I can’t tel you how many times in my career as a nail technician when I have plead with my clients to NOT bite their nail enhancements!
“Please, Mrs. Jones, if your bust your nail, just file it and call me! I will squeeze you in for the repair!”
Too, too many times to count!
The reason that we ask you not to rip your enhancement off is that the more you rip/bite/pull off your nail enhancements, the harder it is for the product to adhere!
Simply put, our nails are made of mamy layers of cells including the protien keratin. (Just like our skin and hair, but in a harder form).
When we continually rip/bit/pull our artificial nails off, we take off layers of the protective keratin protein that our body naturally builds for us to protect our fingertips! Our nails.
Once that happens, the enhancements have a harder time making a good connection with our natural nail. The part that is left behind from where we ripped/bit/pulled off is now the weak link in the marriage of our nails and the enhancement.
This will continue to cause the artificial to lift. This is for some folks where the whole thing starts all over again.
They see a lift and they can’t help but ripping/biting/pulling off the nail enhancement.
Another problem can arise from this self defeating behavior. At a certain point the natural nail becomes so weak that it will actually lift off the natural nail bed.
NOT a good thing. Once there is a separation of the natural nail bed and the natural nail, it is like opening a door for bacteria to enter our system. Just like a cut.
And the problem can be accentuated when the customer wears dark polish and works with chemical or does a lot of hand washing.
Bacteria loves to live in dark, warm and moist places. Just like under your natural nails, under dark polish and with some moisture.
This of course is a extreme example (although one I have seen before) but it is in your best interest to leave your artificial nails to the care of your professional nail technician.
Do yourself a favor! If it is broken, either file it down, or call your technician. Let them fix it properly! It will maintain the health of your natural nail so that you can enjoy your lovely enhancements for years to come.
This may seem like a blog post written quite late for the changing landscape of nail services and nail technology.
I do, however, believe that it is something that needs to be keep in the forefront of the beauty industry. Even if it is only quietly sitting behind all the new and wonderful technology.
When I first trained to be a nail technician in 1989, the use of MMA (Methyl Methacrylate) in liquid monomer for acrylic nails had already been prohibited for use in the nail industry since the late 70’s.
While I was in school the largest concern was that we were using product that did not contain MMA. There wasn’t much discussion, or concern about the primers that we were using on clients natural nails to allow good acrylic nail adhesion.
Most companies used a acid base primer and it worked amazingly well! Which it would of course! It was etching the natural nail plate and making it so it would accept almost any type of liquid monomer/powder formulation.
When acrylic nails first became “the trend”, there were two distinct problems that came to the forefront. The first was MMA in the liquid monomer and the second was the use of the acid base primers.
In thevery early early days of artificial acrylic nails, a nail technician would file off most of the customers natural nail (#1 mistake), then they would apply between 1 and 5 coats of acid based primer (#2 mistake). Then they would sculpt acrylic nails using liquid that contained MMA (#3 mistake).
As stated earlier, the primer would etch the nail plate. Making it more porous which would allow the acrylic to bond TIGHTLY to it. MMA liquid has a very small molecular structure and would bond deeply and tightly to the acid etched natural nail plate.
And because the MMA liquid had such a small molecular structure, the finished acrylic enhancement was “hard as nails” (sorry for the pun)
So hard in fact that they hardly ever broke….But if there was a situation where the acrylic nail was put in a hard spot, like accidentally jammed into a table or caught in a cupboard, the first thing that would break would be the completely compromised natural nail. And since the natural nail was so weakened, it could be damaged quite deeply.
There is a web site that shows a very badly damage nail with MMA liquid acrylic nail on it. If you feel you can handle graphic nail injuries, you can visit it at http://www.acrylicenhancements.com/MMA.html. Again be warned that it is VERY graphic. It also has some clues to be on the look out for regarding MMA being used in salons.
I’m not sure if you have every snapped off a nail (either natural or artificial) but they hurt like heck and it can take awhile to heal. You have to be very careful when you have a nail break deep in the nail bed. This is a open wound that can get infected quite easily. Just think of all the work our hands do in one day. And all the places they get into!
It is imperative that if you have a deep break like this that you keep it clean and dry until it heals completely.
My best advice is to shorten the nail (being careful to keep your clients discomfort at a minimum), clean it well with antiseptic and allow it to heal completely before re-applying any type of enhancement.
It is a professional nail technicians duty to work only on healthy intact nails and skin….but hey, you all know that.
The advancement of low acid, no acid primers, and primer-less acrylic systems have made these early problems easily avoidable.
As well as the ban on MMA liquid monomers.
Some companies such as OPI have a bonding system where they use ph balancers (Bondaide) and a acrylo-keratin bonding agent (Bondex).
Bondaid, which is applied to prepped and cleaned nails, balances the PH level in the natural nails so that when the Bondex is applied, it will form a tight bond.
With Bondex, the keratin in the bonding agent attaches to the keratin in the natural nail and the “acrylo” in the bonding agent waits for the acrylic to be placed on the natural nail. This works like double sided tape! Much more gentle on your natural nails.
In today’s time, there is no reason to use harsh chemicals to have beautiful nails!
Although, unfortunately, some unscrupulous nail salons still do. But that is another blog post for sure.
For now, be aware of what your salon is using. (If they can’t tell you and show you the product they are using, it is better to move on. They need to know what they are using for acrylic, gel and wraps. NOT just the brand of polish they use)
A quick hint. If there is a very acidic odor in the salon that you are interested in, go ahead and ask them what they use. And while your at it, ask them what their sanitization practices are.
Any reputable salon will quite happily tell you what they use for both of these things.
If I have made things more confusing for you, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would be happy to help make this clearer for you and the safety of your nails and health.
I met a lovely lady the other day and in our conversation, we started talking about nails.
She was wearing a very pretty french manicure with a coppery bronze twist. It was coppery bronze sparkle at her free edge and then a pretty clear to complete the look.
She asked me, why sometimes, when she is getting her gels done and she puts her hand into cure, that there is a “burning” sensation on her nail bed.
I told her that there could be many different reasons. I thought I would share them with you as well.
To begin with she was wearing a structured nail. This is different from the newest craze in nail care, gel polish. Although they both require a uv source to cure them, the chemical make up is different.
One of the reasons for her burning sensation could be that her nail technician accidentally applied too much product at one time. Once you put your hands into the light source to cure, it starts a chemical reaction. UV Cured systems (either structured or gel polish) require a UV light source in conjunction with photo-initiators in the gel that lets them start to cure.
If there is too much product on a nail, then, basically, there is too much action in one spot. This causes the “burning” sensation.
One more reason is if your nail technician is using a new light source or has new bulbs in her existing UV light source. Its kinda like when you put additives in your fuel. It ups the octane level to make your engine run better. New lights=better performance which can equal quicker initiation of curing in gels.
Another reason is if you have sensitive nails. Either naturally sensitive nails, or from some type of internal (health issues) or external damage to your nail bed. If your natural nail has been compromised, then using any type of enhancement may have some level of discomfort. Please don’t be afraid of using enhancements just because of this statement.
If you are going to a licensed nail technician, then they should know if your nails are compromised past the point of being able to enhance them. Make sure your “tech” is licensed in your state or province (where applicable) and up to date on current health, safety and most importantly sanitization standards.
As a professional nail technician, I always welcomed clients inquiries into my sanitization policies, as well and what products I used. If you aren’t getting a straight answer from your prospective nail ‘tech’, MOVE ON!
On this point, please do not continue using any type of treatment on your nails (or hair or skin for that matter) if you are experiencing pain. Especially if you or your nail technician notice changes in your natural nail or the surrounding areas.
Now that I have cloaked this blog in doom and gloom, I want to point out that nail care in general and artificial nail enhancements are a wonderful things.
They can make you feel dressed to the “nines” even when you are in your PJ’s.
They can show a different side of you. Whether you are a closet ” rocker” or just love classically, neat, tidy and well groomed nails.
Or whether it is a mad dash into the salon to get a quick fix up for that important meeting that makes you feel that “Yes, I am ready for this!”
They can make us feel polished and completely put together!
Besides, who doesn’t like spending a hour with someone who is holding your hand and giving you some undivided attention?
Some one brought up a good question the other day.
What is the difference between structured gels and gel polish?
Basically, its all just science! No seriously, it is about chemical makeup.
Although each company is a little different, the basis is the same.
I am using the terms gel polish in general terms.
Structured gels are also called building gels or working gels by professionals but let’s keep it simple.
Structured Gels are used to enhance a natural nail by adding strength, repair a natural nail that is broken or most often, build a artificial nail enhancement that adds length. These gels come in different shades of pink, different hues of white, clear or in colored gels. (Not to be confused with gel polish-these are still structured gel and removal is completely different)
Gel Polish is used to add color to natural nails using gel that contains color. This has revolutionized the industry in the fact that it allows clients to enjoy up to three weeks of color on their nails without chipping or peeling. And with a super easy removal system that is very gentle on natural nails!
As for structured gels, once they are applied, they either have to be maintained within a 2-3 week time period by getting a “fill” or by having them removed. With proper maintenance and good product, clients can enjoy structured gel nails for a long long time. The removal process for structured gels is more complicated than the removal system with gel polish.
Structured gels removal require your technician to file off the gel until they reach the natural nail. This process involves a lot of time, a lot of filing over a short period of time (not really good for your natural nail) and a lot of dust.
Some salons offer (and I like this idea) removal in stages. Where the customer comes in and has the gel shortened and minimally thinned out, ( with just a light coat of gel to reseal them), then returns in two weeks to have it done again.
There are benefits to both the client and the technician. This will allow the customers natural nail to be treated more gently, and it allows the technician to monitor the out growth of the artificial enhancement. Plus, the client keeps up with good maintenance of their nails. (Sometimes it’s like shock treatment when you stop going to your nail technician!)
Usually after the third treatment in this removal regime, the client has her natural nails left and is still looking good, even after removal. (Haven’t we all seen those awful nails that people rip off instead of having them professionally removed!!! Ugggh)
The process for gel polish removal is so much easier than removing structured gels. Once the client has enjoyed the color for up to three weeks, they return to the salon to either have the color removed all together or to have a new color put on! (Most likely the case)
With gel polish removal, the technician simply soaks off the gel polish. This can take between 10-20 minutes depending on which product is being removed. Because of the chemical make-up of gel polish, this is easy, quick and very very gentle on the natural nail.
There are a few things that need to be considered when having your gel polish removed or when doing it yourself. Since none of them are life threatening, I will save that for a later blog!
OK, so the science of it for the people like me that have to know how things work!
Structured Gels have a tight molecular structure. Therefore, it is impregnable to solvents (like acetone based removal systems) and thus need to be filed off.
Oligomer Molecular Structure- Traditional UV Gel
Please do not just grow out your nails with any type of artificial nail enhancement. The stress area of the nail changes as your nail grows. This can lead to breakage of your natural nail high on your nail bed. This is why a regime with your technician for removal is vital!
Gel Polishes have elongated molecular structure that allows solvents to penetrate and lift the color from the natural nail. So there is no damage to the natural nail.
Oligomer Molecular Structure- Soak-Off Gel UV Gel
Thank you to NSI Nail Lab for the graphics.
Hopefully this will clear up the confusion that sometimes occurs between structured gels and gel polish!