Ask Barb


Nail polish is considered a household hazardous waste (HHW), and as such can be brought to any Eco-Depot collection event. Nail polish bottles should not be recycled in a curbside bin or cart unless they are completely empty. Other common HHWs usually found inside the home (as opposed to in a shed or garage) are nail polish removers, flea collars and flea dips, oven cleaner, insect repellent, and mercury thermometers.

Anything with a skull and crossbones on the label, or that cautions you to use in a well-ventilated area is considered household hazardous waste. Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) holds over 40 Eco-Depot events each year around the state. The full schedule can be viewed at We do ask that you make an appointment so that traffic flow at the events is managed efficiently. As always, please call or email RIRRC with any questions about what is or isn’t, considered HHW.

ANSWER: Generally, most techs do include polish in their fill prices. Althoug, charging a-la-carte for it (just as you might for repairs, nail art, paraffin, or other add-ons)may be acceptable as well. But beware, most clients do not think of polish as an extra add-on, they consider it to be part of the service. If you do charge extra for polish, you have to be sure then that your nails look good enough to be left unpolished. Nails that look good enough to go without nail polish are generally referred to as pink and whites, and most of us charge MORE, not less for this option! If clients are going home and polishing them themselves, it could be making your work look bad. It also invites the clients to play nail tech themselves... one thing leads to another and soon they are applying and removing polish several times between appts, which can damage the natural nail and the enhancement, and then they start filing on them.... and next thing you know they miught be skipping fills and doing buff-outs instead... Ultimately though, they will blame YOU for their nails not holding up or looking their best. For the most client control, and the best professional servicing of clients, and most importantly, longevity to your career, it is imperative that you master polish application ASAP! Amylou makes a very good point! Remember that ALL essential oils are very strong and NONE of them should ever be used "neat" (that is straight).... I use only less than an OZ of tea tree oil per gallon of oil! But you can leave it out all together by making smaller batches of oil at a time and/or using some WHEAT based oils in the mix (for it's preservative properties to help prevent spoilage over time).... but of course some poeple are sensitive to wheat as well! Also keep in mind those with NUT sensitivities when making your oils blends!(The skin is an entry route to the blood stream, just as the nose, eyes and mouth are, and those with severe allergies, can have reactions to just about anything, under certain circumstances.) Aromatherapy is a science and should be respected for it's therapuetic benefits just as any other herb or DRUG is. Aspirin was originally made from willow bark (boiled as a tea I believe and drank or applied topically), pharmascisits tell me that if aspirin were to be "discovered" today (in this century), it would propbably never be over the counter, it would be a prescription drug only! It's that powerful... yet we take it for granted! And back before they were able to copy it chemically ihn the lab, it was considered "just an herbal" remedy!
Aromatherapy, essential oils, herbs, etc are serious stuff, and we should all excersise caution when working with them, because they DO indeed work, when worked with properly. Education is key here! Essential oils, all of them, including tea tree oil should be diluted with a carrier oil before use. And with all things, there is always someone allergic to just about anything! I myself am sensitive to chamomile, the thing that is supposed to be best for those with sensitive skin. Well now I know I'm not "crazy" for being allergic to it... turns out chamomille is a cousin of RAGWEED, which I'm highly allergic too! See my website for more info and cautions on Aromatherapy. Oils do not make nails lift. Poor technique makes nails lift, and then the presence of oil can exaccerbate the lifting problem. Lifting comes first, then MORE lifting. Oil does not CAUSE the initial lifting. Period.
Most of the vegeatble based oils are good carrier oils (such as those in Solar Oil brand, ie grape seed, jojoba, etc). Other great oils for cuticles or otherwise are: sesame seed, rice bran, soya, apricot kernel, almond, viamin E, etc. Basically if it's edible it's "good"! Generally the more expensive the better... so that is why mixing several is good. Use the least expensive oil of your "blend" as your base, and add the more expensive oils according to your budget. Wheat based oils (such as wheat germ)make good preservatives to extend the shelf life of oils. Small amounts of aromatherapy oils can also be added for "therapuetic" effects (lavender is calming, etc)and also to help retard spoilage (such as tea tree oil). You can blend oils in advance or blend small amounts as needed and according to each clients particular needs. For more info on this subject (oil blends) see my Hnts & Tips Page: and also the FAQ's page for other related info, also see previous conversation threads here in these message bds on the subject. You can also find out more about oils in books on Aromatherapy and Massage (available thru Milady, see link on links page, or you can get them from, see my "library" page at ) Client left me but still comes to shop for hair… how to handle….
Since we can't "make" clients come to us, the best you can hope for is that someday she will come back to you. She could have left for a zillion reasons and you probably wouldn't get the real reason out of her anyway even if you did ask because she won't want to embarass herself or embarass you depending on the "real" reason.
The best thing to do is to be nice and not make her feel guilty... that will leave the door open for her return someday. Just say "Hi" and gab pleasantly and quickly about things other than nails (such as her job, husband, etc!) If you are not feeling up to that you can always just say nothing and keep yourself busy when she's in the salon.
Another option (and/or) would be to send her a short note letting her know should she ever be in need of your services again you would love to have her back as a client.... In the meantime you could offer her a special discount on a service other than her fills, such as a pedicure or paraffin or even just a polish change! Or you could send her an"exit interview" or customer satisfaction questionairre to fill out anonymously.
I once knew a tech who had a sign that said: "If you like my work, then please tell others! If you don't, then please tell me!" This lets clients know that you are open to constructive critism and are willing to work through things. Bottom line though.... New techs do loose more clients due to the learning curve. Some clients just love to break in a new tech and 'train" her to their way of thinking.... these same clients also often crave "time" spent in the chair; they feel gipped if you don't spend "too much time" with them. So they tend to like newer and often slower techs rather than their quicker and more experiences counterparts. Other clients just do not have the patience to work with a newer tech, and so will seek out a more experienced one.... so again... you just might get her back someday, so leave that door wide open! Should I change salons?
The grass always appears greener on the other side of the fence..... Techs in bigger towns feel that there is too much competition from so many salons for them to build a clientel. It's really a matter of perspective and perseverance in the long run. If this town has not really had much in the way of nail services before, it m,ay take a while for locals to notice you or take an interest. Or it may be a matter of creating the demand... as more and more locals get nails, more and more will want them.
The time factor you have to personally decide for yourself if you can 'afford" the time or not for extra travel. In most careers it's not unusual to work an hour or more away from home.
Consider also how long you would be willing to drive so far... if not "forever" then would you eventually move closer to your job, or would you be forced to start over again anyway closer to your home?
Perhaps though, you'd feel better getting your "practice" further from home, then be able to open up ship closer to home as an already experienced and proficient expert technician....
Lots of things to consider for you! Good luck in whatever you decide!
ANSWER: Some nail techs may indeed have been educated wrong about cuticles, and so continue the practice. These techs are in desperate need of some current, up to date education on the basics! Some were initially educated wrong but now know better and still do it anyway out of fear of loosing clients! Can you imagine any other licensed professional jeopardizing their license just to please clients? Would you really want a lawyer or Dr who is so desperate for clients that they will break the law and risk their license just to keep you happy. Wouldn't we all rather that they at least EXPLAIN why they can't do what we want. Most clients don't know that cutting is wrong because we as nail techs are not getting the message to them! WE can't do anything about those techs who still operate improperly, but we can educate the clients as to the right way to do things! Ultimately, and in time, educated clients will demand what's "right". Explain to clients that it is ILLEGAL for us as nail techs to cut live skin because we are not doctors and our implements are not sterilized in an autoclave, and cutting does more harm than good! Ask these clients to think about where those nippers have been before they were used on them at other salons!!! That should give them something to think about. Are they really willing to risk damaging their hands through the transfer of infectious disease? Especially when it's not even a necessary risk! (*I actually had a client say to me once: "That's why I want YOU to nip them, because you at least wash and sanitize your implements. Those other salons (ie as the ones willing to nip!) keep their nippers in a drawer or a basket on top of the desk, all covered in dust, and sometimes they even make me bleed!" Arghhhhhhh! is all I could say, and then firmly stand my ground and say "NO!" So her choice became, no nipping in my nice clean and sanitary environment, or nipping in a dirty salon with dirty nippers! ) Then educate clients on the proper methods of caring for cuticles. Yes, it will take time! They didn't damage those cuticles that badly overnite afterall! (Just like loosing 10 lbs takes longer than putting on 10!) Remind them that cuticle health is a direct reflection of nail health! HEALTHY cuticles mean the chance of long, strong, beautiful natural nails is increased. Unhealthy cuticles mean unhealthy nails. They can't even start on growing out or having nice natural nails until their cuticles are "repaired" and in good health. The longer they keep cutting, the longer it will take to repair the damage, beacuse cutting is damaging to the cuticle, which can damage the matrix (which the cuticle protects!), and so ultimately the nail itself! Regular professional manicures, paraffin and other hydrating and conditioning treatments. Religiuos use of oils daily, and gently pushing back and massaging the cuticles daily, with NO nipping whatsoever. Keeping polish and especially "nail strengtheners" off the cuticle, which are also an irritant to the cuticle and skin. Avoiding harsh detergents, chemicals and solvents, and also minimizing lengthy hot water soaking which is drying. Finally, as last resort with difficult clients, regarding any facet of nails that they want me to do their way rather than the right way..... "You've been doing it your way for 20-30-40 years now, and obviously you are not happy with the results or you wouldn't be here now sitting in my chair. I am an educated, licensed professional who does nothing but nails all day everyday for a living, so I might just know a little more than most peopoe what works and doesn't work when it comes to nails. So why don't we try doing it my way for a while and see what happens!" They are paying for your expertise; if they choose to ignore it and go elsewhere that is their option. You have their best interest at heart, and you do know better than they do on this matter, PERIOD. We are not willing to risk our integrity and professionalism (and license) for a few extra measly dollars. There are plently of so called "professionals" who are willing though, so politely let clients know their options! Ditto all the above for CREDO blades by the way! Just say NO! Clients can be just like children sometimes in that they need us to stand our ground and set the boundries. The need us to tell them what is right and what is wrong.... and then they will still push and test to see if we'll give in and see what they can get away with! If they sense weakness or hesitation or wavering they'll go after it. If you give in even once, it only gets tougher each time. Stand firm and act sure of yourself and your skills and your knowledge. How often for manicures appts……….
Manicure clients should book weekly appts. Pedicure clients should book monthly. Most "regular" manicure clients will come in weekly to keep their natural nails tip top shape all the time. Natural nails rquire far more care and attention to maintain length than do artificial nails! Natural nails are a real committment, but those who are committed to au natural only, will understand that they need to get in weekly to maintain results. Some prefer to come every other week instead of weekly, as more of a pampering experience and schedule according to their needs for special events and such. But every other week clients usually need to do more home maintenance and will need to keep their nails shorter to prevent breaks and accomodate the amount of growth of 2 weeks vs only 1 week. Their manicures can also take you more time to do, so charge accordingly.... I had a base price for weekly manicures, $3 higher for 2 weekers (standings and regulars) and then another $3 higher for one time or occassional or irregular clients. You can also price it as the highest price is the base price, and the regulars get discounts for frequency (standing appts), because you save time because their nails require less work! In either case, these regular manicure clients start to get "jealous" of the gel nail clients when they see how well the gel holds up and holds on to polish and allows longer lengths and the ability to only come in every 3 weeks with no home maintenance requirements (like repolishing or filing in between appts).... when they start to add up the $$ savings and the time savings they see that overlays are actually less expensive and less hassle than manicures!

It's simply against the LAW for us to cut cuticles*! Cuticles are live skin, and live skin can only be cut by licensed Doctors with sterilized implements! (*NOTE: Actually, what most of us refer to as the "cuticle" is actually technically called the EPONYCHIUM.. True cuticle is the dead skin that sheds and pushes out from under the eponychium… what most of us mistakenly call the pterygium! True cuticle is the clear, thin, skin that must be removed to make enhancememnt product or nail polish adhere to the nail plate properly. True cuticle is removed by pushing, scraping or scrubbing motions with metal implements, files, cuticle pushers, or birchwood sticks. You really couldn't "cut" true cuticle anyway. Eponychium is the proximal nail fold at the base of the nail that covers and protects the matrix and produces a protective seal. When clients say they want their cuticles cut, we all know that what they mean is that they want their eponychiums cut. I will use the word cuticle below here in the discussion of "cutting cuticles", to describe what most of us consider and think of as the cuticle when the correct terminology would be eponychium, and it is the eponychium that should not be cut.)
The bodys response to "damage" is to repair the damage. Initially the body over responds to do the repair work quickly, this leads to a thickening and hardening of the skin at the wound site. Just like a scab! If you pick the scab it will come back again thicker and harder and faster... eventually it will cause permenent scarring, which is permnanent damage! Not to mention the possibilities of infection, etc with red, inflamed cuticles! Cutting cuticles is a diservice to the client and a damage to our professional reputations as well. Cutting cuticles is only a quick fix which ultimately does more damage than good, as the cuticles will keep getting worse instead of better! Cut cuticles then need to be cut more and more frquently to keep looking groomed, it's a viscious catch 22 cycle. Daily oil and massage and gentle pushing back of the cuticles is the only safe, effective, and ultimately permenent way to care for cuticles. While this solution is not "instant", it is the permenent solution! As professional nail techs we have to educate our clients as to the best long term solutions and not let them "bully" us into doing things that are harmful to them just because they want it and that's what they think will work.
A Dr won't just give us an Rx for pain killers because our neck hurts from working to many hours; he investigates and offers strategies for long term solutions to our problems, not just a temp mask to cover up the problem! While we might really want our pain to go away right now, ultimately what we want is for our pain to be managed permanently, not made worse because the Dr was too lazy to diagnose us and treat the real underlying problem. Taking a pill today will only make us feel better today, but tomorrow we'll feel even worse and need 2 pills, then 3 then 4.... Cutting cuticles is the same, first once every 2 weeks, then once a week, soon they start looking bad within a day or 2 of being cut! If cutting cuticles worked, then why would they even need to be cut again and again, and again? Proper, non-invasive, manicuring is the only route to healthy cuticles (along with proper and vigilant home care!)


You can always try leaving out the bond-aid and see if that helps, but I doubt it...... For manicure clients to truly have success, they need to be done weekly rather than every other week. Also, you might want to consider another formula or product line with her, or consider NO polish or treatments at all, and only buff to a high shine with a 3 way buffer or chaimois. I would add weekly paraffin to her manicures as well as strcit home mainteneace guidelines for her to follow. We cannot undue 2 weeks of abuse in 1/2 hour! While dehydrators can be considered "damaging" to the natural nail, they are no more so than polish or remover, and they are certainly a better option when weighing risk vs benefit of chipping polish removing layers of nail (because polish adheres better to perfectly clean and surface dehydrated nails). Polish and nail treatments are full of solvents that evaporate from the liquid polish to dry the polish, and they could be considered just as if not more damaging. Perhaps this client needs to consider gel overlays as an alternative to "natural" nails? Nail polish is no more or less "natural" than U-V gels when used as a permanent basecoat.


Allergic ractions build up over time. That is the natural course of allergies. No one is ever "allergic" to something on first exposure... that is in direct contrast to the definition of "allergy"; a built up immume system over-response. To develop an allergy you must be repeatedly exposed to something. Most acrylic allergies average 6 months to 2 years or more as a minimum, and are usually a result of overexposure to nail products being alowed to come into contact with the skin. Nail products are for NAILS ONLY, and not for skin.

Examples: Using monomer to clean up the cuticle area, adding monomer to the nail to reshape or contour (which allows monomer to flow into sidewalls), working too wet which leaves uncured wet monomer against the nail bed, flooding the cuticle with primer, applying acrylic to wet primer, applying polish on the cuticle, improperly fitted forms, not having clients wash properly after service and before polish, etc!... Most allergies take years to develop. See my precautions in the acrylics page, and also FAQ's and some also in Gels, chemistry, and glossary pages from the main page of my website from the webpage tab above.

Regarding lifted nail beds: This is not normal! Not normal at all! Something is CAUSING this abnormal condition and it should be diagnosed and treated if deemed necessary by a qualified MD. Lifted nail beds mean something is going on and it should be investigated! ALL clients with this condition should be seen and cleared for service by a doctor. Do NOT start service on a new client with this disorder untill she is cleared by a doctor. Recommend that all current clients have this condition checked by their doctor at their next visit (or sooner if possible!), if they are currently in an Md's care for another condition, this is important and releveant information that the Dr needs to give them the best care. They should check with their Dr about continuing nail services of any type. While professional nail services are rarely to blame for nail abnormaliities or complications, it is always best to be safe now, than sorry later! Afterall.... these are only fingernails for cryin' out loud.... better to forgo those for a few months to get to the root of a complicated medical problem quickly, than to be vain and postpone diagnosis of whatever the REAL problem is! Then she'll be ALIVE and WELL to continue nail services long into the future! Getting into hospitals to perform nail services is tricky... and well, corpses... that's only "one time" business.... Sorry to be so blunt and harsh, but health and safety are serious issues with me and I just wanted to drive my point home this time! No doctors approval note on this condition (lifted nail beds); no service. Period.


P & W back-fill steps: Please go to the acrylic page to see these step-by-steps in full!
1) Regular prep...
2) Shorten nails (
3) Rebalance the nail.
4) Blend the cuticle and side-wall areas.
5) Trench the new smile line
6) Re-examine nails for any other re-adjustments
7) dusting, pre-primers or dehydrants or pH balancers, primers, etc!
8) Apply your white FE*,
9) Now, continue with your normal fill.....
10) Continue with your usual finishing work


You don't need perma gloss to stop lifting, it may help... but, what you really need is to get to the root of your lifting problems caused by either prep or application (ratios)! Try calling for technical assistance from the 800# of the acrylic product you use for help.


1) Inadaequate or improper prep! Take heart--- this is a common problem, easily eliviated! Sidewall cuticle membrane is very often forgotten, overlooked, and neglected. Just as you prep the cuticle area, you must prep the sidewalls: remove pterygium and/or cuticle membrane, plus shine, oils, and contaminants. Not only at the full set but at fills also. Nails get wider from cuticle to mid nail bed (some nail beds are actually V shaped, with the point at the cuticle); that nail that "appears" is actually hidden by sidewalls at "birth" and has never been "prepped" before. Meaning that it was not preppep at the full-set and/or previous fills and so must be prepped now, and at all fills as new "NEW" nail appears at that point, especially in clients with super-"V"-ed beds (and even "normal" bed are eliptical or almond shaped, so all can fall victim to this common malady).

2) Improper product application techniques. Such as: Wrong liquid powder ratios with acrylics!(See * for rule regarding gels) Barb's GENERAL rule for acrylics (not written in stone, just a guideline): Wetter is more "flexible", dryer is "stronger or harder". That's why most acrylic nail formulations call for: Dryer ratios at the free edge, for maximum strength. Wetter ratios at the cuticle for maximum lift resistance, and "medium" consistency in the stress zone for a compromise of both. True nail "durability" is a combination of strength and flexibility, when you increase one, you generally decrease the other(See * below for more on this). Too wet is too WEAK! "Weak" leads to cracks and breaks! This is especially common with tip overlays when techs rely too much on the tip for the strength of the overlay, rather than the overlay to be the strength of the overlay! When the tip grows out the strength is gone, and then the nail is weak. Conversely: too DRY a mix is too brittle with no flexibility; also leading to cracks and breaks (doesn't see fair does it?). This is most often seen in sculpts (over forms) and pink and whites (over tips or on forms or in fills in futire overlay fills). *Speaking about liquid powder acrylics that is. Most acrylics are actually "too hard" and at "wetter" consistencies compromise too much strength in favor of lift resistance. Since they are formulatted to work a certain way chemically, you can't "get around" them by just working wetter to get more flexibility... For as we discussed, they then get too weak and then crack and break. Gels on the other hand to clarify here the difference, are not chemically the same in this respect (as to ratios).... as when applied properly (again that "properly" clarifier!)do not have strength vs flexibilty issues, as gels are already ENGINERED to be more flexible in relation to their strength (generally a big plus in my book). The way to "mess" up with gel is not with ratios but with quantities.... too much or too little thickness (in any layer) leads to the same aforementioned problems! So short anser now: work on better sidewall prep, watch your ratios... and go back and look at any full set "issues" (less than perfect application, such as tip sizing and blending, prep, etc!) that may be coming back to haunt you if this is happening anytime within the first 4 fills or so after the initial full set.


If the gel runs at all to the sides of the nail no amount of filing will prevent it from lifting! That is one of the trickiest parts of gel nail application. Since gels shrink as they cure and lift if they touch, and the C-Curve of the nail bed seems to encourage the gel to run to the sidewall... it's very hard to reach a happy medium, so mastering gels is difficult, just as mastering acrylics was at first. It takes a lot of practice to perfect gel nail application technique!

Also, some techs neglect to properly "prep" the sidewall area before product appliucation, the sidewalls need just as much prep as the cuticle area!

Start working in thinner layers of gel. Be sure your 1st coat that touches the natural nail is perfect and thin, and cured completely.


Contact dermatitis from overexposure is the most common AND the most avoidable by proper procedures. (See my website at for tons more info on this subject!) Even overexposure to nail polish (through improper application, ie getting it on the skin repeatedly) can cause a reaction, sensitivity and even allergy.


Whatever works best for you! Almost all the professional gels on the market are fine, a lot just has to do with personal preference.


First: How do you "know" she has "oily nailbeds?"? .......Most likely you are referring to technical difficulties you may be having with lifting! See my MA primer test is the acrylic nails pages for more on this Next, the term oily nailbeds is a misnomer; what you are likely referring to is "moist" nails... Just as dry skin (as in lacking oil) and dehydrated skin(as in lacking water)are often confused. Just as hair itself cannot be "oily", hair does make oil, it is the scalp and folicles that are over oil producing. Bacteria is the culprit in acne and pimples, and some people overdry the rest of their skin in their attempts to remove them! So without going into too much more detail, be assured that external oil application is good for all nails!


Proper application and maintenance are the key! It's not the gel itself that gets damaged usually, but the natural nail underneath that gets damaged, and so then can not hold onto the enhancement well enough which causes lifting that results in chipping off of the enhancement product.
Free edge lifting and tunnelling is the biggest concern for nail techs once they start doing mostly fills instead of mostly full sets. Maintaining a natural nail free edge is very difficult to do as you have enhancement on natural nail and a blunt end exposed to the real worls, as opposed to enhancement on enhancement (tip or formed extension) taking the brutal beating that a FE is exposed to day in and day out. Keeping that seal strong and unbroken between fills becomes a nail techs greatest challenge as fills progress from the FS to maintaining the overlay over natural nail at fills, or when doing a natural nail overlay from scratch!


Do not work on this client without a Doctors OK. That means a note written on the Rx pad giving you the green light! Most likely she has not seen a Dr for this problem, and if she has, then Dr has likely said "NO to nail enhancements!"
Why did she leave her last salon? Likely because the tech finally refused to continue servicing her until she saw a Dr. So this client may well have salon hopped all over town, and now you are the lucky one to get your turn.
You must turn her away! As much as you'd like a willing "guniea pig" for your gel nails application techniques, this is not the right customer! Yes, she will leave very unhappy and very angry, but I assure you, she probably has from many salons before yours.... and if by chance she has never heard the words "see a doctor for your nail condidition", then you have done her a big favor. Do yourself a big favor here too, and just say N-O until her condition has been seen, diagnosed, treated, and released by an MD!

ANSWER: Too thin or too thick or wrong liquid to powder ratios (if acrylic) or not curing properly (if gel), or tips are wrong size (too small) or not fitted properly, or forms applied improperly, or nails applied too long for initial full set. There are many possibilites... see my website for more troubleshooting hints at
ANSWER: Free edge lifting and tunnelling is the biggest concern for nail techs once they start doing mostly fills instead of mostly full sets. Maintaining a natural nail free edge is very difficult to do as you have enhancement on natural nail and a blunt end exposed to the real worls, as opposed to enhancement on enhancement (tip or formed extension) taking the brutal beating that a FE is exposed to day in and day out. Keeping that seal strong and unbroken between fills becomes a nail techs greatest challenge as fills progress from the FS to maintaining the overlay over natural nail at fills, or when doing a natural nail overlay from scratch!
I always charge just as much for a full set whether it is "just" an overlay or whether they need extension work with tips or form a as well, since overlays require more expertise to apply correctly. With overlays they are paying not so much for my time as for my experience and knowl;edge of how to apply them so that they won't lift at the FE!
Nails can curl and tunnel when they are damaged or dry and brittle. This can cause free edge lifting away from the product. It is key to keep the natural nail in good health by proper application techniques (gentle removal of shine not etching or roughing up, limited exposure to primers, no nipping ever, and prevention of lifting during the 6 month grow out from cuticle to FE, as this lifting damages the natural nail each time) and by proper home mainteneance: gloves, no exdposure to harsh chemicals or detergents, limited exposure to hot water and water in general, and moisturizing with oils and creams regularly, plus maintaining good cuticle health.
Enhancement product curling means that the product is either shrinking too much during curing after application due to improper ratios (if acrylic, too wet) or application technique, or that the product is brittle, or most likely the product was applied too thinly or not cured properly (check lamp and bulbs on U-V gels).
To fix now: File current product thin and use hard type forms (not paper, use teflon or metal that hold its shape) and reapply overlay being sure to correct previous errors. If natural FE is damaged, it may be necessary to remove some length as well and then form out a slight extension to totally encase the damaged FE.
Preventative maintenance: At each fill always be sure to shorten the nails somewhat to remove any damaged FE to prevent this from happening again; shorten all of what they grew out to maintain a length, or 1/2 of what they grew if trying to go longer. Never neglect the FE at fills, it needs attention at every fill to maintain the integrity of the natural nail!
Since fills become the bread and butter of our livelyhood as nail techs, and since natural nails will eventually grow out underneath enhancements it is important to learn and practice proper FE techniques. Maintaining a natural FE is the most difficult part of our job.... that is why so many techs just do a removal and new full-set every 3-6 months or so, because they don't know how to take care of natural free edges. So rather than take care of them, they just constantly remove them! Learn how to take care of these FE's and you'll have happy clients for life!

You are undersizing the tips! Flat nails require a wider tip to fit properly. Use a wider tip then reduce the sidewalls of the tip and refine as needed; file the sides of the tip so it's not too wide and now arches and c-curves will match and tips will no longer crack

ANSWER: o-Lite Gels.... basically just low quality thick glue (cyanoacrylates) and glue dry (speeds up the process of the glue drying, NOT exactly the same chemically as true activators used with most wrap systems). Very brittle and not recommended for longterm use, OK for party nails. They attempt to capture the market of techs who are interested in U-V gels but who do not want to invest in a U-V lite! Obviously, not at all the "same" chemically or in the finished product. Glue breaks down in the solvent called water, gel does not.
U-V light cured gels: Composite photo-initiated polymer resins, acrylated urethanes, olygomers, etc. Similar cmemically (like a cousin) to traditional liquid/powder acrylics... but they cure (polymerize... change from liquid states to solids; dry) through photoinitiators and a dispersion layer rather than through evaporation of solvents. It is this difference in curing that is key to the difference between acrylics and gels! Acrylics and glue both break down in the solvent acetone, gels do not.
Wrap systems: Use a high quality resin made by repeatedly refining and purifying cyanoacrylate. Fiberglass actually "becomes" part of the system when applied correctly and saturated with the resin. The activator chemicals also become "part" of the finished nail... Both help the cyanoacrylate resin be less affected by water (i.e. not break down as quickly as "glue" alone would in water). Many techs have tried "cheating" and not using the fiber; eventually they find that this does not hold up as well over time!
ANSWER: See my gel nails page at for info on acrylic to gel nail transfers.
You can just "fill" with the gel over acrylic, but be prepared to deal with the acrylic grow-out problems for 6 months to a year or more (depending on length).
Acrylic is heavier than gel, so the balance will be affected over time. As the heavy acrylic starts to lift, it will take the gel on top of it with

Most techs prefer to not work over other unknown techs work, and usually most gel techs don't even do acrylics anymore, so it's "safer", and easier long-term to just start over with a new full-set of gel, rather than dealing with the acylic. If the acrylic tech and product is known, then doing a fill will work, provided that more acrylic is removed than usual for a usual acrylic fill (more like a pink and white backfill operation).
Yes, gels must be CURED (dryed) in a U-V light. Gels are not solvent based evaporative cured products like acrylics, they rely on photo-initiators that can only be initiated by U-V light.
For "brand" recommendations, I never give any! See some of my other posts for discussions on the subject.... Start with the best light, and then go from there.
ANSWER: Myth #1) Clients don't want "better" services, they are happy with what they've got now. WRONG! You have to create a demand for good service and good product by educating future clientele and offering them CHOICES. Example: I hear over and over, for instance, that techs feel that their is no demand for GEL nails in their area. Of course there is no demand, because there is no knowledge! Did we know we wanted cell phones or CD players BEFORE they were invented or introduced to us? Clients can't want gel nails if they don't know about them. Clients can't know they want better service if they don't know that better service is available. If they percieve it as the SAME service but just at a higher cost, then of course that won't arouse any interest. We need to educate clients on the differences and give them some type of perceived value.
Myth #2) Clients will only buy what's the cheapest or lowest priced. WRONG! Not ALL clients are only interested in price, if that was so then their wouldn't be any Niemans or Bloomingdales in the world! In fact, some clients ONLY want the best, and they very often attribute price to quality. But that price needs to be justified! Niemans can't carry the exact same dress (same quality fabric and workmanship, with the same label and all) and then just price it 2 or 3 times higher. They must offer a better and "different" dress! They must be the first, and all others must be seen as the cheap imitations and knock-offs!
Myth #3) Discount salons put other salons and techs out of business.... The only salons that go "under" when faced with "competition" from a discount salon, are those that choose to COMPETE with discount salons. Salon service is so much more than price! Also, discount salons have enabled a far larger % of women to sample professional nail services and hjave grown our industry. There are now so many more potential clients out there now than there were previously, in large part "thanks" to discount salons. It is our job to now offer these women the full range of services available. Now that their appetite for nail services has been whetted, believe me, they are "hungry" for more. A Wal-Mart has never put a Bloomies or Harrods out of business!
Myth #4) I can't "compete" with discount salons! Exactly RIGHT! We should NOT be competitin with them. Does Nieman Marcus really alter their business strategy in consideration of what the Mart store down the street is doing. Would Neiman's go out of business just because 3 Mart stores opened up down the block? Quite the contrary, 3 mart stores would most likely bolster their sales and cement their image as the up-scale provider of goods in town. Niemans offers so much more than just the quality of their goods. They offer ambiance and other niceities that you can't quite put your finger on.
To "compete" you need to NOT compete by offering something different and unique and/or BETTER. That's one reason why I am so hooked on gel nails, they are my niche, my unique. I also offer many other amenities and add-ons. I also take pride in being the highest priced in town; the highest level service provider, ie the BEST in town . I myself put "out there" that I am the best, so therefore I am of course the most expensive. That definitely sets me apart, and it's a marketing strategy that has been proven over and over and over to WORK!

Nail Polish, just like it's acrylic and gel nail cousins, adheres best to a "rough" non-shiny surface! When polishing gel nails, I recommend buffing out the gel nail after cleansing, to leave a matte surface that is more polish friendly (such as with a white buffer block or equivalent). Otherwise, as you've found out, the polish can slip and slide all over the place on that super shiny gel nail surface with nothing to "grip" to, and eventually chip off. Base coats are not necessary with gel nails, as the gel is the base coat on the natural nail! Some people do use basecoats with some liquid/powder acrlic products, because since that product is not cured for at least 24 hours, it can be stained by the polish. Until a product is cured it can be porous and absorb things like polish into the top layers. Gel however is completely cured, and also non-porous, so there is no possibility of polish staining it. See some of the new terminology info being added to the gel nails pages soon for more on this topic and others like it!

ANSWER: C curve comes from the shape of the form, and from the degree and placement of arching horizontally and vertically on top of the nail. Be sure that forms fit perfectly and snugly, and then squeeze in a nice shape to the form (or use the donut hole to hold it in position properly). Be prepared for self-leveling gels to run a bit (so "set" them one at a time, 10-15 secs, alternating hands, then cure whole hand...)OR just use thicker viscosity builder type gels for more control. No, you cannot squezze a better C curve into gels the way you can with acrylics!

To repair a flat FE, file in sides of the FE to taper away the corners/sides that are flat instead of tipping down niceley. Put a form on and put in the proper C curves using the donut hole to hold the ends down. Now put on thin coat of gel, cure, add fiber, set, then continue as usual.

The way the arches are done on top of the nail (the contouring, think almonds!), can also affect the perception of a C curve from most normal viewing angles... of course there's just no fooling that down the barrel view though!

Don't fret though.... as her own nail grows out her natural C curve (and tunnelling for some) will take over the FE and make it as perfect as nature can.

Curing upside down is only on the last cycle after you have removed the forms and are done curing regular. This is to be sure that all "angles" have been exposed to light for even curing, as some clients don't hold their nails in the lights properly to get proper curing exposure. Especially with a white FE as the white is opaque (you can't see through it), so we want to ensure a cure all the way through and to the bottom of the white, which is the backside of the exposed FE. Also wipe with cleanser to removre any tacky dispersion layer that may or may not be present. One cycle is enough for curing the backside at the end.

I like the LCN and LE lights because of their BULBS, the 4 OSRAM 9 watts give a better "cure" to gels.

Cracking at the side-walls means they are too weak, you may be depending on your tips for strength instead of the gel! And inadequate blending could be to blame as well. To repair, try using a form 8under the FE at the next fill to help encapsulate and "shore-up" the weak SW's. You could also add small strips of fiber vertically along the SW's for added strength if needed. See the gel nails page at for more details on these procedures.

My "tail" technique uses a line of gel down the center of the nail vertically from cuticle to free-edge. In some instances it may be desireable to use it horizontally as well (such as in filling in the bridge area between the white free edge on a form and the clear nail bed, so then you make a "t" with the gel). All in all it is a matter of preference and what you are used to doing!

ANSWER: Neither is "better", it is a matter of preference... the reasons I prefer gel...... See my gel nails page for a very long answer to this question!

Benefits of Gel Nails:

1) Odorless

2) Natural Feeling

3) Thin

4) Flexible

5) Crystal Clear

6) Light Weight

7) Natural looking

8) No lifting!

For more info on gel nails see my gel nails pages.
ANSWER: Simply file the nail thin and put a form on and build it back out to repair. You can do this with either clear or white gel, with or without fiberglass. See the gel nail lessons for some step by steps on these procedures at .

No need to smooth the underside as it will be smooth already, just be sure to fit your form properly. If product does seep under and leave a ledge, then use a drill just as you would with acrylic extensions.

Tips are never meant to be the strength of any nail enhancement system. Tips are only meant to be an extension to add length. The strength of the nail comes from the overlay product, not the tip. If you are relying on your tips for strength, then you will have major service break down about the time of the 2nd or 3rd fill as the tips grow out past the stress point and start to separate at the sides, especially as the nail glue starts to break down and weaken. With that in mind, the less tip covering the natural nail the better; then you have more product contact with the natural nail and less GLUE contact.

For tons more info on gels and nail enhancements in general, see my website, especially the gel nails, acrylic nails, FAQ's, and Hints & Tips pages. Aldo try my Delphi message boards archives of over 2,000 common questions and answers for problem solving and trouble shooting technical nail application of all types, and interactive discussions @ .

PS, FYI.... try not to type in all caps, it's a bit difficult to read, and is also considered the internet equivalent of "screaming"..... just like a :-) says "happy or smiling", and :-( says "sad", all caps is the emoticon of yelling!