Q&A: How do I prevent French manicures from chipping?

February 18, 2014

I’m noticing that my gel-polish French manicures aren’t lasting like full-color gel-polishes. The white is chipping off at the free edge. I know I swipe the end of the free edge or the tip so drying doesn’t pull it back. What could be causing this?


A: When troubleshooting nail problems such as the dreaded tip chip, know that working with any brand of white requires a bit of TLC during application. This is because whites are created with a pigment form of titanium dioxide. The more of it added to the formula, the brighter and more opaque the white will be. It’s also considered a natural form of sunscreen. Combine the UV shielding properties of titanium dioxide with a UV curing nail lamp, and what do you get? Bright whites that are resistant to curing.

When UV rays can’t penetrate, you end up with an under-cured product that can chip off prematurely. You’ve already taken the right steps in double-checking your work. Now, with the UV-resistant quality of whites in mind, retrace your steps and focus on the smoothness and thinness of application:

1. Titanium dioxide makes white thicken up. Always shake the product well prior to use to prevent lumps and create better liquid consistency.

2. White is best in threes. Using three super-thin layers prevents shadowing in white and ensures even curing.

For overall performance, check through the basics of your steps and see if any of these other issues might apply:

     1. Is the preparation of the nail work immaculate? Remove all oils and cap the free edge on all layers.
     2. Did you double check for peeling free edges? If this is present, lightly top file to remove any traces of loose nail   
     3. How is the overall health of the nail? If there are too many layers of the nail that are loose, the nail can become too
     flexible. If this is the case, the client may need a stronger base until the weak section grows out.  

 — Hillary Fry is an educator for La Palm Products’ Gel II and owner of Nails by Hillary based in Shorewood, Wis.

How can I prevent lifting when my client's hands are constantly in water?

I have a client who is in the medical field so her hands are constantly in water. She has me keep the length of her acrylic nails short. No matter what I do, she always has at least one nail that comes off, and she always has lifting and gets water under the acrylic. I prep the nails correctly, I have a cuticle bit to clean the cuticle area, and I wipe the nail with alcohol, dehydrate the nail, and prime the nail. What should I do?

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