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The Geek

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You don't have to be Michelangelo or any of the other Mutant Turtles to create enhancements on the fly.

Sculpting enhancements on a form is the nail professional’s secret to fast, lower cost services. In this splendid pictorial, I cover some tips and tricks that successful nail sculptors use to easily enhance and repair nails in today’s busy salons.

Why sculpt anyway?

Sculpting is a true art that one loves or one avoids like an Iraqi Military commander at a cocktail party.

Not only is sculpting on a form an art… er... form… Sculpting is a significantly faster way to complete a full set than by performing a tip and an overlay. Why? For one, you don’t have to farf around with sizing tips, pre tailoring them and then adhering them to the nail plate only to turn around and have to blend them in. Sculpting allows you to dive straight in and create your art without limitations.
Performance Forms also cost significantly less money than a tip does. Using a form to apply an enhancement will lower the cost of doing nails to a minimum. Over half of the cost of a full set to you is tied up in the price of tips. Lose the tips and reduce your overheads and shorten the time spent per set.

Thoroughly prepping the natural nail before application is the backbone to any service that you want to last longer than the lifespan of a moth.
Through thorough prep, we remove oil, moisture and contamination that can cause lifting or bacterial infections.
When sculpting on a form, I spend a little more attention to detail when shaping the free edge of the nail plate for that perfect no clump application.

If the free edge is long, I want to ensure there is no curling along the lower arch
(curling along the lower arch will push down on my form and lead to seepage underneath the nail).
If the natural nail is short… I will actually file the shape of the smile line into the free edge.


Forming a choice

Forms make the difference between a super set of sculptured enhancements, or a set of freaky malformed cone heads.​

Take for example the infamous horseshoe forms. Damn near every technician on this bright green earth has been inducted into sculpting with these babies. Most of those technicians soon followed their first experience with these forms by taking a vow to never sculpt again. Why?
They are an absolute pain in the buttocks to get a decent fit and decent shape with.

Sure there are about 152 exotic ways to be able to manoeuvre these things so they will fit haphazardly, but you must ask yourself… do you really care about learning 152 ways to make a dunce cap?

The plain and simple truth is that no matter how you apply these things, you are damned to sculpt flat points.

What about the super hybrid horseshoes? There are many differing variations on the horseshoe theme, ranging from the solid gold square forms to the grand mama horseshoe forms that seem designed to sculpt out magnificent Egyptian hats.

Overall Performance forms offer the greatest versatility in a sculpting form. From simple applications to highly customised tailored solutions, Performance forms will give you the versatility you need to sculpt consistent cylindrical enhancements every time.

Keep in mind...


During form application, you need to look toward 2 key items.
  1. Fit.
    It is imperative that the form fits snugly on the underside of the natural nail. If there is a gap between the free edge of the nail and the form, you will get seepage. Though you can try with all your might… most clients are far to savvy now a days to accept a lump of product underneath the natural nail as nail art.

    Seepage is a larger concern than just aesthetic. Getting product under the natural nail overexposes the hyponychium to your sculpting monomer. Frequent and prolong overexposure leads to irritation and finally to an allergic reaction.
  2. A Cylindrical sculpting area.
    It is imperative from a design standpoint that the area you are sculpting is cylindrical, smooth and even. Your product will take on the shape of your form and if it’s wrinkled or uneven, then the underside of your enhancement will be as well. So… If it’s shaped like a dunce cap, then your enhancement will be to.
As a rule of thumb, the more you play around with the form before application, the more difficulty you will have with the application.


Rock and roll baby

  1. Start by slightly rolling the form between thumb and forefinger to give the it a slightly curved shape.
  2. Peel the form from the backing paper and line up the free edge of the nail with the edge of the form.
  3. Press back tabs to finger, then gently press the lower tabs (under the form) together.
    If you press too high, your sculpting area will look cone shaped... which sucks... so don't :)


The technique

One of the most common difficulties when sculpting on a form is due to something fancy pants called ‘Surface Differentiation’.

What that essentially means, is that when it comes time to sculpt, you end up working on 2 different types of surfaces that respond differently to the product.

The natural nail (and tips for that matter) are porous and ‘grab’ product, Forms are designed to be non porous so they ‘repel’ product. While this is a good thing friends (unless you fancy your clients leaving with forms still stuck to their enhancements)… It can spell frustration for nail technicians trying to master the art of sculpting.

To solve this problem, I sculpt in layers.

Sculpting out a tip


I apply a thin layer of white up to the natural nail free edge and essentially, sculpt out a tip.
  1. Take a medium size bead… one that’s relative to the width and length of the ‘tip’ you are sculpting out and apply it up against the free edge. Be careful not to push product onto the surface of the plate.
  2. Give the bead a moment to settle, then in gentle nudging motions… push it up to the free edge line and out to one side. When you get to about 80% of the way over, work the other side of the bead to the 80% mark.
  3. Go back to the first side and nudge it up into the corner, then repeat the nudging on the opposite side.
  4. Gently smooth out your surface and then carve your lower arch in with the side of your brush.
    You do this by scooping the side up… and then by pushing it toward the natural nail… then away in a swooping motion.
Viola. There is your sculpted tip.

15.jpg 16.jpg

Zone 1

All that follows now are the exact same steps I would follow as when performing a tip and an overlay.​

I place a medium sized medium wet bead of Retention+ and Perfect Color White tip powder close to (but not on) the smile line.
I give the bead a moment to settle and gently press from side to side forming the smile line with the flag of my brush.

I cover the smile line technique in the Million Dollar Smile line turorial in far more detail.

17.jpg 18.jpg

Zone 2 placement

To avoid pulling excessive Pink over my white (That is… when I’m not going for the ‘Permanent Forever Holland’ look) and to ensure proper apex placement I place my Zone 2 bead a small distance from the white.​


Zone 2 and 3 application

Let the bead settle and gently press evenly from side to side, tapering down toward Zone 3 and smoothing up toward Zone 1.​

Repeat this step in Zone 3 to create a thin, ledge free enhancement that requires minimum buffing for perfection.

110.jpg 111.jpg

Pinchin

If you want to slim the appearance of the enhancement and give it a greater degree of C Curve… you can pinch the nail as it is setting.

Be warned though… during pinching… you exert a lot of pressure on the enhancement and the natural nail plate. If done with much pressure, or for too long… something will weaken and give. That something is usually the natural nail plate.

The natural nail plate is held onto the bed in a system of rails and grooves (bed epithelium and dermis) Applying too much of a pinch can pop the bed epithelium away from the dermis which could manifest itself as vertical Onycholysis.

The other problem with pinching that I see far too frequently is over pinching and the placement of the pinch.

The goal of a pinch should be to bring in the love handles (the area of the enhancement where the pink and white come together) and to straighten the line from cuticle to free edge.
If your pinching is too far back or too far forward, you may end up with a curled extension edge.

I focus the pinch on just the love handles and hold (not press) with my fingernails and avoid touching with your fingers or skin as this promotes overexposure.

112.jpg

The finishing line

Finally, buff and finish. Here I’m using the 240 grit side of the Koala buffer to refine the shape.​

I then slather with SolarOil to oil, buff with the specially treated 1200 grit side of the Koala buffer to create an ultra smooth finish.

I remove any freestanding oil with a quick swipe of ScrubFresh, buff to a high gloss shine with the Girlfriend buffer and finish the service with SolarOil.


nJoy
 
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Ms.Matrix

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This is my first time actually commenting on something in the site (by the way, I LOVE this site). I am just getting back into the nail industry (I'm going back to school to complete my licensing) and when I was in school before I was absoulutely terrified of sculpts; the forms wouldn't fit, I'd get product running down the sides of the forms, and they would be lumpier than a batch of my grandma's oatmeal :lick: Ahhh!! just an overall nightmare!! Reading through your tutorial and really looking at the pictures, I could really understand what I was doing wrong. I can't wait to do some sculpts now!!

If you have any suggestions about a better form I could use (cause I hate those darn half horshoe things) and any other tips I would greatly appreciate it. Oh, by the way how long should it take to do a full set of sculpts?

Thank You
 

The Geek

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Hey there. Glad it has helped.

Personally, I use CND's Performance Forms. Full sets should take round about the hour fifteen to hour and a half mark.

Hope this helps ;)
 

Jen Smith

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Wonderful tutorial, thank you very much. Can I just ask you though, when sculpting, what gives the nail enhancement strength? Will the white tip not easily break if there is no applied tip under it to lie on? Sorry if my question sounds daft, its just I tried doing an infil with a sculpting tip as my filling had left a little of the edge broken away so the sculpting was a 'preferred' option according to the tutor. However, this broke later in the evening so it got me wondering if they are as long lasting as tip applied enhancements?

Thanks in anticipation for any advice.

Jen
 

The Geek

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Hey Jen, good question.

If you were to compare a tip and overlay versus a sculpted enhancement in strength - chances are the sculptured would win. Why? Because the tip is a much weaker polymer designed to simply give you a surface to apply to.
Saying that - during repairs and full sets where forms are used for extending the length of the nail, many times, techs accidentally get seepage under the nail which can easily catch and 'snap' that sculpted area off.

Chances are... this was the case with your situation.

Product adheres perfectly well to existing product so there are no 'seams' of weak areas (unless your finishing is really really bad - but thats an entirely different cup o fish ;)

Hope this helps!
 

Deb379

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Hi there

Can I just ask about tackling natural nails that look like a wide "n" if you get what I mean. My nails for instance - when you look at the end are like a table top across which then curve at the edges and then drop down at the sides! Whenever I have tried to put forms on my nails and my sisters it is difficult not to get a slight gap.

I read somewhere that you can snip them to fit better, also heard suggestions of placing a piece of blue tack underneath or even a tip held in place with blue tack.

Any suggestions on this?

Deb379
 

The Geek

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Square C Curves are a littl emore difficult to sculpt on as form will follow a natural curve. Square is not a natural curve ;)

What I would suggest is creating 2 small lateral cuts down the length of the form where the edges of the natural nail are.

That should sort it :wink2:
 
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I just wanted to say that I loved this, thank you so much for doing it. I have a question though. In regards to the pinching, I know that there are round, like, cylinders that can go under the form to make the c-curve. Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you know where I can get them? Thanks!
 

Cathie!

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I think you mean dowel rods, I know that you can get them from Cesars Secrets and maybe? Young Nails and I'm sure California Nails must sell them too! Give them a bell.

HTH
 

Sparklepink

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nails@42ndstreet said:
I think you mean dowel rods, I know that you can get them from Cesars Secrets and maybe? Young Nails and I'm sure California Nails must sell them too! Give them a bell.

HTH
yeah cal nails sells pinching dowels/structure rods
i got mine a few yrs ago..... so handy :)

Jess
xox
 

Lucy J

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You must try the new "magic wand" from Young Nails.
It a scraper, pusher and pincher all in one!
I picked mine up from Gmex and I saw it in Scratch this month. Only 25.00 pound. Bargain
Super duper tool! It even holds the tips in place so I dont get covered in glue!
 

Melissa's Nails

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try a wooden dowel.....thats what I had to use when being interviewed by OPI for an Educator's Job. They handed me a wooden dowel...and a horseshoe form and said 'go for it..' (made me think that a small wooden dowel the size of a human finger, would be good for those who are trying to master that curve effect while applying the form onto the finger) just a thought for you. good luck
 

barbienails

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I also agree that sculpturing is fantastic way for quickness and also seem to last alot longer than normal tips using the 'french method' gives a lovely finish although go to long and they can end up looking like tanya's from footballers wives!!!:Scared: :Scared: :Scared:
 

Tracey-Louise

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Hi there, I read thought your tutorial it was really good and has helped me, the girls I work with always seem to have quite a round stress area and I don't? mine seems to look flatter than theirs which makes me feel I am applying incorrectly? am I? I also am a cnd technician but very new to the business and still have a lot to learn, I follow exactly the same procedures that you do but after 15 months of sculpting i still take 3 hours per set...help what can I do to reduce my time, my appication seems to take me ages!
 

islandnails

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You're a feb instructor.
Which you could come out to the Caribbean.
 

islandnails

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That should have been "Fab" sorry.
 

leah82

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Hi i just wanted to say that i totally agree that sculpted nails are fantastic plus the tutorial is brilliant!!! Wish it was you that would be training me!!
I have sculpted nails now and i can definately say that there much better and stronger than tips & overlays!!
I used to bite my nails for a very long time so for my wedding had my nails done with the t&o method they felt really heavy not that natural and keep lifting. I had the nails shortened but after a couple of months gave up with them. Then at the beginning of this year i started really missing them so went somewhere else that did the t&o method (as didn't know about sculpted nail at this point), and once again as my nails don't really grow much and are really weak the same thing happened they felt awful and keep lifting they were looking awful after only a week. So once again i stopped having the nails done. Feeling down about not having nails i got chatting to another of my friends who'd started going to a place that did sculpted nails, i was really scepical but they're fantasic they last easily 3-4weeks give or take the odd tidy-up as with all nails!!! I now wouldn't have any other method!!!! So much so that when i'm fully trained i'll definately want to use sculpted nails on my clients. Everyone who's seen my nails say that look so natural and really price wise its not anymore expensive!!!
Thanks Leah82
 

leah82

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P.s i know/ have been told that using the sculped method is much harder to master but its really worth it!!! When fully mastered the results are wonderful!! (I'd show you a pick of mine if i knew how too) lol!!! Plus can i just ask with sculpted nails my nail tech esp uses a drill instead of file as its much quicker and she says you can get better results. But as you showed you can also just use a file, does it really matter?

Thanks Leah82 :O)
 

fancydnails

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That was a great lesson, but I have had trouble with a client with downward shaped nails(parriot), is there a way to do her nails? She has already lost one set I gave her when I used tips.HELP!
 

The Geek

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File the free edge as much as possible before application and apply the form so that the extension edge will align straight from the finger instead of so sharply downward.
This will help and has corrected my clients hook nails in the past.

hth's
 

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