Despite all of the convenience and efficiencies a drill can provide, drills are still a source of controversy among nail technicians, legislators, and the general public. Misconceptions and lack of education have created a fertile ground of fear and apathy. However, nail techs are gradually receiving vital drill education through the effort of key members of the industry.


It is said that bad news travels faster than good. This has been the case for drills. Myths, exaggerations, and misconceptions have nail techs and clients believing that drill cause damage to the nails. Vicki Peters, Director of the Association of Electric File Manufacturers (AEFM) in Las Vegas, Nev., says that the public has misconception that drills hurts. “If they are experiencing pain, it is because the nail tech is using it inappropriately.” She also adds that nail techs are misinformed as well.” Nail techs think that drills do thing faster. This is not necessarily the case. Drills should be used to refine he work, not speed it up. If nail tech puts on product smoothly the first time, a drill is not needed to speed up the process. It can only enhance it.”

Steve Wallace, national sales manager of Medicool Inc., in Toronto, California, and member of the AEFM, adds that there is a prevailing motion that drills will help nail techs do 10 sets a day. “Drills will help prevent fatigue and can help with carpal tunnel syndrome. And drills can reach certain areas that a hand file just can’t. The drill can help refine their work, but it wasn’t designed to make the process faster.”

Some nail techs believe that drills break down product and cause lifting. Lysa Comfort, director of drills at EZ Flow Nail Systems in Stanton, California and an AEFM educators, says that using the wrong drill bit and poor technique causes a lot of the problems.

“To an extent drills do break down product, but with the right technique you can maneuver around it. With poor technique a nail tech can cause micro shattering by using a drill that vibrates excessively.” Says Comfort. “There are air bubbles in acrylics and if the nail damage and product lifting, nail tech should only use a drill with education and purchase a drill after investigating the options and educational and service support.

“There is a belief that drills cause damage to the nails even if the nail tech is careful and that she doesn’t need to take a class to operate one,” says Terri Lundberg, owner and founder of the Nail Technician Monitoring Institute (NTMI) in Eagan, Minn. She says that investing in a professional, high-quality drill designed for use on nails is better than buying a non –professional one at half price.

By purchasing a drill from a professional company, nail techs will have access to an established educational system. If nail tech wants to talk so someone in their area about drills, the company would able to refer them. Not only do professional companies have educational support on hand, they also provide maintenance support for repairs. And the AEFM does not recommend the use of “hobby drills” for nail work.


One group that is trying to change the current stigma around drills is the AEFM. Members include such manufacturers as Aseptico, Atwood industries, Buffalo Drill, Comfort Concepts, Kupa, Lasco Diamond Products, Medicool, And Nail Genie/Spilo. According to Peters, the association is focused on educating cosmetology school instructors on how to teach safe drill use, assisting state boards on continuing education hours, and producing educational seminars at trade shows. “Our educational program has generic information from participating AEFM members. It teaches a nail tech everything from what to look for when buying an electronic file to how to use it safely,” says Peters.

The association is currently coordinating an educator’s class where they are getting one educator from each AEFM member to attend. They want all of their educators to be sending out unified message and they are organizing the class so that it would be technique-oriented and not product-driven

The AEFM educational program was developed because many schools and state boards were looking at resolving. “The drill problem” by banning them outright.” It’s like allowing people to buy cars and not teaching them how to drive. Of course when people start driving without getting the proper instructions, they’ll get hurt,” says Wallace. Therefore, the drill manufacturers established an association where members would pay dues and those dues would be used to educate schools and state boards.

The AEFM and its members strive to educate school and state boards and try to implements a plan with all group to make the entire industry safer. One way they attempt to do this by educating distributors and supplying their educators with training on drills. For instance, Medicool is working with h Empire Beauty School, which are owned by Schoeneman Corporation, to incorporate drill education in their curriculum. The Empire Beauty Schools consist of 20 schools and 120 educators. The schools are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. They are organizing four days of training during which all 120 educators would attend.

Along with the AEFM, the NTMI offers drill education. According to Lunberg, they train for several hours in their classes. They start out on practice fingers and progress at low speeds onto actual hands and finish with backfills and shortening the nails. Although drill education is currently a part of their curriculum, Lundberg had her doubts at first.

“I used to think that finishing machines were not going to stick around for very long and I used to think like some nail techs and clients do, that they cause damage to the nails,” says Lundberg. “After taking time to educate myself, I learned that the machines do not cause the damage, the nail techs do from the lack of education.


Changing public opinion is not an easy task, but to try and change a negative opinion can be a daunting task in itself. “There are negative opinions about drills because it has been left up to the nail technician to use the drill without proper training,” says Comfort.

Many schools don’t offer drill classes. Therefore, many nail technicians end up just buying the equipment without learning how to use it properly. To stop this practice, Comfort mails out information about proper drill techniques and she goes over the importance of drill education in her class to prevent nail techs from perpetuating improper techniques on their clients.

To encourage more schools to provide drill education, Wallace mails announcements every three months to every school in the country offering drill education programs. He believes that the only way that the schools will listen is if the state steps in and demands it. “It is the job of the state board to insist that the state offer drill education, but they think that it will cost too much. They think it will cost $10,000 when it could be done for $1,000,” says Wallace.

Despite the indifference some states have shown, others have taken active steps forward. Mississippi is the first state to require mandatory drill education. Also, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts have adopted this mandatory provision. Other states that are considering this legislative move are Texas, Oregon, Tennessee, and Ohio. Although progress is being made, the lack of drill education is far from being solved on a wide. “Some states don’t even take an interest. And some states take an ignorant approach by just banning drills or by allowing their use without facts,” says Comfort.

Another bottleneck in implementing change is what the states do with the curriculum once it arrives. “The problem is that there is no established continuing education program set up in many of the states. Once the curriculum reaches the state, they just don’t know what to do with it.” Says Peters.

She says that continuing education is not a priority for many states so they don’t know how to go about putting the curriculum in place. “They are ignoring the needs of the nail tech by not setting up classes for dill education and not setting up CEU hours. Many nail techs will not take these classes if they are not required to,” add Peters.

Taking additional classes and honoring skills can only help in an industry that has a high turnover rate. “It is very easy to get into the industry. Whether you’re working in a salon or own a salon, you need to have the ability to run your own business,” says Wallace. This translate into every aspect of the business and that means learning proper drill use. “So if you’re not taught from the beginning, you will fail.” he says.


Regardless of the numerous obstacles facing drill manufacturers and educators, they are determined to teach safe drilling practices to nail technicians.

“I would like to see every state board include electric file education in their school curriculum. It should be mandatory to have every tech receive continuing educations on a regular basis,” says Wallace. He says that state boards may not be moving quickly enough to change with the times. “When you have bigger states with bigger populations you will get more problems. About 60% of the state boards are teaching techniques that are 10 years old.”

They also hope to see a consistent system in place to assist nail techs. “The AEFM’s goal is to be readily available to nail techs. If they want classes, they can tell the state board and they will refer them to us or the nail techs can call us directly. The AEFM wants to be information center for all drill information,” says Peters.

Lundberg wants to make sure that each knows the proper way to use a drill and see the benefits from using one. She wants her students to understand how drill works.

Comfort wants to dispel the erroneous information surrounding drill use. “My personal goal is to try and change the misconceptions. I want to get into the technical aspect of drills and break the myths. Drills can be done right.


Sometimes a hand file just won’t do when it comes to certain services. Loretta Banaga, a nail technician at the Cutting Edge in Simi Valley, Calif, and Lasco Diamonds product testes provides helpful drill tips to make nail services simpler and more refined. According to Banaga, during any type of drill work it is important to lift the bit occasionally to prevent heat from building up on the nail plate and to stabilize your hands.

“When you hold a drill, put the end of your pinkies together. One hand will hold the client’s hand and the other the drill, then the pinkies would meet underneath. With the pinkies touching, this will give you more control and it helps the hand work together. Pinkies act as a stabilizing point. Hold the drill like a pencil and move the drill and the hand at the same time, “says Banaga.


CUTICLE REFINEMENT. When refining the cuticles, use a smooth, ultra-fine barrel. Place the bit at an angle and as close to the cuticle as possible without touching it so that you can thin it out. Use a light hand, a low RPM, and avoid touching the natural nail plate. Go from the right to the middle, making a half “C”, then go from the middle to the left to finish the “C”.  

SHORTENING THE NAIL. You can use a carbide bit for quickly removal or coarse barrel for a more gradual removal. Start from the free edge and work your way down. Go side to side across the nail about three times.


TAKING DOWN BULKY NAILS AND REFINING THE C-CURVE.  When taking down bulky nails, use a carbide or coarse barrel and go back and forth from wall to wall, while keeping the drill on the nail. Then go from cuticle to free edge using a sped that you are comfortable with. While you are taking down the bulky nails, you may notice some loose acrylic. Just nip off the loose acrylic.

To refine a C-curve, use a W22 bit (sometimes called a pink and white bit or a French tip bit) for shaping the top surface of the nail. That way you’ll be getting the pink and white at the same time. The W22 bit creates a crisp line. The smaller the bit, the more control you have with refining.

CLEANING THE UNDERSIDE.  With the client’s palms facing up, use a coarse barrel bit to clean the underside of the nails. Place the bit on the underside of the  free edge and move the bit side to side approximately 4-5 times or until you’ve reach a desired cleanliness. Use a speed that you are comfortable with and to the cleaning after you have done well of your work on the free edge.  





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