I have been doing silk wraps for natural nail stress cracks, and lately, every one of my clients has had them pop off. I apply two base coats of resin, apply a silk stress strip, and then add 2-3 more coats of resin. The nails look great when my clients leave, but during the next week or so they all pop off. What am I doing wrong?

Melissa Carlini: You might want to trim your client’s nails (at least the ones that keep getting stress cracks) ever so slightly. The golden rule for proper nail length is that the free edge of the nail should be no longer than the length of the nail plate from cuticle line to the free-edge line (or smile line). If this does not solve the problem, check how thickly your resin is going on the nail. When a product gets too thick on the surface of the nail, as the nail grows out (even in a week’s time), the nail becomes top heavy. As a result, stress (or apex) area cracks may appear or the nail may just snap right off.

Brooke Gilliam: You might try using only one layer of resin to base the nail. It is also very important to prepare the nail by having the client wash her hands thoroughly before applying any resin. If this is a new bottle of resin, consider asking the distributor for a replacement.

Can you suggest a cleaner or some other way to remove that deep-down embedded dirt, oil, and grease from the sidewalls and cuticle areas of my male (and in some cases female) clients?

Gilliam: Try mixing 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 3 teaspoons of lemon juice, and 6 ounces of warm water. Let your client soak for about 5 minutes and scrub the nails with a nylon brush.

Carlini: Try using an orangewood stick or a pointed cotton swab dipped in cleanser to get into those hard to reach areas. You should also encourage all clients to use cuticle oil every day to help keep the cuticle and sidewall areas moisturized. You might find that the oil, dirt, and grime won’t get so embedded because these areas won’t be so dry.

I heard a tech talking about using nail glue instead of top coat on natural nails. She applies brush-on glue over the polish to keep it from chipping. Is there anything wrong with doing this?

Debra Marr-Leisy: There is nothing wrong with using brush-on nail glue over polish; however, this approach is not for everyone. Drawbacks are that you may not end up with a perfectly glossy and smooth finish as you would with top coat alone because cyanoacrylate glue shrinks slightly when it dries and removal will be more difficult and time consuming.

What files are best to use for a backfill? It takes me forever to file enough down to put new white on the tip.

La Shaun Brown-Glenn: When doing a backfill, the recommended abrasive to use is a 100 grit or 120 grit. Keep the board flat to the nail as this will reduce product thickness quickly. You don’t want to use a more coarse board because it can shred the product and create lifting and deep scratches. Also, take a look at your product application and make sure that it’s thin because nails no longer need to be thick to be durable.

Gilliam: Because it takes so long to do a backfill with a file, I use a drill. If you choose to use a drill, please take a class before using it on a client. If you don’t have access to a drill (or don’t want to use one), try a Mylar file.

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