Acrylic Nails

Lifting Opens a Pandora's Box of Bad Habits

If just a few clients have lifting, look to their lifestyles for the solution. If the numbers are higher, however, the cause probably can be traced back to your technique.

When one or two clients complain of lifting, you more than likely can trace the cause hack to some activity they are doing or some medication they are taking. When 10 clients complain of lifting, however, its time to examine your technique.

Improper preparation of the nail plate is most frequently to blame, says DiDi Hornig, director of The Nail Authority, a division of Omaha, Neb.-based Peel’s Beauty Supply. When Hornig talks to a nail technician complaining of clients’ nails lifting, she talks her step-by-step through the preparation process.

“First, sanitize your hands and your client’s hands. Second, push back the cuticles. The secondary cuticle attached to the nail plate is skin, and product won’t stick to skin. To remove it, use cuticle remover, a pumice stone, or a file,” advises Hornig.

Then she tells technicians to remove natural oils from the nail surface by lightly buffing the nail with a 180-grit or finer abrasive. “You don’t want to rough up the nail; you just want to remove the shine,” she says.

After removing the shine, Hornig recommends cleansing the nail surface with a sanitizing wash. “That’s a step a lot of technicians leave out because they think they don’t need to do this if they use a dehydrator, but you need to remove the dust and oils,” she explains.

Next, you need to use a nail dehydrator to remove excess moisture. Finally, if the system calls for it, you should prime the nails. “Prime sparingly. More is not better!” says Hornig.

If your prep steps are fine, next you should look at your application method. “Are you applying the product using the liquid-to-powder ratio the manufacturer recommends?” asks Hornig.

Kelly Thompson, a nail technician at The Studio Hair Design in Minneapolis, Minn., and an educator for Creative Nail Design Systems, says the right consistency is crucial because product applied too dry tends to be inflexible and more brittle.

Judging product consistency can be difficult. Some manufacturers’ directions recommend a liquid-to-powder ratio of 1-to-1 or 2-to-l, but there’s no way to measure your powder and liquid on the brush. Other manufacturers’ instructions are even more vague, recommending “wet,” “medium-wet,” and “dry” balls of product.

What do you do? Use common sense, says Hornig. “When you place a wet bead on the nail, it should spread out quickly. A medium-wet bead should settle on the nail, but not spread out so much as to lose its shape. A dry ball should be stiff and hold its shape when placed on the nail,” she explains. A wet ball is too wet if it runs across the nail to the sidewalks and cuticle area. A medium-wet ball is too wet if it spreads out and loses its shape; it’s too dry if it doesn’t settle into the nail. A dry ball is too dry if it sticks to your brush or if you can see powder on the brad.

Once a bead is formed, you can’t change its consistency, although Hornig and Thompson have seen some technicians try. “I see techs place a bead that’s perfectly medium-wet, and then they wipe their brush, draining all the liquid out, and then the bead sticks,” says Hornig. Nor can you make a dry bead wetter. She explains: “Never dip back into your liquid to make a bead wetter after placing it on the nail. Once you mix the liquid and powder, they chemically combine.”

Thompson advises technicians to never let the product touch the skin because it can pick up oils that prevent it from bonding properly with the nail and eventually lead to lifting.

Another problem Thompson and Hornig cite is over-filing the artificial nail. “Today’s products are self-leveling; you don’t need anything coarser than a 180-grit file. Liquid and powder sets over time. When you tap the nail, the surface is set, but the entire nail isn’t cured. Seventy percent of the nail cures right after application — the other 30% cures within 24-48 hours. If you take a heavy file or drill to the nail, you can break down the product and cause tiny fractures that can lead to lifting,” Hornig explains.

Thompson agrees, adding, “Eighty-grit and 100-grit files are things of the past. Using an 80-grit file is like taking a rough rock across the nail: It tears up the acrylic.”

Is It Your Client?

According to Pat Van Strander, owner of Hair & Nail Works in Newburgh, N.Y., and an educator for OPI Products, when just a few clients have lifting, it’s probably caused by something they are doing, or it could be body chemistry.

Van Strander knows because she’s had lifting with numerous clients. According to her, some clients have oily nails, while others nails are too dry. Some clients have their hands in water too much, while some use harsh cleaning agents. Some clients pound at a keyboard all day, then go homo and dig in the garden. Don’t be afraid to examine your clients’ lifestyles — nails can only take so much abuse, and you need to make sure your clients know that.

Know these details about your client right from the start so that you can recommend the right service. Says Van Strander, “Keep a file on your clients so you can go back and see where the problem is Ask clients what they’re doing with their nails.”

Van Strander has several clients though, whose medications turned out to be the culprit. “I have four clients on thyroid medication,” she explains. “With two I couldn’t get any artificial product to stay on, so I had them start coining in for weekly manicures. We used nail strengtheners and their natural nails grew. The other two I changed from acrylics to wraps to gels, and the gels worked.”

Perhaps the; most common problem on the part of the client and perhaps the hardest for you to counsel her on, is the length of the nail. “Excessive length is the number-one cause of lifting.” Hornig says. The free edge of the nail should never be more than one-hall the length of the nail bed.

Remember, time is money and. the time you spend filing out lifting during fills could be better spent finding and servicing new-clients. Don’t be afraid to uncover the causes of lifting, even if it means gently counseling your client to protect: her beautiful nails (and her investment in them) by shortening them, just a little.

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