To find out the causes of the burning sensation that may occur during the artificial nail service and how to avoid them, NAILS sought out the advice of top educators. Keep in mind, though, that you should always fol­low the manufacturer's instructions.

Slow Down Gel Cure Cycle

"During the curing process, gel changes from its gel consistency to the cured material," says Maria Kennedy, director of education for Light Concept Nails (East Hartford, Conn.). When the molecules join to­gether to form polymers, energy is released, which, in turn, creates heat, she says. The amount of heat the client feels depends on the thickness of the gel ( the thicker  it is, the more heat is produced), the sensitivity of the client, and the thinness of the nat­ural nail, says Kennedy.

Says Nancy Waspi, director of re­search and development for Pro Finish (Scottsdale, Ariz.), the key to reducing the burning sensation associated with gels is to slow down the curing process or use a dual-curing gel, which has two activators to ensure complete curing.

"Slowing down the curing process can be done chemically with a slow­er-curing gel, or mechanically by hav­ing the client take her hands in and out of the UV light," says Waspi. The risk you ran with having the client re­move her hands, she says, is that her nails may not cure completely, which can cause them to lift or peel. To minimize this risk, have the client cure her nails a second time.

Waspi also agrees with Kennedy that the thinner the application of the Mundelein, III., and an educator for OPI Products (N. Hollywood, Calif.), the only burning sensation she's ever heard of with acrylics is when technicians use methacrylic acid primer, which can cause a burning sensation if too much is used, she says.

Improper preparation of the nails can also cause a burning sensation, says Petersen. "Overusing the nip­per when removing lifted acrylic during a fill can result in removing layers of the natural nail, which makes the nail bed thin and can cause a burning sensation when using a methacrylic acid primer," she says. "It's best to file down the acrylic no matter what type of primer you use, but be careful you don't overfile, which also can cause a friction burn."

Adhesives Can Burn A Thin Nail Plate

A client with a thin, weak, or damaged nail can experience a burning sensation when it comes in contact with the glue, says Sharon Cooper, a nail technician at Najah Salon in Royal Oak, Mich., and Midwest regional coordinator of ed­ucation for IBD (Gardena, Calif.). For example, gluing a cracked nail, then applying liquid and powder can cause a burning sensation, which is associated with the curing process of the glue, she says. "The catalyst in the glue makes it bond, which in turn can cause a heat sen­sation," explains Cooper.

Also, using too coarse of a file on the nail and then using glue can cause a burning sensation, says Cooper.

Says Petersen, "Using glue that is too thin and too much of it can cause a heat sensation when apply­ing a nail tip. Some people say that a thinner glue sets up faster, but setting up too fast can cause a burning sensation, I recommend a medium viscosity glue. 1 place one drop on the tip and spread it across the base of the tip, then tap die ex­cess off on my towel before apply­ing it."

In the case of fiberglass, Wood says some nail technicians place a thin layer of glue over the entire nail to protect the nail plate before applying the fiberglass. "If the glue is applied too thickly in one area or it isn't spread out evenly over the entire nail, a burning sensation may occur when you spray on the activator," she says

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