I have a client with ski jump nails (the free edge points upward). I have tried two different brands of tips and I can’t seem to correct the problem. What am I doing wrong? Should I try a different type of tip?

Melissa Carlini: A tip with a liquid and powder overlay is your best solution for a ski jump nail. Begin your application by filing down the natural nail as short as possible and then lightly bevel the free edge downward to eliminate the natural upturned edge. When you apply your tip to the natural nail, apply it at a downward angle to counteract the “up slope” of the natural nail. Applying the tip at this angle will create a gap between the nail plate and the contact area of your tip. (As long as the free edge of the nail is secure and encased in the stop point of your tip, the rest of your contact area can be lightly and gently buffed away.) Make sure that you apply your product a little thicker in zone 2 (the arch area) to reinforce the seam between the tip and the natural nail. As soon as those ski jump nails get a little “top heavy” they are going to pop off, so make sure that your client comes in every two weeks for her rebalance.

We have a client who comes in for manicures on her natural nails weekly. Recently though, her polish bubbles. We’ve tried new polish, different brands, and different types of base coat. We’re very careful not to shake the bottles and have even tried to wait longer between coats. Nothing seems to make a difference.

Carlini: First, you will want to make sure that you are thoroughly removing any oily residue before applying your base coat. This can be accomplished by using a cleanser that is formulated for nails. If that doesn’t seem to make a difference, you may want to check to see if the base coat you are using is formaldehyde-free. I have noticed a bubbling when I use a formaldehyde-free base coat with polishes containing toluene or toluenesulfonamide resin. Since these two ingredients are found in almost every nail enamel on the market, you might want to try a different base coat.

I keep my client’s individual files in a brown clasp envelope along with one of those little desiccant pouches. I’m wondering about the desiccants. Are they safe and do they really help prevent mold and fungus?

David Dyer: Desiccants, which are drying agents, are used commercially in sealed packages to extend the shelf life of a product. When properly used, desiccants help keep air dry by absorbing the moisture directly from the air. Therefore, the life of a desiccant in considerably shorter in a climate with high humidity. A desiccant will only work for an extended period of time if it is used in an a airtight container, such as a Ziplock bag, with all the air expelled. If you are using a container that is not airtight, like an envelope, the desiccant will become saturated in a short amount of time, rendering it useless. Most salon situations require frequent opening of the container or storage bag, making the use of a desiccant impractical. Plus, even if fungus is not actively growing, invisible fungal fragments can still live even in absolutely dry environments, and will grow when placed where moisture and food exist, such as a fingernail. So for the greatest level of sanitation, use disposable files.

Doug Schoon: The primary reason nail techs disinfect implements is to prevent the spread of bacteria, not mold and fungus. Well over 98% of all fingernail infections are bacterial. Fungal infections can occur on the nails, but they are pretty rare by comparison. Also, you will probably never see a “mold” infection on fingernails. They are much rarer than fungus.

The dessicant pouches contain a substance that acts like a tiny sponge. They absorb water and do nothing else. After one use, they should be thrown away. In my opinion, I seriously doubt they will help at all. Once an implement is properly cleaned and disinfected, you may use any type of storage container that keeps out dusts and debris. As you suggest, it is important to keep implements dry, and a paper envelope will do this by allowing moisture to escape as the tools dry. It isn’t necessary to add a dessicant.

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