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I had a lady tell me she likes my manicures but wondered why I didn't put her fingers in a soak bath like some other salons. I told her that some Nail Techs do the soakl first but I like keeping my clients nails dry which to me holds the polish on longer.
What does everyone else do? Am I wrong to do a dry manicure?

Thank you for your response.


If you get the opportunity to visit Doug Schoons brain and videos on the structure and anatomy of the nail you can better explain to your clients the damage that water does to the nail causing small fractures and they get worse each time. It's better to do dry for many many reasons.
I do dry as well, although since the gel polish I don't do many regular mani's anymore. But I do it for the same reasons you do.
Peggy.. I didn't know Doug had videos! Are they on you tube?
I've been doing dry manicures for about 4 years and also find that their polish wears better without soaking in water. It's all about educating your clients and I agree with Sobeit - Doug Schoon's brain has so much great information on there!

Kelly, I don't think it's on youtube. I get emails saying when Doug Schoon's brain is open. It's not available all the time, as far as I know. I know you can purchase it on DVD, but if you wait, I'll tell you next time it's open


It's neither right or wrong to give a dry or wet manicure. Just depends on what you want to do and how well the client's polish stays on. I have always done dry manicures because I feel their polish stays on better. I think your response in what you explained to your client was adequate. You might could add that water molecule penetrates the nail plate and makes it expand and when it dries it contracts. If you go into too much detail your client will get a glazed look in their :wink:
definitel dry.
That would be great Sherrie! Thx! Let's chat soon ;-)
I do mine dry for the same reasons and because after seeing what Doug had to say and seeing what the water does to the natural nail, it's a much better option in my opinion.

I think doing wet mani's is a thing of the past and a bit 'old school', until Doug started letting us techs know the in's and out's of the nail, no one knew any better and water was just used as it seemed a cleaner option and some techs still prefer this option.

Each to their own I suppose.


I am going to have to politely disagree that there is no wrong way. After knowing what water will do to a healthy nail by repeated water contact and then causing more damage to a compromised nail, I say water is the wrong way. It doesn't do any good to the nail plate, just the opposite. And I also believe that educating my client on nail anatomy is my job and using terms like, swells in water, and promotes nail issues, is a pretty simple way to let them know and, they wont be yawning at me but instead, as usual let me know they learned something new today.


Another way of looking at this is doing pedicures. Why is it polish stays on toe nails just fine after they have been in water? So in that instance I would have to politely disagree that dry manicures is the only way to doing manicures. Yes, being exposed to prolonged exposure to water would cause damage. But for the amount of time the nail would be in water for a nail service is not a prolonged amount of time. Again I point out giving pedicure services as an example.

And yes, educating clients is important and the example I shared in using simple terms is the best way to educate your client.


Usually Dougs word is like gold. I am wondering why this time is different. Our feet do not see the daily repeated exposure to water, nor do the toe nails take on the stress of daily activities in which the water absorption and evaporation can worsen nail damage, peeling, cracks, and so on. I guess I don't view them and comparable.


I have only done dry manis and when I do pedis I do the gel first, then soak and do the rest of the pedicure.


I have missed the last couple of Doug's Brain, but the one I saw about the water molecule and how it penetrates the nail plate didn't say that you shouldn't use water when performing a service. Did Doug say that specifically, Peggy?

Yes, we do more with our hands than our feet, but that wasn't the original question. Logically, if polish will stay on your toes after doing a pedicure for 4 to 6 weeks, then the polish would stay on the nails of our hands. So doing a water manicure isn't the issue, it is how much water we are in and for how long, plus other factors (like you said, Peggy). Water manicures isn't an issue to your nails by itself or it would be an issue when doing pedicures, thinking logically.

I never said to do water manicures. I just haven't seen anything in writing to say that either doing wet or dry manicures is right or wrong, but maybe I missed something about that topic. I do feel that dry manicures are best, because we DO so much with our hands that it would be logical to do as little to the nails on hands to make them expand and contract so the polish would stay on longer in spite of all that we do with our hands.
Thanks ladies for your quick reply. This board has been my number one inspiration on continuing to do nails. It shows me that I'm not the only one who has problems with clients and nail situations. Having a place to vent with others who do the same thing is definitely a great way of relieving stress. Have a great weekend!!


Hey Cheryl. To answer your question I do not believe Doug said do not use water, only that water itself can cause damage and promote issues to already compromised nails. So I take that as, don't do it. Like saying prying an enhancement off would cause damage, I assume that means don't do it. I say we should do manicures how we feel benefits the client and if that means water soaks then that's what we should do. I am just coming to my own conclusion about it being wrong based on what the facts are about water contact to the nail.
My thoughts are that you can't compare the toenails/pedi's to fingernails/mani's and the reason I say this is, it is common knowledge that any kind of colour on the toenails (enamel polish, sog, twinkle toes, minx etc) last MUCH longer and this is due to the toenails not being exposed the same type of treatment like fingernails.

Toenails spend the majority of their time in shoes protected from the elements but fingernails spend the majority of their time being bashed around, in and out of many different forms of liquids (water, hand sanitisers, hand creams etc), they get used as tools to open cans etc, they get used to scratch our skin....the list just goes on and on.
So to me, these reasons are the reasons why I do not want to start out my mani's with already making the fingernails weaker with water, they have enough to deal with after they leave my salonSmile

I also think that when it comes to pedi's, (for many techs) using water is part of the cleansing process and the client also feels they have clean feet if they have been soaked, plus if you use a massage/bubbler style pedi tub the water is their to soothe as well but in saying all this, many techs have noticed that even when dong a pedi using water, it can reduce the time the product stays on.
I and many techs I know do what has already been mentioned and apply the product before the actual soak. I do my cuticle work just using cuticle cream (I use NSI Vanish) and my curette, then of course clean off etc and apply whatever product the client is asking for, after this is all done then we go into the soak and scrubs and so far, I have noticed it does help with keeping the product on the toenails.

I did this on myself back in early May for my nieces wedding and I used Polish Pro.
I will admit, I have not had time since to give myself another pedi or take off the PP and it has grown out by more than half the nail now (it looks horrible but my feet are in enclosed shoes all day and no one ever sees themSmile and is all I have done is clip my length down in this time and the PP is still stuck solid, with not even one chip and it's been on since early May.
I am taking it all of this weekend though, in time to try a new product I have coming to trialSmile Thank goodness I love the PP colour I used!!


Peggy, the original queston didn't ask about compromised nails. It was simply whether to do a manicure dry or wet. There was no mention as to what condition the nails were in. I would agree that if the nails are damaged then doing a wet manicure might not be a good idea so in that instance you could be right.

Wooshka, exactly! The issue isn't just the water alone as to whether polish will stay on toes/hands. It is what we do with our hands that wears the polish off or causes it to chip. If it was just the water then the polish wouldn't stay on our toes. Just seems logical to me, but hey, that is just my opinion.



I dont really want to go back and forth since we agree dry is best. But when the magnified images and the information from Doug is saying that water can cause fractures in a healthy nail, then it is an issue and prior damage does not need to be present. So I am not sure how to clarify what I am saying more than that. Water is not good for the nail plate. And that is not veering away from the original question of wet or dry. It doesn't matter what type of nail, as I mentioned in each reply I gave about what Dougs Brain videos were saying. And the length of time polish will last is not exactly the reason not to do a water soak. It's what the repeated contact with water is doing. My manicures last just as long now as they did when I would use a water bath years and years ago. Water has time to leave the nail plate before we polish unless we are soaking the nails and then slapping polish on right after they come out of the bowl. Right?


Did Doug say how long the nail had to be exposed to water before the fractures became apparent? I don't recall him stipulating that.

I am not trying to be argumentative, just asking and pointing out that pedicures never seem to be an issue so why would wet manicures?


I don't know if its that the toe nail is protected majority of the time where having water damage wouldn't be an issue. For the nails since we use them and they are in and out of water and subjected to the elements , it may be that water to the nail, causing or promoting farther damage is going to be much more apparent. And the toe nail is not repeatedly used so we may not notice they are weakening like we would our finger nails?
There was a video on eggshell nails. Do you remember that one? I was surprised to see the way that nail changed shape after being in water for no less than 20 min. It went from bent over to straight out. But it is lacking something which slips my mind and that makes it an eggshell shape.

Maybe we can get Doug to let us know how long it takes for water to cause those little fissures in the nail plate. Or if water should be used when dealing with different nail types?


Thank you for the response. I am just trying to figure out why it would be any different in soaking your hands than it would be your feet. The logic is just saying that there isn't that much difference. I would think if it would be that harsh on your hands it would also be on your toes since they contain the same properties. Plus, I'm thinking that toes are probably soaked longer than hands, so that should make it even more of an issue. Maybe not.


Majority of toenails I see are thicker ( some much more than others ) than the clients finger nails, so it may be no different that water will damage both, but that we will notice it more on the hands. LOL Doug, we need you.
Other reasons apply for performing non-soaking, dry- or waterless - whatever we want to call the manicures and pedicures that no soaking is involved. Reality is that there are many clients who MUST have dry services for several/many different reasons, and we were not trained in them during school - or later for that reason. Reasons for their not being soaked vary from medications that are drying to chronic illnesses that require no soak - there are many reasons and we need to know them. Yes, these clients can be adversely affected with only one service.

We are only trained in cosmetic services because the law/our training ASSUMES our clients are totally healthy. That is not true, of course. Right now, over 11% (over 1 in 10) of your clients are diabetic, and another 10% have chronic illnesses that require special precautions during their services. = over 20% of your clients have at least one chronic illness. (More if they are over 55, more than 60%.) This is NIH stats.
Dry services are part of the precautions we must know while performing our services. There is much more.

Yeah, it is true about water affecting the staying power of polish on the fingers. But that is not all there is to it, and sadly, we are not taught those facts. Precautions we need to know are some of the many reasons for the Advanced Nail Technician Program - there is an entire module on precautions in it. You might take a look at the course on It is 25% off during September and October slow months ($149); you can take your information to another important level and learn how to easily attract important new clients.
Havent read all the replies yet.. but try this article:
◦To Soak not not to Soak..
and geeze I really need to read so I can reply better Smile

Doug Schoon has put ALL his 3D Brain videos together and you can purchase the CD right here Smile

Doug Schoon's Brain in 3D
[Image: doug_schoon_brain_dvd.jpg]

Still reading here and answering as I see the replies in my email - yea sorry everyone - as the moderator I do get each and every post in my email.. it makes it much easier for me to stay on top of things - and no - dont ask - you cant Smile

>>Why is it polish stays on toe nails just fine after they have been in water? So in that instance I would have to politely disagree that dry manicures is the only way to doing manicures.

Toe nails are far thicker than fingernails usually therefore the water will not result inthe same issues that you will see with fingernails.

>>I do not want to start out my mani's with already making the fingernails weaker with water,

It's not so much they are weaker, but swelled with water. When that happens some of the natural C curve goes away
from C to ( -- ok thats a little exaggerated but the best I can do here!
So now the nail is ( and you apply polish.. she goes home and overnight the water/moisture from the water soak mani evaporates, the nail returns to its normal hydration or lack of hydration state - returning to its C shape. When this happens the polish fr all intense & ourpose stays at the ( shape causing it to start chipping and peeling within 24 hours.

This is not as evident or an issue on toe nails because they are thicker and will be less prone to changing an exaggerated shape after a nice soak in the pedi tub Smile
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