The Help Desk

by NLS Staff | November 1, 2000

How can I eliminate brush strokes in my nail polish application?


Debbie Krakalovich: The key is to use plenty of polish. First, make sure you have a full or nearly full bottle of Polish (try keeping two of each color on hand so you can top off your bottles). First, dip the brush into the bottle and when pulling it out, press one side against the mouth of the bottle, but make sure to leave a small bead of the color on the tip of the brush. Next, place the bead that’s on the tip of the brush in the middle of the nail plate near, but not on, the cuticle (leave about 1/32” gap). Then, pull the bead on through the center of the nail to the tip. Let your brush glide over the nail. For your second stroke, start again from the cuticle and stroke down the right side of the nail. To finish, use a third stroke down the left side of the nail. Make sure you polish the tip of the free edge.


The important factor in pulling through the polish is to keep the brush flat against the bead. Hold the brush even with the nail plate and glide the polish on, do not brush it. Keeping the client’s wrist down will allow you to keep your wrist firm and stable against the table top. This keeps the brush at just the right angle. Apply a second coat using the same technique and you should have a brushstroke-free polish job.


What’s the best way to clean your dappen dish? Should I rinse it with water, wipe it with a towel, or what?


Nancy King: Wipe the dish clean with either acetone or brush cleaner using a lint-free paper towel or wipe. Be sure to get any residue out of the bottom of the dish. Acrylic liquid will also work well, but it’s too expensive to use for this purpose.


Schoon: The most important thing to consider is safety. When cleaning your dappen dish, you should take care to avoid exposing your fingers to the monomer liquid. All types of nail enhancement products can cause allergy – UV gels, wrap resins, adhesives, as well as liquid monomer. These types of allergies almost always result from prolonged or repeated exposures. So avoid repeated exposure to the liquid monomer or you will increase the risks of developing an allergy to your product. Some other simple rules are: clean the dappen dish between each client, properly dispose of old product, and make sure it’s clean and dry before adding fresh product.


What is the best type of acrylic brush for beginners to use?


Karen Hodges: Acrylic systems are so well researched and designed these days that my best advice would be to use the entire system, as designed, by the manufacturer. Each product works best with a certain liquid-to-powder ratio. All the product manufacturers that I have worked with have designed their own brushes in the shape and size that delivers the proper amount of liquid at the correct time. They have determined the amount of “belly” in the brush, the shape and length of the “flags” (ends) of the brush, and the stiffness of the bristles that will best work with their products, using their instructions for picking up and placing the ball of product. Why reinvent the wheel – especially if you are new and trying to master a new technique? It is always best to follow, as exactly as possible, each step that is recommended.

Is it possible for natural nails to be permanently damaged if a drill is used on them? 

Nancy King: Yes, but it’s very unlikely. In order for permanent damage to occur, the damage must reach the matrix. A tech would have to either apply too much pressure for too much time near the cuticle, which would build up extreme heat that can penetrate to the matrix (this can also cause the nail to lift off the nail plate). Or use an improper bit that is too sharp or coarse for natural nails near the cuticle and cut through the nail plate. That allows either an infection to penetrate the matrix or for products applied after the cut occurred to penetrate to the matrix, thus damaging future nail growth.

Remember, most damage to clients during nail services is done by the technician, not by products or equipment. Hobby and craft drills designed for use on wood, ceramics, or other products should not be used for nail services. The torque (force) is too high for use on nails.


Debbie Krakalovich: If properly used, a drill will cause no damage to the natural nail. The operative word here is “properly.” The two most common problems I see are drill line sand drill burns. Drill lines (or rings) are usually seen around the cuticle area. They can occur when a tech holds the drill at an improper angle. For instance rings happen if a heavy-handed tech uses the edge of her bit to file down product around the cuticle area. This problem can also occur when trying to remove the pterygium from the natural nail. The second problem, drill burns (or “hot spots”), occur once again if the tech is too heavy-handed and stays on one area of the nail too long without moving.

Both of these problems can occur with hand files, although the drill is running faster and can cause the damage must faster. Fortunately, both can be eliminated with proper technique. If you are thinking about using a drill, take a course and learn about the different drills and bits and which can be used safely on natural nails. There are specially designed bits for natural nails and certain ones, like carbide bits, that should never be used on the natural nail plate.


I have a number of clients with nail fungus who have no interest in taking medication. What home remedies can I offer?

Roth: Over the years, I have heard of and tried many home remedies. Generally speaking, I find them worth trying. In milder cases, they may slow down or resolve the fungus. At minimum, these home remedies can keep the problem from getting worse. The following is a list of some of the most commonly suggested remedies:

1. Dilute one ounce of PineSol in 16 ounces of water and soak the toes for five to 10 minutes once a month.

2. Soak the toes or fingers in white vinegar.

3. Soak in bleach diluted with water.

4. Apply pure tea tree oil to the affected area on a regular basis.

5. Wear sandals and open-toed shoes to allow the feet to breathe rather than be confined in a warm, moist area.

6. Use a hair dryer to dry your nails after you take a shower.


Doug Schoon: True fungal infections are rare on hands. Probably less than 2%-3% of all fingernail infections are actually fungus, the rest are caused by bacteria. If you have a number of clients with these infections, they are probably bacterial. In that case, prevention is the best treatment. Fingernail infections are usually caused by improper nail cleaning preparation before applying the enhancement or by improper maintenance.

Physician prescribed antifungal medications are costly and may have some side effects, so people are sometimes reluctant to take them. Still, they are the best and only option. (Home remedies and over-the-counter treatments cannot eliminate fingernail fungal infections.) These medications take from four to eight months to rid the fingernails of the fungal infection. This shows how difficult it is to treat these types of infections.

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