Toenails can present a variety of challenges as feet are abused in all kinds of ways — from shoes that don’t fit properly to stubbing them on furniture and dropping all manner of heavy objects on them. There are also some genetic issues with toenails that may require makeovers as well.
If a client has a toenail that has broken down low from being stubbed, a fiberglass method combined with gel, gel-polish, or a resin could be used to create a temporary edge until the toenail grows back out. Prepare the toenail as you would for an enhancement service, place a piece of fiberglass along the edge of the toenail, then trim it to the desired length and approximate shape.
Apply the product of your choice gently to the fiberglass, keeping in mind it will flex and bend, so a very thin base layer first is ideal to give it some stiffness before you begin building. Once you have a thin base layer applied and cured or dried, build your middle or structured layer then cure or dry, and finish with sealant if your system calls for one. Finish file the toenail as you would an enhancement and polish as if it were a normal toenail.
More severely damaged toenails could require a full reconstruction and these can be done in several different ways. A method that has been around for several decades is to use liquid and powder to sculpt a toenail, using the existing piece of toenail as the base or anchor for the product.
Begin by doing your usual enhancement prep gently on the existing nail. Then, using your own judgment, you can choose to add a form to protect the skin, or place the product on the skin itself. It will make it easier to remove the form if you stick two of them back to back with only a small amount of the sticky part touching the skin so that it will pull out easier once the product is set.
Sculpt the toenail into the approximate length, width, and shape the client would like it to be. Should you choose to do this without a form, be aware that you are contaminating your brush by allowing it to touch skin and keep a separate brush for this procedure.
Allow the product to set, then finish file it as you normally would. Advise the client on home care and apply polish if desired. This service can be life-changing for clients who couldn’t go barefoot without embarrassment or had given up wearing open-toed shoes.
Some companies have now created products specifically designed for toenail reconstruction that are meant to handle the warm, moist environment toenails can sometimes find themselves in. They also come with their own home-care regimen. These generally require training and certification with a specific manufacturer.
Holly Schippers is a contributing editor to NAILS and a member of Team CND. Follow her FingerNailFixer blog on www.nailsmag.com.