By Charlene Henningham
Prep is the preparation of the natural nail plate to receive acrylic, hard gel or gel polish.
We all love beautiful nails and see them all over social media! Shaped to perfection, encapsulated with all kinds of things from glitter to flowers or material lace or even the ashes of a loved one. There are also many different shapes ballerina, coffin, square, stiletto, lipstick, Russian almond or even razor!
But before the client can leave elated with their Instagram worthy nails as nail techs our main goal is making sure they last! So, our focus is before we have even applied any coating to the nail... which is our PREP!
What is prep?
When starting prep, we want a clean nail plate so the removal of all the cuticle from the nail plate is essential.
How to prep
People often confuse the Proximal Fold Eponychium which is healthy tissue around the nail plate as the Cuticle. However, the Cuticle is actually dead skin that grows up the nail plate. This is white in appearance and is the called the True Cuticle.
The True Cuticle doesn't hurt when pushed back and removed because it's dead tissue. All traces of non-living tissue must be removed from the nail plate to help with adhesion.
We then need to focus we need to focus on removing the shine and lightly “roughing up” the nail plate by using a 180-grit nail file or 180-grit sanding band with an efile. I must stress we are only removing the shine and very lightly “roughing up” the surface of the nail plate, by doing this we are creating an uneven surface for the nail coating to “grab onto”.
It’s now time to remove and oils and residue which will compromise the adhesion of the nail coating, so a dehydrator is sprayed or brushed onto the nail plate to temporarily dehydrate it and improve adhesion.
We then need to look whether we would like to apply an acid primer or non-acid primer to the nail plate as the last line of defence against lifting.
Primer changes the PH. balance of the natural nail temporarily so it’s closer to the balance of the coating being applied thus giving us excellent adhesion!
Non-acid vs Acid Primer
An acid primer will help with removing any oils the dehydrator missed whilst a non-acid primer acts as a double-sided tape sticky tape but too much can make it less effective.
You should alternate between the both depending on the condition of your clients nail plate and lifestyle.
Once we have carried out thorough ‘prep’ of the nail plate then we can begin to apply our coating. We can also improve the adhesion by choosing products i.e., monomer and basecoats that have extra adhesion or a rubber like effect to help your coating stick to a thoroughly prepped nail plate.
A Prepped Nail Plate
What's in my prep kit?
Once you understand the importance of prep you'll have quite a few items in your prep kit. Here's what's in my prep kit.
About The Writer
Charlene has been a beauty therapist for an amazing 22 years. Her favourite treatments are waxing and nails and she is a mother of 4 who loves to stay fabulous!