Natural Nails

The Help Desk

Get advice on dealing with fill lines and the effects of sunscreen on enhancements. 

What’s the best way to deal with fill lines? It seems to me the best way to get rid of them is to replace the whole acrylic nail.


Karen Hodges: The real key to controlling fill lines is to eliminate lifting. Fill lines generally occur when there is a teeny bit of product along the regrowth area that has lifted off the nail plate. If you can get your product so it is sealed down all the way around the cuticle and sidewalls, the problem will solve itself.


In the meantime, to help get rid of lifted areas, there are a couple of techniques that you can master with practice. Unfortunately, the pressure of filing the raised the product can create even more lifting. Instead, take your file and move it a bit beyond the end of the lifted area and file a groove. Be careful not to file into the nail plate. If you watch closely, you will be able to see the line where you are filing lighten (turn whitish) when you are nearing the nail plate. At that point, take the corner of your nipper and flake away the lifted area. What you will have left is acrylic that is sealed down to the nail and should not show fill lines. Don’t worry that the edge of this groove will be steep – it won’t show.


You can do this technique with either an electric file (drill) or a hand file. I use the corner of my barrel bit to take tiny “nibbles” and move quickly from one side to the next to avoid over-filing into the nail plate or creating friction heat.


Another option is to blend the product on the entire nail so that it is very thin and then work on just the lifted spots as above. But this only works if you have made fairly thin nails to start with. One more technique is to blend what you can, then use an adhesive promoter product (such as NSI’s Line Out) to reattach the lifted area. This type of product should be used sparingly and only for small areas.


I can’t over-emphasize the importance of controlling lifting in the first place. Use primer. Use it twice if needed. Use a cuticle pusher. Use a dehydrant. Use anything you need to get your product adhering, and the fills will be a breeze.


Melissa Carlini: The way that I deal with fill lines is to use a filing technique often called “zone refinement.” Instead of just going straight to zone 3 (the cuticle area) to buff down product, start in zone 1 at the free edge and work your way back to the cuticle. This will thin down your existing product ad remove the dreadful fill line in zone 3. Then just re-apply your product and follow your normal finishing techniques to complete your service.


I have found that sunblock can aggravate lifting. Is there any scientific basis for this?


Doug Schoon: Yes, certain types of sunscreen ingredients can be quickly absorbed into both enhancements and nail polish. If enough sunblock is absorbed, it will soften the product. Nail polish will dull, mar, and can even slide off the plate. Sunblock ingredients can also worsen existing enhancement lifting and increase breakage. For this reason, it is best to instruct clients to avoid getting sunblock on the product.

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