So, it’s been a difficult time for many of us recently, Coronavirus has blasted round the country like a tornado and it’s going to take some time for us all to get back on our feet. During lockdown many of you had to work out how to remove your gel polish or acrylic nails, find the right position for painting your toenails, order a mascara online and moan about the panda eyes it gave you and… cut your partners hair (and they say women are the fussy ones?).
We had to adjust to bare nails, grown out roots, bushy eyebrows, natural lashes and braving Tesco in hope you might come across a stray toilet roll or 2. As time went on Men purchased clippers from Amazon and resentfully handed them to you, and Facebook became littered with adverts for at-home gel nails.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this blog because I believe that the general public are incapable of doing their own nails, but there is a lack of education on proper nail care. The do’s, the don’ts and the stay-the-hell-away-from-that’s. So, I’ve decided to share with you as much knowledge as I can on how to keep your nails looking fab but why you should also leave gel polish application to your nail technician.
Let us start with the basics, filing. You can pretty much guarantee that every woman in the country owns a nail file (plenty of men do to). Most will have one that they got free in a magazine or picked up from boots, some will be snapped in half and others buried at the bottom of your handbag. My mum actually keeps one in the glove compartment of her car! The thing with nail files is there are many different types for many different uses. The ‘grit’ of a nail file is essentially the measure of how rough or smooth it is. The higher the grit the smoother the file. There minimum grit for any file for at home use should be 240/240. Anything lower than this is way too rough and you could cause damage to your nail if you don’t know how to use it properly. Never use your file to reduce the length of your nails, nails should always be trimmed using clippers and then shaped using a file. Using a file to reduce length builds up lots of friction and can fracture the nail plates causing them to weaken and split over time.
For anyone who has seen Pitch Perfect we agree with Stacey and her hobbies including cuticle care. Nail and Cuticle oil is probably the most important tool in taking care of your nails at home. Nails are very porous; this is because of the thousands of tiny little holes (not visible to the naked eye) in each one. When your nails come into contact with water, each of these holes fill up. Water is very dehydrating for the skin and nails, so when your nails are full of water it dehydrates them causing weakness, brittleness, flaking and splitting. Now, if you were to apply a specialist nail and cuticle oil every day (I recommend either CND SolarOil or NAF! Stuff Nail & Cuticle Oil) the oil fills these tiny holes up instead. These oils have heavier molecules and therefore can’t be pushed out by the water which results in stronger nails that are flexible, smooth and less prone to breaks and splitting. Whilst hand cream is great for skin, its molecules are too large for the nail to absorb so it is essential you have a nail oil too.
Paint, polish, lacquer… it feels like there are a million names for it these days. Normal polish is great for finishing off your nails ready for an evening out. It is the best option if for any reason you can’t make it to a salon. Make sure you take the time to do it properly, select a base coat that suits your nails to avoid any colour you put on staining your nails. Apply 2-3 thin coats rather than thick as this will help them dry quicker before finishing with a high shine topcoat. Yes, I know it’s annoying having to wait for them to dry and that they only last a few days but an untrained hand using anything more would cause more damage than good. If you’re wanting a gel polish or extensions, then heading to the salon is the best thing for your nails as application at home is rarely successful and can result in frustration and damage to your natural nail.
So, what exactly does a nail technician learn when training to apply gel polish that makes it different from applying regular polish and popping the hand in a lamp. Well let’s begin with lamps. Each brand of gel polish also manufactures a lamp and whilst this looks fab for in-salon branding this isn’t just a ploy for more money out of its customers (although I think we’d all just buy it anyway, us nail techs have a nail shopping addiction). The lamp gives the required output of energy to cure the nail in the given time. 60 seconds in a lamp with an output of 38w is very different to 60 seconds in a lamp with 36w.
Moving on to application, one of the first things we are taught is about the consistency of the product. Some brands of gel polish required very thin coats of base and colour, whilst others require thicker application of base coat and thin colour and some require a thicker base and colour coat. Applying a gel polish with a thick base coat that really needs it to be thin coat can cause lifting of the gel, peeling away from the edges or just popping off the nail as a whole piece. Sealing the free edge is also another important step, as gel polish is thicker than regular nail polish if it’s not sealed in along the edge of the nail it will again lift or peel away from the top. As soon as there is a little lift or peel of gel polish, water gets in and pulls the whole thing up anyway. Being sure to not ‘flood’ the cuticles with product is also important as repeated contact with the skin can cause irritation over time. We learn all of this on top of some trade secrets to give a smooth, neat and professional finish every time.
Who has time in the day to their nails at home anyway? It always takes double the time as you can only do one at a time, it’s just so much easier to go to the salon.