Natural Nails

Nail Biters: A Change in Application Just Might Help

Nails Magazine will highlight application techniques in each issue and encourages those in the trade to submit opinions and suggestions. This month Rosary Ortiz, Talk of the Town, Marina Del Rey, Ca., discusses application techniques when confronted with the compulsive nail biter.

One of the biggest mistakes manicurists make applying sculptured nails to the problem nail biter is that they put the form up to the edge of the bitten nail. This inevitably results in a nail that looks like a ski slope. That however, is not the worst of the problems.

Initially you have to remember that you have a 50% chance of keeping that customer in the first place because they are compulsive nail biters and will keep putting their nails in their mouths causing an accelerated breakdown of the product. The only chance you have is to give them the most natural looking and strongest nails possible. This, of course, is where the importance of application comes in.

Over the years I have developed the following style for handling this particularly troubling customer:

First: Rough the nail bed.

Second: Prime with a thin coat of primer and let dry.

Third: Apply the form to the fingertip, not the bitten nail edge. Keep both sides of the cuticle corners free of the form so that you can extend the nail from the bitten and to the form thus giving a more natural look. Don’t forget to reinforce the comers of the free edge because that will be the weakest point.

Fourth: Filling; the object is to come out with the most natural looking nail. I would suggest to file the back around the cuticle to blend in with the real nail. This will prevent a ridge and give you a more secure nail. The tip should be filed thin to give the appearance of a real nail is where the thickness of the curvature should be maintained because this is the weakest point.

Fifth: The next step is to buff to the smoothest surface possible because you have to remember that the finishing touches are as important as the beginnings.

Sixth: Finish with two coats of polish and one top coat.

Remember, apply the nail to the tip of the finger, build out onto the skin and then to the form just enough to clear the fingertip. Be sure to keep them very short. This will allow them to get used to the nail and reduce the pressure on the free edge minimizing breakage.

Because these customers are compulsive nail biters they will have a tendency to play with their nails, in their mouth, causing stress that will weaken the nail and cause a few to break. It is up to the manicurist to inform the customer of this problem because they will tend to blame your abilities rather than their own bad habits.

It would also be to your best advantage to advise them to come back every ten to 12 days to fill and repair their nails.

But as I mentioned, you have a 50-50 chance of keeping them as regular customers unless they decide to change their bad habits. So my best advice is to follow the procedure I have outlined to give these nail biters the most natural looking nail possible. But don’t be discouraged. They are compulsive nail biters, and as the old cliché says, “You win some, you lose some.”

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