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I've been licensed since 2008. But still consider myself a beginner because I just can't seem to nail acrylics or gels! I've been to two Orlando shows, two NYC shows, four networking events, taken a few continuing ed classes...but I'm still not where I need to be! The biggest issue is that I don't practice (mostly for fear that I'm going to create a big mess on someone's nails) enough AND that I've always worked for natural nail salons. After a year hiatus, I'm back at a salon...and my coworker instructed me to practice polishing three times a day. Anyone else have any other advice/suggestions in terms of a method for improvement? I live in a college dorm now, so now I have plenty of people to practice on.

I don't have an e-file, so that's another issue. I just did an acrylic overlay, and had to file for like 15minutes just to get the lumps out. Good thing I used YN Finish to coat over some stuff. She lives next door so I"ll be able to keep check on her nails.

Any advice would help...what did you do when you were the newbie or the last pick in the did you get better?

It is all practice, practice, practice. Once you get good with sculpting you won't need to file so much so not having an e-file is necessarily not a problem. But it is going to take a lot of time getting there. When I first started it would take me 3 hours to do a plain set and up to 6 hours for a fill and changing decoration. Yes, SIX hours (I basically had to redo the entire set because I had prepped them so bad I had to hand file everything off and build from scratch). I practiced on my friends in the evenings and told them I can do basic decoration and they'll be out of here in three hours or they can let me practice for free on their nails but they'd better have good sitting muscles.

In the beginning I would get the shape all wrong all the time and I spent a lot of time filing even between layers (I do gels). The gel would run despite a thick consistency and I'd have to file most of it off, then reapply everything. Or I'd apply too thick and it would burn and lift at the edges, again, I had to file the lifted part and start from scratch. Or it would just be lumpy, uneven and an unattractive shape and I had to spend a lot of time filing before top coat. Actually, I used polish and not top coat because I'd always get the top coat to run and I ended up having to file most of it off, buff and then polish...

It's been about a year since I started and I only do maybe two or three sets a week if I'm lucky, but right now it's taking me maybe 1h 45 min for a plain full set and even with the wildest decoration I go under 3 hours. I still want to shorten my time a bit but since I do nails part time the longer time isn't as bad as if I worked full time (since I usually have only 1 client per day). Even so, one year has halved the time I need.

If you don't have much time you might want to buy a practice hand or fingers so you don't have the stress of someone having to sit there for 5 hours. You don't have to do a full set and if your acrylic ends up lumpy just toss the tip and start from scratch to get your application better.
my advice would be to practice on loose tips rather than clients. You can get cheap Asian thins for around .55 to .75 a bag, (50 in a bag), use a hemostat or even a roach clip to hold it so you can work on it. Some glue it to a cuticle stick, but I never wanted to put that much effort in to it. You can get every size there is and that way you can learn product control for different size nails. You can draw a roundd cuticle shape in the back to indicate the cuticle and work on getting the product right up close to the line but not on it. Doing this will help you priactice laying it consistently and smoothly. Once you get that down, you can move to actually working on people.
It's better to work with small balls rather than large until you learn product control. Same thing with gel, smaller amounts are easier to control. Once you get the hang of it, then move to next size larger brush/ball til you can do a nail in about 15/30 seconds tops.
If you can find a mentor whose willing to watch, they can also help point out areas you're needing work with and make suggestions.
You need a one on one training to identify your liquid to powder control and to help you see where you need improvement. E mail me and I can make a recommendation of a seasoned tech who can help you in your area.
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Thanks for your responses! I have plenty of tips to start practicing on...and even found some of that gummy stuff that I can use to create a cuticle. I'm going to practice tonight. I'll post back on my progress.
LuvKisselle - I know exactly how you feel. I have been struggling for quite some time. I was ready to give up when I read your post. Maybe we could we stay in contact here and compare notes. These people have great info and are always ready to help.
Quote:Any advice would help...what did you do when you were the newbie or the last pick in the did you get better?

Hi there, I'm a beginner and the first thing I did was purchase a Nail Trainer. I can practise any time I like now and it's really helped.

In our class, an e-file is a luxury and we are not allowed to use them in class until we can show that we are proficient in hand filing first. I would still like to buy an e-file so I can improve my speed but I know that being able to file by hand is just as important so I'm focussing a lot on application to minimise the filing.

Good luck and keep going Smile

You need to come back to the networking day next year.. in your case I wish I was holding another soon, but geeze louise I cant do that 2x's a yr!

Are you not workign with Pati Williams sometimes? I know she can work with you hands on. I bet thats all you need is some real hands on.. if you are still struggling next year, you must come to LI.. but in the mean time I suggest you get with Elena D and or Maureen D and see if you can get out here on the train and spend a solid afternoon with one or both of them.
I am a bit late in replying but I just came back to the forum... I too took a year off as I was frstrated, but am trying to work back into the nail world and fix the issues I have been having.... lifting, speed, shape, etc. I really love it so am trying to not ecome frustrated again....
What Vickie said it the truth product ratio liquid to powder. You have to learn that. Each manufacturer has there own ratio... Most manufacturers have videos showing how to achieve this. Young nails does.
Concerning shape, Vickie at one time had all the steps outlining how to shape and file and what to look for in shaping the nail, on her website it was very helpful.
One on one would be good so you could see what it looks like to pick up a perfect ball or lay down gel perfectly so as not to run all over the place. You wont master it until you do 100 full sets... that seems to be the minimum... So practice practice and practice some more it will click. hth
Wonderful information, I am too having troubles nailing down a clean professional looking set. I love the art part of it all, no problems there. lol. But would love a one on one with a mentor or class... I put a post on facebook for a mentor a while back but havent recieved any info. Does anyone know of someone in the El Paso, Tx area willing to mentor or that does acrylic classes?