Wraps in the City

byLacinda Headings, contributor | May 1, 2002

Four friends, in the city, having at a chic café. As usual, the talk turns to … nails! Miranda: “My nail tech told me that the itchiness that I got after having acrylics done was an allergic reaction and that I can’t wear acrylics anymore! Just my luck – I finally have nice nails and I have to give them up!”

Samantha: “Oh, honey, my manicurist always tells me how beautifully shaped my natural nails are. I want them longer, but they always seem to break when they get to a certain length!”

Charlotte: “Well, I don’t really like fake-looking nails, but for this important party I’m going to wish mine would all be the same length.”

Carrie: “This is totally amazing! I’m researching an article on nails in fashion (Carrie just happens to be a writer for a fashion magazine) and I found out about an alternative nail service that could solve both problems! I just can’t keep it under wraps!”

Wraps as an Alternative Nail Enhancement Service

Wraps are an overlay that looks extremely natural because it follows the contour of the natural nail. While wraps typically don’t have the strength of acrylic (acrylic can be built up to an ideal alternative to acrylics for clients such as our city girls. Sisters Sharlett and Sharren Wood, owners of All About You in Topeka, Kan., say that offering wraps has allowed them to provide an enhancement alternative in their full service salon.

“For clients with allergies to acrylics or gels, wraps are a great alternative to giving up nails altogether,” says Sharren. Switching to wraps is an adjustment for client used to the thickness and strength of an acrylic, so the sisters generally start those clients out with shorter nails to compensate. They also warn their clients to be more careful until they get used to the lighter, thinner nails.

Sharren and Sharlett also use wraps for brides who want beautiful nails for their wedding day, but don’t want to commit to the upkeep of enhancements. Because wraps are more durable than tips alone and generally easier to soak off than acrylics or gels, they are an excellent alternative to temporary “party nails” or acrylics for these clients. “I get nervous about party tips being too thin,” says Sharlett. “A wrap ensures that not only will the bride get through the ceremony with nails intact, but she’ll make it through the honeymoon as well”

Another use for wraps in the salon is what Sharlett calls “seasonal clients” – clients whose activity (or level of nail commitment) changes with the seasons. Sharlett chooses wraps for her “summer” clients. She also wraps her clients who wear nails in the summer, but tend to not kept them up in the winter.

“Wraps are sure sell for a new tech,” says Sharren, who built her clientele with the service. “It’s easy to create nails that are thin, crystal clear natural looking, and not heavy. Clients are impressed with the look,” says Sharren. “This can be key to building client trust and loyalty.” Another advantage of wraps for a new technician if the when a client breaks a nail, wraps are quick to remove (a wrap can be soak off in just five to 10 minutes).

Wrap Make a Comeback

Liz Robbins, national sales manager at Rudolph International (Brea, Calif.), makers of Soft Touch Wrap System, was surprised by the renewed interest in wraps surprised by the renewed interest in wraps she observed at a recent show. “Interest is going up and I think it’s fueled by the natural nail craze. Clients and techs are looking for a perceived alternative,” say Robbins. “Wrap are perfect for a spa-type atmospheres where scent is crucial.” Even the precursor to the wrap, the “Juliette” (simply tea bag paper glued to the nail and wrapped around the free edge) is enjoying a comeback with the recent release of the Juliette Natural Nail Wrap System by INM (Anaheim, Calif.). Yet, according to the 2001-2002 NAILS Fact Book, only half of the salons surveyed offer wraps. This could be due to the fact that many nail techs viewed wraps as a time time-consuming service.

Wrap fabric was once hard to handle, but with the introduction of fabrics with self-adhesive backing, coatings to prevent fraying, and even pre-cut strips that fit the nail plate, those worries are over. Wrap technology, as a whole, has advanced to incorporate easy-to-use fabrics, more flexible resin, and activators that give a gentler cure.

The Fabric

The fabric sets the stage for the entire wrap service. It is what gives the wrap enhancement strength. The quality of the fabric is important, says Robbins. Look for quality fabrics with even weaves and no foreign matter for the most natural-looking nails. While wraps aren’t usually built up like acrylic, the fabric can be layered. (Some technicians very experienced with wraps say wraps can be used as extensions.) An extra strip of fabric placed over the stress area or along the length of the nail will give the enhancement added strength.

The three fabrics generally used in wraps today are linen, fiberglass, and silk. Linen was the first fabric used (besides the tea bags). It is a very dense fabric and thus very strong. Most clients who wear line wraps opt to wear polish because the fabrics is opaque. White linen is often used on the free edge to create a French look.

Fiberglass is probably the most popular wrap service due to its durability. Bolt fiberglass and linen are great for clients who need more strength. Silk is popular and it gets its strength from tighter weave, but may require an additional layer to be as strong as fiberglass or linen. Many technicians and clients love silk because the fabric leaves a very natural-looking nail.

The Resin

Resin is literally the glue that holds the wrap service together. Most resins are made of cyanoacrylate, the same ingredient used in nail adhesive. The resin is either dropped on and spread with a nozzle, or brushed on to the nail. Resin seals the fabric to the nail. The viscosity of the resin (how thick or thin it is) is important. A thinner resin will saturate fabric fully, making it practically invisible. Thicker resins give more strength. Some products, including Star Nail International’s T3 European fiber Gel system, are actually a gel.

The Activator

Activators give energy! The activator speeds the setting of the resin by “activating” the resin molecules (giving them a kick-start), causing them to come together faster, which results in a quicker cure. If resin is applied too thickly or too much activator is used (sprayed too closely or brushed on too liberally), a heat reaction could occur. According to Theresa Pugliese, regional manager for Backscratchers Salon Systems (Elk Grove, Calif.), makers of the Glass Glaze Wrap System, “The heat is generated by lots of monomers joining together to form polymers. When polymers form, small amounts of heat are released.” This can be avoided by closely following the manufacturer’s direction. If a heat sensation does occur, wait for a few seconds for the heat to dissipate, or have your client fan her hands for a few seconds.

Activators come in three different delivery system: spray-on and brush on, and gel resin. The concentration of active chemicals is different with each id different with each one. According to Robbins, .50oz. of brush-on activator is equal to 1.5-oz. of spray-on. The activator of each manufacturer’s system is designed to cure the system’s resin with its particular viscosity within that system. If you use a thin resin with an activator designed to work with a thick resin, or you use a brush-on activator with a resin designed for a spray, a heat reaction could also occur and the nails might not be as strong or durable.

With some systems, the activator does more than just speed up the curing process. It actually combines with the resin to give greater color stability and a more durable product than the resin alone, thus the importance or not “cherry-picking” products from different systems.

The chemicals that cause the fast cure in the activators have evolved since the early wrap days. Current activator formulation do not cure the resin as quickly, but have the advantage of being less brittle and have less chance to produce heat than their faster-acting predecessors.

Back to Lunch

Now we return to our four friends at the same chic café, a few nail services later.

Miranda: “These wraps are great! Can’t believe I can still wear nails. I was sure that acrylic allergy would be doom me to have ugly nails for the rest of my life.”

Samantha: “Yes, all my nails needed was a little help from a wrap to grow. Longer nails are so gratifying.”

Charlotte: “I didn’t think I’d like ‘fake’ nails, but these are so thin and natural-looking that no one even suspects that they aren’t real.”

Carrie: “So what are we going to do? Sit around cafes, sipping coffee and talking about our nails when we’re eighty?”

All (together): “Probably!”

Basic Wrap Application with Tips

1.            An optional stress strip can be applied before the first application for additional strength.

2.            Apply fabric to clean, buffed nail plate (no primer is needed). Keep a thin margin away from the skin to prevent resin seepage.

3.            Saturate fabric with resin. Be sure to seal fabric edges and avoid skin contact.

4.            Set resin with fast drying activator. Repeat layers of resin and activator as need. Buff, Polish if desired.

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