Sculpting on a wide nail beds can be challenging because these nails beds can be up to three times as wide as they are long says veteran nail technician and NAIL Magazine Shows manager Vicki Peters.

“In my experience, wide nail beds always appear on the thumbs, usually the thumb itself is shorter and fatter than normal. Abnormally wide thumb nails are usually healthy, although they are thicker than a normal nail and often have ridges extending from the cuticle to the tip,” Peters says.

 “For example, one of the thumbnails on the clients shown here is twice as wide as it is long. You can see that her thumbs are two very different sizes and that her right thumbnail is much narrower than her left,” she continues.

The first time Peters encountered this nail condition, she tried to fit the nail with a tip but couldn’t find one wide enough. “A standard nail form won’t fit because it’s not wide enough. The form might fit the width of the nail, but the sides will buckle when you start sculpting because there’s not enough for the form left to adhere to the finger itself,” she say.

Splice two forms together to create one wide form that will fit the wide nail bed. “Cut 40% of the width off the right side of one form the left side of another form; then fit the widest pieces from each form together so you have one wide form,” says Peters. Overlay the edge of one of the pieces onto the other. Use forms with self-adhesive backing so they stick together.

The nail bed on this client’s left thumb is almost twice as wide as her right one. A nail bed this wide can’t be fitted with a nail tip because none are wide enough.

To fit abnormally wide nail beds with a form, cut 40% of the width off the right side of one form and 40% of the width off the left side of another. Overlay the widest pieces from each to custom-make your own form.

“You are custom making a form so you can cut well and trim the sides to make it fit just right. Spending extra time to make the form fit the nail will make sculpting easier.” She continues.

Sculpt the acrylics as you would on a normal nail, but make the acrylic thicker over the stress are to give the nail strength. An extra layer of acrylic over the stress area is necessary because a wider than a normal nail tends to have a shallow C-curve. You should keep this extension as short as possible for the same reason. 

Form C-curve. When sculpting with forms many technicians squeeze the nail bed at the stress area as the acrylic starts to harden to give the nail a nice C-curve, however, because an especially wide nail plate is also thicker and flatter than a normal nail, squeezing at the stress area can push the hardening acrylic under the free edge, which weakens the extension and form unattractive “wings” of acrylic under the free edge.

To form a C-curve on this type of nail, squeeze the edge area, but not as tight as you normally would. “It’s almost impossible to get a nice C-curve and a slender look, too,” says Peters.

If the nail is very flat, Peters recommends building the acrylic higher down the center of the nail to form an artificial C-curve. “Only do this if you have to because the nail is so wide that any extra thickness can make it look even bulkier,” she says. In most cases, she says, applying acrylic just slightly thicker at the center of the nail and gently squeezing the sides as the acrylic hardens will give this nail an appealing C-curve that also adds strength to the nail.

“When sculpting on a wide nail bed, you will rely much more on your skill as a nail artist than on your skills as a nail technician to sculpt a nail that makes the thumb look attractive. Make the extension only as long as it has to be to enhance the appearance of the nail. As you sculpt, pay close attention to shape, balance, and proportion,” concludes peters.

Fit the custom-made from carefully onto the nail bed, making sure the form is snugly fitted under the free edge and adhered to the sides of the thumb.

Add an extra layer of acrylic at the stress area to give the nail added strength.

To form a C-curve squeeze the edges at the stress area gently to prevent “wings” of acrylic from forming under the free edge.

While you can’t hide the width of the nail bed, an attractive extension gives the nail balance and proportion.



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