We are going to talk nail prep, or more importantly, cuticles…which can be a daunting task, especially to beginner nail techs. If you take too much you can seriously hurt your client; if you take too little, you will have problems with lifting, and let’s be honest, both aren’t very good for business.
When I first started, I found it difficult and capital N-E-R-V-E wracking getting used to an electric file close to the natural nail. I know there are many techs that don’t use an e-file which is okay. However, I am a nail tech that uses an e-file, so I want to share tips and tricks with you to help you ensure you get great retention with your clients. If you have been lacking in that department and have been finding you are getting more product breakdown, and issues with your client's nails lifting from the cuticle then this is the post for you.
Always, always, always, push back the cuticle, you want to expose the cuticle sitting under the eponychium. You can try to scrape the cuticle off the nail plate with the pusher. However, I always bring out my e-file with my favourite bit; Erica’s Diamond Sciver. I started using the diamond sciver bit a year into my business, and it completely changed my nail game. When first starting I found the medium grit diamond sciver the best. It is gentle enough that when used properly won’t cause excessive damage to the nail plate, and you can also use it on those pesky calluses that tend to build up on the tip of the finger. That is my favourite part, seeing it get rid of all the cuticle sitting on the nail plate that you couldn’t see. Almost every client says it feels like a massage for their cuticles, super weird, but I love to hear that. Now that I am more experienced, I have switched to a coarse bit which I find lasts me a bit longer.
I could probably write an entire blog on the technicalities and how to use/not use a diamond sciver bit, so I’m just going to leave that there and continue on the actual subject of this blog.
You never want your clients to feel heat when working on the nail plate, especially when working on the natural nail. All too often I see clients come in with the ring of fire on their nails, product lifting and it is just a mess. Sometimes heat happens, however, if it is happening more often then not, I would highly suggest going in for an advanced filing class. They are relatively inexpensive but highly valuable to your business, and your clients will thank you. I cannot say this enough; your clients are not overly sensitive, you are just not using your e-file correctly.
You never want to use a file on the nail plate that is lower than 180. My go to is a double sided file 240/180 grit for shaping, and my sanding band is a 180 or 240 grit. If I ever use my sanding band on the natural nail, it is on the lowest speed possible, and I am ever so slightly scuffing the surface. I can literally grab the sanding band when it is running, and it will almost stop, you don’t want to wreck your e-file by doing that all the time, but the general rule of thumb if you can’t stop it by grabbing it then the speed is too high for the natural nail.
If the nail isn’t correctly prepped and cleansed, once your product is on and you put gel polish on over top of that, it is going to look pretty lumpy and bumpy where the polish is, and that is hard to take a picture of, the goal should always be nice cuticles. That is the very first thing I look at when I look at images on Insta…the cuticles. It just looks so much better when it is straight and clean looking, not lumpy and bumpy.
Rules to work by: Always remove cuticle, and always cleanse. Cleansing is critical. Because all of the dust kicked up from removing the product, cuticle/nail prep, the dust will cause problems if it is not removed and cleansed. Lightly dusting it off with a nail brush and calling it a day is not good enough. Use the brush, then use a wipe with cleanser on it and wipe thoroughly, then once it dries out and you have a matte chalky finish on the nail plate VOILA!!! She is clean and ready for product.
Even if this prep takes you 15 extra minutes to start, do it properly! You will get faster, I promise. I find it beats having your clients complain all the time, or you having to squeeze in fixes all the time that could have been prevented in the first place.
Happy Prepping Beauties!