Editor's Note: This article has recently been updated and republished. 

Nails by Tracey Lee 
 -  Photographer: Provecho; MediaBrand: NailPerfect; Model: Iris Karacsony

Nails by Tracey Lee

Photographer: Provecho; MediaBrand: NailPerfect; Model: Iris Karacsony

Thanks to the competition circuit, we have become well aware of the fact that it is possible to “pinch” enhancements in order to make them smaller and sleeker than when originally placed. As beautiful as this appears on the surface, when this pinching technique is done incorrectly, it can have dire effects.

Pinching an enhancement  -

Pinching an enhancement

Firstly, nail pros have taken it to the next level by not only pinching the extension, but also pinching the entire enhancement, including the nail plate. Besides being brutally painful, it can also cause irreparable damage to the nail plate.

Damaged nail matrix   -

Damaged nail matrix 

Years ago I was a model for a competition training. We were told “no pain, no gain,” so as painful the pinching was, I had to keep quiet. That was until the entire enhancement cracked through the middle. I was no longer quiet. To the left is a picture of my pinkie 15 years later. The damage was not only to the enhancement, but all the way through to my matrix. I constantly need to wear product on this nail as my nail plate is open from the proximal nail fold to the free edge, which you can see as the red line. 

What is really amazing is that my body was feeling sorry for itself and has developed a pterygium in place of my hyponychium on this particular nail to keep it together for as long as possible from underneath — ain’t nature beautiful!

Pterygium on the underside of the nail  -

Pterygium on the underside of the nail

I would not recommend pinching without being instructed by an educator on how to do it. Even then, it’s about pinching the free edge, not the natural nail.

More importantly, I would focus on a proper form application instead. Learn how to place your form correctly to create an extension that’s as sleek as possible (see photos). Don’t simply place the form and leave it very broad because you know you can pinch it later.

Incorrect form placement  -

Incorrect form placement

Correct form placement   -

Correct form placement 

Great form application allows for:

• Amazing C-curves (which improves strength)

• Sleek extensions

• Great durability of enhancements

Read Tracey Lee’s advice on brush control here.

Read Tracey Lee’s advice on mix ratio here.


Tracey Lee   -

Tracey Lee 







Nail artist and independent international nail educator Tracey Lee was the winner of NAILS Next Top Nail Artist Season 4. Follow her on Instagram @traceyleenails. Check out her site www.beauty2trs.com, for more nail education.

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