A primer on lifting


Help Support SalonGeek:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

The Geek

Grand Master Geek
Premium Geek
Jan 9, 2003
Reaction score
Leeds, UK
Primers (the standard methacrylic acid based variety) exists to improve adhesion between a coating and the natural nail plate.

But how do they work and how can the information help you make better nails?

A primer on lifting

Primer (the standard methacrylic acid based variety) exists to improve adhesion between a coating and the natural nail plate.

It does this by coating the top layer of the natural nail. This coating creates a 'Hydrogen' bond to the natural nail plate and a 'Covalent' bond to your liquid and powder. As most products do not form a very strong (or natural) bond to Keratin, primers are used to help increase adhesion by providing this fancy pants sounding Hydrogen bond. Does increasing the layers of primer help increase the level of adhesion? Lets find out in......

Crappy Analogy time.

Its ‘Do this at home’ lab time. That’s right kids. You too can try this next segment at home to play along with the story.

Go out tonight and buy yourself a new Barry Manillow poster.
Our goal is to adhere this poster some place cool, like above our bed. (Yea yea, it may cover the mirrors, but its only temporary.)

Since a poster of Barry would stick to the ceiling about as well as Jerry Springer sticks to making educational documentaries of endangered species, you will need some adhesive substance, like tape.

Barry is a bit freaky, and we are a bit scared of him suddenly falling off of the ceiling and landing us whilst we are in slumber. What can we do? How about we get cleaver… Not only will we stick a piece of tape under each corner of the poster… We will stick two… NO… THREE LAYERS OF FREAKING TAPE ON TOP OF EACH OTHER!!!

Is he going to stay put? Will those extra layers of tape mean the difference between a restful nights sleep, or one fraught with the dangers of Barry-mares?

The truth about multi layered primering

You could stick twenty layers of tape on top of each other, and that wont save us from being Barried silly as it is not the layers of tape that provide adhesion....its the initial contact and coverage.
Since that sounded really profound... Ill deepen it a bit...
It's our first layer of tape (the one that is coming into contact with the ceiling) that is providing us with adhesion... the other layers are not providing any benefit.
If Barry begins to bail from the ceiling as we are busy counting sheep, its because that first layer of tape isn't in full contact with the surface... Its stuck to dust, oil, contaminants, old pieces of paint, mites, motes, and gnats as well as the ceiling. Since dust, oil, contaminants, old pieces of paint, mites motes and gnats do not adhere to the ceiling, they are separating agents.

So how could multiple layers of primer improve adhesion with nail applications?
Acidic primers also help to ‘break up’ oil blocks on the surface of the nail plate, making it easier to have a cleaner surface for your application. If your adhesion improves with the more primer you use, it’s a good indication that you are not getting an adhesion boost from the primer, but a cleaning boost.

While this fundamentally isn’t a bad thing and can work, you could get much better, safer, and longer lasting adhesion by using cleansing specific products to clean, and leave primers to prime. Remeber that Acid Primers give you a Hydrogen bond, but a covalent bond (i.e. Retention+ or Acid Free Primer) provides twice the level of adhesion.

Primers age and ratio

Primers age and can begin to break down and degrade relatively quickly. Hold your bottle o Primer up to the light, if you see old shoes and tires floating about… Its contaminated and loosing its effectiveness. At that point you may as well be applying chewing gum to the surface of the nail for improved adhesion.

Though things like Mix Ratio and contaminated brushes (you know the ones… they look like they were just coiffed at the Bride of Frankenstein beauty emporium) contribute to problems, you will most likely see many other signs of breakdown above and beyond lifting (weakness and discolourisation come to mind)

Mix ratio isn’t so much of an ethereal mystic scientific technique mastered only by those that have had spiritual intervention, as it is a rhythm. If the mix is feeling creamy and full bodied and your beads are consistent, then chances are that you are most likely getting into the mix zone. Of course there are some tricks to make this easier, I just think sometimes we make it more complex and difficult on ourselves than we really should.

What about Creative's Acid Free Primer?

I mentioned Acid Free Primer a few spews back. Acid Free Primer doesn't work like traditional acidic primers. It will coat the top layer of the nail plate (just like traditional acidic primers) and form a covalent bond to the Keratin of the natural nail (remember... traditional primers for a hydrogen bond... so this is twice as strong). Acid Free Primer will not cleanse the nail plate in any way, shape, or form. If you are used to using traditional primers, and/or you are getting a cleaning boost from your primer, then Acid Free Primer will most likely do diddly squat for you as it isn't going to form a covalent bond to oil.
If you don't use primers as cleansing agents, can AFP give R+ an adhesion boost? It can't make a better bond than a covalent (that's what R+ gets), so in that sense no... But it may help coat the layers of the natural nail plate more effectively, thereby giving you better coverage.
If your using R+ and you have a couple of problem lifters... give it a go. It cant lower your adhesion... and it may be just the kick you needed. If your using Radical, than AFP can definitely raise your adhesion level.

My closing thought...

There is nothing that sucks more than a client experiencing problems (other than two clients that are having problems… but that then sucks twice as much!! HAHAHAHOOOEHEHeaaa, er okokok… ill leave now.) :?
very funny but equally as informative and useful :D
love the way you write Sam, informative and funny at the same time :D
thank you for yet another fab Article xxx
read this when it first appeared little while ago, was wondering about the AFP just the day before you posted this sam! thankyou so much p.s have been a little out of touch with creative 4 couple of years, but rapidly catching up,its nice to be back!
ok so where do i get the Barry Manillow poster? :eek:
Very funny - but very informative too thanks!
ps i'll pass on the Barry poster.
It's nice to know that I'm in the right place to have a sense of humor. Your article answered some of my questions. Thanks so much!
'You could stick twenty layers of tape on top of each other, and that wont save us from being Barried silly '
:lol: :lol: :lol:
That's so funny.

How throughly entertaining & educational all these articles & tutorials GMG does are.

Keep 'em coming!
Must it be Barry Manilow? :D I'm afraid of Barry-mares... and I'm not talking about the poster!!!!!

Love the article, you are a God!!!!!
this is a very good point ...because at christmas i coulnt find the little hooky things that you stick your xmas lights up with (you know the snowmen and bells and things)
so i used tape and lots of it ...putting like four pieces over the same bit,and yep ..it still kept falling off the window ,the exra pieces did nothing....
so at first i compeatly understood all this ,but then got lost half way through im afraid....but i do get the main jist of it all
thankyou mr geek miyster !!!!!
very funny and informative, thanks!
Very informative and needs a bump now and again for newbies x

Latest posts