Tip manufacturing has evolved into serious business and high technology with re­markable innovations and features showing up in a tip’s design more than ever before. Tip companies often rely heavily on suggestions from nail technicians about their clients’ needs when inventing or redesigning products. The result is a variety of tip styles on the market to suit every client need under the sun — or in this case under acrylic, gel, or wraps.

The Latest and Greatest

The purpose of the nail tip has changed dramatically as the industry has matured and new technological advancements have become available.”Using a tip rather than sculpting a nail used to be thought of as ‘cheating,’“ says Jan Arnold, president of Creative Nail Design (Vista, Calif.). “Now, nail technicians use tips to create nail enhancements that specifically fit their clients’ needs.” It is with this in mind that many tip companies bring nail technicians’ feedback about tip styles to the attention of their R&D departments; nail technicians have insight as to what type of tip combines with a specific type of nail bed in order to derive a desired type of nail shape or style. Their input is invaluable and so many tip companies have developed various test salon networks and trial programs to generate nail technicians’ feedback.

Lately, many tip companies have shifted their attention to the contact area (also called the “well,” “overlap,” or “stress area,” referring to the area of the natural nail that is being covered by the tip). “Different clients have different types of nail beds just as not everyone is a red-head or a brunette,” says Dulce Powers of IBD’s (Gardena, Calif.) R&D department. Nail technicians need tips that help them work with the natural variances in clients’ nails to achieve a specific style.

All Things to All Nail Beds

NSI (W. Conshohocken, Pa.) has departed from traditional tip materials used over the past 30 years and has patents and patents-pending on new materials and new designs. The Polyflex material technology employed to make its two new tip products does not use traditional materials, such as ABS, nylon, or Delrin

Lin Halpern, director of new product development, says of NSI’s new Simplicity French Fin, “Once placed on the nail plate, the tip creates a perfect smile line with the use of the fin, which protrudes upward,” she explains. “The fin separates the application of the pink and white acrylics or gels from each other and is the smile line and C-curve height.” Once the applied product meets the fin, the result is a perfect C-curve and each nail is visually accurate from sidewall to sidewall and cuticle to free edge, Halpern says.

For its second new tip, Elation, also made with Polyflex technology, NSI recognized the need for a longer tip, in keeping with this season’s rejuvenated interest in longer nails. With a shortened contact area to fit both long and short nail bed shapes, the Elation tip also provides quick, seamless blending. This tip has a straight line design sidewall that allows nail technicians to do nails that are square, oval, or pointed. “The arch is gentle with a great C-curve,” says Halpern. “Polyflex technology’s increased flexibility allows the sidewall of the tip to seat itself securely and not pop off, lift, or separate during wear.”

At OPI Products (N. Hollywood, Calif.), research and direct feedback showed that nail technicians want a tip that can be the ultimate tool for many clients, including between-size, wide, flat, and ski-jump nails. Its solution is the Expansion tip, which uses a three-pronged fan design to create a contact area that flexes to fit any shape nail bed. The middle prong anchors the tip, giving it stability and strength at the contact area.

Flexible, virgin ABS plastic, along with the tip’s design, allows the tip to attract and hold adhesive. “The flexing motion of the tip also keeps the adhesive from bubbling when applied to the nail,” says Lauren Breese, OPI Products’ advertising/technical editor. As for the tip’s shape, it maintains its C-curve when cut to active-length and has a graceful arch. “The tip is sheer and the prongs blend easily with less effort,” explains Breese. “Since the Expansion tip fits and files quickly, it helps make the overall service less time-consuming.”

Nail technicians also asked for a tip that retained its strength after blending so IBD developed its Shark Tooth tip. “We made the tip uniform on the sidewalls, added a small overlap, and what I call a strengthening area,” Powers says. Powers explains this area is actually added thickness between the contact area and the free edge, creating more support and strength. However, the slight thickness is not noticeable to the human eye.

“Shark Tooth was also designed to have less contact with the natural nail at the height of the C-curve and a longer contact area at the sidewalls,” Powers says. IBD achieved this by serrating the contact edge of the tip. The jagged edge makes blending quicker, shortening nail technicians’ filing time.

Another option for nail technicians who want an extremely flexible tip is the X-tip from Nailite Inc. and The Supply Source (both in Sunrise, Fla.). Designed to accommodate a wide variety of nail shapes, the X-tip has a scalloped well that is distinct because of the X-shaped cut-out (hence its name). “Basically, the X-tip is customizable,” says Michael Bannett, president of The Supply Source. “Because the tip fits better, it’ll stay on the natural nail better, and there’s less to file so you don’t have to work as hard to blend it.” The flexibility built into the design means that the tip will spread if the nail is a little wide, pull together if the nail is narrow, and hug tight to either a rounded or flat nail bed.

Cut It Out

Travel, tradeshows, and seminars keep Tony Cuccio, president/CEO of Star Nail Products, among nail technicians, who are usually forthcoming with comments about products, says Christina Jahn, marketing director. Cuccio collects the comments and eventually some become a foundation for further research and possibly new products, including Star’s latest tip creation, Revelation.

The tip is highlighted by a natural cut-out design. “Cut-out tips are very popular because they are easy to apply, save time, have thick sides, and don’t split at the contact area,” Jahn says. Star designed Revelation’s mold to include reinforced sidewalls for overall strength. “The tip has a natural arch and can be cut to different lengths,” Jahn says. Revelation is dyed a natural-looking color and should be used with a clear acrylic overlay so that clients’ nails will seem like an extension of their own nails.

European Touch Co. (Milwaukee, Wis.) began to notice an upswing in the popularity of the Chevron French nail style, says Matt Walker, director of advertising/purchasing. In particular, many nail technicians were using an airbrush, nail art paint, or polish to achieve the design, which covers the corners of each nail and meets at a point at the center of the free edge. The company went to work designing a mold for its Chevron Ultra White French nail tips, hoping to help nail technicians achieve the distinctive look in less time.

Backfills for the Chevron French only require using pink, clear, or natural powder, instead of a white powder. “By eliminating the well of the tip, we have created a design that can be adjusted to fit every client’s nail plate. The ultra- white ABS plastic we use is pliable, but strong, so it adjusts to fit to the client’s free edge,” Walker explains. European Touch designed the tip to have an extreme upper arch, shallow contact area, and to gently taper in toward the free edge with reinforcement at the sidewalls.

However, some French tips may actually cost some unanticipated time in the long run by creating new maintenance issues. “The white powder may not match the white of the tip, or the nail technician may not completely clear all of the old acrylic out of the new growth area during a backfill,” explains Kym Lee, founder & CEO of Galaxy Nail Products (Corona, Calif.).

She also had adhesion problems with some of the standard white tips she applied to natural nails. “Adhesive tends to crystallize as it gets older (it usually only lasts at full strength for seven to eight days) resulting in a higher incident of breakage,” she says.

Armed with this information, Lee worked with a mold-maker to design Galaxy’s White Lightning Tips, which are cut out at the center of the contact area and feature two “wings” at each sidewall (which are removed later) to help anchor it.

Pink or clear acrylic applied under the tip (to secure it to the nail) helps the nail technician customize the tip’s angle and arch shape, while keeping the nail itself thin and natural looking Lee explains, “The tip creates a natural-looking arch when it is settled and angled correctly on the wet acrylic. Extra layers of acrylic to build the arch over the tip are not required”

Adapting for Style

Nail technicians have had to adapt to a changing market, driven not only by nail trends, but by their clients’ need to spend less time at the salon and get a more natural-looking finished product.

“Over time, Creative Nail Design has made tips with smaller contact areas, such as Velocity, to help nail technicians compete with salons that emphasize speedy, bargain-priced enhancements,” Arnold says “Smaller contact areas quickly blend and adhere easily to the natural nail”

Arnold notes that as styles change so does the need for different tips, which is why her company designs a new one about every two years. “In the last three or four years, great emphasis has been placed on short, thin, natural-looking enhancements. This is a trend driven not only by nail technicians, but by consumers themselves who want nice shapes and neatly groomed nails,” she says. “This trend compelled us to design Velocity with a dramatic side curve so that when the technician cut the nails short, the C-curve still existed.”

Whether it be for short or long nails, tips with a traditional contact area and arch never go out of style. “Tips that consistently remain popular with nail technicians are traditionally styled and have a strong foundation,” says Adrea Nairne, president of Acu-Systems Inc. (Las Vegas, Nev.). “How do I know this? I just check my sales figures.”

One such tip, Acu-Systems’ AcuTip 2, is made from virgin plastic. “You need a strong foundation to keep the tip on the natural nail,” Nairne says.

“Acu-Systems is also currently developing a new tip style that combines the best qualities of construction and strength in a tip, but still allows for flexibility and fit,” Nairne says, adding she hopes to have the tip ready by the end of the summer.

Nail technicians’ sphere of influence doesn’t stop at tip design. Backscratchers Salon Systems (Sacramento, Calif.) introduced its Nouveau tip about a year ago. “We designed it to pop right on the nail with little or no blending,” explains Sue Hubbard, marketing director.

Nail technicians’ response to the new tip design itself was extremely favorable, but restocking specific tip sizes was a problem for some, who voiced their opinion to the company. “We very much appreciate input from nail technicians and try to accommodate many of their suggestions,” she says. Therefore, Backscratchers made its Nouveau tips and Feathertips available in 65-count individual refill sizes, to allow nail technicians to invest only in the size tips they use most often.

So next time you hesitate about letting your manufacturers know how their tips help you to create perfect nails for your clients, think twice. Your input helps companies help you make your clients’ time in your salon a pleasant, wish-fulfilling experience.

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