Acrylic Nails

The Help Desk

Get tips on soaking off acrylic, changing primer, placing tips, and tricky whirlpool spa tubs. 

My client refuses to have her acrylic tips soaked off. She says the acetone burns her fingers. How can I soak them without causing her pain?


Barb Wetzel: A burning sensation can be caused by the rapid evaporation rate of the acetone against a client’s skin when she soaks in a bowl full of acetone (it’s actually known as the cooling evaporative effect, which can be felt as either coldness, burning, or generalized discomfort). If you must remove all of the old product, then your options are to file it off by hand (simply shorten and manually file the product until it is very thin, then buff and grow off the rest) or use the “tinfoil” method as explained below to reduce her pain sensation to the acetone.

1) Shorten the acrylic nails with a tip slicer or other type of cutter.

2)  Remove the shine from the acrylic with a coarse file to break the surface of the acrylic.

3) Apply Vaseline or a similar heavy occlusive cream generously to the client’s skin on the fingers up to the knuckle; don’t forget the underside of the finger at the smile line and the tip to the finger.

4) Soak a cotton ball in straight acetone or the recommended acrylic removal solution for your acrylic brand, and place it on the acrylic nail surface.

5) Wrap the finger (with the cotton ball) in small squares of tin foil. The tin foil will keep the cotton ball securely on her nail and will also prevent the evaporation effect, which ca cause the burning sensation.

6) Check one nail after approximately 20-30 minutes (depending on the brand of acrylic and the type of solvent used), then re-check at 10 minute intervals beyond that. If necessary, replace the cotton soaked balls halfway through the procedure.

7) When nail are “done” they should slide off the nail bed fairly easily with an orangewood stick. Remove foil from only one nail at a time to keep the product from hardening again.

How often should you change your primer? I know it can get contaminated with bacteria.

Doug Schoon: You will be happy to learn that bacteria cannot live in many nail products, such as primers, liquid nail monomers, and polish. These products are considered to be “self-disinfecting.” This explains why sculpting brushes don’t need to be disinfected. You should change your primer if it becomes cloudy. To prolong the shelf life, keep primers in a coo, dry location, out of direct sunlight…and OUT of the reach of children, please!

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