between fills, it may be necessary to remove and redo,” says Taylor, adding that if a client breaks or badly damages a single nail, she prefers to soak and start from scratch.

Taylor makes one exception to her minimal soaking policy: “All new clients must remove their old acrylic and start fresh with me—no ifs, ands, or buts about it,” she says. “If I work behind another tech, I either need to fix or improve what she has done, which just requires too much time and energy. Plus, I don’t like to mix product lines.” An additional benefit of removing new clients’ nails, says Taylor, is that she can evaluate the natural nails to see if fiberglass or gels might be a better option for that particular client.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.