Why am I having lifting problems with my acrylic applications?


I think I prep nails and apply nail enhancements correctly, but my clients frequently experience lifting. What am I doing wrong?


Lifting issues with acrylic or gel can be tricky. I go back to basics to see if the solution is on my end or my client’s. I start by having the client wash her hands with nonmoisturizing soap and water. With a cotton ball and 100% acetone, clean the nails and surrounding skin to temporarily dehydrate the area. Prep the cuticle dry using a cuticle bit, hand file to lightly etch the nail surface, brush to remove all dust, and wipe with alcohol and a lintfree pad (I use a makeup wedge) to ensure all dust has been removed. Apply pH bond, and primer if needed. It’s important to know your liquid-to-powder ratio for best adhesion. Be sure to allow the acrylic to harden completely before finish filing. Add colors of choice and top coat, capping the free edges. Pamper the client with scented cuticle oil and lotion to rehydrate the skin.

With proper prep we can ensure our nail enhancement should not lift. Then the troubleshooting begins. Where is the lifting occurring? If lifting occurs at the cuticle, most likely improper prep is the problem. If it’s happening from the sides, most likely product ratio and placement is the culprit. Lifting from the free edge may be caused by improper prep, not removing prior lifting, or an overly dry natural nail curling underneath. You should also troubleshoot clients. Do they pick? Do they have a habit of tapping a certain nail? Do they have a habit of putting a nail in their mouth and the saliva is breaking down product? Do they use products that contain acetone, including some window cleaners, jewelry cleaners, and other cleaning products? Lifting issues are frequently caused by these client behaviors.

— Amy Masters, Dayton, Wyo.-based nail tech and salon owner.
Find out about her online nail workshops on Facebook @workshopsbyamymasters.

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Acrylic powders (polymers) that have been tinted with color; used with regular monomers to create custom color enhancements or...
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