Mastering the art of nail enhancement application is downright frustrating. And finding someone to help you and answer your question is even more frustrating. One of the most common problems among new technicians is the time it takes to apply a set of enhancements. Follow my five-step program and you to will be doing sets and fills in an hour.

Step #1 Engage in Problem-Solving

Begin by eliminating all the things that can slow you down.

Problem: Your client arrives late and you’re not fast enough to make up the time.

Solution: Develop and enforce a tardy policy.

Problem: Your client arrives with broken nails that need to be soaked off.

Solution: Ask your clients to call ahead and schedule extra time if this happens.

Problem: Your client has put three coats of glitter polish over dark red polish. It’s going to take you at least 15 minutes to remove her polish.

Solution: Use acetone to remove polish. (Yes, I know they told you not to do that; trust me it works.)

Problem: You’re so focused on your work or lost in conversation that you lose track of time.

Solution: Place a small clock on your table where only you can see it. Or wear your watch on the side of your wrist. When you’re holding a customer’s had you can glance over at it. If you play music in your salon, maker CD where every hour the music style changes (i.e., rock to jazz to classical). Whatever you choose it is important that the customer never knows that you’re watching the clock. You never want to give the impression that you’re in a hurry.

Problem: Busy phone due to clients booking appointments are great, but each calls eats up a lot of time.

Solution: If you don’t have the luxury of a receptionist, you will need to rely on voicemail or an answering machine. Clearly explain in the message that you are with a client and will return the call at a certain time. Stating the time that the call will be returned ensures the clients gives the number where she can reached at that time. By consistently returning the calls as stated in your message, your clients will become comfortable with this type of communication.

Problem: A first-time client arrive a few minutes late; she need to wash her hands and fill out a client card. By the time you can get started you have already lost at least 10 minutes.

Solution: Schedule al first-time clients 15 minutes early.

Step #2 Quicker Acrylic Application

Most technicians lose the majority of their time in the actual application of acrylic. To cut your application time, complete submerge your brush in monomer. With your brush fully loaded, release the excess monomer by wiping the belly of the brush on the edge of damper dish. Acrylic brushes are designed to release monomer as you out the product into position. Develop the habit of patting each ball only three to four times and brush back three time to blend. This techniques creates a smooth nail and will also cut your filling time. Do not apply acrylic like you’re polishing a nail or part and brush back so many times that you create groves and bumps in the nail.

Step #3 Stay in the Zone

Another trick to acrylic application is to divide the nail into sections (see illustration 1). This takes some practice, but it’s worth it. This teaches you how to judge the size of your ball and how much area it will cover and to gain product control.

Step #4: The File Is Your Friend

Are you a file queen? The key to cutting time in the filling process is, first, to master the acrylic application. It really is simple – only apply as much product as need and where it’s needed. Always be an artist and use your brush to do all of the work.

When filling, again separate the nail into zones (see illustration 2). Practice filling in this order, and don’t go on to the next area without completing the area you’re working on. When you finish the last zone, you’re done with a nail. Often when I am working with technicians, I can tell they have no idea when they are done with the nail. By following this illustration you will become an efficient filer.

Use at least half of your file. Take a little test filing out your next nail: Flip over your file and see how much of the file has been scored. You will be able to see how much of the file you are using. Filing out a nail by taking short strokes will take you much longer. Let the file work for you. 

Step #5: Challenge Yourself

Sit down with a good a friend and a stopwatch. Have your friend time each stage of your application. You can use this information to pinpoint where you are losing most of your time. And it will give you a timetable to beat. Set up regular sessions where your friend can time you. Try to cut a minute or so from each time. Once you are aware of how much time it takes to each step, it is easy to shave minutes off here and there.

Increasing your speed can literally add thousands of dollars to your income each year. It also can increase your customer retention. Everyone is on schedule, and even though clients like getting their nails done, they do not want to spend the afternoon in the salon. They want quality nails that can be done on their lunch hour, on the way home from work, or before they pick up the kids from school.

Shari Finger is the owner of Finger’s Nails Studio in W. Dundee, Ill. A nail tech since 1987 and a frequent contributor to NAILS, finger offers generic nail education nail classes through her Nail U program.

Illustration #1 Acrylic Application by Zone

With practice, dividing the nail into sections will save time.

Illustration #2 Use Consistent Filling Technique

After shaping the free edge, file the nail in this order. Cuticle area, right side of the nail bed, left side of the nail bed, surface of the free edge.

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