Thursday, October 27, 2011
It's Not "Fungus"
When you arrive in the salon, I require you to wash your hands using soap and water. This is the first, and most basic, step in making sure that we get started with a clean work surface (ie, your nails) and even if you don't dry your hands thoroughly I will make sure that they are dry before I begin my prep routine.
Allow me to assure you that this is not the case. Many states have regulations requiring both parties to wash their hands prior to service. And trust me, simply washing your hands will not do anything to negatively impact any product's ability to adhere to your nails. Especially not when followed by proper preparation of the nail plate.
I simply cannot believe that in our germophobic culture where people refuse to push a grocery cart without first wiping it down with a Clorox wipe, that these same people are offended by having to wash their hands before having their nails done.
After you wash your hands I begin services by carefully prepping the natural nail to receive whatever product you choose. This procedure includes a thorough scrubbing with a 99% isoproply alcohol (rubbing alcohol) solution-- and I mean "scrub." I use a nylon brush that has been disinfected in a hospital-grade, EPA-register disinfectant and stored in a dry, dust-free cabinet. This allows me to be sure to thoroughly saturate the nail plate with the solution, making sure to get into any nooks and crannies that could be missed by merely wiping with a cotton pad.
This solution acts to further sanitize the nail plate, remove dust, and dehydrate it to make it more compatible with further prep products that we'll be applying.
Then I apply a nail plate "dehydrator" or "pH balancing" solution. (Different product manufacturers have different products and different labeling.) These prep products dry out the nail plate and make it easier for primers to get a good grip on the surface of the nail plate.
Then we apply primer.
"Primer" used to mean a methacrylic acid solution with a very low pH factor. These primers are still around, widely used, and perfectly fine when used with caution by a conscientious professional. They are highly acidic and should NEVER touch the skin! Contact with skin tissue can (and will) lead to chemical burns.
But many products today are used in conjunction with "protein bonder" or "non-acid" primers...
They are still technically "primers." Technical lingo often gets quite confusing and as specific words and terms develop negative connotations, their usage becomes heavily debated and their true definitions often get confused: A "primer" is anything that is used to "prime"-- or prepare-- a surface for another product to adhere to it.
Nevertheless, whether I apply a traditional acid primer or a protein bonder, that goes on after the dehydrator.
Then I apply the enhancement product.
Acrylic, gel, silk wrap, powder glaze, UV polish-- whatever enhancement service you have chosen.
Once the product is applied and set, then you can relax some. At this point, we have done pretty much all we can to ensure that the application process has been completed with complete attention your health and safety to preserve the integrity of both your natural nail and the enhancement that we have applied.
All my metal and nylon implements get disinfected according to the state regulations.
And that's just speaking of what I can have any hope of controlling while you're here in the salon!
So, with all this in mind, here's some advice:
Even invisible, microscopic cracks can let moisture and bacteria in.
While this is not a cause for panic, it does need to be taken care of. You need to kill that bacteria! And the first step to doing that is to make sure that space is dry.
Once you get the product off your nail, wash it with soap and water, douse it in Bactine or Peroxide, take your hair dryer to it and make sure it's dry.
Now, here's the hard part: the green spots won't go away. The discoloration is a stain in the keratin of your nail that's caused by a by-product of the bacteria. It is not the bacteria itself. So even after you kill the infection, the discoloration will remain until the nail grows out.
Yeah, you could file it off. But you're just filing down your natural nail, which isn't really doing your nail any good.
And you'll need a doctor to clear you before you can get your nails done again. Because nail techs aren't allowed to treat infections and we're not allowed to work on anything that shows signs of infection or open wounds.
The best thing you can do is help me take care of your nails. I only see your nails once every couple of weeks, you see them everyday. So first off-- pay attention to them. Treat your fingertips delicately and avoid excessive pressure against your nails and fingertips to help prevent stress fractures in the product.
Keep your nails clean, and make sure you take the time to dry your hands and nails thoroughly when you wash your hands.
Use cuticle oil every day: the only time oil makes your nails lift is if it's left on the nail plate when product is applied. When product is applied over a properly prepared nail plate, there is no point of entry for oil or cooties to get between your nail and your nail enhancement. But cuticle oil every bit as important in maintaining the integrity of your nails and cuticles as moisturizer is to preventing wrinkles around your eyes.
A high-quality cuticle oil is made entirely of botanical oils-- contains no mineral oil-- and will keep both your natural nail plate and the surrounding skin tissue properly hydrated. This prevents the skin and nail from drying out, causing those tissues to shrink and pull away from the enhancement product. Dry skin is the number one cause of lifting and cuticle oil is your best defense against it. You don't need to get all greased up, just a tiny drop on each cuticle and then massaged in will do the trick!
Get your nails done! There's a reason that 2 to 3 weeks is what we recommend between fills. It's not just a way of making more money. In fact, I'd love it if all my clients came in once every 4 weeks, that would allow me to see more clients! But 4 weeks is too long to wait. You nails grow about 1/4 inch every month, and as they grow out, they change shape slightly. Nails bend and flex as they grow, some curl up, some flatten out, but the product isn't as flexible as the natural nail and it can't bend and flex very much.
Modern products have made great improvements, but 3 weeks is still about the limit of any product's ability to grow out with the nail before it starts to give.
Getting a fill (or rebalance) is like having the oil changed in your car: you're supposed to do it on a regular schedule in order to prevent things from going catastrophically wrong down the line! It's preventative maintenance, so don't wait until your nails are lifting or broken to have them done, by that time it might be too late.