Drill out the natural nail underneath?

Celebrity Q and A'sAlthough my clients love having their "own nails" under acrylic (i.e. an overlay), that's when the trouble starts. I find that the free edges tend to "grow away" from the acrylic, and clients will play and pick at their own nails underneath, sometimes even separating the entire acrylic nail from their own. One professional I spoke with advised me to drill out the natural nail underneath. Another advised me to soak off and do new sets for the price of a fill. My clients would simply die if I drilled out their nails underneath, and I couldn't do soak offs and new sets for half price -I'd never make any money!! Can you offer other solutions?? Lisa 5/00

Good for you! I like your attitude. I agree 100%, nail techs should NEVER sacrifice the natural nail, (i.e. drill out the nail). Artificial nails don't replace the natural nail, they enhancement them! That is often forgotten. As nail professionals, we should do everything possible to solve these issues, not just cover them up. As you suspected, there are many ways to avoid these types of problems. Most are easy to see, if you understand some basics.

First, the nail isn't curling away from the product. But, if you look at the problem in that light, it seems unavoidable. What is really happening is... the product has lost adhesion to the nail plate. Now that can be avoided! 

When adhesion is lost at the free edge, it is usually one of four reasons:

  1. The client puts lots of pressure or force on the edge, i.e. drumming the nails or typing. Keeping the keep the nails shorter is a possible solution.
  2. Drilling out the old product during a rebalance puts thousands of microscopic cracks in the enhancement. These cracks stay in the enhancement until it grows out. By the time the reach the free edge, the product is weak and crumbling. This is an unavoidable disadvantage to using drills for this purpose. Not that drills are bad, but nothing is perfect. The more you rely on drills to do the work, the more negative effect they can have on the product. Use drills sparingly!
  3. Going too wet (using a wet mix ratio) causes all L&P systems to shrink excessively. This excessive shrinkage usually causes a center pocket bubble at the apex of the nail (within a week or two). The other effect can be adhesion loss from the free edge. The solution is to make sure you aren't going too wet. Use a medium bead, not wet.
  4. Finally, it could be the product. The faster a product sets, the faster it will get old and age. Free edge separation could be a sign of product aging.

Of course, there are many other things that can affect the free edge. Harsh solvents and household cleaners, even water. Encourage clients to wear gloves when doing house work. Gloves are very helpful in cold weather, too. Sudden, rapid and repeated changes in temperature (hot, cold, hot, cold, hot... etc. can cause these kinds of problems too. I also agree, repeated "soak offs" aren't the solution. Product removal often causes the most damage. Avoid removing product unless it is necessary. This will keep the underlying nail much healthier and you'll have fewer problems in the long run. If the product requires constant removal, something is wrong. You should never have to remove L&P products (unless there is a problem or need) , that's one of their advantages over wraps and UV gels.

I wish I could give you a more concrete answer, but as you see... there is no black & white response. But, you are doing the right thing... asking questions and trying to learn more. Keep doing that and eventually you'll have
your answer. Good luck.

Doug Schoon
Director of R&D
Creative Nail Design, Inc.

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