What about "etching" or "roughing up" the nail plate?

Celebrity Q and A's With all the advances in nail product chemistry/technology we have nowadays, Why do some veteran/long-established product manufacturers still promote "etching" or "roughing up" the nail plate to insure product adhesion? I have always been concerned about and have attempted to preserve the health of the natural nail. After all, should a client desire a change from artificial enhancements to natural nail services, the transition would be much more gratifying if the natural nail plate was preserved. Logic would dictate that, "without a strong foundation, the shorter the longevity of the structure." It seems that these long-established manufacturers would/should try and keep their product lines current with the available technology and on the cutting edge.Terry 7/03

I can't speak for other manufacturers, but we at OPI promote healthy nails, and light buffing with a 400 grit buffer to remove the shine only from the natural nail. If you're using the correct products, "etching" or "roughing up" the nail plate by heavy filing isn't necessary for good acrylic adhesion. (By the way, it's a myth that primers etch the nail -- only files and drills do that.)

Also, as you correctly noted, a damaged nail plate is unhealthy in itself, and isn't an ideal foundation for the acrylics, either. The nail business loses a lot of customers permanently because of this problem. It's not uncommon for people to tell me, "Acrylics made my nails thin and weak; when I took them off, my real nails were in terrible shape! I'll never get acrylics again!" The real cause of problem isn't acrylics, of course, but over-filing. Often these people have clearly visible evidence of horrible filing or drilling damage.

With all the harm it causes, why is this practice still so common? Most likely it's a holdover from the MMA days. Although MMA is very hard (too hard, actually), it has less adhesion than any other acrylic. So the natural nail needs to be "shredded" to make MMA nails adhere well. Unfortunately, persons who originally learned on MMA, may continue their old habits when they switch to new products -- not realizing that the old "shred the nail" tactic is no longer necessary. This highlights the importance of product education.

Paul Bryson, Ph.D.
Co-Director of Research & Development
O. P. I. Products, Inc.
Email: PBryson@opi.com

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