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In weeks 3 and 4, we really ramped up our learning. Here's what we covered in-class:
- Gel enhancements
- Basic chemistry
Pedicures are a whole different kind of monster compared to their fingertip counterparts. I've given several pedicures since testing out of them. At this point, upon graduation, I don't think I'll continue giving them if I can avoid them. Feet are just not something I enjoy, no matter how well someone takes care of them. There's a lot of questions when it comes to feet, and the answers aren't necessarily provided. Not everyone knows if they have cuts or fungus on their feet, and it's a fine line to draw. To avoid any kind of discomfort, I've chosen to wear gloves if I'm even remotely unsure about a client's feet. Additionally, our instructors made it perfectly clear to us that we need to have them check the client's feet if we're unsure.
Pedicures also take a major toll on my back. It's inevitable that I'll bend my back at least a little to complete the service. Right now, I know I'm bending over much too far, and I feel it at the end of the day. It's also tiring on my arms, as I hold clients' legs up to file the feet. Legs are heavy!
One thing I do like about pedicures is the before and after. I'll spare you those pictures, but it's pretty impressive how drastic some transformations are. Some toenails reach epic lengths, so trimming them down, softening up the skin, and slapping on a neat polish job makes a huge difference! Clients really love leaving the salon with fresh feet!
We also started in on the nail enhancements part of the course, starting with nail wraps.
Wraps are any type of enhancement that uses fabric. "Fabric" is a term that includes fiberglass, linen, silk, and paper. Hardly anyone uses paper in modern salons anymore. Fiberglass is generally the preferred type of wrap. Linen wraps are the thickest. In our class, we're using the OPI fiberglass wrap system.
Wraps use a combination of adhesive and adhesive accelerator to dry. It's a rapid drying technique that requires no special light to dry. Because it's so rapid, you need to take major precautions not to let the adhesive dry on the skin. If it does, you'll have discomfort from the contact dermatitis (skin contact).
The layers of tips, resin, fabric, and accelerator build the foundation for wraps. Then filing and shaping is done to achieve a smooth finish. Wraps aren't really pretty on their own, so polish is usually added after completing the enhancement.
In addition to wraps, we learned about gel enhancements. Gel enhancements are different than gel polish. The enhancements build structure and thicken the nail dramatically. Gel polish doesn't add a foundational structure to the nail.
Gel enhancements are sometimes used in place of acrylic enhancements, however, Concha told us they don't hold up well in dry environments like Colorado. They're more popular in areas of California and Florida (think Miami and Long Beach). If your salon offers these and acrylics, you might consider these, as they don't put off such noxious fumes, they harden quickly, and they're really shiny. We use the OPI Axxium system for our gels.
This week we started learning a little about acrylics, and played with some 3D acrylic nail art! That part was a blast to me, and I'll share more about it later.
To close up this long-ish post...I finally got my kit! The pictures and description is all under the cut.
The kit is great, though it's cumbersome and heavy. Luckily, it has wheels.
It has all sorts of goodies in it that I can't even begin to fully name and classify. I'm starting to figure it out as I learn what the adhesive is for, what forms are, and how tips are used. Here's a virtual tour of my kit. Not everything is in its original packaging anymore, and I added a few things of my own. Again, I don't yet know what everything is, but it will all be explained as the course progresses.
Here's what it looks like all opened up, with the bottom drawer pulled out.
This is the top section, put together the way I decided to set it up. The bottom-right corner of the picture is a small container of implements that scatter around if I don't organize them. I added that container on my own, and below is what is underneath it.
Below is a workbook that comes with the kit. It has all sorts of instructions on just about everything, but the interesting thing is, we don't really use it. We just stick to our Milady textbooks.
These are nail forms (left) and nail wraps (right). Forms are used for building a structure with nail enhancements, and wraps are used for repairs mostly.
All of these are instruction booklets and pamphlets for several of the products included in the kit. The products are shown later.
We get a lot of these. I'm guessing they're kind of place mats for our work surface, so we can wipe acrylics and gel without ruining soft towels.
All of these bottles above are little sized bottles for various uses. Beginning on the left is a bottle of I-don't-know-what-yet, resin for wraps, brush cleaner, 2 bottles of thin set for attaching nail tips, another mystery-to-me bottle, a bottle of adhesive, bondaid (used for UV gel enhancements), bondex (also for gel enhancements), mystery bottle number 3, and some cuticle oil.
We get a buffer (with a VERY fine grit) and a package of toe separators. We only get one package of these, so I don't plan to use them. We normally use cotton rolls.
The four packages are wraps (I think). The wooden dowels are used with forms and acrylics (I believe).
Above is a finger soak bowl for manicures and 3 included dappen dishes.
The most fashionable part of my kit is those snazzy glasses in the top-left. To the right of those are eyedroppers. The bottom left shows three extra brushes to use in case I screw up the included ones, and the gold things on the right are a type of form. I'm not sure why there's three instead of five, or ten.
All of this is for preparing the nail. The block of purple at the top is a bunch of abrasive boards like the grey one below them. Below that is a 3-way buffer. The top-right implement is the foot paddle (go figure), and at the bottom is a nail brush. In between those is something literally called "The Fluffy". They're both used to clean the nail plate in preparation for service.
We get a lot of high-quality implements that I use regularly. On the left are brushes for gel and acrylic. Beside those is a cuticle pusher, which I prefer to use. Next is a metal file and beside that is another cuticle pusher. Though this is metal and from OPI, I still prefer the rubber cuticle pusher. Lined up on the right from the top-down are tweezers, cuticle nippers, a small pair of scissors (for cutting wraps), nail clippers, and toenail clippers.
The four jars above are all acrylic powder jars. The two shiny ones on the bottom are the gel required for gel enhancements. I'm not sure yet what the jar on the bottom-left is.
As a nail-tech only, I get some special things that full cosmetology students at our school don't. This includes the four bottles on the top-left. They're used for nail wraps and gel enhancements. The two top bottles are a top coat and base coat. The two bottles on the bottom haven't been explained yet, and the three bottles on the right are polishes. That's literally all we get polish-wise for our kit. I was shocked, and a little sad.
These big bottles go in the top part of my kit. The left bottle is called Nas 99, and it's just alcohol. Next is lotion, and then hand soap. The pink is hand sanitizer. The smaller spray bottle is a quick-dry spray for polish, and the chunky bottle on the right is monomer for acrylics. Not pictured is nail polish remover that was included and Avoplex cuticle treatment. I moved the remover to an easy-dispense bottle, and I just forgot to photograph the cuticle treatment.
Finally, we get several packages of nail tips with varying colors, opacity, and well depths.
Pretty great kit right? I've added other things to make it easier for me, including:
- nail art tools (dotters, striping brushes, etc.)
- a dispenser for nail polish remover
- cuticle remover
- nail polish thinner
- 3 buffers of varying strengths
- a touchscreen stylus (for clients to use when they're wrapped in foil but want to use their phone)
- nail wheels (for displaying a nail art menu)