After removing nail enhancements, how do I care for the natural nail?


Mindy Borrego: It is important to properly remove the nail enhancement by using either a remover product or soaking in pure acetone (not by ripping them off). I usually recommend a regimen of weekly natural nail manicures for at least a month, then tapering off to bimonthly manicures.


Paula Gilmore: When a client requests removal of nail enhancements, it’s time to really communicate. Newly naked nails need loads of attention. Recommend manicures weekly and have clients use a good strengthener and cuticle conditioner daily. Be sure the client is ready for the commitment of natural nails; she may change her mind a go for a fresh, new set.


Athena Elliott: After removal, we begin with a warm water manicure using aromatherapy bath salts for softening. Add a few drops of lavender oil to the water to treat the skin around the cuticles. We also encourage the client to soak their nails in warm water for 10 minutes, two to three times a week, and then apply cuticle oil made of jojoba, lavender, bergamot, and vitamin E. This will provide the nails better than the lotion. Remember that in the beginning keeping polish on the nails makes them stronger. Lastly, we encourage the client to come in for a moisture-rich manicure at least every 10 days.


How do you prevent fingernails from turning yellow under a UV light? What products or techniques should I be using to prevent this?


Borrego: I have very few problems with my customers’ fingernails yellowing, probably because I use only professional products in my salon. In my opinion, the most important thing to do is to use a UV-inhibitor top coat when polishing.


Gilmore: I’m assuming that you mean the product, not the natural nail, is turning yellow under the UV light. It may be time to experiment with different product lines to find one that is more color stable. You could also apply a UV optical brightener to whiten the finished nail.


Elliot: With enhancements using light-colored or French polish, I use a UV base coat. Don’t forget to let your UV top coat penetrate for three minutes before going under the light. We don’t recommend the UV light for natural nails.


Why does gel take longer to remove than acrylic?


Borrego: Unlike acrylic, which can be soaked off, gel can only be removed by filing. Therefore, if the gel was applied too thick or got thicker over the course of fill after fill, it will be more time consuming to file off the gel.


Gilmore: Since light-cured gels have a different chemical composition than acrylics, they are not designed to be soaked off with acetone in most cases. Always check with the manufacturer for tips regarding removal. Most gels are thinner and softer than acrylics and can be lightly buffed off with a light file and block buffer.


Elliot: We all agree in our salon that acetone does not break down gel. However, filing will do the trick. In our salon half of us use a drill and the other half use a file. I start out using a coarse file to remove most of the gel, while others use a carbide barrel bit. This bit type will not cause as much heat. Then we all graduate to a softer 180-grit file for the final layer.


I am having a problem with air pockets between the tip and the natural nail. The tip comes off in a matter of days and also it is an ugly sight when the client has to wear her nails without polish. I have tried different glues, slow and fast set, but I still run into the problem. How can I avoid this problem?


Borrego: You should review your tip application procedure. Be sure to butt the tip against the free edge at approximately a 45-degree angle, then gently rock it back onto the nail plate. It sometimes helps if you swipe the tip against the free edge to help spread the glue completely on the nail before pressing it to the nail plate. If the customer has a grooved or pitted free edge, you might want to consider using gel type glue, which helps fill in those pockets. This type of glue sets up a bit slower. I am partial to a medium viscosity, brush-on type of glue. I have found that by brushing on the glue, I can be certain that I have applied it completely to the tip before applying the tip to the nail.


Gilmore: Proper tip application just seems to be harder than most techs think. The number one cause of tip problems is applying a tip that is too small. A tip should slide easily into the sidewall area without being forced downward to make it fit, then the adhesive question will not be as critical. To further prevent application problems, always use a gel-type glue to avoid air bubbles. You can also customize the well area of the tip to make a more attractive fit on a short nail bed. Angle the tip downward when applying to prevent a gap or air bubbles between the nail’s free edge and the underside of the tip. Turn the hand over after applying the tip and remove excess adhesive so the client doesn’t pick at it later.


Elliot: Patrick Blade, a nail technician in my salon, says that finding the right shape nail tip is the first step. Finding the right fit from side to side and the same convex of the nail will help ensure the life of the extension. Also determine how much of the well or back of the nail is to be cut off before gluing. This is important because you need at least half of the exposed natural nail to be covered with acrylic. Spray the back of the nail tip with an activator. Then put a small dot of resin o the natural nail and spread this from side to side. Holding your tip, pitch it at an angle, with the back of the tip facing you. Line up the free edge with the perforation on the inside of the nail tip. In a slow but all-in-one motion, press the tip down from the free edge. The top of the tip will follow and out goes any air or bubbles.

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