Nailed It Salon

Heart Art

Today we're going to do something fun!  I have a tutorial for some super easy Valentines nail art.





  • Acetone or Polish Remover, a small glass dish, and nail wipes for clean up.
  • Red (or Pink) and White Nail Polish
  • Dotting Tools
  • Toothpicks or a Small Nail Art Brush
  • Scrap Piece of Paper
  • Top Coat

Step One: Nail Prep

Prep, and then Paint your nails with the Red or Pink polish.  I used two coats of Zoya Nidhi.




Step Two: Gather Supplies

If you don't have a dotting tool, a great substitute that most women have at home is a bobby pin.  Just straighten the pin, or cut it in half, for the perfect dotting tool to use with your art.


Place a drop of white polish onto a scrap piece of paper, and dip your dotting tool into it, covering about half of the ball.




Step Three: Place the First Dot

Place one dot of white polish slightly to the left of center on your nail.




Step Four: Place the Second Dot

Dip your tool into the white polish again, and place a second dot of paint directly to the right of your first dot.




Step Five: Place a Third Dot

Once again, dip your tool in the white polish, and place a third dot centered under the first two dots of polish.




You should now have something that resembles a Mickey Mouse head.


Step Six: Connect the Dots

Use a toothpick or a thin nail art brush to fill in the gaps on the side of your heart, and to pull the bottom dot down into a point.




Step Seven: Top Coat

Allow to dry for a few minutes, and then paint with a top coat to protect your hand painted art.


Once you get the basics of hand painting hearts down, try making them larger or smaller by using different sized dotting tools, or try painting more than one on each nail for a fun and funky heart/polka-dot pattern!




Tips or Forms?


Have you ever gotten nail enhancements, only to have them hurt for a day or two afterwards?  Well then read on because this post is for you!


There are two different ways to create an extended free edge when applying enhancements: Tips or Forms.  Glue on nail tips are familiar to almost everyone, while very few people are familiar with nail forms and the resulting sculpted tips.  Both can work well depending on your nail type, when applied properly.


If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you're probably catching on to that phrase by now.  Applied Properly.  It's what makes or breaks any great nail service.


Today we're going to discuss tips and forms, the differences between the two, and proper application, so that when you go to get your nails done, you know what to look for.



A nail tip is a piece of molded plastic that has a shallow well where it's glued onto your nail plate.  Pictured to the left are two different kinds of tips.  One has a full well that covers 1/3 of the nail plate, the other has a short well that only covers 1/8 of an inch along the free edge.


Nail tips need to be sized properly to fit your natural nail, and this is where problems often arise.  No tip should ever be pulled out of a box, sized against your nail, and glued on.  They're not one size fits all, and each one needs to be altered for a custom fit.


A good nail tech will check the fit of a tip to ensure it fits precisely from side-wall to side-wall on your nail (the side walls are the ridges of skin that run along the sides of your nail plate).  If you fall between two of the available sizes (which, with only ten sizes available, most of the population seems to), she will select the larger size, and file the edges of the tip down to create a perfect fit.  She will then thin out the well area of the tip with a file or buffer, before gluing it onto your nail plate.


You should never have gobs of glue squeezing out from under and around the tip, and you should never feel an intense pressure on your nail plate after the tip has been glued on.


IMG_2139Most nail tips have a pretty intense curvature to them, they're typically much more rounded than the average nail plate.  This causes a pressure point between the tip and your nail.  The tip is trying to pull your nail to match its curve, and your nail plate, being firmly attached to your nail bed, doesn't want to go.  If you've ever seen a spot like this: Onycholysis, on your nail after having your enhancements removed...  Well, that's where the tip won the battle.  The pressure between tip and nail can result in a slow, painful separation of your nail plate from the nail bed underneath.  This is why many people have sore fingertips for awhile after having enhancements applied. 


Thinning the well area by filing it down, helps to give the tip more flexibility, and releases some of the pressure on your nail plate.  Furthermore, a tip should be carefully filed after application, to make it blend seamlessly with your natural nail.  This allows an even greater release of pressure from the tip, and it also keeps the tip from creating a weak point in the enhancement (have you ever noticed that your enhancements tend to break where the tip is attached to your nail?).


If you have exceptionally large or flat nails, then tips are not for you because no amount of filing or beveling will allow them to fit properly.  You'll want to find a nail technician who is willing to sculpt your enhancements on nail forms instead.



Nail forms are, in essence, big stickers.  They do make reusable ones, but most techs have switched to the more convenient disposable forms.


Shown to the left are two different types of nail forms.  The gold one is called a horseshoe (I only use these for masking off skin in messy nail art), and the silver is a CND performance form.  This is just a small sample of the many types of forms out there, and each nail tech has their own favorites.  No one form is better than any other, it all depends on what the nail tech is most comfortable and familiar with.


To use a form, the nails are prepped for enhancements, then the form is slipped under the free edge of the natural nail, and wrapped back along the finger.  The nails should be cleaned after the forms are applied to remove any oils that may have transferred from the techs skin onto your nail plate.IMG_2141


The enhancement product is then placed onto the form to create a new, longer free edge.


The trickiest thing about using a form is the placement.  It must be placed snugly under the free edge, leaving minimal gaps, or preferably none at all.  It takes some practice, but once a tech masters it, using a form is a lot quicker and easier than using a tip (there's no filing to custom fit the tip to the nail, and then blending to remove the seam). 


Additionally, there's no pressure on the nail plate with this method.  The enhancement molds itself to the natural shape of your nail, instead of pulling at your nail plate to get it to conform to the contour of a tip.  This results in a safer, more comfortable and natural feeling enhancement.


Some people believe that tips are stronger than sculpted enhancements because there's an underlying structure under the free edge.  However, that is completely false, and in fact, the opposite is true instead.  Enhancement products are much stronger than the material used to make tips, and by gluing a tip onto the nail plate, you're actually creating a stress point that will crack and break more easily than the enhancement material would on its own.


Personally, I use forms on just about everyone who sits at my table for enhancements.  Having worn both types, I can say from experience that sculpted enhancements are much more comfortable.  Though when a manicurist properly applies tips, they're not too bad either.  If given a choice though, I'll always choose the sculpted nails.




Enhancements-The More You Know


Nail technicians don't like to call them fake nails anymore.  Most techs will call them enhancements because all we're really doing is making what you have a little better.  Enhancing your nails.  We might be making them thicker (so you can't bite), more durable (so they don't break so easily), or disguising a nail condition that embarrasses you.  For the most part though, we're building off a foundation of your natural nails, and there's nothing fake about that.


Enhancements come in a few different varieties that can be applied in various ways.  Today, I'm going to run you through the different types of enhancements, and some of the things to watch out for when you go to a salon.  Why is it important for you to know these things?  Because the health of your hands and nails effects the health of your body.  Also, the health of your pocket book is pretty important too, and knowing the basics can keep you from spending money on a falsely advertised service.


The first thing you should know is that all enhancement products are made from an acrylic compound.  So no matter what type of you're putting on your nails, it's all produced from the same thing, and has the same basic chemical make-up.  This is very important if you have sensitivities to enhancement products.  Depending on the root of your sensitivity, a gel product may not work any better for you than a liquid and powder.  If you want to give it a try anyway, you should be aware that you could still experience an averse reaction.  You should also have a nail tech who is aware of your sensitivities, and will be meticulous in their application by making sure none of the product touches your skin which is far more sensitive than your nail plate.


Now, there are three types of enhancement processes: Nail Wraps, Liquid and Powder (often called Acrylic Enhancements), and UV Gels.  That's it, that's all there is, anything else is just a new name for one of those three services, created only for the purpose of increasing revenue.  I want to emphasize that, because a lot of NSS salons out there have exotic names for expensive enhancement services, and the only thing you're getting for the extra money is a fancy name.  So don't be fooled by 'Solar Enhancements' or 'Diamond Nails' because a rose by any other name, is still a rose.



The first type of enhancement we're going to talk about is a Fabric Wrap.  Not many people use wraps for enhancements anymore, because overall it's not a very strong or durable product.  A fabric wrap is a great way to repair a cracked or split nail until it grows out though.

Fabric wraps get their name from a piece of fabric that's adhered to the nail during application.  The fabric used can be fiberglass, silk, or linen, and it's what gives the enhancement strength.  Once the fabric is placed on the nail, a resin is applied over it, and sprayed with an activator to help it cure and harden.  The resin should be applied two or three times, before being filed and buffed to a smooth finish.


Like I mentioned above, wraps are a great way to repair a cracked or split nail, and work really well to strengthen natural nails that are prone to breaking, but they're not very durable when applied as an enhancement to extend the free edge of the nail.  However, if you only plan on wearing your long nails a few days, for a wedding, prom, or other special occasion, it's a great temporary enhancement product that removes easily.


IMG_2122Next up are Liquid and Powder enhancements, or what most people commonly call 'Acrylic Nails.'  I love liquid and powder enhancements.  They're strong yet flexible, and perfectly suited for any nail type, which make them a personal favorite.


These enhancements are created when a polymer powder and a liquid monomer are combined to create an acrylic compound that is placed on the nail and allowed to cure.  After all of the enhancements have hardened, they are filed and buffed to a smooth finish. 


Liquid and powder nails are thicker than fabric wraps, but the added thickness is what gives them their superior strength, and prevents them from cracking and breaking.  Properly maintained enhancements (apply Solar Oil at least once a day) will stay flexible and resist chipping. 


These enhancements can stay on the nail for quite a long time if a quality product is used in the application, home maintenance is performed, and they are rebalanced every two to three weeks.  Removal is easily achieved by soaking the nails in product remover, but it can take upwards of an hour to completely soak off the enhancements.


IMG_2125Last on our list are UV Gel enhancements.  UV Gels are beautifully clear, shiny enhancements, that mimic the appearance of natural nails, especially when a pink and white (permanent French) application is performed.


However, UV Gels are more rigid, and not as strong as liquid and powder enhancements.  This can create some problems if applied to thin or weak nails, and they can often crack (sometimes through the nail plate) if the wearer has unsuitable nails and an active lifestyle.  Before applying UV Gel enhancements, your nail tech should talk to you about your nail type and lifestyle habits to ensure that they are a good fit for you, and to prevent possible injury to your nails.


To create these enhancements, your nail tech will brush a thick gel onto your nail plate, and then cure it under a UV light.  This is repeated a few times to build the thickness of the enhancement.  The UV lamps used for curing are extremely safe for use, as the UV emitted for the entire service is the equivalent of spending less than four minutes in the sun.


With proper maintenance (oil, oil, oil) and regular rebalances, UV Gel enhancements can be worn for an indeterminate amount of time.  Removal of the product, however, requires that it be filed and buffed off the nail; which, if done incorrectly can cause significant damage to the nail plate.  Please be sure your nail tech is experienced in gel removal before having them taken off.


So those are the three types of enhancements.  However, I've seen many salons in my area that charge extra for a gel service, and then apply liquid and powder nails with only a gel top coat.  While a gel top coat should be an additional charge in a liquid and powder service, it is not the same as having a full set of UV Gel enhancements applied.  To protect your bank account, please know what you're getting before the service starts, and make sure you're getting what you're paying for.


encasedAdditionally, there are many things that can be added to these enhancement applications for an additional charge.  RockStar nails have glitter added into the product, for a permanent sparkle on your fingers and toes.  Fimo canes and other goodies can be encased inside the enhancements for beautiful nail art that lasts for weeks.  These add-ins shouldn't be confused with the type of enhancement you're getting though.  So be a smart consumer and know what you're getting before you commit to paying for it.




Nailed It!
333 Main Street
Racine, WI 53405
Phone: 262-633-1555