Top Tech Tips from

10 December, 2012

Also check out the FAQ page (frequently asked questions) for more information
similar to what you see here! Such as: aromatherapy, primers, barrier creams, service breakdown,
drills, fungus, nails and pregnancy, etc!
Now for what you will find on THIS page! Subjects are listed in the order they appear.

-Towel trick
-Polish color discs
-Spa pedicure tips
-French Manicures; tips and step-by-step lesson
-White French Manicure(plastic)Tips
-Appointment planning
-Client card system
-Primer application
-Hand protection
-Lint free wipes
-Gel nail brush care
-Gel storage
-MSDS tips
-Pricing nail services
-Blending tips
-My best education tip
-Base coat/top coat
-Obsessive clients
-The 100 full-set rule
-How long can I wear nail enhancements?



1) Table towels at the manicure table: I use cotton napkins (like a restaurant uses) instead of terry towels. They are the perfect size for a nail table. The best part of the tip is that I lay out a stack of 10, 20, or 30 of them at a time (one on top of another). As I work and create dust I can simply fold the top towel in half to get a new clean, dust-free work surface, (take the edge of the napkin near the client and fold over towards me, over the dust, so the 2 edges are now by me, and the folded edge is in the middle of the stack, toward the client). When I create more dust I can then just pick-up that folded towel (all the dust should have stayed on techs side anyway)and toss in the hamper. So I always have a clean towel for each part of the service, and also a clean towel for each client. Because napkins are cheaper to purchase than terry towels, and take up less room each in the washing machine, they are less expensive (initial cost and washing) to use even if you use 2 per client!

2) Polish discs (I like the INSYST discs). By having the polish on the discs you can keep the polish bottles away from the clients. So then they will pick a color based on what it looks like ON them, not by how it looks in the bottle (or by the name). This saves much time with clients who have trouble deciding on polish colors. Also prevents having to repolish them because they decide they don't like a color just as you have finished applying the 2nd coat. Apply polish to discs in COLOR GROUPINGS. Such as reds, orange-ish's and orangey reds, pinks and pinky reds, browns and beiges, mauves and nuetrals, purplish's and dark reds and burgundies, trendy and funky colors (blue, green, etc). Grouping by colors cuts down at the number of wheels a client needs to pick from. Also put french manicure optiona on a wheel, this reduces the "well what would that off white free-edge look like with pink opal over it?, or maybe with the whiote opal, or make that the bright white tip......" All the combos are there on a wheel to see! But still twice a year I do have to "mess with their minds" and I pick 20 of my 200 current colors to be the new seasons colors (a variety from differant wheels to reflect what the major lines are promoting). My clients swear that the colors are new! It gets them to try stuff they would have never considered. I've even fooled my self.... I "think" I can't wear "orangey" types of colors, so I never look at my orange wheel, but I WILL pick an "orange" off the new trend wheels and love it! Last tip about this..... When polishing the wheels, be sure to polish exactly like you would a client so that the wheels are TRUE! If you find a polish that simply doesn't go on perfectly, don't make it perfect on the wheel! If it "marbelizes" or streaks a bit, let that show on the wheel, so the client knows what to expect. Also use the same amount of polish (not more or less!) and the same top-coat and drying methods. Add additional topcoat only about once every 3-6 months (more often than that and the disc polish will be much shinnier than the client can expect in real life!)

3)PEDICURING TIPS: Turn an ordinary pedicure into a spa pedicure with little added expense! Add MILK to the footbath (it's a natural AHA)for soaking. I also like EPSOM SALTS in the fottbath water, very soothing and reduces swelling. Baking soda (a few teaspoons or so) gives soaking water a nice "FIZZ". Table salt (ordinary table salt. about a tablespoon or so) and liquid soap makes a great exfoliator, then follow up w/ regular foot file techniques, rinse and dry. Next rub foot and leg w/ lemon quarters (natural fruit acids leave a very nice "polished" look and feel). Follow up with rubbing a natural edible oil (such as olive oil, sesame seed oil,--- rice bran is my absolute favorite ---great slip, nice scent, like silk, very light, find in gourmet grocery stores; any natural "non'mineral" oil will do nicely here!), and proceed with regular hydrating treatments such as heavy cream (not lotion--- the evaporation of water from thin lotions can make the skin FEEL even dryer!) and paraffin wax....then continue as usual...these simple, inexpensive extras, give a pedicure a real boost---in price AND customer satisfaction!

LESS EXPENSIVE AROMATHERAPY IDEAS (to use with youe spa pedicures).....cinnamon OR vanilla in bulk from the grocery store or wharehouse club, float some lemmon slices, ZEST some lemon or orange into the water right in front of the client, I personally like epsom salts and witch hazel. What about Vicks Mentholatum (the generic of course from the drugstore)? A teaspoon or so melts away into the water and ahhhh, relief for the allergy/sinus clients (don't call it VICKS, refer to it at Mentholyptus or Eucolyptus(whatever the jar ingredients say). AND **REMEMBER**, we always ASK first before starting ANY AROMATHERAPY of any type (due to allergies and sensitivities).....The possibilities are endless....!

4) FRENCH MANICURES DONE WITH POLISH... & Pricing strategies for FM'S : Having our clinets wearing FM's is good advertisement for our nail services*, so being able to offer a "FREE" FM can work to your advantage. Try this... make only specialty French Manicures extra--! Do the following BASIC FM FOR FREE----it is very basic and NO EXTRA work compared to a regular polish job! (Once you master it, I think it takes LESS time!) JUST WHITE FREE EDGE AND CLEAR TOPCOAT! NO BASE COLOR OR COLOR COVER COATS---THOSE ARE NON-BASIC FRENCHES AND WOULD COST MORE!(IN this pricing strategy) NOTE: *Of course your work underneath needs to be perfect!

QUICKIE EASY FRENCH MANICURE LESSON Barbs Quickie FM: No base coat or base color, Swipe the free edge with only one of 2 FM whites (Do not give clients a lot of choices, this is where they end up wasting your time----for some clients there is NO CHOICE available, I pick for them because even just 2 choices takes up 5 minutes! My personal favorite FM whites (for free-edge) is #200 from Nailite (an off white, more "real" looking, and EASIER to WORK with, doesn't show slight flaws as easily as the brite whites do). STEP # 1) I simply swipe the polish on along the smile line from one corner to the other in one smooth "smiley stroke" (or 2 if you prefer, right to center, then left to center, then pull out toward you) and then pull it out over the free edge to complete the coverage (I do this in ONE COAT only)-----also to maximize drying time and prevent "drippage" I do the "white" in this order nail # 6 1st (their RT thumb, and then lay it flat to start drying!) then fingers 1 to 4 on other hand (that is pinkie thru index on their left---or your right as you look at them, if you prefer!) Now nails 7-10 (index-pinkie of their right hand)and finally nail #5 (their left thumb). (FYI: Numbering nails in this fashion, as #1 thru #10 from right to left as you look at them, or left to right from the cleints point of view, helps minimize confusion in describing which nail is which for client record cards and other purposes!)

Hints on applying the "smile line": Hold your loaded polish brush HORIZONTALLY, that is parallel to the nail. And also horizontally as in tip of brush towards one side wall, and handle toward other side wall. Let the ball of polish at end of brush just barely tough the nail surface at the right hand sidewall. Keeping your brush OFF the nail, slowly and staedily GUIDE the polish along the desired smile line. Pulling it toward the center of the nail in a "U" shape. The brush brisles NEVER touch the nail, you are FLOATING the line of polish on top of the nail. If you can draw your U all the way to the other sidewall GREAT! If not then stop just past center, and start from the other sidewall to meet and overlap slightly the center. Now, still keeping you polish brush FLAT, parallel to the nail, turn your brush perpendicular to how you were holding it to draw the smile line. So now brush end is poited toward cuticle and handle is toward free edge. Now set brush into the "pool" of polish at the smile line you have just drawn, and gently PULL the polish from the smile to the free edge. Do not flare the bristles of your polish brush. Just pull the polish out and over the entire free edge in 3 strokes. (If it is a lareg free-edge you may need some "extra" polish reserve in your brush for complete coverage.) STEP #2) Now, If you have another client, send them (the FM client) to the dryers for 3-5 minutes if possible, and start working on your next client, otherwise, just go straight to the last step, and that is NO COLOR , only your regular CLEAR TOPCOAT! (I prefer a thick one, like a U-V topcoat; being careful when you pull-out over the white polish so as not to drag or streak! Float the topcoat out and over the white free edge (not as big of a problem if you were able to let them dry a little first). Now send them back to the dryers!

OTHER FM OPTIONS As for other choices, put them on a wheel (I have a wheel of 20 differant combo choices using differant whites (for free-edge color) and differant beiges, pinks, irridescents, etc for overcoat colors.) Put the free one (the basic one desrcibed above) in one slot on the insyst disc and mark FREE (in that spot on the back of the wheel) or No Charge or Comp,(as in complimentary, my personal favorite term) on the back (use black perm. marker) , in the center of the disc on the back write $$$ French Manicure Choices----so now it is their choice, to choose between the basic "free" one and the $5 additional charge choices. So those clients who insist on a certain look (which takes more time and skill to make look perfect cause those darn very light opaques always streak on me!) will pay by choice! (Although I personally DO NOT charge extra for any of my FM's, this is an idea for those of you who do prefer to charge a la carte because of the particular "business climate" in your area.
This allows you to offer extra free amenities (with limits) without bankrupting yourself time and $ wise!   OK, I PROMISE TO MAKE THESE TIPS SHORTER!

Tip #5) FRENCH MANICURE TIPS (as in white plastic extension tips)
QUESTION: How do I keep smile lines even when working w/ french white tips and my client has one nail that is broken or much shorter than the other 9?
ANSWER: Use a "double tip" method on the short nail. This applies equally to a new full-set or a repair at a "fill". Apply a thin clear tip to the short nail and blend and shape as usual (of course cutting it shorter than it's ultimate goal length) to make it look like a natural nail bed. Then apply the white tip over the clear tip, just as if the clear tip were a natural nail bed, thereby raising up the level of the "smile line" on this short nail to match the others, so your client can once again leave the shop sans polish!

#6) Appointment planning; dealing with chronic no shows or late comers. Always tell them that their appt. is 15 mins before it really is (especially a first-time client too!). This way, after 10 mins have gone by, you still have 5 mins before they would officially be late to call them and find out where they are. If they just forgot, you may have time to get them in your chair in time or fill the appt. with someone else. At the very least, as soon as you are done with the previous client you can get away from the table immediately go to do something else (clean, eat, run errands)and not sit and waste 15 more mins wondering if they will show up! I actually book ALL my people for 10-15 mins before their actual appt. so that they have time to "do" everything; like remove polish, wash up, pick their polish color, get snacks, and write their check! I always CALL no shows at 10 mins past their appt time to find out what happened. Sometimes they just forget or had the date wrong. I don't want to end up with 2 peolpe who think they have the 6:15's tomorrow nite! Most of the time clients are running in breathlessly as I am leaving a message on their answering machine. But that message serves as a nice reminder later on when they get home again to BE ON TIME!

7) Client cards: File them by their FIRST NAME, then by last names! Also choose how to file Cathy's and Kathy's (etc), either ALL in C or ALL in K regardless of how the client spells it (of course spell it correctly on the card!). This makes it much easier to find cards based on the appt book notations. (We rarely ask for last names when taking the appt) A combo of the first name and the phone # usually clears up just what Kathy it is!

8) Primer: How to decide if a client needs 1 or 2 coats of primer (the methacrylic acid type that is).... If the primer dries chalky realitively quickly, then the client only needs one coat! If it takes FOREVER to chalk up, then she need 2 coats!!! This is all relative of course! If "drying" time is in the middle, then opt for 1 coat in the winter, and 2 coats in the summer (or according to your local climate!)

9)Hand Protection: I use goat skin gloves to protect my hands when hand filing or using the drill. They keeps the files from "filing" through my skin, and also keeps the DUST off my skin! I find tht goat skin to be very breathable and not hot, also very flexible and light weight, a very natural feel, and easy to take on and off. I store them with my files so they are always there to put on when I start filing, and take off and put away when done filing. I take them off for actual product application. I put them back on to do finish work, then off again to polish! A real hand saver! When I see the holes in the fingers of those gloves (so then I have to replace them). I'm glad it's the gloves and not my poor fingers getting all that abuse!

10) Lint free wipes... I like Marathon or Martex cocktail napkins. Completely lint-free and less than 1/4 of 1 cent each! Easily folded to make thicker or to get "new" fresh wiping surfasces to work with (especially important with GEL NAILS).

11) Gel nail brushes.... No need to EVER clean them. Simply store in a folded towel in a drawer. I never clean out the gel between clients or at the end of the day or even end of the week... Not even before a vacation. No need to remove the gel from them, simply wipe off excess on side of gel jar and keep them out of the light and dust...forever!

12) Gel nail containers. Loose the sticky lids. Keep containers OPEN all the time, simply keep covered with a towel to protect from light and dust is all that is needed! Mine NEVER see their lids! 8 years with no lids and no problems!

#13)MSDS: When "reading" an MSDS and you come across a chemical name that is completely foreign to you, look at the CAS# (chemical abstract service number). Companies may use different or obscure names when listing their ingredients, but the CAS# is always the same! Compare this # to other MSDS sheets to find another with the same # (easily done!), to find out what your "mystery" ingredient is. This trick has come in very handy in uncovering formaldehyde and toluene in formulations that used obscure names for these ingredients, so at first glance many would mistakenly assume these products did not contain those ingredients, when in fact they did. I have counted at one point 17 different names being used to describe these chemicals. Personally I feel both ingredients are safe when used properly, but it makes one wonder why some companies go to so much "trouble" to hide them?

#14) Pricing nail services: First, pricing of nail services in relation to each other. The following ratios are approximate and based on "basic" services, without "add-ons" or deluxe treatments. One Fill-In (2 wk) on Acrylic Nails is equal in price to 2 Manicures. 1 Pedicure = 2 1/2 Manicures. 1 Full-Set acrylics = 2 acrylic Fill-Ins (range of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2) or 4 manicures (range of 3 to 5 manicures). 1 spa manicure and/or pedicure = 1 1/2 to 2 times basic manicure and/or pedicure. If you charge a la carte add these charges accordingly: Paraffin Wax adds about 20% to 33% to a service. Broken nails at a fill (if not already included) = 10 to 20% of the fill price each nail in addition to the fill. Broken nails between fill appts = 15-20% of a full-set. (Do not do 10% because you figure it's only 1 nail, that repair appt takes up more TIME than only 10% of a full-set does!) Polish change between fill appt. = 25% to 33% (1/4 to 1/3)of fill-in charge. Most add-on services are charged at about $1 per minute of time and/or a mark-up of 3 to 10 times the cost of supplies. Retail sales should never be less than double your price (personally I like triple or more). When doing add-on or other services you should make MORE per minute than you do doing a regular fill or manicure!  Pricing of nail services compared to hair services in a salon: Full-Set = Hi end Perm or Foil Highlights. Fill-In = Cut and Style. Manicure = weekly Wash and Style.

#15)Blending Tips: Preview how well you have blended a tip by putting a drop of dehydrator or pH balancer on the seam. This will show you what the nail will look like with the overlay on it! And so allow you to keep blending if needed, especially for "newbies".

#16) My best education tip: Teach someone else how to do nails! Thinking about and verbalizing the how-to's and whys, as well as correcting someone else as they make mistakes will make you re-analyze and examine every step of your own technique. This "self-realization" is usually "subliminal" but it pays off with better technique and faster service times! Use this technique for even the most basic of procedures like polishing and see dramatic results!

#17)Basecoat/topcoat: Can't remember which is your base coat and which is top coat? base coats should dry MATTE (dull) and TACKY (sticky)and FAST! Top coats should dry GLOSSY (shiny), SMOOTH (like glass) and SLOWER! So do I think "all in one" products work? en-oh, NO! It simply defies logic and CHEMISTRY!

#18) Obsessive Clients: What to do with clients who "obsessively" watch you do their nails and constantly critique and "direct" your work, and basically fight you for control of their hands because they want to "see", making it difficult both physically and emotionally to DO their nails..... This has worked for me in the past: I politely say, "If you can see your nails, then I can't. And you are paying me right now to look at them!!!"

#19)Children! I use a similar ploy as above, with clients with children. I work it into the conversation that when children are present I can't help but devote a good 50% of my attention to the child (and the child's safety in the salon environment). Whether I want to or not I just cannot devote 100% attention to their nails. That really makes them think! I always thought of putting up a sign that said, "When you come alone I devote 100% of my energies and attention to you and your nails. When you bring a child with, then I devote 50% to keeping an eye on the child and only 50% to your nails." Fortunately, I never had to put up that sign!

#20) The 100 Full-Set rule.... That's about exactly how long it takes before a new tech finally "gets" it when it comes to doing nail enhancements. There are no instant answers, no "magical" product brands or techniques that will turn them into a proficient nail tech overnight. Time and time again, I have seen that 100th full-set mark as the time when a tech discovers her own style and technique and it just starts to come "naturally". The same can usually be said for an experienced tech starting to use a new product or brand; for her to build back up to her previous speed and expertise level! That's why it is so hard to teach an old dog new tricks..... "old" dogs tend to like their "old" tricks. You know, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." It is for these same reasons above that so many techs "discredit" or blame a particular product line for all their problems (like lifting, etc), and just as quickly "credit" a product (the "miracle" product) when they start doing well (they finally "get it"), when really it is THEM and not the product. They could be using papier mache now and get good results. Well I exaggerate a little..... But you get my point!

#21)"How long can I wear "fake" or artificial nails?" is a common question heard in our idustry. My first reply is that they are "Nail Enhancements", not fake nails. Just as make-up or haircolor is an enhancement and not described by the word "fake". If they don't "get it", I ask them how long they intend to keep wearing make-up or getting their hair done. They usually understand it then; the answer is FOREVER! For more on this subject see my "Rants and Raves" page.