PB Upskills: your ultimate acrylic nails troubleshooting guide

Here at Professional Beauty HQ, we’re determined to bring you the best education from the industry’s elite in our new acrylic nails troubleshooting guide, which we’ve launched as part of our new PB Upskills programme.

From getting your arch placement and liquid-to-powder ratio right, to filling in regrowth, top techs answer your burning questions about doing acrylic sets for clients.

What’s the most common mistake nail techs make when doing acrylics?

“When applying acrylic product it’s important to get the application perfect first time as you don’t want to rely on filing to get the structure of your nail,” says Georgie Smedley, managing director of the Georgie Smedley Group. “Minimal filing means you’re cutting down your work time because you will be well practised in getting the product on, and then it’s just a case of refining the nail with your file. This will also help reduce repetitive strain injury (RSI), which a lot of nail techs experience due to over filing.”

Tinu Bello, founder of Colour Riot Nails in London, adds: Over filing of the side walls is a pet peeve of mine as there should be good symmetry between the walls and the shape. It’s nice to create a shape that looks good from the front but as soon as you turn the nail to the side you’ll notice the side walls have been filed away too much. Pay attention to your side walls more so than the shape, and make sure they are really straight.”

How can I get the liquid-to-powder ratio right?

Different acrylic systems will have different ratios you need to follow, so always refer back to your manufacturer’s guidelines for the best advice. When working with your powder-to-monomer ratio, it ideally needs to be quite dry because if it’s too wet then it’s going to run into the cuticles,” explains Bello.

“When I’m teaching techs how to do acrylic, I make them pick up beads and place them on laminated paper because the texture is similar to the nail plate. If the bead stays taut in one place then it’s got a good ratio, but if it spreads out of its ball then it’s too wet.”

She adds: “The most important thing is you don’t want a runny bead. The runnier it is, the wetter your brush will be, and then the more problems you’ll make for yourself as it will seep into the cuticles and side walls, creating a mess. If you practice picking up your beads, you’ll soon be able to determine your ratio correctly.”

Can the salon temperature affect the outcome of acrylic sets?

“When you’re using liquid and powder it is really important that the temperature in salon is right because if it’s too low then the product will have difficulty in curing or polymerising, which is what makes the product set,” says Smedley.

“You have all these little monomers that need to link together, and they rely on heat within the client’s fingers as well as in the salon environment for those links to happen. If you have a low temperature in salon then you’ll have crystallisation around the outside of the nail and, therefore, when you file, you’ll have quite a bit of the acrylic missing because of that.”

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