Q: I have a client with very poor circulation, and therefore, very cold hands, making it difficult to keep her silk overlays from lifting. I have already tried pH balancers and extra silk and resin, but the lifting continues to occur. What else could I try that might work?

A: Jaime Schrabeck, Precision Nails, Pacific Grove, Calif.: Don’t assume that the lifting is related to poor circulation. Review your nail preparation procedure to ensure that the nail plate is properly cleansed and sanitized before product application. Your client may need an acid primer to promote adhesion.

Sue Roberts, My Nails of Westerville, Westerville, Ohio: We have some pretty cold days in Ohio, and cold fingers can really make it difficult to apply any nail enhancement. I usually ask a client with cold hands to first wash her hands in warm water. Then I give her a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel and ask her to keep each hand snuggled in it, switching from hand to hand until the service is complete. This works great on those cold days when clients come in chilled to the bone.

Tracey Stadamire, Tracey’s Un-4-gettable Nails, Portland, Ore.: I find that sealing silk wraps with a little glue gel holds the product in place quite well, in fact, so well that most of my silk clients wait anywhere from four to six weeks to return for a fill.

Michele Martinez, Chele’s Frills, Austin, Texas: It’s possible that the lifting is not due to cold hands. I’ve recently learned that my clients who don’t wear gloves while washing dishes have more lifting than those who do. Also, check to see if it’s lifting is occurring from the front or from the back of the nail. If it’s lifting from the front, it’s probably something your client is doing. If it’s lifting from the back, it’s probably something you are doing, such as exposing the cuticle to glue.

Marti Preuss, Hair Spa, Houston: You might perform a hand and arm massage prior to the service to stimulate circulation and warm the hands and fingers. Using a wrapped heating pad under the towel will keep hands warm during application. Be sure to thoroughly remove all nail shine and dehydrate the nail plate before application. Be sure not to touch the silk fabric with your fingers as this will transfer the oils in your skin to the fabric and could be a source of lifting. Instead of your fingers, try using a rubber-tipped cuticle stick to press the fiber onto the nail plate. Make sure the edges are sealed correctly with resin.


Q: I am a new tech and have noticed that two of my clients who have been wearing acrylics for more than three months have discolored nails. One client’s nails look gray and the other nails have a yellow-orange tinge. What am I doing wrong?

A: Stadamire: It sounds like moisture is getting underneath the gray nail. This happens when your product is not sealing properly. Check to see if there is a crack somewhere on the nail that is allowing moisture to get in. The yellowing could be caused from using a contaminated brush or brush cleaner, or from a product that is not “non-yellowing.”

Martinez: Yellowing can occur from using old acrylic product or from monomer that doesn’t have a UV protectant. Make sure you store monomer in a dark, cool place, always use a proper dispenser made for that product, and never mix old and new monomer together.

Preuss: Discolored nails could be the result of several things, including exposure to contaminated liquid, powder, primer, or brushes. Another contributing factor is nail enamel. Make sure to oil buff the nails and use a good base coat prior to polish application. Also, acrylic that has not been sealed properly by oil buffing (or buffing with a three-way buffer) will be porous and can become stained by the pigments in enamel.

Roberts: Most acrylic products will “age” and discolor. Yellowing is not unusual. A definite spot of yellow-orange on the nail could mean that the primer is touching the existing acrylic during a fill. Gray nails are usually caused by contamination or the use of a “dirty” compound.

Schrabeck: You need to determine whether it is the natural nail or the acrylic that is discolored. Discolored natural nails could either indicate poor circulation (gray-purple) or surface stains from nicotine, polish, etc. (yellow-orange).

Discolored acrylic product indicates either the use of inferior product (old liquid or no UV protectors) or poor technique (mixing liquid with primer or not using fresh liquid with each service).


Q: I want to start doing paraffin treatments on my manicure clients, but I’ve never done this before. I’ve heard some techs use a crock pot for warming the paraffin. What methods and type of equipment would you suggest?

A: Martinez: Invest in a good, professional wax warming machine – it will pay off. Be sure to charge for this service, and use it for manicures as well as pedicures. When you introduce this service to your clients, offer a free dip on one hand and then compare the two hands. The next time that client comes in, she’ll probably ask for the full service. I have learned it is best to give the paraffin dip at the end of the service when the client’s nails polish is dry. If you “dip” before polishing, oils from the wax can be difficult to remove.

Roberts: I’d be very skeptical of the crock pot method – temperature controls were not meant for hands and paraffin. If you’re going to add this wonderful service, do it right and invest in professional paraffin treatment equipment.

Stadamire: I don’t ever recommend using a crock pot or a microwave for this purpose. Stick with a machine made for this treatment which will have a set heat temperature to prevent burning. Makeshift warmers have a reputation for burning clients.

Q: I am a new tech with a client who does water aerobics for two hours each day. Her acrylics are always lifting. Could the chlorine in the water cause this?

A: Preuss: Water, whether chlorinated or from the tap will not by itself cause lifting. However, if lifting has already begun, frequent exposure to water will exacerbate the problem. Lifting should not occur if the nail is properly prepared and the correct liquid-to-powder ratio is applied. It is also important to leave a ⅟16-inch margin around the cuticle and sidewall. When acrylic cures, it will shrink slightly and grip the nail plate with an airtight seal. When acrylic product is applied to the cuticles and touches the skin, natural oils can be quickly absorbed into the product, and lifting will occur.

Stadamire: Although I have been taught that chlorinated water will not cause lifting, sometimes I think it is possible. In any case, I suggest dehydrating the nails thoroughly, then either use a UV light-activated acrylic system or apply heat from your table lamp to traditional acrylics.

Schrabeck: Although prolonged to exposure to water (chlorinated or not) is not advisable, it may not be the primary cause of lifting. Review your application procedure, including preparation and filing techniques. Also consider the client’s other activities and the time between appointments. A combination of factors may be responsible.

Roberts: There are so many causes or potential reasons for “problem” lifting, but chlorinated water is usually not one of them. Although overexposure to water may cause the natural nail to expand and contract, pulling away from the edges around the free edge, it should not cause acrylic to lift from the nail.

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