Now that we understand the complete nail unit,
we will be better able to properly care for our nails. There are
several things we need to know or remember:
The skin and nails are constantly bathed by a tidal
flow of oils and moisture.
Everything we see and touch except for light and
electricity is a chemical.
Excessive hand washing or using household cleaning
solutions without protection can rob our skin and nails of vital oil
and moisture, resulting in split, peeling nails.
Water is a chemical, so are all nail related
Overexposure to any chemical can cause an allergic
The nail plate is comprised of many layers of cells
that lose their inner material and become flat, hard and
Strength is a combination of hardness, and
It is the clients responsibility to maintain her
nails at home between salon visits.
It is the technicians responsibility to help the
client maintain beautiful, healthy nails.
Nails that split and peel lack sufficient oil and
Nail diseases and disorders should be diagnosed by a
physician and the prescribed medication taken or used as directed.
The nail technician is trained to recognize nail
diseases and disorders, but not to treat them in the salon.
As nail technicians, our perfect dream would be to have
a full book of clients that frequent our salon for all their nail
needs. The reality is that there are a great many women (and men)
that cannot afford, or have the time, to seek our services and must
perform their own nail care at home. It is for these people that
this page is written. I have always felt that educating the public on
proper nail care is essential to our standing as an industry in the eyes
of the consumer. Even though we feel that we spent a lot of money
and time in school and in the salon perfecting our craft, and that we
should be the only ones performing nail services, there are only so many
clients we can see in a day, month or year. Even with a salon on
every corner, there are a great many who have never frequented nail
salons for professional nail care. The knowledge they have about
nails has been gained from magazines, friends, neighbors and/or
Infomercials. I would much rather see us take it upon ourselves to
educate the public about the benefits of home nail care than to see them
chance the possibility of nail damage because of not knowing the proper
procedures of a manicure, pedicure, or the proper use of nail related
tools and implements.
The following is a list of nail tools and implements
required when performing a manicure or pedicure, and an explanation of
the proper use:
Terry Towels: To protect the work surface
from chemicals and water, and to dry our hands between procedures and
before enamel application.
Orangewood Sticks: For gently pushing back
the cuticle, for cleaning under the free edge or for removing excess
Cotton or Gauze Pads: For removing enamel and/or
excess oil from the nail plate surface.
Polish Remover: For removing nail enamel or
polish from the nail plate surface. Polish remover comes in
acetone or non-acetone (ethyl acetate) formulas. The general consensus is
that acetone based removers can be safely used on natural nails while
some prefer to use non-acetone based removers on artificial
Files or Abrasives: Files come in all sizes
and in many grits. The higher the number the smaller the grit, and
the lower the number, the coarser the grit. It is never
recommended to use a grit smaller than 240 on the natural nail plate or
for shaping the free edge. Many over the counter 'emery boards'
have a grit of 80 which is too coarse for use on natural nails.
Files made of metal are also too rough to safely use as the coarser the
grit, the more easily the nail plate layers are shredded. Files that are
called '3-way buffers' have a grit higher than 3600. They are used
to smooth the surface of the nail plate without scratches, and to impart
a high gloss shine. Use the black side first to refine, then the
white side to semi-shine, then finish with the gray side to super
shine. Padded abrasives are easier to hold, maintain their grit
for longer periods, and many of them can be sanitized.
Cuticle Nippers: Cuticle nippers come with
different sizes of cutting surfaces: 1/4 jaw, 1/2 jaw and full
jaw. What this means is that the more cutting surface there is,
the easier it is to cut the skin with a single 'nip'. It is better
to use a nipper with a smaller cutting surface if one is not accustomed
to using these implements. Remember, it is only the true cuticle
that is removed during the manicuring process and not the live skin of
the eponychium or lateral nail folds.
Nail or Toenail Nippers/Clippers/Scissors: Nail
nippers are simply a larger size cuticle nipper which have been designed
to remove excess nail length, and are usually used to cut the toenails.
Nail scissors have a small, curved blade and are designed to remove
length from the fingernails. Nail clippers come in small and large
sizes with a curved cutting edge, and are designed to cut the fingernail
and toenail. Always be sure you use the proper tool for the proper
Cuticle Pusher: A metal implement used to push
the invisible, translucent true cuticle from the nail plate. When
using this implement, never apply heavy, downward force to push back the
cuticle as too much pressure applied in this area can damage the
Curette: An instrument designed to 'scrape'
excess cuticle from the nail plate. Many technicians prefer using
a curette as it is designed to remove the true cuticle from the nail
plate vs. simply pushing it back. Proper use of this
instrument to remove true cuticle negates the need for nippers.
Nail Brush: Used wet, and with warm soapy
water for scrubbing the surface and underside of the nail plate to aid
in complete removal of pathogenic organisms, dirt and debris.
Manicure/Finger Bowl: Usually a plastic container
shaped to hold the fingers and hand in a comfortable position while
soaking in a warm, soapy water bath.
Hot Oil Machine: A heating unit designed to
warm lotion or oil in a paper or plastic 'tub'. A hot oil manicure
is always recommended for persons with extremely dry skin and
Paraffin Machine: A machine that warms
paraffin wax that is used during some manicure/pedicure
procedures. Warm wax will benefit tired, sore, stressed hands
while serving to deep condition and moisturize the skin. Some
paraffin waxes contain additives of eucalyptus and other essential
Pedicure Tub: A foot tub that holds and
heats water for soaking the feet. Some pedicure tubs will massage the
feet while they are soaking. It is not recommended that the feet
of the elderly be immersed in very hot water or massaged using these
machines. Seek the advise of the elderly persons physician before
performing a pedicure procedure -- especially one that may have a
severe or debilitating health issue.