The Perfect Fit

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Written for Scratch Magazine

Salon owner, educator, former Scratch columnist and award-winning nail stylist, Katie Barnes, shares her nail tales and tips…

Nails are not all one size or shape, so it is likely that you will need to pre-customise your form prior to fitting under a client’s nail.

Sculpting nails is like architecture; if the foundation is incorrect, the structure will be compromised. If a form doesn’t fit perfectly, adjustments are required to get that perfect fit.

If your form is not straight and facing to one side, then the enhancement will follow this too. If your form is tilting down, then so will your enhancement, which will then grow out over 2-3 weeks and keep growing downwards, putting unnecessary strain on the natural nail. It is paramount to ensure that as well as the correct placement; the correct adjustments are also made.

I cut the form where it meets the natural nail to ensure that it fits snugly under the natural nail. It is common to need to make adjustments to this for a perfect fit. If there is a gap between the natural nail and the form then the product will leak under and create a ridge at the join. Not only will this give the client something to pick at, it will also create a weakness.

It is good practice to remove the length of the natural nail prior to applying you form. The reason for this is that if the natural nail does not grow flawlessly, then the length you leave will affect your form placement and you will not get a tight or perfect fit. If the natural nail tilts upwards like a ski-slope, then your form will do so, along with your nail enhancement. If you remove this natural free edge, then you are able to correct this and create a perfectly straight structure. I always make cuts in the form from the nail side-wall at a 45-degree angle outwards. This allows a tighter pinch and pre formed C-curve, with less need for pinching after application.

Different nail shapes require different kinds of form fitting. Form positioning and adjustments are important to ensure that you are creating the correct structure for your enhancement. The main shapes we come across for salon nails are almond and square.

Form positioning


Form position: Form should be slightly pointing down.

Apex (highest point): 1/3 of the nail extension.


Form position: absolutely straight, the wings parallel and 1/2mm apart.

Apex (highest point): centre of ‘extended’ nail bed area. If creating a long square nail, change the highest point to further up.


Form fitting

Katie Barnes form 1

< Hold a ruler or something perfectly straight along the centre of the finger. Although to the eye, this form may appear straight, it is tilting down slightly.

This would not be a correct placement for a square shape, as the enhancement would tilt down and therefore not be straight.

This form placement would be suitable for an almond shape as long as the end of the form was then closed.





Katie Barnes form 2

Compare this photo (right) to the one above and you can see the difference where this form placement is straight from the centre of the finger.

This is the correct fitting for a square shape. >






Katie Barnes form 3

Correct form placement with nail bed application and smile line filed.








Extended Hyponichium Growth

When you come across a client who finds that forms feel very uncomfortable – with pinching at the smile line – they probably have extended hyponichium growth (where the skin pertrudes the free edge). The solution is to create a proper fit and reduce the pressure by cutting in a deeper curved indentation at the contact point of the form.

Although it can seem fiddly, it is important to spend a little extra time on these steps because if your forms are fitted perfectly you will have the perfect foundation to build on and the following steps of application will flow more easily.

Love Katie B x

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