Clients don’t always take the best care of their nails, and, as we all know, they frequently forget your warnings of how to maintain them. We’ve created three simple guides on the following pages that you can copy right out of the magazine and give to your clients.

We’ve covered the most basic services – maintaining artificial extensions, common questions clients ask, and a brief explanation of the differences between the different artificial extension systems. We suggest that you personalize each guide by attaching your business card or by copying the form onto your salon’s letterhead. Give a handout to all new clients, use them as reminders for old clients, and even tuck them into all bagged retail purchases.

By giving clients one of these handouts, you are showing them that you care. And, although it costs you almost nothing, a handout adds value to your basic service. Finally, your handouts alert the nail wearer to the risks that are potentially involved in wearing artificial extensions. Although you aren’t absolved from legal liability simply by providing this disclaimer, it certainly helps show that a client is fully aware of what is involved in the service and the upkeep. Always make a notation on a client’s card when she receives a maintenance guide.

If you would like to see other guides like these in future issues of NAILS, please call the editorial office or write to us with your suggestions.


Your nail technician offers a variety of artificial extensions, which may include wrap, gel, acrylic, or odorless systems. How do they differ and which is best for you?


Tips are bits of plastic molded to fit the shape of the fingernail. Tips come in a variety of sizes to fit most people’s fingertips. It is applied to a prepared nail with cyanoacrylate (Krazy Glue type) adhesive. The nail technician “blends” the line of the tip into the natural nail, so that you can’t see where your nail ends and the tip begins. A nail technician can cover the tip with acrylic, gel, or a wrap system for extra strength, or simply polish the nail.


Odorless systems, a cousin of acrylic systems, were developed in response to complaints about the odor often associated with traditional acrylics. Like traditional systems, odorless acrylics are applied with a brush using powder and liquid. These nails are flexible, although not always quite as strong as traditional acrylics. They may be used alone or over a tip.


A wrap system consists of an adhesive plus paper, silk, linen, or fiberglass to strengthen or repair it; or over a tip (called a wrap overlay).

Because of advanced product technology, most of today’s wrap systems are strong, durable, and virtually transparent. A wrap extension tends to be lighter and thinner on the natural nail than acrylics, although they’re generally regarded as not quite as strong.


The word “gel” applies to the form of the product, not the product itself. Gels, which are acrylic-based, are applied to the nail like polish, then cured, or hardened, under a light. Some gels use UV light, some use visible light, and others, used with wraps, require no light. There has been much research on the safety of UV lights, and it is accepted in the nail industry that there is no danger in a client being exposed to the UV light for the short period of time required to cure the nails.

Colored gels are available and are good for clients who want their color to last. Hairdressers and other professionals whose hands are frequently in water like to use gels because they are resistant to water.

Gel offer great variety. They can be used to extend the nail, over a tip for extra strength, or applied like a base coat to strengthen natural nails.


Acrylic nails are very strong and durable. And, due to tremendous advancements in product technology, they look more natural than ever before. Acrylic can be applied over a tip (called and acrylic overlay), or it can be used to sculpt a natural-looking nail. Contrary to popular misconceptions, acrylics do not cause nail infections. However, if they are not properly maintained, material and moisture can get trapped between the nail and the extension and cause an infection.


Wearing artificial extensions involves a tradeoff: In exchange for having consistently beautiful nails, you must visit your nail technician regularly and you must use greater care to protect your nails than you did before you had them applied. Plan to see your nail technician about every two weeks, but your nail technician will determine a schedule appropriate for you.

Do not do your nail technician’s job for her. If you break a nail or if a nail begins to lift, schedule a repair appointment; don’t fix the nail yourself. Gluing down a loose nail can cause moisture to become trapped between the nail and the extension and could possibly cause an infection. Do not bandage a broken nail either. Bandages can also trap moisture.

Treat your nails like jewels, not tools. Wear gloves when you do any kind of housework or gardening, use a soda can opener on pop tops, and dial the phone with the eraser end of a pencil.

If you are wearing polish or a French manicure, apply a top coat every other day to prevent chipping and yellowing. If you are out in the sun frequently, you may need to apply top coat every day. Your nail technician can recommend a quality top coat.

Your nail technician will recommend an application (whether it be acrylic, gel, or a wrap) and a nail length that best suit your hands and your lifestyle. For example, if you are especially hard on your nails because you type or do heavy work, shorter nails may be best for you.

Keep your cuticles soft by applying cuticle cream, cuticle oil, or a thick lotion once a day. Try this hand-softening trick: Slather your hands with lotion before you put rubber gloves on to wash dishes. The heat of the dishwasher will help skin absorb the lotion, and when the dishes are done your hands will be soft.

Reschedule your appointment if you are ill. If you have a contagious skin or nail condition, wait until it clears before visiting the salon again.

Very few clients will discover that they are allergic to an ingredient in some nail products. An allergic reaction is characterized by redness, itching, swelling, or irritation around the nail or around the eyes and mouth. If you develop any of these symptoms, call your nail technician. She will help you determine what ingredients you’re having a reaction to and will take steps to help you avoid them. If necessary, she can probably refer you to a dermatologist. Do not ignore a condition that develops around the nail.

If for some reason you decide that you no longer want to wear artificial nails, do not take them off yourself! Although it may seem the simplest way to do it, pulling the nails off can damage your natural nail and make regrowth a long and painful process. Artificial nails can be safely removed if done correctly by your nail technician.



For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.