Natural Nails

The Help Desk

Sometimes the best answers to technical questions are from your peers. In this bimonthly column, respected nail veterans from across the country tackle reader questions, ranging from how to blend tips with an electric file to file storage and maintenance to the disposal of used acetone. Have a technical problem you can’t solve? Send it by fax to (310) 533-2504, or mail to NAILS Help Desk, 21061 S.Western Ave.,Torrance, CA 90501, or e-mail us at [email protected]


Can you use an electric file to blend tips? Also, is there a system you follow so that you’re not wasting time switching drill bits all the time?


Sue Roberts: Yes, after the tip is glued and secure, brush a little acetone or a tip blender across the glued seam. Then drill over the seam of the tip to blend it into the natural nail (the same way that you would with an emery board, by hand). Using acetone or a tip blender helps the tip blend more easily and makes the tip virtually invisible on the natural nail. It’s not necessary, but makes job easier.


Tracey Stadamire: I never use a drill for this purpose. Instead, I use a nail dissolver that softens up the area where the tip is applied, so you can just buff away the excess material.


I am student doing my first full sets of acrylic, and I have one common problem – lifting at the cuticle area after about three days. What am I doing wrong?


Marti Pruess: Lifting at the cuticle is generally caused by any one of four things: improper preparation (see “Perfect Nails Begin with Proper Prep,” November 1998), incorrect product consistency, too much primer (or skipping it altogether), or product on the skin.


Roberts: Your mixture could be too thick or too wet. Sometimes a product that’s not controlled well can seap around the cuticles. After a couple of days of growth, it will lift. Another possibility is that your product is not being “stippled” or “sealed” around the cuticle during the application. These are common problems with new technicians. Be sure you know the specifics of your product, including proper consistency and application. A great way to learn is to practice on your own nails.


Stadamire: You may be applying product too close to the cuticle or even over the cuticle. Make sure you push the cuticles back, dehydrate the nails, take your time, and keep the acrylic 1/16-inch away from the cuticle. Occasionally, dead skin on the nail plate can cause lifting, so make sure the client washes her hands, which softens cuticles, making it easier for you to push them back.


Michele Martinez: If your brush is getting on the skin and cuticle, it’s also absorbing oils, which can cause lifting. Also, be sure to remove all visible overgrowth of the cuticle before you apply acrylic.


I am currently building my business and have very few regulars. I know I should keep one nail file per customer, but it is too expensive for me with so many one-time clients right now. How long should I keep my files? What are the signs to look for when they wear out?


Schrabeck: I recommend that you do not keep nail files for several reasons: 1) Storage of nail files requires space and time. 2) A used nail file should be sanitized before storage, and not all state boards agree this can be accomplished. 3) A used nail file is not as useful as a new one. A new file gives your more predictable results. 4) Disposable files are very cost-effective when purchased in bulk. At the end of the service, you can present the file to your client and say, “This is for you.” Clients appreciate their “free” file and your concern for their health and safety.


Stadamire: I hope you aren’t giving your supplies away! Let the customer purchase them from you. Keep your files for three visits, then dispose of them. Otherwise you will be sending more time on her nails and less time with a new file.


I have an acrylic client with nails that lift in the center about every two months or so. There is never any lifting along the edges, though. Why is this happening, and what should I do for her?


Roberts: I think this occurs when the nail is “bumped.” It is almost as if the “suction” in the middle releases. When I see this, I will file or drill out the center and re-apply the acrylic product. Be sure you pat and press the product down firmly onto the nail plate.


Stadamire: This sometimes happens to me when I rush without pressing down, so try pressing down harder with the product or slow down your technique.


Martinez: Some ski-slope nails will do this. When you apply her tips, cut them down so that the edge of the tip fits into the middle of the dip. Also, it could be caused by the glue that you are using to apply the tips. If you suspect this might be the problem, try different glues. Some clients have different needs based on their skin type.


Jaime Schrabeck: Your client may not recall banging her nail into a hard object, but this kind of lifting is a likely result of sudden excessive pressure on the end of the nail. To repair the nail, file away the lifted product and refill the area following your normal fill procedure. If this is an ongoing problem, I would recommend that the client shorten her nails.


What are you supposed to do with the used acetone after soaking off acrylics?


Stadamire: Some nail companies sell simple disposal systems, or you can use a suitable waste container with a lid, but never put it down the toilet or the sink. It may cause damage to the pipes.


Martinez: Do not put it down the drain because it can wear down the PVC pipes. Dispose of all wastes in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.


Schrabeck: You should contact your local waste management company, and they will provide you with information on proper disposal.

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The portion of a nail service, usually an acrylic service, that focuses on reducing the moisture and oils on the natural nail so that a tip or...
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