Thursday, December 11, 2014

FOR SALE -- Clearing Out My Stock

That is a link to my public album on FaceBook (my work page), complete with photos, names of polishes, and prices of everything I'm getting rid of from my studio space. Please please please take this stuff off my hands... make offers... I will ship (no more than 12 bottles of polish for safety reasons, though, and add cost of shipping), I take PayPal (or cash/check/card if you're local & want to pick up). PM me on FaceBook or send me a message through here (if you go to leave a comment, it will ask for my approval, so that's another way to message me).

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Bit Of Advice from your friendly neighborhood nail tech...

Now, THIS is a great article! I only found only a few minor things I wanted to point out...

1. Spot on, except for the mention of using a pumice stone; those things harbor so much bacteria... ew. I will use a sloughing cream, a foot file, and a moisturizing scrub to reduce your calluses, but I will not shave them for you. I highly recommend purchasing a foot file for home use in between pedicures, as well.
2. Spot on, except for the mention of "rinse & disinfect" tubs... Tubs should be WASHED (with soap & water), scrubbed free of debris, rinsed/drained, then refilled with disinfectant. If your salon uses piped (whether hard-plumbed or not) jetted tubs, they must also sanitize & disinfect INSIDE those jets & pipes in between EVERY client and at the end of the day.
3. Yes, yes, yes. *I*, personally, WILL NOT use any implements you bring to me since I trust that my procedures are above & beyond state law, however, I will tell you that the "at home" procedures this article states are correct.
4. True.
5. True. Although never required, a tip is always appreciated and tells us we've done an EXCELLENT job.
6. This one, at least for me, is a no-no. Cell phones are notorious breeding grounds for bacteria, and I just went through all the proper prep on your nails to make sure they are free of contaminants. Not to mention it takes time away from your appointment, which I've so carefully scheduled for a specific amount of time; that's just rude. Unless it's a true emergency, stay off your phone.
7. SUPER-YES! Even if you can only afford a pedicure a few times a year, you must take care of them at home. And, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE use cuticle oil (stop rolling your eyes at me)!
8. Once in a while, no problem. Every time, no. Keep your hands out of your mouth, wear gloves when gardening & doing dishes, don't pick, and use your cuticle oil.
9. My state does not require new every time, so I follow meticulous disinfection procedures. My clean tools are in a sealed container, my dirty tools are in a sealed container in a different spot, and one-use items are always thrown away. I don't use a "pedi throne" type pedicure chair, either... You get a properly disinfected tub and a cushioned chair.


Our local ABC news affiliate posted this article a few days ago (after running the story on the news). While Shellie Bailey-Shah got it generally correct, she missed a few finer points:
1. In Oregon, you cannot reuse emery boards, buffing blocks, etc (as mentioned), but she neglected to say you *can* reuse professional files, buffer files, etc when labeled as sanitizable/disinfectible. These are "emery boards", these are "professional files"... see the difference? Same thing applies to buffers; there are one-use ones and there are reusable ones. Your tech must either PROPERLY sanitize & disinfect all implements (then store them properly), or use new ones.
2. Most techs don't soak nails anymore, but if they do, obviously you should get a fresh bowl of water each time, and the bowl itself should be properly disinfected & stored between uses. The reason most of us don't soak anymore is because it bloats the nail plate, leaving your polish/product more susceptible to breaking/chipping as your nails return to their normal hydration level.
3. All hands (yours and your tech's) should be WASHED (with soap & water) before service (I also use hand sanitizer on myself & my clients before I start), paper towels are to be thrown away after using, and implements (as I said) are to be washed then disinfected after use.
4. I shouldn't even have to say this, but since she mentioned it: dirty implements, dirty towels, etc should be put into a "dirty" bin (I have a Rubbermaid container with lid marked "Dirty Implements", and a laundry basket for dirty towels... I also have a clean towel bin and a lidded container for clean implements).
5. All one-use items should be put into a garbage container with a lid.
6. Your tech should have their state/city/county licenses on display AT ALL TIMES! I, personally, have a City Compliance one, a Nail Technician one, and an Independent Contractor one (since I booth rent). My salon owner has a Salon license, as well as her own personal ones, as does every beauty professional in our salon. These must be in the salon and posted for your tech to be legal; he/she cannot leave them home, in their purse/pocket, etc.

Many bad things were brought up in this news story, but *most* salons have good techs working there. Of course only the bad ones usually make the news... There is a BE SAFE checklist in the article; read that. Then, check the link (if you're not in Oregon, you can call your own state's Cosmetology Board) she provided to see what, if any, violations your salon has had. Also, and I keep telling people this, report violators -- link here! With only 6 inspectors in Oregon, they cannot keep up on all the corner shops going up, so if you don't report them, they're going to continue with their unsafe practices.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How & When To Use What

When I come across articles that seem like they'll have good advice in business, I read them. Then, I decide if it's good advice or not, but this article is way too generalized for it to apply properly to all people. So, let me rewrite for you, specifically to fit me (and probably a lot of others in the beauty industry):

1) If you want a response from me within 30m -- text me. Unless it's during traditional sleeping times, my phone is on & on me 95% of the time. It serves as both my professional phone as well as my personal phone, and texting takes less time/energy/effort out of me than talking &/or emailing you back.

2) If you want a response from me within 2h -- text is still appropriate, as is calling. Unless it's a business call after hours, I usually get back to people who leave a voicemail or text asap.

3) If you want a response from me sometime today -- text, call, or PM on FaceBook. While I don't have Messenger on my cell, I do have it on my tablet, and my laptop doesn't require it to respond.

4) If you want a response from me a day later or more -- email. I check my emails every morning, and can most easily respond on the laptop. I *do* have both email addresses set up to notify on my phone & my tablet, but unless only a quick response is needed, I prefer the real keyboard on the laptop.

5) This isn't mentioned, so I will do so here: Your beauty professional needs their day(s) off. If you know they don't work on a certain day (for me, that is Sundays & Monday, plus major holidays -- although I will return messages on Mondays), there is no need to disturb them. There is also no need to text/email/call late at night or super early in the morning (unless you have an emergency & need to cancel or something). A *lot* of people (beauty professionals, included) keep their phones on in the middle of the night for true emergencies; don't disturb them because *you* happen to be up at 2am.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Another Incorrect Article...

Take a look at this article, then disregard about a third of it... Seriously?!?! Who writes this stuff? Obviously not a nail tech! Ok, point by point, let's go through this:

1. This one is correct, if you use a nail polish remover without hydrating oils in them... Hydrating polish removers are great for removing polish, but not so great for prepping your nails to apply it. You're better off, however, using a nail prep product. There are plenty out there; my favorite is CND's Scrub Fresh. However, the cheapest/easiest one for DIYers is, in my opinion, simple 70% isopropyl alcohol.
2. I don't like the way this one's worded. Many people either overdo it with the buffer, or don't use one at all. Overdoing it can seriously thin out your nail (you're not actually buffing off ridges; long complicated explanation short - you don't have ridges, you actually have thinner grooves, and by buffing too agressively, are buffing your nails down to match those grooves, making your nail plate thinner & weaker). If you don't buff at all, your product could chip earlier. What you should be doing is buffing (or very lightly filing - with a 240g or higher file or buffer) any peeling nail, and the free edge to remove loose nail bits. This, done BEFORE using a nail prep, will really help.
3. Yes, thin coats are best.
4. Yes, glitter lasts longer than creams.
5. Yes, use a top coat (except with those rare polishes that don't require one, like the textured polishes). This article also says to apply it while your polish is still wet. For the most part, this is true, but again, there are exceptions.
6. Yes, nail hardener... make sure you apply at least one FULL day later, though. Your polish must be completely dry; the solvents in polish need a full 24h to do this (except quick-dries, like CND's Vinylux).
7. Yes, wear gloves; protect those nails!

ALSO -- USE BASE COAT (not sure why this isn't mentioned in this article; again, there are some exceptions, like CND's Vinylux).

This article fails to mention the use of cuticle oil. I cannot emphasize this one enough; use it use it use it! And, keep lotions OFF your nails.

For even more good information, read my other blog post about this stuff - HERE.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Artistic Nail Design -- Review

I have now had a chance to try, use, test Artistic Nail Design's LED-cured hard/traditional gel, Rock Hard. I've got to say... I LOVE IT! I'm hoping I can switch all my traditional UV-cured gel clients over to this brand, to cut down on my times... All guinea pigs had the same initial process -- Prepped, applied gel, shaped; all according to instruction. Applied gel polish & art over top (also according to instruction).

Test Subject 1 - My daughter, age 14y: She loved how quickly we were done with her appt; took just about 2 hours to do a full set w/tips (I had removed her other set of gels two days prior) with some simple artwork; saved about an hour. She currently has no lifting, and only broke one nail two days ago; I'm doing her rebalance later today.

Test Subject 2 - SF, mom of 6yo twins: She, too, loves the speed of appts. She was previously wearing CND's Sculpting gel (soak off builder gel), and we had skipped one appt. So, this time was four weeks later and she had lost all but two nails, which I had fully expected & was hoping for. I had to remove those two (e-file as thin as possible, then wrap with remover on a foil wrap; took about 10m), then just did an overlay (no tips), gel polish, and glitter. Her appt took 1 1/2 hours; saved 1/2 hour... but that's including the removal. Her rebalance was last Tuesday; she had very little lifting and had not lost any nails (typically, she loses two each time).

Test Subject 3 - Myself, nail tech and mom of 14yo: I took off my previous nails (I was wearing CND's traditional hard Brisa gel on my left hand and CND's soak off gel Brisa Lite Sculpting on my right hand) two days prior, and gave myself a super-hydrating manicure. It always takes me longer to do my own nails than it does for me to do other people's; simply because I can only work on one hand at a time. Typically (with UV-cured gel), it takes me about 4 hours to do both hands. With this gel, because it's LED-cured, I did both hands in just under 2 1/2 hours. Had to do my rebalance over two different days because I was occupied with my young nieces last weekend, but when I did, I had one broken one (my "problem" fingernail; I busted it in a slammed car door years ago, and it's been a problem ever since).

Obviously, exact time for each client's appointment will vary. It depends on many factors, like how bad your cuticles are, how many (if any) are broken or off, which brand of gel polish you choose (CND Shellac still cures *ONLY* in the traditional UV lamp), and what (if any) artwork you want done. However, on average, I'm estimating 2 hours for a full set with tips (starts at $60), 1 1/2 hours for an overlay (starts at $40), 1 1/2 hours for a rebalance (also starts at $40). Add 15 minutes or so for gel polish (+$10) & glitter/artwork (price varies).

*Note* -- when using Artistic Colour Gloss over Artistic Nail Design's gel, there is no need to apply the hard gel sealer ("Headliner"); you can apply the gel to your preferred thickness, wipe, shape, wipe again, and go right into your gel polish color application. If you're using a different brand of gel polish, I highly suggest using the gel top coat, dry-wiping, then applying your color. When using traditional polish, apply the gel top coat, dry-wipe, then apply your color. I don't know the "why", other than AND's products are all formulated to work together; if you try to use another brand's color over the enhancement products, you need to finish the process, so you're not mixing product lines, which could cause sensitivities or even allergies down the road.

Just as an FYI, Artistic also makes two soak-off/soft gels, both under the "Correction Gel" product line name. The one in the bottle (brush on) is meant as a thin layer of strength under gel polish. I've used this one on a couple of clients who had some trouble getting their gel polish to last the full two weeks; works great. Add $5 to your regular gel polish appointment, an additional 30s in the lamp for this layer, and an additional 3-5m for soak off at each appointment. The one in the jar (uses a separate brush) is meant as a builder gel (thicker, but not for long lengths). I've used this one on myself and hope to switch over clients who are currently using the other brand of soft builder gel that I carry. The cost for this service is the same as traditional/hard gel (see above paragraph), add 30s in the lamp per layer, and double the soak off time (since this is meant as a builder, rebalance at each appt is recommended, but soak off down the road is not difficult or time-consuming).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

21 Things About Polishing Your Nails...

The original article by Cosmo Mag can be found here... but there are a few tweaks that I, a professional nail tech, would like to point out/make:
**First -- the title. You do not "paint" your nails, you "polish" them. Yes, technically, paint in a can and polish in a bottle are both a type of lacquer... but they are different. You wouldn't use your polish in a bottle to paint your house or vice versa, would you? No.
1. Yes, three strokes *is* best, but don't worry if you don't get it in three... heck, sometimes it takes me five. As long as the polish is still liquid-y enough to work with without it streaking, it's fine. Also, you'll want two-three coats of color (more on that in #9).
2. There are a few exceptions... VERY few! CND's Vinylux is one of them; no base coat needed (but it won't hurt to use one, either). Darker colors ESPECIALLY need a base coat, or you're going to end up with stained nail plates.
3. Great advice. I also love these pointed Q-tips (other brands make them, as well).
4. Yes. White, especially bright white, is one of the most PITA colors you'll ever deal with... but if you can find the right shade and apply it well, hats off to you! :)
5. The only quick-dry polish you should be using is Top Coat (it'll help dry your polish faster) or when stamping; they're perfect for that.
6. YES YES YES!!! Cuticle oil also comes in drop form, if you are worried about brush strokes on your fresh manicure. However, you cannot apply it too much. I recommend twice a day; more if your hands are in water and you're not wearing gloves (WEAR GLOVES! -- more on that in #16).
7. No. Just don't do this. Trust me. Polish dries by evaporation; dunking them in cold water does NOTHING to speed up that process. I *do* suggest drying drops, though (also comes in a spray form); my go-to is Drip Dry by OPI).
8. Yes, do this... this is good advice. Try for a full-coverage one-coater white, if you can find one.
9. Yup, this is great advice, too. Thick layers take way to long to dry.
10. It does help polish to last longer by keeping it in a cool, dark (away from sunlight, lamps, heaters, etc) place... *but* refrigerating them isn't good for them. IF you want to keep them in the fridge, fine, but make sure you take them out and let them warm to room temp before using them. Honestly, a better idea is to find a shelf or cabinet somewhere (bathroom, closet, etc).
11. Yes. Make sure you're not using more than a couple drops at a time, and do not ever substitute polish REMOVER; that will ruin your polish in a hurry.
12. My advice for this one depends on WHEN you shake/roll your bottles. If you're like me, and do it before even starting your manicure, you can shake. The bubbles will rise to the top of the polish & pop themselves by the time you get to the polishing stage, so it's fine. If, however, you do it right before polishing, them definitely roll (a tip - roll UPSIDE DOWN).
13. This is one I find myself correcting all the time. Your cuticle is THE DEAD STUFF; ok to nip off. Your eponychium is the living, protective tissue, and you don't want to nip that at all. Great detailed article, with a perfect photo, here.
14. For the first part of this, reread #13. For the second part, using lotion is fine if (a) you have nothing on your nails, or (b) you avoid your nails. Unlike cuticle oil, which is made to work WITH polish, gel polish, and any enhancement you wear, lotions have oils that work AGAINST those things. Sure, it'll moisturize your hands, but it will also seep into & under your polish/enhancement and can contribute to lifting (which all of you know, or should know, could in turn contribute to those icky "greenies" -- a bacterial infection called pseudomonas; not mold and not a fungus, btw).
15. While generally good advice, there are some exceptions. Fine grit files and buffers (usually anything with a number 400g or higher) will actually seal the edge when you do this. Also, filing back & forth on an enhancement won't hurt them.
16. As I started to say in #7... really ANY water is "nail polish's natural born enemy", as water (no matter the temp) will be absorbed into the nail and could expand & contract said nail, causing your polish to crack and peel. My best advice is to wait a full day after polishing to shower, always wear gloves when doing dishes, gardening, etc, don't use your nails to open/pick at things, use your cuticle oil religiously, and avoid lotion on your nails.
17. No. Just don't. Please. Non-acetone remover has so much other crap in it, and it takes so long to remove anything. Acetone-based removers are truly best (see this article). If you have more questions on this one, you should direct them to Doug Schoon, scientist & knower of most things nails. :)
18. This is true.
19. Definitely true (although I laugh because #17 *just said* NOT to use acetone-based removers on your nails, and this one says *to* use it...).
20. No proof of anything of the sort; these are marketing schemes, designed to make you think that those polish brands that DON'T label themselves as "3free" (currently, there are some marketing themselves as "4free" and even "5free", as well) are less healthy for you. Your nail plates are dead. Whatever minute amount of things you're absorbing is not getting into your blood stream. Nail polish, unless swallowed in large quantities (or if you're incredibly allergic!), will not harm you. Just an FYI - nail polish *never* had Formaldehyde in them; they had Formaldehyde Resin (completely different chemical make-up). This article may explain better.
21. Yes, use a top coat... always... One exception - there are some polish brands out there making one-night, easy off polishes; meant for a night out or some other reason for temporary wear (for instance, OPI made one, released as part of the Gwen Stefani 2013 Holiday set, called "Push & Shove"... base coat, two coats of color, no top coat).

My last bit of advice, if you don't want to do your own nails, see a real Professional, please. Stop going to those shops of "iffy" reputation & practices. You can always check out a salon or tech to see about their qualifications before your appointment either by logging into, (there are many other companies have all techs who've taken classes by them, but not all -- for instance, I've taken two classes from Artistic Nail Design, but they don't have an online registry) or by checking in with your state board. You can also report anything you see inside a salon that you think is against state regs.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why Price Increases Are A GOOD Thing...

As a beauty professional, I hear a lot of things regarding price increases -- from clients, from co-workers, from other beauty professionals, and of course from your average consumer.

My clients -- They understand that although I price my own services, those prices are set by a multitude of things. *I* may be the only one who gets a say in those prices, but they reflect my ongoing education, increasing skill level, cost of (good, quality) product, cost of living, and most importantly, they reflect my dedication to your health & safety. In working for myself, *I* am the only one who can give me a raise, and for the most part, my clients understand that. Who would work for years on end without a raise, even when your out of pocket costs go up?

(Some of) My co-workers -- Most of the ladies I work with understand their value and charge accordingly. One or two haven't adjusted their prices in many years (one did about a year ago, after 8 years of not raising them, and is still not charging what she should be). They are, in my opinion, not only doing themselves an injustice, they are doing their clients an injustice. It's an overall perception to many -- by not charging what you're worth, you feel forced to take on clients you don't necessarily want to take on, and may end up working more hours than you should be. This will NEVER be me.

Other beauty professionals -- This one is two-sided. Some of them fully understand their worth & charge accordingly. Some do not; these pros are constantly trying to run specials (sometimes using those discount sites - ugh), work extra hours, and take on high-stress clients so they can make ends meet. I've been in business over 10 years (as a booth renter, no less!), and have NEVER run a special. Sure, I occasionally will throw in a little glitter or a decal for free (my choice), and in the early days, I gave out the VERY OCCASIONAL free manicure (which cost me very little in product and time, and almost always ended with an upgraded service, and even some new clients).

Average consumer -- For blogging purposes, I will stick to the "consumer I know"; that is, those who walk in off the street, asking for my services, and those who cold call me, asking for services. I find that, unless these people are referred to me by a current client or other beauty professional, they usually think I charge too much. The problem with this, as I see it, is that they are trying to compare me to their (for lack of a better term) "corner chop shop"... and there is *NO* comparison. The services at these places do not rate the same as mine. It's like comparing Taco Bell to having a true, authentic, home-cooked Mexican meal. Of COURSE I charge more; I'm WORTH more... and if they can't see that, they're not worth my time.

For those of you who are "the general public", it is time you see the difference between the corner chop shop and a true Beauty Professional, as well as why we charge more. Basic things you should be looking for are: overall salon cleanliness (sweep, dust, etc), all products in original containers, all licenses posted so you can see them (and up to date), disinfectant in jars that are not cloudy nor full of debris, foot baths properly cleaned in between clients (no, spraying the foot bath and wiping it down is NOT "properly cleaned"... what about those internal pipes/jets?!??! EW!), and new or properly sanitized/disinfected/stored implements. For the record, sterilization is NOT required, nor is it regulated within the beauty industry; just because the tech opens a "sterilization pouch" with implements in it in front of you doesn't mean those implements were sterilized properly!!! The biggest indicator of a good salon? One where the tech will answer any & all questions you have about their services, state rules & regs, and their disinfection procedures. If they can't, or won't... run. If you have an questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call the state board (Oregon's can be found here); they can answer any questions you may have.

Beauty professionals should be reevaluating your service menus every couple of years (industry average for price increase is every 1-2 years); see what's selling & what's not, what product costs have gone up, where your overhead is at, etc... And, please please please, TAKE SOME TIME OFF ONCE IN A WHILE! :) It is my genuine hope that you will not only see your own value, but that you will charge accordingly for it. Yes, you'll probably lose a few clients, but in my experience, you'll also gain more who actually value you for what you're worth (work smarter, not harder).

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review Notice...

I have been using Artistic Nail Design's LED-cured "Correction Gel" (the one in the pot) for a couple months. I also now own the brush-on, thinner, version but have yet to use it. I ordered the hard-gel version as well, and it is sitting in my shop, awaiting some one-on-one training (the lovely Christina Gonzales-Glennon, educator for AND, will be giving me some tips & tricks on September 9th). Once I have tested out all three of these gels, I will be posting a review for you. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

This One Hit Hard...

I lost another client Wednesday. Linda (who I sometimes refer to as "Glinda", because she's such a nice lady) had been my client for two years. She's been my salon owner's client for more than 10y. Many years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a lot of treatment & time, she beat it. Just before she started coming to me, she was diagnosed with bone cancer (apparently, not related to the breast cancer). She's been fighting it all this time, but the last round of treatment wasn't working. She had missed more appointments than she made over the last three months, and I knew it was coming.

It started, for me, about six months ago. She was telling me that her last doc appt didn't go well, and her doc wanted her to try this new treatment. It was supposedly less harsh than traditional chemo & radiation, so she agreed. She missed an appt here & there, but (if she didn't call the morning of) always called or texted me by that evening to apologize. At the next one, she would insist on paying me for the missed appt (that is my policy, btw).

Three and a half weeks ago, she asked for a pedicure appt. We scheduled it for the following week, added on to her existing nail appt. That Sunday, I realized I already had her in my books for a pedi on that Tuesday. I called her house on Monday, spoke to her husband, Dale; I explained the double-book and asked which worked better for them. He answered, "She has some other appointments on Tuesday, so let's leave it on Thursday." Then, no show & no phone call on Thursday. I called both her cell phone & their house phone, and left messages, but got no call back. That's when I knew something was seriously wrong.

My salon owner told me that the following Tuesday (Aug 5th), Dale came into the salon to talk to me, but since I wasn't there, he left. Thursday morning, after dropping off my daughter & her friend at the airport, I went to the salon and there was a note on my desk from him. In it, he told me she was at the hospital, going to be released for home hospice, and he wanted me to call him to arrange for one last manicure for Linda at their house.

I did call, and we decided on the following Wednesday, if she was up for it. He then called me Monday to cancel. It was then that I told him to please make sure she knew I loved her. I texted my salon's owner at that point, unsure if Dale had called her, too... I got the last call this past Thursday. Dale let me know how much I meant to Linda, that everyone (even the hospice nurses) commented on how beautiful her nails were, and to let me know there will be a "Celebration Of Life" in October; Linda would want me there if I'm up for it. I got off the phone, and cried.

We grow close to our clients, and a lot of them become "like family", but Linda WAS family. There was a grandparent-like quality to our relationship, and I looked forward to visiting with her every week to catch up on her life (kids, dogs, husband, travels, etc) and to catch her up on mine (I shared more than surface stuff with her; she got details I didn't share with most people about all the legal stuff we've been doing - our accident, Ace's reworked child support, my ex's antics, etc). She was the only client who hugged me after her appts. I am grateful for those, and will hold on to those memories forever.

Monday, July 28, 2014


My daughter set up a professional Instagram account for me; pro pics only (daughter, being amusing, said, "Only business stuff, mom... no food pics, no dog pics, nothing but work pics, ok??!?" She's a strict one... lol). If you'd like to follow me, my username is artistryofthenail.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stop Calling It A "Gel Manicure"!

In yet another attempt to educate the general public, this blog post is all about the differences between some of the products professional nail techs use, as well as educating you on the proper terms so that you get what you really want on your nails.

(A) "Shellac nails" -- Shellac is a *name brand*, not a service. It is trademarked by CND (formerly Creative Nail Design), and those salons that are telling you you're getting a "Shellac manicure" without actually using CND's Shellac are lying to you (& shame on them!). If they offer "Shellac nails", please ask if it's actually CND Shellac or a different brand, then know if they're not using CND Shellac, you are actually getting a "Gel Polish Manicure". To you, it may seem like a small nit-picky thing, but if we don't know what you are actually wearing, then we won't know exactly how (& how long) it's going to take; scheduling you for the wrong service and quoting you an incorrect price. For the record, if I don't apply it, I charge $10 AND UP to remove it. The "AND UP" applies when you are wearing unknown product. Did you know that some not-so-reputable salons & "techs" mix gel & polish, and call it Shellac?!?! Ugh.

(B) "Gel Polish" -- Most reputable salons & techs will refer to all brush-on, in-a-bottle, UV-cured coatings as "gel polish" (even CND Shellac, although technically, CND Shellac is considered a "power polish", since its formulation is different from other gel polishes, but we'll let that one slide). There are a ton of companies that offer gel polishes; the three I currently use (plus my CND Shellac) are Gelish, Artistic Colour Gloss, & GelColor. When you want a gel *polish* manicure, please don't call it a "gel manicure". Gel polish removes using pure acetone, or an acetone-based remover, wrapped with special remover wraps (there are a ton of different ones out there) or cotton & foil and letting them sit for 10-20m (depending on the brand). A few require a light scuff of a 180 grit file across the top coat first.

(C) "Soft/Soak Off Gels" -- Here, there are three sub-categories: "Strengtheners", "Builders", and "Soak Off Lacquers". All use the same method to remove as I described in the above section.
1. Strengtheners come in either a gel pot or a bottle with a brush. They are intended to give a *tiny bit* of strength to your natural nails, under your gel polish application. These will soak off with your gel polish; add about 5m for soak off. This is a topical, removable, application (not the same as a strengthener nail polish).
2. Builders are intended for that purpose; to build an enhancement (just like traditional gel and liquid & powder - aka acrylic). They can be used over natural nails, built out using a form, or used over properly applied tips. However, they are *not* intended to be used when you have nails much longer than just past your fingertips. They are flexible, and depending on how thick they were applied, they will soak off in 15-30 minutes.
3. Soak Off Lacquers are just that; color for your nails that soak off. They come in a pot you have to mix, are stronger than Shellac and gel polish, and can be "filled" (just like soak off Builders). And, just like soak off Builders, these require 15-30m for removal.

(D) "Hard/Traditional/Builder Gels" -- For strength & length, should be rebalanced (I do not use the term "fill" because that implies just putting more product at the cuticle area; I actually rebalance the whole nail each time to make sure your apex is properly strengthened and your shape is correct). The two biggest differences between these and soak off Builders are:
1. These must be filed off. I usually thin with my e-file (it's not a "drill" or a "dremel"; stop calling it that), then use increasingly fine hand files to remove.
2. These can also be used over natural nails, built out using a form, or used over properly applied tips... however, they can be used over (& to create) ANY length.

(E) Liquid & Powder -- We used to refer to these as "acrylic", but the more scientifically-accurate (& more professional, in my opinion) term is liquid & powder. L&P sets are similar in strength to soak off Builder gels, but must be applied using (as the name states) the proper ratio of liquid (monomer) to powder (polymers). Removal should be a combination of e-filing, soak off, and hand-filing... NEVER PICKING! There is no need for a bowl of acetone, as removal wraps work just fine, but some techs still prefer this method.

One of my biggest pet peeves, however, is when you call me and ask for "nails". I don't know what that means. I don't know how long to schedule your appointment. You could mean a basic manicure (45m-1hr) and I think you want a full set of gel nails (which could mean anything from 1.5 hrs for a simple overlay to 3 hrs if I'm sculpting a new set). Try these terms -- "regular manicure", "gel polish manicure", "gel nails" or "acrylic nails" (meaning enhancement), etc. Even the dreaded/hated term "fake nails" gives me SOME idea of what you want.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Menu Revamp

I usually completely revamp my menu every couple of years (where I decide if some services go because no one's getting them, or something needs to be repriced, etc), but sometimes I have additional services I add in the middle of that. For instance, soft gels have recently come on the market. I also charge the same for enhancement services no matter which medium is used (meaning -- the cost of a "full set w/tips" is the same whether I use hard/traditional gel, L&P, or soft/soak off gel). I also recently redid my logo (with a lot of help & input from my husband). All that said, I've decided that all of my print materials need to be redone (professionally), so I've spent a big chunk of the last two days reworking the brochure. Below is the jpeg of both the front & the back of what will be the brochure. Other than having the pro fix the margins & making sure everything lines up, what do you guys think (click on the pic to make it bigger)?

**EDIT 7/19/14** I tweaked a few more things over the last few days, with the assistance of my nail tech friend, Michelle, and my long-time friend, Julie. Both ladies are very detail-oriented, and excellent with grammar & spelling. Once I've got all of the new print materials ordered, I'll see if I can post the PDF proofs that VistaPrint sent me on my work page.

Friday, July 4, 2014

My Favorite Products

As a professional nail stylist, I get asked my opinion on a lot of different products (some professional, some not). Here is a short list of my favorite products:

1. Favorite cuticle oil -- CND Solar Oil is my absolute favorite. I love the smell, the consistency, and the fact that it comes in a bunch of different sized bottles which makes it convenient to have in multiple places. If, however, you're allergic to nuts or nut oils, my second fave is OPI Avoplex cuticle oil.
2. Favorite base coat -- OPI makes a ton, all made for different nail types. I like most of them. Natural Nail Strengthener is my go-to for thin/weak nails. Nail Envy comes in different formulas depending on your needs; my favorite is Matte Base; it's great for just about everyone.
3. Favorite top coat -- again, OPI wins. I use the traditional Top Coat, but they have others to choose from (including Matte for a non-shiny finish).
4. Favorite quick dry -- OPI's "Drip Dry Drops". Many companies make drops as well as sprays. I don't like sprays because you always, no matter what you do, get it on other things. These drops are precise, and really work.
5. Favorite brand of gel polish -- You know... I don't have a favorite. As I've told many people (pros and non-pros alike), there isn't one formula/brand that works for everyone. I carry my top four favorites -- OPI GelColor, CND Shellac, Gelish, and Artistic Colour Gloss. Between these four, I have enough for my clients to find something they like and that will work with their body's chemistry.
6. Favorite brand of gel -- CND. Hands down... I've tried other brands in the past, and currently carry two soft gels each from both CND and ACG (ACG has recently come out with a hard gel that is LED-curable; once I get some and test it out, I will blog a review for you). I also carry, and use, traditional hard gel by CND. I like their ease of application.
7. Favorite brand of acrylic -- First, let's start calling them by their correct name: Liquid & Powder (or L&P). Chemically, L&P and gels are both in the acrylate family, they just apply & cure differently. That aside, I still favor CND. They have a few different liquids and a couple different powders so you can customize for any client. If done using the correct ratios, you can also customize further by adding glitter or pigments to your mixture.
8. Favorite brand of traditional polish -- OPI. I love that I can match their traditional polish to their GelColor line (for those who are still in the dark ages and have to match their toes & fingers, and for those who are so hard on their nails that they need a little touch up between appointments). I love the formula & I love the brush. I do *NOT* love that some of you don't understand the concept (or don't care) of diversion... please STOP buying OPI in grocery stores!
9. Favorite remover -- This one's a tie. I prefer the smell of CND's Nourishing Remover, but the price of OPI's Expert Touch is better. Both can be used as a traditional polish remover, a gel polish remover, and a soft gel remover. Both have nourishing oils in them, so don't use them as a nail prep!
10. Favorite non-professional product -- This is actually not a nails-specific product. It's a skin product. O'Keefe's products -- they both WORK! As much as I gripe at my clients who don't wear proper shoes, don't take proper care of their feet, etc... there are still those who have super-dry feet, and/or cracked heels. This, I know, can be painful. O'Keefe's really does work, and can be found in any grocery or health&beauty store.
11. Favorite nail prep -- CND's Scrub Fresh. This will remove all oils in the nails, and prep them for better adhesion of whatever nail products you choose to apply.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Artistic Colour Gloss -- A Review by a Pro

Nail polish bloggers have their place on the internet, I suppose, but when looking at gel polish lines, you're best to ask a pro who (1) has used the product and (2) has taken a class from the manufacturer, if possible. I have done both with Artistic Colour Gloss. It was a four-hour class on March 17th. I ended up buying 9 shades & a special nail brush to wipe the tacky layer off of the base coat (per instructions), plus I already had the "starter kit" which included another shade, the base coat, top coat, nail prep, remover, some wipes, some remover wraps, cuticle oil (theirs is orange peel scented), and dehydrator.

Made by the same parent company as Gelish, ACG is very similar in prep, application (base coat is slightly less time in the LED lamp), wear, & removal. However, it is being billed as the "Runway" line. I have also found that the colors are stickier/tackier than other brands (Gelish included), so you can easily use craft foils, glitter, pigments, etc to give it an even more fun look. You can find a full list of shades including pics, here: ACG SHADES.

My test subjects were as follows:
1. E.S. -- a full-time hairdresser & mom to a (almost) 2y old. My regular routine with her (& other hairdressers) is Gelish base coat, three coats of color, & two top coats. Sometimes, the tips have a bit of staining from hair color (gloves cannot be worn ALL THE TIME, so that is to be expected), and occasionally, one or two have chipped a little bit (probably from all the hair washing, and none of my hairdresser clients are consistent with their cuticle oil).
For the experiment, we used ACG base, three coats of color, & two top coats. At the two week mark, when she returned for her redo appointment, she said she felt they held "about as well" as when she wears Gelish, but she got more staining at her tips.
2. D.K. -- my husband who normally wears OPI GelColor with little to no problems. Since I forgot to bring the top & base coats home, I had to use what I had here, which is GelColor top & base (we actually used MATTE top coat) with two coats of ACG "Trouble" (a beautiful silver; the matte top coat gave it a nice satin finish). He said it holds "about the same" as GelColor for all four layers, and he really liked the color (quite a bit outside his comfort zone; he usually wears dark creams).
3. S.F. -- a full time mom of 5yo twins. She wears gel enhancements with gel polish applied over them (different brands; no big difference in how they hold up). With her application, I completed the gel process (rebalance, seal with appropriate top coat), then wiped the tacky layer, buffed with a foam buffer, and applied ACG (no need for base coat over enhancements) colors & top coat. She, also, didn't see any difference with how ACG wore on her.
4. My daughter -- an 8th grade student. When I do enhancements on her, she can wear them for two full weeks. When I do gel polish, depending on brand, I usually get 7-12 days out of them. This time, she did sort of what my husband did (different color, regular GelColor top coat, and we did a design). They held for 10 days before she broke a couple, which of course starts the chip/peel process. I'd call that "about average" for her.
5. Me -- a very busy nail tech, mom, & wife. I wear traditional gel enhancements in two different lengths (almond on my left, square on my right). I am right-handed, so my nails wear at different rates. And, I love doing different kinds of artwork on them, so having the ability to use outside art supplies is a bonus for me. Just to test the difference, I went straight from the gel top coat application to the ACG color application (while the gel top coat was still tacky -- a process taught by CND; works great with gel-to-Shellac... not so much with gel-to-ACG). I found that the first coat of ACG color was *VERY* runny/streaky... I will not be doing it that way in the future. In doing this experiment, I have also noticed that these wear the same as Gelish &/or GelColor do (over my enhancements, they are about the same).

The shades are cheaper than the other brands I use in my studio; a huge plus. All in all, I am very happy with this system, and if I find more shades I love, I will be buying them. Now, if ACG would only come out with a nice wall rack... ;)

*Please note -- this is not a sponsored post. All thoughts are my own, and this blog post is only about my personal experiences with ACG.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Cobbler's Children...

You know the saying, "The cobbler's children have no shoes"? The meaning is, of course, being so busy taking care of others that we don't take care of ourselves (or, in some cases, our children). For me, this was not only true recently at home (although more so right after my husband's & my motorcycle accident) taking care of him & our daughter; putting some of my own needs on the back burner, but also at work. My clients were taken care of, at a bit of my own personal expense. Around October, I decided enough was enough, and I started making time to take care of myself. I once again made monthly facial appointments, made sure to stick to my Sun/Mon days off, and added monthly hair appts as well as massages. I was working close to, sometimes exceeding, 40hrs every week, and knew I would crash if I kept going. I also took a weekend off to attend my sister's wedding (boy, do some clients get PISSED when their beauty professionals do that). Then began the holiday season... ACK!

Right before the accident, I had taken off my nails; thinking that I could just do gel polish for a while... I knew the holiday season was coming, and that I would be busy, and gel polish alone takes a lot shorter of a time to do every 2-3 weeks than my usual gel w/gel polish (& sometimes art). After my sister's wedding, I gave up on that idea... I'm just not meant to have short nails with no enhancement! So, I brought my stuff home on a Saturday, and Sunday, I put them back on. The experiment that time was two-fold: almond-shape (since I had already tried almondettos and kept breaking them) and using CND's "Brisa Lite Sculpting" gel. I got the shaping down fine, but still kept breaking them near the free edge. So, in December, I'd had enough, and I called Tanya (my CND EA, nail sister, and friend). She tells me (after I sent a couple of pics) that Sculpting isn't strong enough for the length I had them... and, you can't apply traditional Brisa over the Sculpting. ACK, again!

On New Year's Day, I completely removed all my nails, cleaned up my cuticles, etc, and applied new tips & gel. I decided at this point to try something else -- almond on my left hand, short & square on my right. Since I am right-handed, I figured it would be easier to do artwork, stamping, etc on my longer, prettier, left hand, plus have the "in" shape/length... and my right hand could be kept short & not nearly as "fun", because that would be my *working* hand. Just to make it more fun for ME, I decided that they don't even have to match. So, every rebalance has gotten something different on each hand. My husband joked that, due to my OCD, I probably wouldn't leave them like this very long... but PHHHHLTHH at him; it's February, and I still like them this way!

FOUR product updates -- (1) I am no longer taking regular L&P (Liquid & Powder; that's "acrylic enhancements" for the uninformed) clients. I will continue to use it for repairs if necessary, but I don't like it; it smells and I have a tiny room with only one window that opens. If you require regular L&P appts, I have a few professional recommendations for you. (2) In March, I will be taking a class for a new(er to the market) gel polish line called "Artistic Colour Gloss", from the same makers of Gelish. If I like it, I will start carrying some colors in this line. (3) I have eliminated the few IBD Just Gel shades I had; I don't like them, they are too lightly-pigmented for me and don't hold glitter/foil/pigments like others. (4) I now have nail stamps & a few stamping polishes... I'm still in "playing with them" mode, trying to get them right (it's not as easy as it looks), but it's coming along nicely.

Ok, one more update before I sign off: Business is still busy. Usually, I, like many beauty professionals, find a slow-down between January & March. My regulars, though, have already scheduled through early JUNE (& I only booked out 'til then because we haven't decided on our summer family plans, yet), and I am close to 90% booked. I literally have 4 or less open spots each week between now & then. I have also taken on a couple of days at Tanya's salon, to cover for her while she's on vacation. If you have something coming up within the next four months, I suggest you call me *now*. Otherwise, you may be (as my father says) S.O.L.