Monday, December 8, 2014

The Nail School Chronicle: Week 3

Hello Loves!  I survived another week of nail school at GCI, and I have some interesting things to share.  This week, we covered the basic manicure.  There's not a whole lot to it, really.  Shape, cuticle work, massage, polish.  Ok, there's a little more than that to it, but those are the main steps.  lol  I did a practice basic mani on my mother tonight, so I'll share the before and after photos of that toward the end of this post.  Believe it or not, it was the first time she has ever had a manicure!

Before we get to that and a few other things I want to cover, how about my weekly observations?
  • The dust from acrylics is awful.  It gets everywhere.  And I do mean everywhere!  Heck, it even gets in your nose and makes you feel like you've been snorting the stuff.  :/
  • I can paint my own nails flawlessly with no effort at all.  Ask me to paint someone else's nails with regular polish and you might as well have asked a two year old to do it.  I'm not even kidding.  Who would have guessed that pulling a brush toward you instead of horizontally in front of you would be so different?
  • My dogs hate me and love making me late.  Since Keith can't walk them to the fence right now (they pull like mules), I have taken over that duty.  A few mornings back, Scarlett slipped her collar and took off for a trip around the neighborhood.  I looked everywhere for her before finally finding her in the neighbor's fence.  She found her way in but couldn't find her way back out through the open gate.  Geeze, she can find a hole in our fence without even looking.  Anyway, so I walk over to show her how to get out and she slips by me again.  This time, she bolts back home.  Yea!  Uhhh, no.  I forgot to shut my car door, so she hopped up into my seat and proceeded to drink my coffee before I could get back into the yard!  Little brat.  I was late to class for the first time AND didn't get my coffee that morning.  :(
  • If you've never had a spa facial, get one!  Seriously, make it a priority.  I had the opportunity to receive a facial from the Esthetics department the other day and it was divine!  I never would have thought I could fall asleep with a stranger smearing weird stuff all over my face, but I absolutely did.  lol
  • I'm still having trouble with my balls.  Brenda from Tuff Enough Nails gave me a bit of advice, so now I'm not struggling as much with dry versus wet, but I'm totally struggling with ball size.  I either end up with too much product or not enough.  It's SOOOO frustrating!  I've been doing this for three weeks.  I should be a pro by now, right?  ;)
  • That test I was so worried about last week?  Aced it.  Seriously, perfect score.  Whoo Hoo!  I also learned that there is nothing funnier than listening to a redneck trying to pronounce words like "Lunula" or "Melanonicha" or "Onychogryposis".  Even with the pronunciations on the cards, he still butchered them.  Bless him for helping me study and review my flash cards.  It definitely helped me with the test, and the comic relief was much needed as well!

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I want to talk about the myth that acrylic and gel enhancements destroy the natural nail.  It simply is not true.  Saying that enhancements destroy the natural nail is like saying that spoons cause obesity or your car makes you speed.  It's absurd, really.  When applied and removed correctly, acrylic and gel enhancements will not harm the natural nail.  And I have photos to prove it.

If you caught my posts last week, you know that I suffered a bad break and some low splits on my swatch hand.  I sculpted the broken nail with clear acrylic and did an overlay over the rest.  Below is the photo I shared of the sculpted nail.  Before sculpting this nail and doing the overlay on the others, I lightly buffed my natural nails like I would before applying gel polish.  That's it.  No drilling or thinning the nail plate.  Just a simple buff to rough the surface a little and remove the shine.  Mind you, this was my first attempt on a real nail, so it's not perfect.

Since I used gel polish over the acrylic, I decided to soak it off.  In case you didn't know, acrylic CAN be removed by soaking in pure acetone.  Actually, that's how it should be removed to prevent damage to the natural nail.  To remove this extension, I filed it thinner (to reduce soaking time) and then wrapped the nail with a Gelish gel polish remover wrap saturated with pure acetone.  It takes a in 45 minutes or so...but the acrylic will soften to the point it can be easily pushed off of the nail without damaging the nail plate.

Here are my naked nails after removing the acrylic.  My poor little nubby!  Ignore the ring finger.  I applied a silk wrap (poorly) in an attempt to save that nail since it had a significant split.  Sadly, it didn't work as you'll see later in the post.  Yes, the silk wrap was another first.

In this shot, you can see that my nails have not been thinned out.  They are as thick as they were before I applied the acrylic.  Well, except for the nubby, but that's because the nail split between the layers so it is much thinner toward the free edge.

And finally, they are just as strong as ever.  You can see I am putting significant pressure on the tip of my index nail and it is not bending like it would if the nail had been thinned before application or over-filed during removal.

Ok, so why am I showing you all of this?  Yes, I know...I'm a gel polish lover through and through.  But this is important because it shows the difference between doing things the correct way and the incorrect way.  I have chatted with many of you over the past few years - through facebook, one on one, or through other social networks.  I can't count the number of you who have told me that enhancements destroyed your nails.  I have learned over the past three weeks that the enhancements are not to blame.  Poor application and removal are to blame!  What's more, I have learned some things that might scare the daylights out of you.

I have gone to several nail salons over the years, and I have learned that NONE of them were high quality, professional salons.  Let's face it, nail salons are like every other service or product out there.  Some are top quality and others are not.  Depending on your area, you may find budget friendly services that are high quality, but you might also find budget friendly services that are, well, not nail friendly.  I've learned that most people don't know what to look for in a high quality service.  I certainly didn't.  So allow me to share a few of the initial red flags that you aren't in the right salon.

Think about your last salon experience:
  • When you last had a salon manicure, did the nail tech have you wash your hands before starting the manicure?  Did he/she wash his/her hands?  Or at the minimum sanitize your hands with hand sanitizer?  If not, that's a HUGE issue.  Our hands are covered in bacteria from day to day activities such as opening doors, handling money, even scratching our noses.  If both parties are not washing their hands before the service, that's a lot of bacteria that is introduced into your manicure.
  • Did the nail tech look at your hands front and back before beginning the service?  Did he/she remove your polish before filing your nails?  If not, that's a red flag as well.  A tech should always check your hands for signs of fungus and bacterial infections before any service.  Now, now, don't get offended.  Of course you know if YOUR hands are ok and free of fungus or infection like warts that can spread by contact.  But do you know that the person serviced before you could say the same?  If the tech didn't check you, odds are he/she didn't check the person before you either.  If sanitation is lacking, that's a chance for you to catch something.
  • Think about your last spa pedicure.  Did the tech remove your polish and look at your feet before placing them in the spa tub?  No?  Red Flag!  The tech should look for things like athletes foot or nail fungus that would prevent service before placing your feet in the tub.  If he/she doesn't and something of that nature is present, the pedi spa becomes contaminated.  Again, you might know your feet but you don't know about the person who sat in that chair before you.  And you also don't know if the salon disinfected the tub thoroughly between clients.  Can we say "Ewww"?  Oh, and take a look at those files and pumice stones.  If they look worn, they have been used on someone else.  Those suckers can't be sanitized. 
  • This one might surprise you.  Did your tech ask about any health conditions or allergies you might have?  Medications you might be taking?  Ok, I know what you're thinking.  That sounds like a personal question that a tech doesn't need to know, but it IS something a tech should know before performing a service.  Why?  Say you have an allergy to shellfish.  Many salon products have ingredients such as seaweed that can trigger a shellfish allergy.  What if you have blood clots?  Massaging can cause them to move.  What if you are diabetic?  The tech should not use cuticle nippers or metal implements to reduce the chance of nicking your skin.  What if you have arthritis?  That massage could be more pain than relief if the tech doesn't modify his/her massage techniques.  What about thyroid medications, chemo, radiation, and a slew of other medications you might be on?  They can cause skin sensitivity that might limit the types of services that can be safely performed.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop there.  Bottom line, when choosing a nail tech or salon, ask to see the tech's license.  Watch for sanitation issues.  Ask questions.  If you are able, watch how the person before you is serviced.  If you have had a bad experience, odds are you were NOT sitting in the chair of a professional, high quality nail tech.  Oh, and here's another shocker.  Not all "techs" working in salons are licensed.  Some are apprentices who are training under a licensed tech.  Not all apprentices get the same amount of instruction.  So that guy doing your pedicure might not know any more than you do about proper sanitation or even how to correctly perform the service.  Others might technically be assistants who shouldn't be performing services at all. 

Ok, ok, I'll stop for real this time.  So I soaked off my sculpted acrylic nail and overlay.  You know I'm not walking around with a nubby, right?  I also mentioned that my silk wrap attempt at saving my ring finger nail failed.  That's two nubbies.  That's just not happening.  ;)  So...I sculpted two new nails.  But this time I used gel.  Let me tell you, for a gel polish lover, hard gel is tons easier to work with than acrylic!  Sculpting with gel felt like second nature for me.  I used clear gel so I can swatch over it without impacting the colors.  Given, they aren't perfect...but not bad for a first attempt. 
I did end up going back and shaping them a bit more after taking the picture.  My ring finger doesn't fan out quite as bad anymore.  You'll see what I mean when I share my mani later this week.  I would share it now, but it isn't finished yet.  lol  Hmmm...and I need to figure out how to sculpt without getting bubbles.  I'm sure that will come in time.

Finally, Mom's mani.  Bless her heart, this was her first ever full manicure.  She's had long nails her entire adult life but always does them herself.  She rarely wears polish at all.  It was really fun sitting down and doing her nails for her from start to finish.  My Mama is an incredible woman with a huge heart.  She does so much for so many people.  It was nice to be able to do something for her!  You might also notice that I inherited her crooked fingers.  ;)

Here's the before shot.  Next time I'll pose her hands better so I can crop a little closer.

And here's the after.  This is also her first time wearing red polish!  She usually goes for pink or bronze, so I was shocked when she chose OPI Red.  I think the red really suits her and makes her hands look much younger.  :)  Of course, this was a learning experience for me too.  I really suck at applying regular polish on other people.  Sheesh, I need some serious practice! 

That's all for today.  I know I promised last week that I would show you the contents of my kit.  I'm still going to do it, but I figured it would be a good post for later this month while I'm on winter break since I won't have updates from class during that time.

Oh yeah, once again I'm writing in the middle of the night with only a few hours to sleep before I have to get up to go to class.  So if there are any glaring grammatical or spelling errors in this post, please forgive me.  Feel free to giggle and call me names under your breath, but forgive me none the less.  ;)



  1. My gosh! I definitely learned a lot. I think I know now why I had folliculitis after having a foot spa. :( The inexperienced nail tech did not wash her hands (only used alcohol. but that's not enough, right). Plus she didn't actually wash my feet with soap. Gaah!! Thank you for your insight!! Keep them coming dear. :) I've definitely learned a lot from this post. :)

  2. Your mom's hands look 20 years younger after the manicure!

  3. I am so enjoying reading about your journey. My daughter went to massage therapy school earlier this year and it was so much fun listening to her talk about it---and I was the beneficiary of practice massages; one deep tissue that was amazing. Also I have alot of RNP less than a year old that I will never use and that I would love to send to you to use in place of the yucky school polish.

  4. Your mother's mani is awesome. Looks great on her.

  5. I'm so glad I rarely do regular polish manis on others. I think it's more difficult because we get so used to getting right up to the edges with gel and it wipes right off if we do get it on the skin.

  6. I love your Nail School posts, how do you find the time to keep posting whilst training and juggling life in general too?!! Sorry to hear your balls are still giving you trouble.....;)

    1. Honestly, this series helps me keep up. It is a really easy post to write each week. I'm enjoying throwing in a little more of tge personal stuff. :)

  7. I love reading these posts. So glad to hear about your test, yay for passing! Plus this post was so informative, thank you!! Your mom's hand look incredible and she is rocking that sexy red. :)

    P.S. Please get your ball situation under control. :P


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