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.