Updates

Dishwashing, degreasers, waxes, bug sprays, chemicals, water, etc., and free-edge lifting of enhancements.....

The reason they single out "Dawn" dishwashing soap is that it is a really good degreaser... meaning it "dissolves" and breaks up grease. Great for doing dishes, not so great for nails and skin. Degreasers "defat" the skin and nails... that is remove the oils in our nails and skin that are needed for flexibility and to retain moisture. Dry or "defatted" nails are not very health, pretty, or strong... Anything that compromises the natural nail eventually compromises the enhancement over it. The "better" the natural nail, the better the enhancement hold up and hold on.

Dishwashing itself is rather hard on nails even without the WATER or the SOAP, as it involves a lot of "action" on the tips of the fingers when constantly moving dishes around. To get a firm grip on a plate so that it won't slip ultimately means putting extra pressure on the FE of the nail. Extra pressure on a nail at it's weakest when it's wet, (just like hair is weakest when wet, that's why we comb gently, not brush wet hair) causes enough damage of it's own... that's why gloves are sooooo important!

Talking about FE of nails, and their relation to nail enhancements.... I have also found that it is important to tell clients to NOT use any type of natural nail strtengthener as their topcoat on their nail enhancements (especially if you have them apply extra coats betweeen visits). Natural nail strengtheners can "dry" out or make brittle the FE of the nail that comes in contact with the enhancement. This will cause the natural nail to shrink and therefore start to lift at the FE.

Other occasssional culprits of FE lifting (besides unhealthy natural nails... that is #1!) WAXES Such as car wax or furniture polish or bug repellant.... Waxes work by "melting" the very top layer of paints or varnishes, and then allow them to dry "smooth" again. Paints and varnishes are in the same relative class of chemicals as nail enhancements (acrylics, gels, etc).... So these waxes can sometimes interfere with the bond between the natural nail and the enhancement right at the FE and sidewall atttachments...

Allergic Reactions.......

My experience with allergic reactions has been that they build up over time. That each application causes a little bit more and morre itching or burning or blistering. Starting out as a slight tingle and growing in severity with each subsequent fill. Also, the reaction generally STARTS within 24 hours of application and starts to subside (get better) over the next 72 hours. Also, my experience has been that clients are just as if not MORE sensitive to the DUST kicked up during a fill (or removal)than the actual uncured gel itself. There are a very few people though who ARE extrememly sensitive to (actual allergic reaction, not just sensitivity that builds up to and becomes allergy)acrylic materials in any form (cured or uncured, liquid/powder or gel, etc)from the first application, and who continue to experience the reaction until the nails are removed. These peoples nails will actually start to lift off the nail bed in the bodys attempt to rid itself of the allergen (the artificial nail overlay on the nail bed).

Ask these questions: Has she ever worn nails before (of any type)? If yes, has she ever noticed any of the symptoms described in the first paragraph (tingling, etc)?
Gels have the possibility of producing more allergies because of the uncured dispersion layer which needs to be wiped off of the nail very carefully. If the gel is cleansed with a scrubbing, back and foerth motion, RATHER than a careful wipe from the cuticle to the free-edge, and using a fresh wipe section for each nail, then the potential for reaction is greatly increased!
So it could be a reaction to gels (especially the tacky dispersion layer, or the dust), it could be a general reaction to all acrylics, OR it could be a reaction to a single component of the system, such as the primer (primer burn) or the gel cleanser (some companies add fragrance and colorant to their cleanser, which I have seen people, myself included, be allergic too!)
In the future try using just straight 91 or 99% alcohol to cleanse. Put down at the cuticle then pull stiaght off the free edge. Never set it back down without turning to a clean spot on the wipe or a new wipe altogether if unsure.

Did this last bout of ithching start within 24 hours of the application? Did she have any irritation from the kick-up of the dust when you removed it? Are you using a liquid primer or a gel basecoat primer? If a gel basecoat primer did you cure it at least the recommended time (or double time) to be sure it was completely cured? Did you do tips with overlay (what glue did you use?)or sculpt on forms (uncured gel can seep under the form, especially on a nail biter or anyone with no FE)? What U-V light are you using?
Depending on your situation, try doing JUST 1 nail on her to observe where your problem might be coming from. Have her write down her exact symptoms and the exact time and chronology of them (if she has them again). Also be sure that you write down YOUR exact steps, especially if you start to experiment with diff cleansers, primers, gels, etc!
Here are some ideas others have used with success in the past: try testing for just the cleanser by having her dip one finger in some and recording what if anything happens over the next 24 hours. You could also try patch tests with a band-aid with gel cured onto it and applied to her inner arm for 24 hours, you can also do the same with glue, other brands of gel, or even liquid powder/acrylic that has dried. I only mention trying these measures IF she is willing and BECAUSE she is a relative/victim/guniea pig.... With "real" clients it is best to let a Dr do the detective work (for liable reasons!)
When/if she has another reaction you can control the burning with a paste of baking soda and water, others have reported success with topically applied benadryl spray or cortizone cream, and/or beandryl liquid taken orally. Some techs report less allergy reaction with LCN's Dermique gel, as another possible future option.
This tech wrote back that the reaction had started 5 days after application..... An allergic reaction doesn't usually take that long to act up! And again just the kick-up of dust from the removal should have aggravated things. Most allergies show signs of irritation within the first 24 hours after application or kick-up of dust fgrom a fill or removal. And "over-curing" has never been a problem as far as I know! Under curing IS a problem though, and with an inferior light it's a real possibility! Hmmmmmm, very odd indeed! I would proceed then with 1 or 2 nails then (1 on each hand using different methods perhaps), and definetly using ONLY the LE or LCN lights with the better bulbs (Osrams).
Try doing a patch test with some dried bondex on a baind-aid. Also, how does she do when wearing acrylics? Any signs of irritation then? Is she using any nail polishes or removers, etc at home between the fill and this reaction? Again, 5 days after application just does NOT sound like a reaction to the nail products you used on Sunday, but to something else she came in contact with possibly on Thursday!
Turns out the client had a dermatitis unrelated to her nails as it cropped up again and again weeks after removal!

A client wrote to the message board who had been following the above conversation thread and I advised her as follows.........

Since you have your Dr.'s permission to keep experiemnting, then I would: Have your tech experiement on only one nail at a time!!! Go in between fills and have her work on just one nail trying different ideas, instead of all 10 at once, or soon the pain may become unbearable and you won't be able to do anything at all. Try taking benadryl BEFORE she experiments to lessen your reactions. I am suspect of the dust kicked up during the filing in a fill or the tacky dispersion layer of uncured gel that rises to the top and is wiped off as your possible allergen(s), and less suspect of the "primers" you mention.
Mention to your tech a gel from LCN called Dermique, that is usually less allergenic as an alternative. The LCN brands are much more expensive than IBD, so she may not want to keep you in the LCN (I'm talking about 10 times the price here per gram!) but it could give you the "break" you need to heal. Then you can have her try some other brands of gel as well, such as LE or STAR, 1 nail at a time.
Have her use plain 91 or 99% alcohol instead of the IBD cleanser. Have her consider a better U-V light, for better gel curing, as it is the uncured gel, that sticky dispersion layer that is wiped off that is usually the most allergenic. The best lights are made by LE and LCN.

Invest in a product called Dermashield,(see www.dermashield.com for info) it is an "invisible glove" type product. I believe Sally's carries one as well called "Gloves In A Bottle". These type products can help protect your hands from the irritants. To use: Wash hands well. Rinse well. Dry well! Apply lotion or foam, working into cuticles and under nails. Let dry for 5 minutes. Apply a 2nd coat and let it dry 5 mins as well. While using this product you may never find out for sure what caused your allergy... but you won't care!

Barrier creams.....

Yes, apply the dermashield BEFORE any part of the nail application starts so that it can act as an invisible glove against the irritants. You can even apply it BEFORE you even get to the salon.
The normal prep involved before the application of the gel in a fill (pushing back the cuticle, removong the ptyrigium, removing the oily shine from the natural nails, removing all the shine on the existing gel, etc) will remove the dermashield from the nail and not interfere with adhesion.
I have ALL of my clients use the Dermashield as part of their normal washing up process before I service them. Wash, rinse, and dry hands, apply dermashield and let dry 5 mins . For those clients with known sensitiviites, they buy a can for home use, so they can apply 1 layer at one, and the 2nd when they get to the salon.

When clients leave us.....

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!

Where to work: Big city or small town?

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....
As in any business it's always a challenge to switch jobs. In ours it sometimes means starting all over as far as a client base. So try not to make a move from this first job until you have scouted out the ideal salon for you.

Start getting your nails done there to start getting a real feel for things on a day to day basis. You'll be amazed at what you can learn in just a few visits. It may make you love the place, in which case you could reveal your identity to the tech and ask for her help in getting you an interview there, or you may hate the place, so you start over in your search. Or after a few different salon visits, you may decide that your current salon isn't so bad afterall!

Very few salons have clients just walking in all day (except for "discount" salons that clients expect to operate this way). And longterm a salon that does a lot of walk-in type business may not be the environment you want anyway, and the type of customer who wants to walk in and not make advance appts is hard to build a book from. Building a steady, dependable clientele is hard work, put it pays off in the long run.

What to do when you've got nothing to DO!

Take advantage of this time you have now to practice nail art and decorate nail tips to add to your nail art collection, especially for each of the upcoming holiday seasons. Write lengthy thank-you cards to clients. Organize your soon to be full client card books. Make an inventory system for your nail supplies to track them better and never get caught out of stock. Enter and then practice for a nail competition (hey, what have you got to loose, and you've so much to GAIN in education and experience). Make polish color discs. Make a "photo" album of your before and after pictures (you'll be soooo glad you did years from now!). Make an album or scapbook of articles or ideas or pictures that interested you from magazines. Be helpful to busy nail techs or stylists in the salon (doing repairs, polishing, even getting coffee), it will come back to you 10-fold someday on the day you will need it most! If you have paraffin, then offer complimentary paraffin treatments (just this one time per client) to other clients in the salon (especially those waiting a long time, or sitting with color in their hair).... they will remember it someday (maybe not untill a year from now, but they WILL!) Practice your acrylic balls (ratios and placement) on plasic sheets over and over and over (Tammy Taylor still does 100 per day I'm told!)

Athletes foot???

Altheles foot can (but not always)look like dry flaking skin (or moist peeling skin depending on your perspective). It is usually between the toes and the skin looks to be shedding (like a snakes) in small patchy sections. Althletes foot is a yeast, which is of course a type of fungus. It is extremely contagious. So for her sake (and yours!) I would send here to the Dr now. Eplain to her that left untreated the condition could spread, and that if it affects her toenails (which could be the white spot you mention) it will be much harder (and lengthier and costly) to cure. Since you don't mention her toenail being lifted up from the bed (yet), it doesn't sound too bad (yet), and it could be a systemic problem she has had for years, and her Dr just might say it's OK. BUT, it sound to me, from the condition of gnarly toes as if she is using you as a replacement for visits to a podiatrist.

Good podiatric care is important when dealing with the elderly, because if her feet hurt to much to get out and about, then she will start getting up and out less and less often, weakening her stamina and mobility, which then leads to decreased lung function and ending up bedridden.... all because of something as simple as feet! Did you know that hip fractures are the number 1 precursor to elderly death? Not because of the fractur itself, but because of complcations that set it after beeing bedridden to heal. This bedrest is like the "kiss of death" for the elderly, because many can just never bounce back.

Explain to your client that she is taking a huge risk with her health by not tending to her feet properly! Her Dr can probably have her cleared up enough to release her for another pedi without even missing one. Tell her you know that she can probably just go around the corner and find another salon willing to work on her, but that you care about her enough as a person to risk loosing her business over this.

Since you just saw her, you might want to call her or send her a note explaining the situation, and that in order to assure you that your pedicures will help her and not hurt here, she needs a doctors note stating that she can receive pedicure services.

The white discoloration could be a fungus called white superficial onychomycosis or as I suspect "generic" altheles foot (there are many yeats, which are fungii, that can be suspects) will be the initial diagnosis. Gneral broad spectrum anti-fungals can most likely clear it up, if not, then more diagnostic tests will be oredered by the doctoe to narrow down the scope of the treatment plan.

Next discussion: Wow, she still plays tennis twice a week? When you said gnarly toes I was picturing some "old" woman with a walker! :-) The tennis is a big hint though on the possibility of athletes foot! Locker room floors in even the best country clubs are potential breeding grounds. Tell her she's got to go have this checked out so that it doesn't spread from toe to toe and eventually interfere with her tennis playing! Also with the constant start and stops of tennis playing she really needs to be keeping those toe nails short, which would mean she's going to have to shorten them between visits to you, or she's setting herself up for trouble.

Cuticle oils and lifting?

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.

Cuticle Oil Ingredients.......
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 ( http://people.delphi.com/nailsplash/hints.html#oil ) 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 amazon.com, see my "library" page at http://people.delphi.com/nailsplash/books.html )

Acrylic Removal and beyond......

After removing acrylics it is adviseable to shorten the natural nail underneath to the length it was before they grew out under acrylic, if not shorter. To grow out natural nails, you must grow them out naturally without the enhanced strength of acrylics. Use a system such as Nail Tek to grow out natural nails under the guidance of a nail professional experienced in natural nail care. Paraffin treatments and daily use of a natural oil will also be helpful.
For gels: I personally like sanding bands on mandrells, but some techs don't like the headache involved with those (for changing for sanitation, you need a new band for each client, and the mandrel needs to be sanitized as well, so you need many, mnay spares on hand.... see my steps in my site that involves more initial cash outlay, but ultimately less headaches). So next best would be a fine or med.fine diamond bits (which I still use occassionally. I usually buy mine from Nailite, although I do have some from Atwood, Kupa, and Comfort as well. I buy what I like best at the time in quantitiy when available. For UV acylics I imagine you would use the same bits you use on regular acrylics. It's really a matter of preference.
I use my drill for rebalancing before a fill or backfill.

Loofahs are grown in a garden.....

Luffa aegyptica, the dishcloth or sponge gourd, can be grown in a sunny garden spot. It's harvested green if you want a softer sponge, or when the gourd turns yellow or tan, if you want hard, scratchy sponges. Most gardeners allow the gourds to mature on the vine. When the vine withers and dies, cut the gourds off and allow them to finish drying in a warm, dry place, like an attic, for 2-3 months. When ready to make your loofa sponges, soak the gourds for one hour in tepid water, until the skin peels off easily. Cut through the fibrous material so you can remove the seeds inside - just shake or pull them out. Then use a 1:10 solution of bleach and water to kill any fungal organisms and to the bleach the sponges white. Seeds for Luffa aegyptica are available from Burpee's catalog. Order online at http://www.burpee.com, or phone toll-free (800) 888-1447.

Pedicures, polish, and shoes!
As for peds... I used to keep a sign in the ped area that said: (This part was large) "To shoe or not to shoe.... Is up to you!" (this part was medium) "Please use the sanitary, disposable foot coverings we provide to leave the salon" (Then this section in small type at the bottom) "Even though we employ the newest and best in polish drying technology, each client does dry slightly differently! You are welcome to move from the ped station to another chair in the salon and dry for as long as you like.... We ALWAYS recommend that clients leave the salon without toe coverings for the best possible outcome! If you feel you MUST put socks and shoes on to leave the salon, then choosing cotton socks with loose fitting shoes that you can remove ASAP upon departure, should produce the best results. Please let us know during polishing that you intend to leave with shoes on and we can do our best to help you, but be advised that you do so at your own risk!" We were usually able to convince clients to leave sans shoes.... those who wouldn't we would put oil and saran wrap on their toes, then put on their socks over that.