Generic Maintenance Procedures

On these pages, we will cover the maintenance procedures for the various types of products, beginning with the most common type: Liquid and Powder Acrylic. Please keep in mind that these procedures are non-product specific and are only meant as a generic guideline — always read, understand and follow the preparation, application and finishing instructions included with your product purchase. For more detailed hands-on instruction, contact your professional distributor for a listing of continuing education workshops in your area.

Single Color Maintenance

    • Should you prefer this method, or your client consistently wears colored enamel, follow these generic guidelines:
    • Remove all traces of nail enamel with a lint-free wipe.
    • Perform a manicure, push back and remove excess ‘true’ cuticle. Do not nip or clip live skin; cutting live skin can lead to infection.
    • Using a 180 or 240 grit file, remove the shine from the existing product and reduce the level of thickness by 1/3rd. During this filing process, all areas of lift should be filed away and blended to the natural nail.
    • Remove the shine from the natural nail using a 240-grit buffer or file. Hold your file flat to the surface to reduce the possibility of ‘trenching’ the natural nail by removing too many vital nail plate layers.


  • Wash hands and scrub nails with a soft nail brush or toothbrush, rinse and dry.
  • Apply prep to the natural nail only.
  • Apply one thin coat of primer to all 10 nails being sure to apply only to the natural nail plate. (If primer is allowed to touch existing product, it can cause the product to yellow.) Allow the primer to dry to a chalky white.
  • If filling in only the re-growth area, pick up a small, medium consistency bead and place it off center on the natural nail. Flatten the bead by pressing it into the nail plate; this will spread the bead toward the sidewall line, then stroke to blend with the existing product.
  • Pick up a second small, medium consistency bead, and place it immediately next to the previous application. Press to flatten, then stroke to blend into the previous application and to the already applied fresh product.
  • Complete this application on all 10 nails.
  • To finish, follow the finishing procedures for a new set.

Pink & White Maintenance

For the perfect acrylic French Manicure, follow these generic maintenance procedures:

    • Follow the previously listed preparation steps of 1 – 7; however, reduce the existing product by 2/3rds, and flatten the existing arch (stress area). You may also choose to trench out the stress area arch (smile line) by holding your board at a 45° angle to the stress area and filing a trench across the nail from sidewall to sidewall. Be sure not to file so deeply into the stress area as to trench the natural nail.
    • Wash hands and nails with a soft nail brush or toothbrush, being sure to remove all traces of dust, then rinse and dry the hands and nails.
    • Apply prep to the natural nail only.
    • Apply a thin coat of primer to the natural nail only and allow to dry to a chalky white.

primerAllow primer to dry to a chalky white. If the system you are using does not require a primer, you may skip this step.

    • Pick up a medium size, medium consistency bead of white tip powder. Place it immediately at the natural nail smile line. Flatten and spread this bead to both sides of the extension, then stroke to the existing free edge. Use the tip of the brush to perfect the smile line to a smooth, even form.

nail_arch_1The stress area arch should be the highest (or thickest) part of the nail.

  • Pick up a medium size, medium consistency bead of pink, clear or natural and place it immediately behind but touching the smile line of section 1. (Use the height of the arch to swipe the product from the brush onto the nail plate.) Press to flatten the bead into the nail plate. Press and stroke each side of the bead up to, but not touching, the sidewall line. Stroke to blend with section 1.

nail_sect._2The section 2 application should be thickest where it touches the arch, and thinner toward the cuticle.

  • Pick up from 1 to 3 tiny medium consistency beads and place them, one at a time, in the center and to each side of section 3. Press to flatten and stroke to blend with section 2. Leave a tiny margin all around the cuticle and sidewall free of product. This margin will reduce the chance of lifting from skin oils and allow the product to properly shrink when cured and create an air-tight seal to the nail plate.

nail_marginMany technicians have told me that in leaving this margin, the client feels they have not received their money’s worth. Explain to them that this practice leads to allergic reaction due to overexposure, and/or lifting problems.

Note: You may wish to apply the white tip product to all ten nails prior to applying sections 2 and 3. This will allow section 1 to set-up and prevent the possibility of compromising the crispness of your newly created smile line.


It is during the finishing steps that one perfects the shape, form and dimension of the completed application. If you have practiced precise placement of each section and maintained the dimension of the product in each section, filing time is greatly reduced.

  • Using a 240-grit file, begin by perfecting the extension edge, then the sidewall lines to the desired form: square, rounded square, oval or pointed.

finish_1If you perfect a technique where you perform the steps in the same sequence nail to nail and finger to finger, the finished nails will be uniform in shape, form and design.

  • Perfect the overlay surface with the 240-grit file beginning at the extension edge and work back toward the cuticle line.
  • Hold your file flat to the surface of the overlay and file from the center of the nail outward toward the edges. All edges should be thin and beveled.

finish_2Filing in this manner will allow the arch to remain thickest down the vertical center and across the stress area with all edges thin and beveled.

  • Use a 240-grit soft, padded buffer (I like the Koala Buffer by Creative) to smooth and perfect the surface and to remove any deep scratches.
  • Remove all traces of dust filings. Apply a drop of cuticle oil (I prefer Solar Oil) to each nail and massage into the cuticle and overlay.
  • Use the 1200-grit side of the Koala Buffer to buff the oil into the overlay. Oil buffing will plasticize the surface of the overlay and begin the sealing process.
  • Buff to a high shine with a 3-way buffer: Black to Refine, White to Shine and Gray to Super Shine.

nail_finishedThe surface is buffed to a high shine. The arch placement is correct, all edges are thin and beveled, and the length is concurrent with the clients active lifestyle.

You may prefer to apply a coat of acrylic sealer rather than buff with the 3-way buffer. If you prefer to do this, it is still advisable to oil buff the surface. Buffing with oil performs the same as waxing your car. It removes tiny, invisible scratches, allows light to reflect from the surface, and aids in rendering the surface impervious to solvents.

For best polishing results, never shake the bottle; turn it upside down and gently roll between the palms of your hands. Shaking will allow bubbles to form in the polish and will transfer these bubbles to the nail surface.

Always apply thin coatings, allowing a full minute between coatings for each to properly dry (cure).

After nail enamel has cured, apply a drop of nail and cuticle oil to each finger and massage into the cuticle and enamel coating. This will help to prevent cracking and chipping of the polish, and will lubricate the molecules of the overlay to prevent service breakdown.

Instruct your client to apply cuticle oil to the cuticles and overlay at least twice daily; more if her hands are in water a lot or she works with paper or textiles. Water, paper and other textiles can remove vital oil and moisture from the nail plate, the surrounding cuticle and from the overlay. Reduced moisture levels will allow the natural nail plate to curl away from the product at the free edge.

Disclaimer: While Hooked on Nails has attempted to make the information in these pages as accurate and informative as possible, it is for educational purposes only and is provided in good faith without any express or implied warranty or guarantees on the final results of nail enhancement product applications performed by untrained or non-professional users. We also make no representations or warranties as to the suitability of this information in your own setting; you do so at your own risk. In no event will Hooked on Nails be liable for any damages whatsoever, whether direct or indirect, consequential, incidental, special, or any claim for attorney fees, arising out of the use of or inability to use the information provided. We strongly recommend that the manufacturers instructions be followed for the product system you have chosen for your personal or professional salon use. H.O.N. 2000.