Nailed It Salon

Hi, I'm Anne, and I'm a Nail Biter


It's hard to believe, looking at the picture of my left hand over there, but I bite my nails. Not just my nails either, as I've told you before, but all of the skin surrounding them as well. On a bad day, I can bite my nail down to a bloody stump in a matter of minutes, and then tear my eponychium to shreds until I'm faint from the blood loss. I'm such a bad nail biter, that I don't even realize I'm doing it until I've mangled a finger or two.  I'm so bad, in fact, that I don't think I'll ever be an ex-biter, the best I can do is manage my habit, and take measures to prevent it.


So how did someone like me get nails like that? Well, it was actually pretty easy with a little help from nail enhancements. So easy that I believe anyone can do it if they're willing to try.


First off, you need to find a good nail tech; if you can find one who's worked with biters before, that's a big plus. You'll need someone who will do a complete consultation with you to figure out what will work best with your habit. They should ask questions about what triggers you to bite or pick, if you've ever been able to stop for a short time, as well as ask questions about your nails themselves.  Are they brittle, flakey, bendy?  These are things your tech will need to know in order to tailor a rehabilitation program that suits you.  So obviously the NSS at the mall isn't going to cut it.


My recommendation for most biters is to start off with a Liquid and Powder acrylic overlay. I'll extend the nail a little bit with tips or forms if my client wishes, but extending them too much on a person who's not used to having long nails just isn't a good idea. The reason is because when a client isn't used to long nails they don't know how to manage long nails, and the extensions will be subject to accidental breaking, which can further damage the natural nail. I also prefer Liquid and Powder acrylic over UV Gel acrylic because it's more durable than Gel. Gel overlays are just too brittle to stand up to the beating a recovering biter is going to give them.  I want a product that can withstand an occasional chomp from absent minded teeth, so Liquid and Powder is my choice for this circumstance.


Now, overlays aren't only for the ladies out there.  I can do a very natural looking overlay on a male biter too, and no one will ever know he's wearing an enhancement. So male or female, there's absolutely no excuse to stop your nail biting habit if you want to!


Once a biter has successfully worn overlays for a few months, and the natural nail has grown out to the desired length underneath, I'll start talking to the client about maintenance.  Some biters will need to continue wearing overlays, though they can be thinned down over time as the habit breaks its mental hold. Some people can graduate to a gel polish at this point, and perhaps eventually a regular nail polish if that's what they desire. It's important to keep seeing your nail tech for regular check-ups even after you've graduated though, to ensure your nails stay healthy, and tooth-mark free.


Because I bite skin along with nails, I'm the type of person who needs to keep overlays on my nails to prevent me from being able to reach that skin with my teeth.  I'm ok with that, overlays prevent the nail breakage that my very active lifestyle leads to.  They're also more comfortable for my clients, as my sharp nails tend to pinch them when I'm holding their fingers if I'm not wearing overlays. You may find that like me, you want to keep your overlays on, or perhaps you'll be counting the days until you can be free of them. Either way, you'll have a lot more options once you've gotten into the habit of not gnawing on your nails.


So, knowing that I've worn enhancements regularly for the last few years, and worn them consistently for the last six months, I want to show you something.  Click on the picture of my nails up at the top of the page to bring up the larger version.


My nails are a little dry in the picture because I had just soaked my overlays off before I took it, and the acetone leaves them a little flakey looking. Do you know what you're not seeing though?  You're not seeing Rings ROFof Fire, like you can see in the picture to the right here. What are Rings of Fire? Well, they're damage to the nail plate caused by a manicurist cutting into it with a file during a fill, leaving a crescent shaped channel in your nail that turns an angry shade of red.


Many people believe that only electronic files can cause this type of damage; that is false. Aggressive, improper filing with a hand file can also cause this or very similar damage. Some people believe that any use of an electronic file causes damage to the nail plate; this is also false.  Proper use of an electronic file will cause no harm to your natural nails. Case in point.  I use an electronic file  on my own nails as well as my client's nails, and as you can see in the full sized picture above, my nails are as healthy as they were when my matrix formed them.


It is very important to avoid a nail tech who causes damage to the nail plate!  Why?  Well first off, it shows poor technique, improper use of tools, and puts the client (you) at risk for injury and infection. However, for a biter, it's doubly bad.  Thinning out the natural nail in any way is going to make it more prone to breaking when the overlays finally come off.  Broken nails are like heroin to a recovering biter, any rough spots are fair game to the teeth, and you're not going to be able to resist the temptation. So if you start seeing red rings under your overlays after your fills, it's time to have a frank discussion with your manicurist and perhaps look into finding a new one.


So now you know everything you need to know about breaking the habit.  Throw away the cyan pepper and 'No Bite' and stop in at Nailed It! or a quality salon in your area to see how we can help you.  You'll love being able to show off your beautiful hands!




Hours of Operation–Make a Reservation!


As I sit at home recovering from the flu with a child who has the flu, on a day when I'm supposed to be working at the salon, I find myself thinking that I should clarify my hours of operation, and explain why you should probably make a reservation if you'd like to get your nails done.


So, here's the deal.


Yes, we do take walk-ins; I won't turn you away when you don't have a reservation, as long as I have the time to do the service you're requesting.  However, those walk-in opportunities are becoming few and far between as the popularity of the salon grows. If you prefer not to book a service in advance, I recommend you arrive at the salon at 10am, as that's the only slot that's consistently available. Additionally, I have no available Saturday slots for the next month, and Friday's are nearly booked solid as well, so walk-in availability on those days is dicey at best.


So why should you reserve an appointment? Well, there are a lot of reasons!


First of all, not to toot my own horn or anything, but my services are amazing. Our longer service times allow you to savor your pampering. Watch a movie, read a book or magazine, sit and chat, or relax quietly. Furthermore, we have a wide array of beverages at the salon for you to enjoy, and often some treats from the local bakeries as well. It's up to you how you spend your time at Nailed It, but you'll never feel rushed or pushed out the door. I also use some of the best quality, professional products on the market; add in my years of experience, dedication to furthering my education, and passion for the industry, and you're going to love your nails when you leave.  It is guaranteed!


Secondly, when you reserve a time for your services, you guarantee that you'll have my undivided attention.  You won't have to wait to be seen, and you won't be turned away because I'm with another client or have one coming soon. I don't double book, nor do I smoosh my clients together so tight that I'm chronically behind.  Your time with me is yours and yours alone. While you're at Nailed It you are the most important person in the universe to me, and your satisfaction is paramount.


Finally, when you reserve your appointment you guarantee that I'll actually be there... I've been a work-at-home mom for the last twenty years, and I am first and foremost a mother and wife.  Closing the salon to take care of a sick child doesn't always make good business sense, but I brought these people into the world so it's my responsibility to make sure I release them into society happy and well adjusted.  If I need to close the salon on a day you have a service reserved, I will do everything in my power to reschedule your service as soon as possible to a time that's convenient to you, even if I need to open early or stay late.  You will always be notified in advance, and will never make a wasted trip only to be greeted by a locked door.


Also, in that same vein, I like my family, and want to be with them.  Nearly all of the services I offer take at least an hour, and most of them take more, so even though I'm technically open until 7pm, if I don't have an appointment scheduled, and no one has come into the salon by 6pm for a walk-in service, I clean up and go home to be with my family. I'm perfectly willing, even eager, to stay open later than my posted business hours if you reserve a service, but I'd prefer not to wait, hoping in vain that someone will walk through my door, when I could be spending that time with my family. 


So, as you can see, it's much easier to take the time to reserve a service in advance at Nailed It!.  A simple phone call and a minute of your time is all it takes to reserve your spot, and eliminate the inconvenience of making a wasted trip. Trust me, it's worth it!


Soon, when I have the resources to bring in more nail technicians, Nailed It! will be more walk-in friendly.  Even then though, it will always be in your best interest to ensure you're guaranteed service when you walk through our door.





Welcome to Nailed It!



I remember spending time with my mom at the beauty parlor when I was a child. As I'd walk through the salon doors, I would feel as if I had been transported to a different plane of existence.  The smells and sounds were so different from anywhere else I visited with my mom.  Unlike those other places, in the salon women would laugh loudly and joke, their hair bound up in curlers as they sat under the dryers.  They would complain and brag about their children and spouses, congratulate one another during the good times, and commiserate with one another during the bad. They were a community, united in beauty, and together they made each individual stronger.


Today our beauty parlors have become sterile places, painted in bland colors with music to sleep by piped in over speakers in high definition. They are monuments to relaxation, and the sense of community once found within has fallen to the wayside.


166968_2520458810070_498531842_nIt doesn't have to be that way...


Located in the historic Downtown Racine business district, Nailed It! brings back a time when women found community and camaraderie at their local salon.


As a full service nail spa, we will pamper your hands, feet, and nails, in a lively atmosphere where you will always be made to feel welcome.  We use only top quality, professional products, in a safe and sanitary environment, to preserve the health of your nails and skin.



Our nail technicians are highly trained, with years of experience, and specialize in the latest techniques and trends.  After a visit to Nailed It!, your nails will be the envy of all of your friends.


So stop in for a chat, enjoy a cup of our gourmet coffee on the house, and explore our facilities and services. You'll love the atmosphere, and the boost you'll get from knowing that we're always happy to see you.


If you are confident, you are beautiful!

The Care and Feeding of Calluses

Just about every adult on the planet has calluses.  Women who wear high heels, men who wear workboots, people who go barefoot, and anyone who spends most of the day standing, get them on their feet.  People who lift free-weights, play a stringed instrument, or use their hands to make a living, get them on their fingers and palms.  I get them in the summer, on the sides of my feet, because I don't like to wear shoes, and tend to sit with my feet curled up under me. 


Having calluses isn't a bad thing, in fact, they're part of the body's natural defense to protect your skin from injury.  The only problem is that as we continue to do the activities that cause calluses, they can keep thickening until the skin becomes hard, dry, and can sometimes even crack and bleed.


So what is a person to do about these unsightly areas?  The good news is that with a little bit of home maintenance, and regular trips to see your favorite nail technician, you can have healthy skin in no time!


**Side note for the guys out there**

I often hear men say that manicures and pedicures are for women only, and that it's too effeminate (or "gay") for a 'real' man.  Let me tell you something though Mister, it's not all about painting your nails; it's skin care we're talking here. Now, if your wife or girlfriend flinches when you caress her cheek because your rough, dry skin is in danger of cutting her open, how good do do you think your chances are of getting to touch her other, more sensitive bits?  Trust me here, go get the mani/pedi.  No one will take away your man card, and the woman in your life will thank you!


I'm going to assume that you've read my post on NSS salons, and that you've gone, or are going, to see a reputable nail technician for a treatment on your hands and/or feet.  It's important to see a professional regularly, because they have products and tools that you can't use safely at home.  So get a pedicure every one or two months, and a manicure every two to four weeks.  It's not that expensive and you can schedule them to coincide with your regular haircut. 


Now we're going to talk about what you should be doing at home, between salon visits, to keep your skin looking good and feeling smooth.


To prevent the build up of calluses, use a good sugar scrub on your problem areas in the shower or bath every day.  I recommend sugar scrubs because the sugar dissolves as you scrub, preventing over scrubbing and the development of sore spots (which just make calluses build up faster).  You can also purchase salt  and pumice scrubs, but they can be a little too abrasive, especially for every day use.  Scrubbing once a day will work for most people, but if you have especially thick calluses you can use the scrub twice a day until the hardened skin is more manageable. 


Next, lotion, lotion, lotion!  I can't tell you how much a good lotion can help smooth out rough, dry calluses.  Use lotion on your hands every time you wash them, and on your feet twice a day.  For hand and body, I like Qtica Smart Spa lotions, and for feet, CND's non-greasy Cucumber Heel Therapy can't be beat.  Most importantly though, what you're looking for is a lotion that has a low alcohol content, and moisturizing skin oils like Vitamin E, Sweet Almond Oil, and Jojoba.


A good soak can also really help penetrate thickened skin as well.  If you're you're abusing your hands or feet on a daily basis, try soaking them once a week for five to ten minutes in water that has bath oils, or a mani/pedi soak mixed in.  Be sure to finish up your soak with lotion to keep your calluses soft and smooth.


Last but not least is to resist the temptation to cut off your calluses!  I know they can get annoying, and sometimes even painful when they start to get really thick, but cutting them off only makes your body rebuild them faster.  They're there for a reason, you need your calluses, so you should never, ever cut or file them off completely.  Also, if your nail tech ever uses a blade on your feet to cut your calluses, stop the service and leave the establishment!  Cutting calluses in a salon is illegal in most US states, so if your tech does it as part of a pedicure, there's a good chance you're in a NSS.


If your calluses are getting too thick to handle, and you just can't make it into the salon for a treatment, use a medium to fine grit file, or a pumice stone to bring them down a little bit after you've soaked them.  If you're a guy, I'll even let you use a fine grit sand paper to do the job (in the interest of making sure you're able to keep your man card); use 150 grit or higher.  Don't take them down too far, just file off the dead skin on top, and then moisturize with lotion when you're done.  If you use your sugar scrub daily though, you shouldn't have to file your calluses down between salon visits.


That's it, that's all there is.  Keeping your hands and feet soft and smooth is as easy as brushing your teeth or washing your hair.  So now there's no excuse not to have skin that your significant other will love to touch (I'm talking to you guys out there)!




Bling It

It's been awhile, I know.  In my defense, I have a lot on my plate right now, and most of it is nail related. I'll have a big announcement to make soon, but until then I wanted to let my handful of fans know that I haven't forgotten you!  So,  I have a quick nail art post today!


I recently lost a few of my acrylic enhancements because I went too long between fills, and the manual labor I've been up to lately was too much for them.  I know, I'm a nail tech, I know better, but if it's a choice between letting my clients nails suffer or my own; I'll always choose to spend the time on my clients.  Anyway, I decided to just soak the enhancements off because my natural nails underneath had grown out, and I like having natural nails when I can.  I bite when they're short and ragged, but once they've grown out I can usually resist the temptation to gnaw them off.


Unfortunately, after only a few days of having my nails Au Natural, I broke off two of them and tore another doing some more of the manual labor I mentioned above.  Nails are jewels, not tools after all.


I really don't have the time to put acrylics on at the moment, and it seems kind of silly to do all that work for just three nails, only two of which are actually gone, so I reached into my tool kit and used an old but good technique that most people seem to forget about.


Fabric Wraps!


Silk or fiberglass wraps are a great way to repair a damaged nail, or add length to one or two nails so they match the rest.  They also lend strength to your natural nails, to help reduce normally occurring damage. 


So I wrapped my nails, and then painted them with one coat of CND's Sapphire Sparkle Effects, and one coat of CND's Sugar Sparkle for a natural, semi-opaque look that is dazzling in the sunlight. 


I like my nails to have a little more pop though.  They're my business card after all.  I want people to notice them, and ask me about them.  So.


Time to Bling it!


You'll Need:

1. Dip your dotter tool into a puddle of topcoat, and leave a dot of it on your nail wherever you'd like to place your rhinestone.


2. With the dotter still wet with top coat, touch the top of a rhinestone to pick it up.  The top coat should make it stick long enough to move it to the nail.  If not, dip the dotter in top coat again before picking up the stone. 


3.  Place the stone into the dot of topcoat on your nail and press firmly.  The topcoat should ooze out from underneath the stone.


4.  Arrange the stones into a pattern you like, and finish by sealing the stone and the nail with a thin layer of topcoat.




Easy Peasy, and looks fab!



All Lacquered Up



When people find out I'm a nail tech, the first question they usually ask me is "What's your favorite nail polish?"  It's a good question since there are scads of different brands on the market to choose from, and the quality between brands can vary greatly. 


As a nail tech, polish is my mainstay.  Almost all of my clients walk out the door with polish of some kind on their nails.  It's the one product that I must have in quantity, and the one thing I can't live without. 


So when I look for a polish to put on my shelf for client use, I look for four different traits; Application, Wearability, Affordability, and Selection.


1. Application - Can the polish be applied in 2 thin coats with complete coverage and without streaks?  Does the brush hold enough polish so that one dip in the bottle will cover the nail?  Does the brush fan out so that the polish can be properly applied to the nail in three strokes?


2. Wearability - When applied properly, with  good quality base and top coats, how long before the polish begins to chip when worn on the natural nail?


3. Affordability - Will I have to sell my children into slavery to be able to afford a good selection of polish colors?


4. Selection - Does the brand have a lot of different colors with a decent variety of finishes (cream, glitter, shimmer, frost, etc.)?


Until recently I hadn't found a brand that scored well in all four categories.  I had a few favorites, but all fell flat in at least one area.  So today I'll share my top picks with you, what I love and hate about each of them, and I'll tell you which one I think will be pushing all of the other brands off my shelf.


First off, Sally Hansen doesn't even make my list.  Every time I go through my favorites, I get asked "But isn't Sally Hansen ok too?"  The short answer is no, it's not.  Don't get me wrong, it serves a purpose.  If you need a cheap polish to match a dress that you only wear once or twice a year, and you don't care if it chips before the party's over, then run to Walgreens and pick up a bottle of Sally.  There are a ton of colors available, but you may need a few coats for complete color coverage, and it will likely be chipped before the  end of the night. 


Instead, if you want something inexpensive with a little more wearability, try Finger Paints.  You can pick them up at Sally's Beauty Supply.  They cost a little more than Sally Hansen, but are still quite affordable.  They also have a great color selection, apply nicely, and will wear for a day or two longer than cheaper polishes.  I like this brand, and have a few of them on my shelf.  It's not a professional quality polish, but it's a great alternative if you don't want to have to run to a salon to pick up a bottle.


Working my way up, the next on my list is China Glaze.  This brand scores high on the affordability scale at about $5 a bottle.  It is a professional brand, albeit a low quality one, and you can purchase it at many salons as well as Sally Beauty.  They have a great color selection and seasonal releases to expand the palette of choices.  However, China Glaze scores low on my list for application and wearability.  The brushes are not as easy to work with as I'd like, and some colors aren't pigmented enough to provide complete, streak-free coverage in two coats.  You'll also probably start seeing chips appear around two days after your manicure.


Ranking in next is Color Club.  When I first started using Color Club polishes, I hated them.  However, it turns out that the bottles I was using were old, gloopy, and generally disgusting.  A newer bottle has great application and coverage.  They're also extremely affordable, and are typically a little cheaper to buy than China Glaze.  The downside to Color Club is that you have to purchase it in a salon, and it can be difficult to find one that carries the brand.  It also doesn't score very high on the wearability meter, and you can expect your polish to start chipping a day or two after application.


OPI is the first polish to score in as one of my favorite brands of polish.  While OPI polishes are more expensive than the previous brands listed, they're worth every penny.  They're highly pigmented and therefore provide excellent coverage.  They have a ton of colors to choose from, as well as frequent releases of limited edition colors that are usually trendy and fabulous.  OPI wears well on the natural nail, and you can typically get five days to a week out of your polish before you'll need to repaint.  The one thing I hate about this brand however, is the one thing most people love about it; so feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt.  I hate the wide brush that comes standard in the full size bottles of OPI.  I know, I know, I'm weird. But you see, my problem is this: I do a lot of manicures on kids and smaller adults.  I find that it's nearly impossible to paint a tiny pinkie nail without making a mess using an OPI brush, and don't even ask me about painting pinkie toes for a pedicure with it (it makes me swear every time).  It's so bad, it's almost a deal breaker for me, but you might love the brush, so by all means, give it a try and find out!


Until very recently, CND ranked in as my all time favorite.  It scores low on the affordability scale, topping out between $9 - $11 a bottle, but for the standard colors that you wear all of the time, it's well worth the price.  CND polishes are so highly pigmented that most can be applied in one coat, with complete coverage and no streaking.  That means it dries quicker, and you'll also get more applications out of a bottle; so in the long run the price becomes comparable to the cheaper polishes.  It also wears like iron, and unless you're really hard on your nails, should last about a week before it starts to chip off.  Now, a few years ago CND made an innovation in nail polishes, and introduced a line called Color and Effects.  What it is, is a line of about fifty creamy polish colors, and a line of about fifteen top coats that add sparkle, glitter, or frost effects to the colors.  The color is applied first and then the effects, and the many combinations between the two give you an almost unlimited range of looks for your nails.  Really cool, right?   The only gripe I have with CND is that they need more colors!!!!  Most of the colors they offer fall into the range of reds and peaches, and less than ten fall into a non-standard color range (yellows, greens, blues, etc.).  That's fine for a more sedate crowd, but again, I do nails on a lot of kids, and they all want weird colors in bright shades.  If CND expanded their line, I'd marry them and devote myself to their polish babies, but until they offer a range of colors that satisfies all of my clients, I have to look elsewhere to fill that gap.


Now we've come to my top pick, and it's a brand that I didn't even know existed until a couple of months ago.  The more familiar I become with it though, the more I'm falling in love.


Zoya is my all around top polish pick.  This brand, so far, has gotten top marks in all of my fields.  At $7 a bottle (*recently increased to $8), the price falls solidly in the middle of those listed above.  The quality, however, compares to OPI and CND, which makes the price tag even more impressive.  I've heard complaints that the brush is too small, and it is a little on the small side.  Yet, the quality of the brush is so high that I am able to cover even a large thumbnail with one bottle dip, and the bristles spread out nicely when touched to the nail, making a three stroke application a snap even with the smaller size.  The polish itself is highly pigmented, and covers beautifully with two thin coats, leaving no streaks or blotches behind.  They also have an amazing selection of colors and finishes, with a great color spoon program that lets you try before you buy if you're not sure that a color is right for you.


That leaves wearability as the only category that is yet undecided for Zoya and me, but that's merely because I haven't had adequate time to really judge how it performs under different circumstances.  So far my results have been good though, and I'm hopeful that when used on a properly prepared natural nail, it will wear at least as well as OPI.  All in all, I'm ready to start clearing out my other polishes (except for a few favorites) to make room for more Zoya colors.

Zoya is available online (their web store has terrific customer service and shipping times), or at select salons.  Give it a try, if you don't like the polish you're welcome to send it to me!


If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!



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.




Healthy Natural Nails


I've had a few people ask me to do a post on how to obtain, and care for, healthy natural nails.  After all, that's what we strive for, right?  Who in their right mind would wear enhancements if their natural nails were healthy, strong, and beautiful?


The good news is that anyone can have gorgeous nails with just a tiny bit of effort!

The first step on the road to healthy nails, is a healthy body.  I know, I know. It sounds so cliché, but it's true.  Nail cells are manufactured in the same manner as the rest of your body's cells, if you don't provide your body with the fuel it needs to build those cells, then it can't create them properly.  So nourish your body with a healthy diet, and it will reflect in more than your nails; you'll also get healthy hair, skin, and overall body health in the process!


A good daily beauty regimen is the next step.  Cuticle oil (also called nail oil or penetrating oil) is a must, at least once a day, every day!  Other oils cannot take the place of products made specifically for your nails.  The reason for this is because the pores in your nails are very small.  In order for an oil to penetrate the nail plate deeply enough for it to do any good, it has to have special carriers to get the nutrients deep down inside.  Even oils made for skin, like Vitamin E oil, can't do the job on their own, they need help to be able to get past the surface of the nail plate.


Let's look at it this way.  I have a Sumo wrestler standing on my front porch, and he wants to come into my house, but the door is way too small for him.  I can push and pull him all I want, but he's not coming in without some major help.  So, to help him through, I get a tub of butter, cover him with it, and give him a little shove. POP With barely any effort at all, he's through the door and in my living room. 


Now, the Sumo wrestle is the Vitamin E, the door is a pore on your nail plate, and the butter is the carrier.  Get the picture?


Most companies use jojoba oil as their carrier, and honestly I'm unsure if there's an adequate substitute out there.  CND's Solar Oil contains jojoba, along with Vit E and other beneficial oils.  In my opinion it is the best on the market for nourishing your nails, and you'll see results within a week of regular use.


The reason using cuticle oil is so important for your nails is twofold.  One: it keeps them moisturized and flexible, which prevents chipping, tearing, and flaking.  Two: it fills the pores, which in turn keeps the bad stuff out, like water (which can actually dry your nails), dirt, and contaminates.


Lotion is also important in your daily regimen, especially if you put your hands in water a lot during the day.  Again, use good quality lotions made specifically for your hands.  CND's Sentsations, and Qtica Smart Spa lotions are my favorites.  Keep a bottle by the sink so you remember to use it as soon as you've finished drying your hands.  Regular application will keep your hands smooth, and your nails healthy.


This next one always tends to surprise people, but.  Keep your nails polished!  Polish is actually good for your nails, it protects them, and keeps dirt, water, and contaminates from penetrating your nail plate.  It also helps to strengthen your nails and keep them from chipping and flaking.  So keep the pinkies polished.  You don't have to use a color if you prefer a natural look.  A clear top coat every few days will do the trick, and if you don't like that glossy look, there are some great matte top coats made by China Glaze, Orly, and CND that will give you the strength without the shine.


Next, you need to recognize and understand the issues with your nails, then address them individually.


If your nails are thin, flimsy, and tend to fold before they crack or break, then you should use a nail strengthener as a base coat under your polish.


If your nails are rigid and prone to chipping and breaking along the free edge, then oil, oil, and oil some more.  DO NOT use nail strengtheners or hardeners!  Strengtheners are designed to make nails more rigid, already rigid nails will quickly become brittle and more prone to breakage.  So these types of products will only increase the problems you're experiencing.  Instead, use penetrating oils and lotions religiously to increase the flexibility in your nails, and eliminate chipping and cracking.


If your nails tend to flake and peel, use cuticle oil and lotions to increase the flexibility in your nail plate.  Also, be very careful when filing and clipping your nails.  Invest in a glass nail file, which burnishes and seals the free edge while filing to prevent flaking.  If you prefer an emery board, only use the fine side of the file, and don't see-saw back and forth on your nail.  File from the outside edges in towards the center, in a slow, gentle motion.  Keep your nails polished, as it will greatly reduce flaking, and if you must clip your nails, be sure to gently file them after you've clipped.  Clipping causes microscopic fractures along the free edge of the nail plate (as does aggressive filing), which eventually expands into a flake or split, so if you can avoid it, please do.


Last but not least, go get a manicure!  We like to see you at our table every two weeks, but if you can't swing that we'll settle for once a month.  Talk your nail tech about your problems and concerns, we can help you out.  Not only that, but we have a wide range of intensive treatments at our disposal that you cannot get at the local Wal-Mart or Sally's.


Plus, it feels really, really good!


Now when I say manicure, I don't mean at your local Not Safe Salon.  If you're paying less than $15 for a manicure, you might want to take a look around the salon and ask yourself if it meets standards.  If not, it's time to start looking for a new nail tech.  If you're not sure, talk to me, I can tell you what to look for, and if necessary put you in touch with some awesome techs in your area.

If you have any questions about your nail problems, or need help finding quality products for your nails, leave a comment here, talk to me on facebook, or hit me up on twitter.  I'd be happy to help you achieve those gorgeous hands you've been dreaming of!




P.S. Special thanks To Holly, who taught me so many things about nail products, and gave me the Sumo wrestler analogy way back in nail school.

Basic Starburst Nail Art Tutorial

Today we're going to spice up our color blended polish with some very basic nail art.  This technique is a little more difficult than what we did yesterday, but it's still very easy, and I'd venture to guess that anyone reading this can paint their own nails using this technique and have them turn out well.  If you're not sure, just practice a few times on a piece of paper before you start your nails.  You'll be painting like a pro in no time!






Step One: Prep

Prep your nails, and Paint them.


Step Two: Silver Glitter



Load your brush up with silver glitter polish (in this picture I'm using a Nail Art Polish).  Start at any corner of your nail and press down with the tip of the brush.  Draw the brush out across your nail, lessening the downward pressure as you go.




Repeat to create a silver V shape.


Step Three: White Stripes

Load your Brush with White Polish.




In this step I'm using white nail polish (Hot Topic Brand - I love these polishes for nail art, but not for painting nails!) and a nail art brush so you can see the difference.  To load the brush with polish, place a drop on a piece of scrap paper, and dip your brush in it until the bristles are covered about 2/3 of the way up.  You can also thin the polish if necessary by dipping the brush in acetone before dipping it in the polish. 




Using the same stroke method as you did with the silver polish, Draw three stripes of white radiating from the same corner as the silver.




You should now have a design that resembles a a starburst shooting from the corner of your nail.


Step Four: Clean

Clean your brushes in a dappen dish filled with acetone before the polish dries.


Step Five: Dots



Place a new drop of white polish on your scrap paper if the old one has begun to dry or thicken.


Dip your dotting tool into the polish, covering about half of the ball at the end, but not submerging it completely (completely covering the dotter ball will produce dots that are uneven).  Or, if using a toothpick, dip one end into the polish.




Starting at the base of your starburst, place a dot of polish along the side of your nail plate by pressing down gently (try not to touch the ball to your nail as this will result in a dimple in the middle of your dot).  Without dipping back into the polish, keep dotting until you have a line of dots that follows your starburst.


As you use up the polish on the tool, the dots will become increasingly smaller. 

If necessary, dip your tool in the polish once more and re-dot the entire line to fill in any dips, or smooth out uneven dots.  Don't try to touch up a single dot, as it will increase the size of the dot and give you an uneven line.


Step Six: Top Coat

Seal your nail art after it's dried with a good quality top coat.  Clean off your dotting tool with acetone, and admire your work!


IMG_2009  IMG_2010

Click to see a larger picture.

That's it! You've officially created your own, beautifully hand-painted nail art!  Now make sure your husband takes you out for dinner so you don't ruin all of your hard work doing the dishes!




Color Blend Tutorial

Now that we have all of the boring stuff out of the way, it's time to have some fun! 


I'm going to show you a flashy way to paint your nails that anyone can do, and I mean anyone.  You don't have to be ambidextrous or a contortionist to get great results with this technique.



Don't forget, you can click on any picture to see a larger version.


You will need:

  • Tape or Horseshoe Nail Forms (available at Sally's Beauty)
  • Base and Top Coat
  • Scissors
  • White Nail Polish
  • Cosmetic Wedges
  • Two or More Colors of Nail Polish
  • Acetone Nail Polish Remover
  • Sable Clean Up Brush, or Cotton Swabs
  • Dappen Dish, or Small Glass Dish


Step One: Prep

Prep your nails, and paint them with a good quality base coat (CND Sticky is da bomb).


Step Two: White Polish

Coat each nail that you will be color blending with white polish (I'm just doing an accent on my ring finger, so that's the only one I painted white).  The white polish creates an opaque base, and allows your colors to pop with fewer coats.




One thin coat will do, it doesn't matter if it's blotchy or doesn't cover your nail completely.


Allow your nails to dry completely before moving on to the next step.  I recommend waiting at least thirty minutes to give the polish enough time to cure all the way through.


Step Three: Mask Your Nails

Use tape or nail forms to mask off all of the skin around your nails.  This step isn't completely necessary, but will save you a lot of clean up time, and give your nails a neater appearance when you're done.  Personally, I prefer using the nail forms because they're already contoured to fit a fingernail, but if you prefer not to spend the money, tape works just as well.




I cut my form into three pieces to help it conform to my fingernail.




The top of the horseshoe fits across the eponychium, and covers a small margin of nail at the base of the nail plate. 




The sides of the horseshoe are placed along the sides of the nail, again covering a small margin of the nail plate, and tucked under the free edge of the nail.


Tape will work in a similar fashion, though you may need to use your scissors to create a custom fit.


Step Four: Load the Wedge



Place a drop of each of your nail polish colors right next to one another on the edge of the cosmetic wedge.  When choosing your colors it's important to remember that the colors will blend together.  So, for example, yellow and red polishes will create a a band of orange between them.  Remember to choose colors that will blend into something pretty, or you may end up with muddy brown nails.


Step Five: Start Sponging

Dab the wedge across your nail in the direction you want your blend to follow. 




You can blend either horizontally or vertically for different looks.

Step Six: Reload and Repeat

Allow your first coat to dry for a couple of minutes, and then reload your wedge with fresh polish, being sure to place each color in the location where it was placed before.  Then, line your sponge up with your previous color application, and dab on a second coat.


I've found that with the white base coat, two coats of color are usually enough for complete coverage.  However, depending on the quality of the polishes you use, you may need a third coat.



Once you are satisfied with how it looks, remove the mask from your nail.

Step Seven: Clean Up

Pour a little acetone nail polish remover into a small glass dish (acetone will melt many plastics, so glass is recommended.  You can purchase glass dappen dishes from Sally's for around $1).  Dip a sable nail brush (available from Amazon) or a cotton swab into the acetone, and clean any stray polish from your skin.



Step Eight: Save the Wedge

You can reuse your cosmetic wedge many times, by simply cutting off the used portion.



Step Nine: Top Coat and Admire

Paint your nails with a good quality top coat (Seche Vite) to protect them from chipping and scratching, then stand back and admire your work.


IMG_2010  Header



Tomorrow I'll show you how to add an easy hand painted design to your color blended nails to make them really pop.  People won't believe you did it yourself!




Nail Structure and Terminology

After my last post, my proof reader (AKA my husband John) told me that I needed a reference chart, or a glossary, or something.  You see, I'm kind of a stickler about using correct terminology, because to do anything else just confuses life later on.


So this is just a boring, educational post that you can feel free to skip.  I'm sure I'll be referring to it later on though, and if I ever use a term you're unsure of, just come on back here and look it up.



To the left is a diagram I made in nail school to study for a test.  I think it will work well for our purposes today.  You can click on it to bring up a larger version if you'd like (as you can any of the images I post on the blog).  Hopefully, it will help you locate the structures I'm talking about on your own nail.


Free Edge:  This is the part of the nail that extends over the tip of the finger or toe. Or, as in my case, gets chewed up by nail biters.


Nail Plate: This is what most people would call the "nail."  It's a plate of hardened keratin that covers the nail bed on the end of your finger.


Cuticle: Is a film of dead tissue that covers the nail plate.  It should not be confused with the living tissue of the eponychium.  Cuticle creates a seal between the nail plate and the surrounding tissue, and prevents foreign materials and microorganisms from entering and causing illness or injury.


Eponychium: Is a ridge of  living skin at the base of the nail plate.  The eponychium should never be cut or trimmed, just gently pushed back. 


Hyponychium: This is the thickened skin between the fingertip and the free edge of the nail.  This ridge of skin creates a protective barrier that prevents foreign materials and pathogens from entering and infecting the nail bed.


Nail Bed: This is the tissue directly under the nail plate.  It has a rich blood supply, which gives it a pinkish color, and is very sensitive due to the large number of nerves attached to it.


Perionychium: Is the skin that touches, overlaps, and surrounds the nail.


Nail Grooves: Are the tracks on either side of the nail, that the nail plate moves on as it grows.


Mantle: Is a pocket at the base of the nail that holds the matrix.


Matrix: is a group of cells that create the nail plate.  You can see a little bit of the matrix under some of your nails.  The half moons that are visible on the thumbs of most people (also called the lunula), are comprised of matrix cells.  An injury to the matrix can affect nail growth in many ways, cause the nail to grow in an abnormal way, or it can slow growth or stop it all together.  The overall health of your nails, begins in the matrix!


So that's my little lesson today. There won't be a test, but we may refer back to this information from time to time.


Now you know.  Smile



Nail Prep

Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I'm going to let you in on a few secrets.  You don't need me to polish your nails.  Shhh!!!!!!  Keep your voice down or they'll kick me out of the awesome nail tech club!!!

I think most people already know that they don't have to pay someone to paint their nails, you can easily do it at home.  Professional paint jobs tend to last a little longer, and look a little neater, but probably not enough to justify the price for most women. 


Now, I'm a realistic professional.  I became interested in nails because of my desire to save some money doing my own.  I don't really expect you to lavish me with cash for something I wasn't willing to spend money on not so long ago.  Come to me when you want to be pampered with pretty smelling soaks, scrubs, masques, and massages, then fee free to paint your nails on your own between salon visits.  I promise I won't cry or yell. 


On and off I'll be posting some tutorials here to help you spruce up your hands and feet between mani's and pedi's, and to help you keep a few dollars in your pocket.  However, the most important part of any thing you do is preparation, and your nails are no exception.  So today we'll go over the basics of nail prep, which is the foundation of any good nail service.  If you want your polish to last longer than it usually would, nail prep is the key.


The first thing you need to do is gather your supplies.



You will need:

  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Cuticle Sticks, or a Cuticle Pusher
  • Cuticle Nippers
  • Nail Wipes or Cosmetic Pads (no cotton balls!)
  • Cuticle Remover
  • Cuticle Oil
  • Alcohol or Nail Dehydrator

Edit: I've been informed by my proof reader (AKA my husband John) that I need to define a term I use a lot within this post.  The Nail Plate.  The nail plate is just a technical way of saying fingernail.  The nail plate is the hard material (keratin) that is found on your fingertip (also referred to as the nail bed).

Step One: Remove Old Polish

Use nail polish remover and nail wipes to take off any old polish remaining on your nails.  Do not use cotton balls!  Spend the extra dollar and get something that won't leave little fibers all over your nails.  No matter how much time you spend picking them off, you won't get them all, and they will mar your paint job later on.


For polishes that are stubborn, like reds, blacks, and glitters, soak a nail wipe thoroughly, and hold it to your nail for a minute or so before wiping the polish away.  If a little pigment remains, repeat with a clean pad soaked in remover.

You can file your nails now if necessary, but do not buff the nail plate, not even if you have ridges on your nails (instead use a good quality ridge filler like Ridge Out by CND).  Buffing removes layers of your nail, and can thin and damage your nail plate.  Occasionally a very light buffing is necessary, but should be left to a qualified nail technician.  Always use the fine side of an emery board to file your nails, never the coarse side, and file from the outside of the nail towards the center; don't see-saw back and forth.  This will prevent your nail from flaking and splitting later on.


Step Two: Remove Cuticle

Before we get started on this step, I want to clear something up.  Cuticle is NOT the band of tissue at the base of your nail.  That is called the eponychium, and is living tissue that should be treated with care.  Cuticle is a film of dead tissue that grows out from under the eponychium to cover the nail plate.  Cuticle can become detached from the nail plate, and will cause your polish to lift and peel, so removing it is an important step if you want your polish to last.

You can soak your nails in a bit of warm soapy water to make this step a little easier.  However, don't soak for more than three minutes please.  If you do, the water will soak into your nails, and cause your nail plate to expand.  When it contracts a few hours after you've polished your nails, your pretty polish will begin to chip and crack.  So set a timer if you need to, or keep a close eye on the clock. 


Now, take your cuticle remover and place a dollop at the base of each of your nails.  Then, spread it across your entire nail with your cuticle stick.



Let it sit for as long as the manufacturer recommends, and then begin to scrape the dead tissue off your nail plate with your cuticle stick.


(sorry for the blurry pic, I haven't figured out my camera's timer yet)

While you're scraping off the dead tissue, very gently push the eponychium back if necessary.  My eponychium will grow over my nail if I let it, while my husband's always stays in a nice little line at the bottom of his nails.  If yours is like his, leave it alone; if it's like mine, be as gentle as you can to avoid damaging the nail matrix which is located directly underneath that area.


Once you have removed your cuticle, and pushed back your eponychium, wash your hands to remove the cuticle remover.  This is important as many removers have a mild acid in them that will continue to eat at your nail if not washed off.  Dry your hands with a soft towel, and while you're drying use the towel to gently push against your eponychium to set it into place.


Use the cuticle nippers to nip off any remaining cuticle tissue on your nail plate.  Do not cut your eponychium!  It's living tissue, and can bleed and become infected, which could damage your nail matrix.  Feel free to skip the nipping if it's not necessary, or your hands are not steady.


Step Three: Apply Cuticle Oil.

I highly recommend CND's Solar Oil as a top quality cuticle oil.  This stuff is like liquid gold for your nails and should be applied daily, right over polish or enhancements, to strengthen and condition your nails and surrounding skin.  Daily oil is really the key to beautiful, healthy nails and skin!


If you can't get your hands on Solar Oil, other oils are available at Sally's or your local make-up counter, and will work, though not as good.


Apply the oil to the base of your nail, being sure to cover the eponychium.  Massage it into your nails and surrounding skin, and then let it sit for a minute before moving onto the next step.


Step Four: Clean the Nail Plate

The last step is to clean and dehydrate the nail.  I know you just put oil on there, and it seems silly to take it back off, but the oil should have penetrated down into the nail by now, and we're just taking off the little bit that's left on top so that the polish has a nice clean surface to stick to.


Take your alcohol, or nail dehydrator if you have it on hand, wet a nail wipe with it, and scrub your nail.  Scrub hard; scrub like you're trying to remove tar that your husband tracked onto your clean kitchen floor with his nasty work boots. 


You should now have a clean, slightly dull looking, fingernail that's ready to be polished!


Step Five: Polish

A while back I made a quick video that will give you the basics on how to polish your nails.  Note: In this video I refer to the eponychium as the cuticle.  This is the first and last time you will hear or see me do this on my blog, as I don't ever want you to confuse the two.  It's an important distinction, and  you should know the difference.


I still recommend CND's Sticky basecoat, and my all time favorite top coat is Seche Vite.  I've also added Zoya Polishes to my list of favorite colors.  You won't be disappointed in any of those products!


Now go add some color to the world and pretty up those pinkies!



Non-Standard = Not Safe

Among nail techs they have a lot of names.  McNails is one of the more colorful; Chop Shops is one of the more accurate.  You know the places I'm talking about, they're in every mall, have prices lower than a fast food restaurant, and air so thick with monomer vapor you get a high, or a headache, as soon as you walk in the door. 


You'll never hear a good tech call them that though.  Those are the names we use in the break room, or on the industry forums.  For you, our clients, we call them Non-Standard Salons, or NSS, because to do otherwise would be unprofessional, and just not nice.


We hate those places though, and we can tell you've been to one as soon as we glimpse your fingers at our tables.  We crusade against them, making sure you understand the damage that has been done to your nail plate, and the potential harm they can cause.  Yet people still go, lured by the low cost of services, and the walk-in convenience.


I think at times when I talk to my clients about non-standard salons, their eyes gloss over, and I can't help but wonder if the terminology is partly to blame.  What is non-standard, what does it mean? Non-standard prices?  Non-standard employees?  Perhaps all of us nail techs are just upset that they're stealing our business, and the fuss is just a way to try and get you to pay higher prices for the same product.  What makes non-standard such a bad thing? 


Non-standard, as it applies to nail salons, means that the salon in question does not conform to industry (and sometimes even state) standards for service and sanitation. 


Sanitation is important, it's what keeps you from getting sick.  How would you feel about a doctor who didn't wash his hands? Would you return to a doctor who re-used tongue depressors on different patients?  No?  So why go to a nail salon that doesn't wash and disinfect its tools, or uses the same nail file on ten or more people?


State and industry standards require that all reusable tools get scrubbed with soap and water, and then disinfected in a solution designed to kill any remaining microorganisms before they are used on another person.  Items that can't be washed and soaked (files, wooden pushers, buffers, etc.) are to be thrown away after a single use.  So here, non-standard means dirty, unwashed, used tools, and microorganisms.  Sounds yummy, doesn't it?


Now I can hear you saying, "But Anne, it's just my nails.  How bad can it really be?"  The answer is bad. Really, really BAD.  When I say microorganisms, what I mean is contagious pathogens: bacteria, fungal spores, and viruses, all of which can live, multiply, and be transmitted through your hands and nails.  Does that sound extremely icky yet?  Just in case it doesn't, let me continue.


IMGThe most common of these transmitted microorganisms is what people commonly refer to as a nail fungus or mold, but is actually a bacterial infection.  At the NSS they will tell you that it's caused by moisture trapped under an enhancement, and they will tell you that they can treat it with an over the counter anti fungal treatment.  In reality, it's an infection, spread by the use of dirty tools, that can only be properly treated by a doctor.  It might clear up on its own (depending on the strength of your immune system), or it could rage out of control without prescribed antibiotics.  If you develop dark brown, green, or black spots on your nails, please consult your physician.  Only he, or she, can tell you how serious the condition is, and prescribe the proper medications to alleviate it.


These types of nail infections are the most common problem found at an NSS, but not even close to the most dangerous.  As all nail students are currently learning in school:  In 2006 a salon in California transmitted a bacterial skin infection to over 100 clients through the use of contaminated foot spas.  This infection cased permanent scarring on the legs of most of the people infected, and even resulted in a few deaths.


That's right, deaths.  From a pedicure.  We're quickly progressing from gross to scary, and I'm not done yet.


I recently had a young friend come to me for enhancements.  While I sculpted some beautiful acrylics for her, she kept marveling over the fact that I wasn't hurting her, which caused me to ask about her previous experiences with nail services.  She told me about going to the mall to have a manicure, and leaving the salon with her hands bleeding in several spots.  She believed it was normal, and in case you do too, let me clarify that it's not!  You should never bleed during a nail service, and if a nail tech accidentally draws blood, all services should be stopped, the service area and tools should be cleaned and disinfected, and the cut should be cleaned and covered before the tech decides if he or she can proceed safely.  In this day and age, with blood borne pathogens like HIV and hepatitis C, is it even necessary to explain why?


So Non-Standard Salon is really just another way of saying Not Safe Salon, and now is the point where you have to ask yourself is it really worth it?  The money you save is money spent on disinfectant, and new files in a better salon.  It's money invested in nail technicians who are certified to use an e-file safely, or forego it and instead use hand files to prevent harming your nail plate.  The time you spend making an appointment, because a better salon doesn't take walk-ins, is time you can spend reassuring yourself that you made the right choice for your health, and knowing that the salon doesn't have time for walk-ins because they're booked solid with repeat customers who are totally satisfied with their healthy (non-bloody) hands, feet, and nails.


IMG_0001Now the next time you sit down at my table, and I see the rings of fire on your nails from where the nail tech at the local Not Safe Salon dug into your nail plate with their file, please understand that the friendly lecture I'm about to give you is not done out of a desire to pad my pockets with your money.  It's because I care about you.  I care about your beautiful hands, your beautiful family, and your wonderful life.  I don't want you to be a case file in a nail school text book.  I don't want to add your story to my next cautionary tale.  You don't have to come to me, but please, go some place where they'll give you the care you deserve!


You only get one body, protect it as if your life depended on it!



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