Acrylic Nails

Trouble Shooter: How to Sculpt Acrylic for Minimal Filing

Whether you’re using nail tips or forms, refining your sculpting technique greatly reduces your filing time.

Most nail technicians would probably agree that filing is one of the most time consuming tasks in any nail service. To learn how nail technicians can reduce their filing time as well as how to save time in other areas of the service, NAILS spoke to six winning nail competitors.

When sculpting a set of nails, Kim Morgan, a nail technician at Hair Force in Winter Haven. Fla., prefers tips to forms. Says Morgan, the top competitor for 1993 and 1994 according to NAILS Magazines’ Competitors Ranking, “I think white tips are the fastest to apply because they require no blending with the nail bed.”

If her client is going to wear a French manicure look, Morgan places a small ball of product at the cuticle area and brushes it toward the free edge. “You want the thinnest part pf the acrylic to be around the cuticle area,” she says, “because it requires less filing.” Next, Morgan applies a small ball of product at the stress area to finish blending, if needed. If she’s doing a pink-and-white application, Morgan places the white acrylic on the free edge of the nail first, in case she needs to correct the smile line. Next, using pink acrylic, she places a ball of product at the cuticle area and brushes toward the stress area. “Since I use a fast-setting acrylic, I use a brushing technique to smooth out the acrylic,” explains Morgan. If you use a patting technique and you don’t sculpt fast enough, you can get lumps and bumps, which will require filing later.”

Keep in mind, says Morgan that the best way to increase speed when doing a services is to do each step on all 10 nails then move on the next step. “This way, I can put away what ever product or implement I used for that step,” she says.

Chris Haubruge, co-owner of Classic Cuts in Mojave, Calif., has also perfected her sculpting technique to minimize filing.

Haubruge, who prefers to use nail forms when applying a new set of nails, says, “The inside edge of the form should match the shape of the free edge of the nail. The proper form fit is important because your goal is to create a set of perfectly sculptured nails, which means less filing.”

After removing the forms, Haubruge begins filing at the free edge of the nail with a 100-grit file. Then she files along the sidewalls. Next, she switches to a 180-grit file and files at the cuticle area, making it flush with the natural nail. Then she files at the stress area, blending the cuticle area with the stress area. Finally, she blends the stress area with the free edge. “Having a filing system you use consistently really saves you time,” says Haubruge.

Care Urkoski, owner of Simply Nails in Columbus, Neb., reduced her filing time by switching to a self-leveling acrylic because “it goes on smoother and thinner, which reduces filing time,” she says.

Urkoski also no longer uses a coarse file, such as an 80-grit file, because she says it made scratches in the acrylic. To get rid of the scratches, she would then switch to a less coarse file, which took up even more time. Now she only uses a fine-grit file for all her filing needs and says, “I get the results I need in less time.”

Tom Bachik, a nail technician at The Look in Bakersfield, Calif., says. “A perfect application of the acrylic is the most important thing to minimize filing. If you put the product on right, you won’t have a lot of filing to do later.”

Another time-saver, says Bachik, is to pinch the nail form together at the free edge, which allows you to mold the nail into a slimmer shape. “This lessens your filing time as well as retains strength,” he says.

To reduce filing when sculpting Bachik applies the acrylic flush with the nail, about 1/32-inch away from the cuticle. “This keeps the product from flooding the cuticle area, minimizes filing, and keeps product from lifting,” he explains.

If there is a low spot or dip in the nail, instead of applying more acrylic to the nail to even it out Krise Hliboki, owner of Our Place in Port Jefferson, N.Y., recommends saving time by filing down the rest of the nail.

“I use one file that has a 100-grit shaping section, a 180-grit finishing section, and an 80-grit pointed tip for etching,” says Hliboki. “Using one file from start to finish really saves time.”

For Sheryl Macauley, owner of The Nail Resort in Bakersfield, Calif., the key to minimum filing is to shape the nail with your brush when applying acrylic, instead of shaping with your file. “It’s more difficult and time-consuming to file the nail into shape,” she says.

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