How can I apply the white acrylic to create the perfect smile line on a French nail?

Linda Champion: If you are a seasoned technician that can “slam dunk” product on and put it into place quickly, then I’d recommend using a fast-set system. If not, using a standard-set system will give you a tad more working time.

When I apply my first white ball, whether I’m doing a backfill or a new nail, my first concern is getting my smile line in place. At this point,I’m not concerned with the length, shape, or body of the free edge. As soon as that ball is placed on the nail, I gently push it up into place, creating a balanced smile line. I then wipe the brush, dampen it with monomer, and go back into the smile line from behind to “carve” and perfect its shape. If you’re still not satisfied, turn the hand around (viewing it from the client’s perspective), check the balance of the smile line and re-carve from that angle. Once the smile line is in place, you can add more white below it and sculpt the rest of the nail.

Shari Finger: To create a perfect smile line, first fully load your brush (I use a medium-sized round brush) with monomer and tap the brush off on the happen dish at least two times. Load a medium-sized ball of white powder and place it in the center of the nail just above the natural smile line. Pat the product to move it carefully into place and create a curved line. Wipe your brush, then hold it straight up and down (perpendicular to the nail) to draw a smooth, curved line with the tip.

Load a smaller ball of the same consistency and place it on the right side near the sidewall. Pat it into position in the corner (this is sometimes called the wing). Use the same sweeping motion to create a smooth line and pat and blend it into the tip. Repeat for the left side. Here are some additional tips to achieve the perfect smile line:

  • You have to find a good powder-to-liquid ratio that allows you to manipulate the product but doesn’t let the product run. Set time may also play a factor here if you’re a newer tech.
  • Knowing what a perfect smile line looks like is half the battle. A smile line should curve and run down the sidewalk. Examine photos of work done by top techs to get the idea. Start practicing by drawing the line with a white pencil. You can also use the oval that is left and thrown away after pulling off a sculpting form, plus many companies have come out with adhesive guides.
  • Flip the hand up to check and see if the line is straight from the clients point of view.
  • Always place your smile line a little below the client’s natural line. This will allow for growth.
  • The smile line should be applied a little thicker than the nail bed product. This will create a sharp smile line when filed out.

Is it true that if you cut away the detached nail on a client who is treating a nail fungus with medication, it will heal more quickly?

This shows onycholysis after the nail has been cut back.

This shows onycholysis after the nail has been cut back. 

Dr. Rich: Cutting back the diseased part of the nail is often helpful if a topical medication is used because the medication can reach the diseased nail bed better. Additionally, it prevents moisture from being trapped under the nail plate which can exacerbate the problem.

Topical medications are more likely to be effective with onycholysis [separation of the nail plate from the nail bed] than with true onychomycosis [fungal infection of the nail]. Topical antifungal medications are necessary when there is yeast involved in onycholysis. Topical corti­sone is used if psoriasis is the cause of the onycholysis.

True onychomycosis with a dermatophyte usually needs to be treated with oral medication. The topical lacquer Penlac has a 20% or less cure rate (in toenails) in studies. Other antifungal creams and lotions have not had clinical trials performed to show efficacy and are not approved by the FDA for use on onychomycosis. (This doesn’t mean that they don’t work, only that they haven’t been tested.)

Many dermatologists cut the nail back to the point of attachment. I think this is helpful, but not always mandatory, to get normal re-growth of the nail. If the affected nails are not cut away, they must be kept very short so they do not project beyond the tip of the finger to prevent trauma to the injured nail. It is also important to avoid exposure to water and solvents.

If the nail is not clipped away, it should be kept uncovered so that any moisture that is left under the nail can evaporate through the nail. If there is nail enamel or acrylic on the nail plate, the occlusive effect will keep moisture trapped under the nail, providing a dark, moist breeding ground for yeast, bacteria, and fungi.

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