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  1. Written for Scratch Magazine

    Nail disorder or disease?

    As a nail technician, you often come across many different nail conditions, but do you know if it is a nail disorder or nail disease?

    A nail disorder is a condition that can be treated and is often caused by internal and external factors. A nail disease is more serious and if not treated, can result in a serious infection or even permanent damage to the nail. A nail disease will often show signs of infection and inflammation with the nail or surrounding skin typically appearing red and swollen.

    Nail disorders

    Some of the most common nail disorders and diseases my fellow techs and I have come across are:

    Image provided by Kayley Cairns

    Paronychia: Most common in those whose hands are constantly exposed to moisture. Paronychia usually results in inflamed, painful and pussing cuticles.

    Next steps: This client needs to see their GP. Advise them to keep their hands as dry as possible.


    Image provided by Toni Wilde

    Image provided by Toni Wilde



    Mould (greenies): Many techs find it difficult to distinguish mould from bruising. Mould is a variety of fungus. It is the result of trapped moisture between the natural nail and the artificial nail appearing as a green spot and can often have an odour if left. A common cause is lifting due to incorrect product application or poor homecare.

    Next steps: The green spot cannot be removed but will grow out in time. Enhancements should be removed to prevent further problems.



    Leukonychia (white spots): Caused by small trauma to the nail bed or matrix causing these white spots to appear. The spots will eventually grow out.

    Next steps: Offer standard services.


    Image provided by Stacey Beecham

    Images provided by Stacey Beecham

    Onycholysis (separation of the nail plate): The nail separates from the nail bed at the free edge and can spread all the way to the lanula. This condition can be caused by trauma or illness.

    Next steps: Trim away the separation and refer the client to their GP if necessary or infection is present.




    Subungual hematoma (bruising): This occurs when trauma to the nail results in a collection of blood under the nail. It may result from an acute injury or from repeated minor trauma such as running.

    Next steps: If the hematoma is small and the nail isn’t in danger of falling off, no treatment is often necessary. In more serious cases the blood can pool and pressure can build up, which needs to be medically treated. Even as the nail is growing out, don’t cover the area with product because the nail has actually pulled away from the nail bed. Applying product over this could trap bacteria between the nail plate and the nail bed.

    So what do you do?

    Nail assessment can give hints to the internal and external condition of the body. A nail technician may be the first to spot a change in nail health. Some changes to look out for are:

    • Pliability: such as brittleness; thickness; splitting
    • Shape and texture: such as curvation; pitting; ridges; spooning
    • Discoloration of the nail bed.

    The most important thing is to treat the cause of the problem – whether it be an irritant, infection, or disorder. As a nail tech, you should stress the importance of identifying the initial reason for the issue, as nails can be an indicator of overall health. Advise your client to see their GP for the problem.

    As a nail professional, don’t be tempted or pressured to compromise your clients natural nail health. If you are ever in doubt, do not treat and refer to a GP, they will be thankful in the long run.

    Love Katie B x

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  2. Written for Scratch Magazine

    A nail technician can never have too many brushes. I frequently add to my collection but I always have my favourites! Along with your technical skills, your brush is one of the most important tools in achieving good results in your work. Sometimes, the only way to tell the quality of a brush is in its performance and this can often be trial and error.

    Cleaning your brush

    Brush prep, storage and care are absolutely paramount to keep your brush in its best possible working condition and prevent contamination. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions where possible. Understanding the anatomy of your brush is essential to ensure you get all the benefits from it.

    It is imperative that you keep your brushes clean throughout your entire application process, whether this be acrylic, gel or paint. I like to work using a brush holder to keep my brushes and tools neat and within easy reach. You should never store your brush without cleaning it first. The best way to clean your brush is to clean it in the medium that the brush is used for, i.e. acrylic brushes should be cleaned in monomer, gel brushes in clear gel and water based paint-brushes in water and so on. Saying this, I do also like to clean my fine art brushes with a baby wipe to stop them drying out too much.

    The fewer chemicals you expose the brush to, the better. The natural hair in your brush is easily stripped of the oil that keeps it supple. Monomer works well to clean acrylic residue from the bristles without stripping the hairs. However, if the acrylic is left to harden, using your monomer will not work. The only way to dissolve cured acrylic is to use acetone. Pure acetone and brush cleaners can be too harsh on their own; so use a mixture of 1 part acetone and 3 parts monomer. For any dried up product left in your art brushes, you can try brush cleaner but try not to over use this.

    Treating your new brush

    When you receive a new brush, you will notice the brush hairs are stiff. This is because the hair is set with resin to ensure the bristles remain in the perfect shape until it is used.

    • Use your fingers or a metal tool to carefully break the starch bond and remove all residue. If you cannot see this, hold the brush up to a light, the resin being removed will look like dust or fluff.
    • Clean your brush in the designated medium designed for that brush until it feels soft and pliable. Generally, this can take quite a substantial amount of time, but for the longevity of your brush, it is worth it.
    • Never be tempted to ‘snip’ hairs from a new brush, as they are there for a reason. Ensure when wiping that the brush is kept in shape.

    Storing your brushes

    When an acrylic brush has been in contact with monomer, you must ensure that when storing your brush the bristles do not come into contact with plastic. The monomer in your brush is likely to melt the plastic and damage the brush. Gel brushes should also be stored away from UV light to avoid product from curing on your brush and making it unusable.

    Brushes should be stored facing downwards so that the product does not run backwards and break down the glue at the base of the brush. I like to keep my brushes safely and securely in a brush wallet. I have two of these: one for art brushes, which I like to keep in order for uses and one for structure brushes and tools.

    Some of my favourite art brushes are the simplest ones. Even though recommendations are invaluable, it is important to find the perfect brushes to suit you.

    Love Katie B x

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