Guest Editor: Ask Doug Schoon, Scientist, Author and Educator

Doug Schoon, scientist, author and educator, answers your questions about acrylic monomer, under- and over-curing gel and the Russian manicure technique.

Portrait of Doug Crossing Arms CMYKDoug Schoon, scientist, author, educator and president of Schoon Scientific, provides you with advice and answers to your nail questions.

Q: I’ve seen a lot of buzz on social media about a technique called the “Russian” manicure. In the images, the nails and cuticles look so nice! What do you know about this technique and is it safe to do in the salon? —Allison Loft, via email

A: This technique promotes the intentional cutting and/or abrasion of the living skin surrounding the nail plate and creates more damaged skin that later must be cut or abraded away—the very problem manicures are supposed to solve! My advice is to never cut the skin around the nail plate. Removing skin from the proximal nail fold and sidewalls creates damage, making the skin more susceptible to infection for many hours, even days, after a client leaves the salon. What’s more, the damaged skin is more susceptible to irritation and permanent allergic reactions to nail coating products when those products are place directly on the damaged skin. Additionally, using an e-file to smooth the skin around the nails is considered microdermabrasion and, in many regions, is restricted to those who have esthetics or cosmetology licenses. In fact, some states specify that e-files can only be used on the nails. Never intentionally cut or abrade the skin around the nail plate; that’s trouble waiting to happen.

Q: What is methyl acrylate and can it cause allergic reactions? —Marie Ange, via Facebook

A: Methyl acrylate is an acrylic monomer and is used in some nail coatings. The potential for methyl acrylate to cause allergies is high, so my advice would be to choose a monomer without it. With that being said, in small concentrations in nail coatings, methyl acrylate can be used safely if you avoid contact with the skin and the coating is properly cured.

Q: What are negative side effects to under- or over-cured gel? And, what’s the best way to avoid both problems? —Jennifer Ferris, via email

A: Daily contact with filing dust from under-cured UV nail coatings can lead to skin irritation or allergic skin reactions. Fortunately, adverse reactions are easy to avoid when nail coatings are properly cured. Keep in mind, just because a product hardens, doesn’t mean it’s properly cured; most artificial nail coatings will harden when they are only 50 percent cured. Using the incorrect UV nail lamp, not changing the UV bulbs on a regular basis, applying product too thickly or adding excessive glitter or pigments can all cause under-curing. To help prevent this from happening, it’s important to invest in the nail lamp that was specifically designed for the system/product(s) you use.

Here’s a tip: If a client’s skin itches while soaking her nails [during removal], this can be a sign that the nail coating is not properly cured. When products are under-cured, they contain excessive amounts of unreacted ingredients. As these unreacted ingredients escape from the nail coating into the acetone, it can cause skin allergies or irritation with prolonged or repeated contact.

On the flip side, over-curing of products can cause discoloration, service breakdown and onycholysis (when the nail plate separates from the nail bed) if the nail coating becomes overheated and burns the sensitive tissue of the nail bed. This can happen when using an LED lamp to cure products designed to cure with traditional UV lamps. In my professional experience, there is no single lamp that works properly with all UV gels, so invest in the lamp for your system. Ensuring proper cure is one of the nail professional’s most important responsibilities.

Do you have a question for Doug? Tell us in the comments, below.

[Image: Courtesy of Doug Schoon]

This article was first published in the August 2017 issue of NAILPRO.

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