Fiberglass systems promise a nail that is strong, light, and natural-looking. While fiberglass is not new, it is perhaps the fastest-growing segment of the nail market. Many view it as a natural step in the search for ways to create durable, beautiful nails.

The basic fiberglass system consists of the resin, the catalyst, and the fiberglass. The catalyst,  and the fiberglass. The resin adheres the fiberglass mesh to the nail. The catalyst activates the resin, allowing it to harden. The catalyst (sometimes called the activator or the accelerator) can come in spray, mist, brush-on, or eyedropper form. The fiberglass is the matrix or grid that provides the strength or reinforcement to the nail.

Another fiberglass option suspends the fiberglass mesh in a gel rather than a resin. To provide greater strength to a gel nail, a fabric such as fiberglass can be applied to the prepared nail .Then the normal gel application process is followed.

While most fiberglass systems contain these same basic elements, manufacturers are quick to point out that each system is individual. “This is not the time to play mix and match,” notes one manufacturer.

“Each system is developed so that every component works with every other component to achieve a desired result. If you choose resin A from one system and catalyst B from another and follow the Instructions provided for system C, don’t be surprised if your results are less than perfect.”

Another factor in choosing a system is manufacturer support. “The technician who puts together her own system by choosing products based on price or whim is going to be left out in the cold if she has a serious problem with product. Products are developed to work together in a specific way when directions are followed to the letter. If the tech makes substitutions, there is no guarantee that the result will be a good-looking nail,” says a fiberglass marketer.

“Following explicit manufacturer directions is key,” added another. “There are always refinements and time-saving techniques to be learned, but after you have worked with the product long enough to know what results to expect.

“I don’t mean that you can skip steps and take shortcuts. However, as you become more adept at working with the product and have seen how it performs in various situations, you can improve your speed,” she says.

1. Begin with a good, thorough manicure. A thorough cleansing of the nails is critical for proper application and maintenance of the nails. Wipe the nail with a cleanser or alcohol to remove oils and debris.

2. Place a bead of resin on the center of the natural nail and spread it from side to side with the nozzle tip to cover the nail. Avoid the cuticle area. If resin comes in contact with the skin, clean it off with an orangewood stick before applying the catalyst.

3. If using a spray catalyst, hold the bottle the recommended distance from the nail and spray a quick, fine mist. Generally, the bottle should be held from 5-10 inches from the nail. It is important not to spray too close to the nail as the catalyst may cause a burning sensation as it sets up.

Note: It is important to keep the resin container out of the way during this step. If kept too close the resin in the container could be activated by the catalyst spray. If you’re using a brush-on or eyedropper applicator for the catalyst, apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Some manufacturers recommend a second application of resin and catalyst to ensure protection of the natural nail from buffing and filling. Again, follow product instructions carefully.

4. Using a fine-grit file, lightly buff only the area of the nail to which the tip or wrap will be applied. Do not remove the resulting dust. This will help the tip bond to the nail.

5. Apply a small drop of resin to the free edge. Spread the resin into the area where the nail tip will be applied. Next, apply the nail tip to the nail. Rock the tip to insure that you eliminate all air pockets between the natural nail and the tip.

6. Be sure the natural nail is sealed to the tip then apply a small bead of resin to the stress point, where the tip and natural nail meet.

7. Apply catalyst to the nail.

8. Trim the tip to the desired length.

9. Using a medium-grit buffer, blend the top well. When the tip line is almost invisible, smooth it with a fine-grit buffer.

10. Trim a small strip of fiberglass mesh and lay it across the stress area. The fiberglass strip should be approximately ¼ -inch deep (length) and wide enough to go across the nail without touching the cuticle. Keep the fiberglass from 1/8 –inch to 1/16-inch from the sidewalls sit will seal to the nail. Do not overlap.          

11. Apply a small amount of resin to the strip and spread with nozzle. Carefully seal edges down.

12. Apply a second strip of fiberglass. This strip should be trimmed to cover the entire nail and free edge. Again, leave a 1/8-inch to 1/16 inch space at the sidewalls and cuticle.

13. Apply a small bead of resin and spread evenly across the mesh, saturating the fiberglass until it becomes transparent. Use the catalyst again.

14. Depending upon the product used and the strength of the client’s natural nails, repeat steps 12 and 13 as needed.

15. Using a fine-grit buffer, buff the entire nail to create a dull surface. Shiny spots on the buffed nail indicate that there are pits or low spots. Fill these areas with tiny drops of resin and activate with the catalyst.

16. Once you have a uniform surface, buff with a three-sided buffer to a high-gloss shine.

17. Apply polish. This step is optional. The finished fiberglass nail has a high sheen. Some clients may choose to wear these nails without polish.

18. Apply cuticle oil and massage into cuticles and nails. Instruct the client in nail care.

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