Soak Off Gel Information for beginners

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  1. Welcome to the Soak Off Gel Polish Information Thread!!

    Please do not post to this thread. It is meant as a Sticky Reference thread only, while many of the other threads linked to here are meant for chatting (with the exception of the swatch only threads).

    There are many threads here on tPF about soak off gel polishes (SOG’s) with much helpful information. We have a topic that has a list of all the SOG links to date. Some of these threads have become quite long and when someone new to SOG’s is looking for specific information and help, it can become daunting to go through all the posts to find what they need. A group of us decided to create this thread to bring together basic usage information as well as answers to frequently asked questions.

    For a time all of the SOG brands were sold for use by professional nail technicians only. Now some brands are being sold directly to DIYers and more will no doubt follow this trend. If you are new to SOG’s, you might want to select a brand that is marketed to DIYers and is readily available locally. Two such brands are Gelish, which is available at Sally Beauty Supply and sallybeauty.com and Red Carpet Manicure which is available at Ulta, ulta.com Fred Meyer, and Meijer. Please see FAQs for more help on Where to Buy SOGS. These two brands also offer easily available, relatively inexpensive curing lamps.

    Here is a breakdown of what you will find in this thread:

    1. Thoughts on successful use of SOGS
    2. Supplies and Tools Need for a Soak Off Gel Manicure
    3. Preparation of Nails for Gel Polish Application
    4. Basic SOG Application
    5. Removal of Soak Off Gel Polish with Cotton & Foil
    6. Advanced Application
    - Lifting & Bonder
    - Structure
    - Repairs: Splits-Small breaks-Tips-Sculpting
    - Glitter
    - Pigments
    - Other Additions (such as Specraflair)
    - Regular base coat
    - Layering colors
    - Mixing colors
    - Mixing brands
    - SOG on very short or bitten nails
    7. Allergies and Brands that cure only with UV (not LED)
    8. CFL UV vs. LED UV lamps
    9. Regular NP over SOGS
    10. Resources on tPF and the web
    11. Tips and Tricks
    12. FAQ


    Post by AnnAnn99
    With collaboration from Ferretkingdom and Kandc88
     
  2. We all have different nails and it takes a bit of time to learn what works best for each of us individually. This thread will offer a wealth of information about application, removal, different ways to do unique manicures with layering, glitter, pigments, regular nail polish within and over a SOG manicure, and troubleshooting problems with entire manicures and wayward individual nails.

    The following are very important:

    Nail Prep
    Improper nail prep can cause nail damage and is very important for the longevity of the SOG manicure. Prep includes removal of cuticle on the nail, proper cleaning and dehydrating, starting with dry nails and not soaking in water during the SOG manicure. There are fabulous YouTube videos available regarding removal of the true cuticle, one should be familiar with the difference between dead cuticle and live eponychium.

    While everyone should be removing cuticle, not everyone should be removing the shine from or buffing the nail plate. Some brands of SOG recommend GENTLE buffing of the natural nail prior to application. Many of us find this step unnecessary and we’d suggest you try using your chosen product first without this step. If you decide that this may help your gel polishes longevity, then only a very light buffing should be undertaken to just barely remove the shine with a fine grit buffer. Never file the nail plate with a coarse file! If you do choose to buff, only the new growth should be buffed at subsequent manicures to avoid removing too much of the nail plate.

    Another thing that some of us do to increase adhesion is to use a protein bonder product, it can make removal very difficult for some so it should be tried sparingly, perhaps only on problem fingernails and/or only on tips.


    Proper cure
    Keep in mind that all SOG’s are formulated differently, so they all cure differently. If you want to be certain to get a proper cure of your SOG manicure it is recommended to follow the manufacturers instructions regarding the proper curing lamp and curing times for the system you are using. This means using the correct wattage and type of lamp given in the instructions.


    Moisturizing
    It is critical to moisturize nails at least once a day. Failure to do this can result in weakness, dryness, and breaks or splits. There are MANY different cuticle oils, though you may hear us talk about CND Solar Oil the most. Cuticle creams and butters also work well as long as you use them consistently


    Do not pick or peel your SOG manicure.
    This will take at least a thin layer off of your natural nail and eventually will cause noticeable damage to your nails. If you find it difficult to resist picking or peeling, have a bandaid with you to cover the nail until you can get home and properly remove your SOG.


    Neat application
    This Is imperative for two reasons. First, cured SOG product on skin or cuticle will soon lift and this can result in chipping and lifting of the SOG manicure. Second, the photoinitiators in SOGs are fairly allergenic and one should minimize all contact of uncured gel with the skin. Getting gel on skin or cuticles should be minimized. Any mishaps should be removed prior to curing. In addition the tacky layer should be removed with a swipe of a clean alcohol-wetted pad from the cuticle towards the fingertip to minimize skin contact.


    Capping the free edge
    This terminology merely refers to painting the edge of the nail tip or free edge. Sealing the free edge results in a professional looking manicure and helps prevent chipping and lifting.


    Being reasonable with the use of your hand and nails
    SOGS are not acrylics or hard gels and if you do not use reasonable care you will break a nail or chip your SOG. Your nails should not be used as tools!


    Have your nails in the best shape possible.
    SOG’s are designed to work with natural healthy nails. If you have problems such as weak, thin, bendy, peeling, or brittle nails you should do research to find products that are made to help your problem, try them, and when you find something that works, use it. Weak, thin and bendy nails can also be helped by adding in a product such as Gelish structure, a clear gel meant to add strength to the manicure. Peeling areas should be buffed lightly to remove peeling prior to SOG application. SOG’s are actually a great way to protecting the nails while they grow out to a healthier state.


    Be gentle with removal and do it properly
    Sometimes SOG is blamed for causing nail damage. It is rarely the product itself that causes the damage, but rather overzealous scraping and impatience with the soak off process that causes the damage. Apply your acetone removal product and wait for the recommended time period. Generally the SOG polish should flake off. A gentle push with a wooden cuticle stick should be enough to remove the last couple spots. Do not scrape the SOG off. If necessary add additional removal product, rewrap and soak a bit longer.


    For many of us the use of SOGS has required time, patience, money, and research along with much trial and effort to find what works for us. The results are worth the effort. We think you’ll find that the women who participate in the SOG threads at tPF very friendly and willing to answer questions. We only ask that you try the search function prior to asking a question that may have already been answered to cut down on repetitive chit chat and to repect everyone’s time and efforts.


    Post by AnnAnn99
    With Collaboration from Ferretkingdom, Kandc88 and tohillary
     
  3. Nail Files - 100/180 grit often recommended

    Cuticle Pusher (A great one is this one with a “bonus” curette)

    Cuticle curette (optional)

    Orangewood Stick

    Soft, fine-grit buffing block (optional) - such as a 240 or 320 grit soft block

    Gel Brush (optional)

    Cuticle remover gel or cream (optional, but very helpful). There is a good one available at Sally’s called Mango Miracle and CND makes a great one preferred to the drugstore brands.

    100% Acetone or brand specific remover (such a Gelish Artificial Nail remover or RCM Erase

    90% (or higher) Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) or such as Gelish Gel Cleanser; RCM Purify Pre and Post Application Cleanser; Shellac Scrub Fresh Nail Sanitizer

    Dehydrator (optional) - brand specific ones are Gelish PH Bond and RCM Pre Max Adhesion Sanitizer. You can also just use a combination of alcohol/cleanser and acetone to dehydrate the nail plate.

    SOG Base Coat such as Gelish Foundation; RCM Structure Base Coat; Shellac Base Coat

    SOG Color Polish

    SOG Top Coat such as Gelish Top It Off; RCM Brilliance Seal and Shine Top Coat; Shellac Top Coat

    Cuticle Oil such as Gelish Nourish; RMC Revitalize Cuticle Oil; CND Solar Oil. Look for brands that contain Jojoba oil, which is said to have molecules small enough to penetrate the nail.

    Lint-Free Wipes, or to keep it really simple cotton balls or cosmetic squares work fine as well -you just wouldn’t wan to use those for the drybrushing step. We have found many labeled lint-free really aren’t, however you want to search for something that will not leave behind lint while you’re performing your manicure, papertowels work OK in a pinch. An old t-shirt cut into small squares works well and is truly lint-free. Lint-free “status” is not an issue with the final swipe of the sticky coat, only if you are drybrushing during the manicure.

    Lamp for Curing Use the proper lamp for the chosen product to avoid issues with curing. Improper curing can lead to allergic reactions. Buy a quality lamp and avoid knock offs. The manufacturers of SOGs generally guarantee that their products will cure properly only with their designated lamps.

    - Get a CFL UV if you want to be able to cure all brands. The CND
    Shellac/Brisa lamp really is a great option. And since it tells you when
    you need to change the bulbs, there's no guesswork.

    - If you need an inexpensive lamp, stick with something like the Gelish or
    RCM pro45 lamp, and stick with Gelish/RCM polishes, and possibly others
    that LED cure.

    - If you really want a fast curing LED, save up for a quality one, like one
    of the Gelish lamps. Since the Gelish 6g is the same as the ACG,
    Geleration and Entity lamps, I think that any of those lamps, or any of
    the other Gelish lamps, would cure many of the LED curable brands.

    - If you really want LED, just be aware that it still might not properly cure
    all brands of LED curable polish.

    For additional (and more current) information on lamps, please visit the following thread at tPF.
    http://forum.purseblog.com/nail-care/sog-led-nail-lamps-672862.html

    Ferretkingdom has an excellent blog post on what you need to get started as well.


    Post by AnnAnn99, Ferretkingdom, kandc88
     
  4. Perform a dry manicure.*

    Step 1. Shape your nails.

    Step 2. Push back/remove true cuticle from the nail plate gently with a cuticle pusher. Metal cuticle pushers do a good job but be gentle—you want to only remove the cuticle, not a layer of your nail. A good cuticle remover product usually in the form of a gel or cream can really make this much easier.

    Step 3. Double check for stubborn cuticle and debris by pulling back the lateral folds (sidewalls) of the nails with your fingers and, using a curette, gently remove any remaining cuticle.** The curette should be used very gently, held flat against the nail and moving in a small, circular motion. If you aren’t sure how to use this properly, it’s probably better not to. There are some great YouTube tutorials on removing the real cuticle. Any excess cuticle in the corners and sidewalls can still be carefully removed with a cuticle pusher if you aren't comfortable using the curette.

    Step 4. If you have used a cuticle remover, wipe the nails and fingers with a damp paper towel. Water is needed to deactivate many cuticle removers, but you don’t want to use a lot of water. A wipe with a damp paper towel to remove any excess cuticle remover won’t hurt your manicure.

    Step 5. (Optional) Some SOG brands, such as Gelish, state in their application steps that the shine should be removed from the nail before application. Other brands, such as Shellac, specifically state that this buffing should not be done. This is one of those things that varies from person to person. Some buff, others don't. If you are new to SOGS we recommend you try it without buffing first. If you notice issues with wear, then try adding in the buffing step. If you buff, do so with a super-fine grit soft buffing block. The one recommended is a 320 grit. You don't want to use anything rough on the nail plate, as you will cause damage to your nails.

    Step 6. Remove any filing dust or remaining cuticle remover with a slightly damp paper towel or alcohol on a cotton pad.

    * Natural nails absorb water easily and this prevents good adhesion of SOG’s. If you want to do a wet manicure by soaking fingers you should do this a few hours or the day before applying your soak off gel manicure. This will allow the nail to dry out naturally. SOG’s work best on healthy, strong natural nails. This would also be a good time to do any desired nail treatments on your nails. Don’t perform a manicure right after a shower or doing the dishes - just like with soaking for manicure, your nails need time to dry out.

    **loodie, loodie, loodie’s nail blog has an excellent discussion of cuticles and what should and should not be removed.

    Ferretkingdom has a blog post on a full manicure including prep, and it has her youtube video in it as well.


    Post by AnnAnn99 and Ferretkingdom
     
  5. Step 1. Perform a dry manicure as referenced above.

    Step 2. To clean and dehydrate, scrub the nail well with 100% acetone and then alcohol, particularly around the cuticle area and where the nail meets the skin on the sides. Don’t just give them a cursory wipe, scrub them clean.

    Alternatively you can use a branded cleanser like Gelish Cleanser, RCM Purify, or CND Scrub Fresh to clean the nail and then Gelish PH Bond or RMC Pre-Max Adhesion Sanitizer that are painted on with a brush as a dehydrator.

    Note: Shellac base coat, top coat and color bottles requires 30+ seconds of vigorous shaking before use. Roll other brand’s gel color bottle around in your hands to make sure it is mixed evenly. Many shake the gel color bottles, the only “risk” from doing this is air bubbles, which most of us have never had an issue with. If you shake before starting the removal of your old manicure it gives any air bubbles plenty of time to settle.

    Step 3. Apply a very thin layer of base coat to the nail from cuticle to free-edge. Cap the free-edge to seal. It’s best and easiest to paint slowly and neatly the first time, but if you do have a mishap, be sure to remove any base from the skin and cuticle before curing.

    Step 4. Cure the foundation gel: Cure for the proper amount of time based on your product/lamp combination.
    - Gelish: UV Lamp or Gelish Mini UV = 1 minute; Gelish Mini Pro 45 Lamp = 30 seconds; other Gelish LED Lamps = 10 seconds
    - RMC: UV Lamp or RMC Portable = 1 minute; LED Pro = 30 seconds
    - Shellac: UV Lamp = 10 seconds
    Note: All SOG coats will remain tacky even after they have been cured.

    Step 5. Wipe the foundation layer with a dry brush or lint free wipe to reduce/remove the tacky layer. Many find this unnecessary, but it can be really helpful when working with very dark colors to avoid shrinkback of color at the tips.

    Step 6. Apply a very thin coat of color to the nail from cuticle to free-edge. Cap the free-edge to seal. Be sure to remove any polish from the skin and cuticle before curing. It’s OK if the first coat looks streaky, don’t apply thicker to avoid this.

    Step 7. Cure the gel color:
    - Gelish: UV Lamp or Gelish Mini UV = 2-3 minutes; Gelish Mini Pro 45 Lamp = 45 seconds; other Gelish LED Lamp = 20-30 seconds
    - RCM: UV Lamp or RMC Portable = 3 minutes; LED Pro = 45 seconds
    - Shellac: UV Lamp = 2 minutes

    Step 8. Apply a second color coat and cure as above in step 7. This step can be repeated as many times as necessary to achieve the coverage you want.

    Step 9. Apply top coat to the nail from cuticle to free-edge. Use a “floating” technique, which means to try not to drag the brush bristles through the tacky layer. This can lead to a dull topcoat. If this happens simply add another coat of topcoat! Be sure to cap the free-edge to seal. Be sure to remove any polish from the skin and cuticle before curing.

    Step 10. Cure the Top Coat.
    - Gelish: UV Lamp or Gelish Mini UV = 2 minute; Gelish Mini Pro 45 Lamp = 45 seconds; other Gellish LED Lamp = 30 seconds
    - RMC: UV Lamp or RMC Portable = 2 minutes; LED Pro = 45 seconds
    - Shellac: UV Lamp = 2 minutes

    Step 11. Place alcohol or brand-specific cleanser on a lint-free wipe or cotton pad and clean the surface of the nail to remove the sticky residue. It’s best to use a fresh wipe/area of wipe per nail and to wipe from the cuticle to the free edge to minimize skin contact with the uncured gel of the tacky layer.

    Step 12. Wash hands well with soap and water, dry hands, then apply and massage cuticle oil under tips/onto nails, cuticle area, and surrounding skin of fingers.


    Post by AnnAnn99, Ferretkingdom, Kandc88, and tohillary
     
  6. If your nails are weak or bendy, filing to remove length and shaping your nails before you remove your SOG manicure may be easier as the SOG gives nails some additional strength. This also breaks the seal on the free edge and many find they can better shape their nails with polish on.

    Step 1. Using a 180 grit file, gently file the surface of the top coat to break the seal and remove shine. Be careful not to file too roughly, you only want to break the seal, not file through the layers of gel to your nail. If you have not shaped your nails, file the free edge to break the seal. Breaking the seal is not required for Shellac

    Step 2. Saturate a cotton wool or cosmetic pad with 100% acetone or brand specific remover such as Gelish Soak Off or RCM Gel Polish Remover. Apply to the top of the nail surface

    Step 3. Wrap snugly in foil and allow to sit for 10 MINUTES.

    Step 4. Securely grip each foil wrap and use a twisting motion to firmly pull the wrap from one nail at a time. If a significant amount of product remains add more acetone and rewrap the nail. Allow remover to penetrate a few more minutes.*

    Step 5. Gently slide any residual product from the nail using an orange wood stick.
    If you are not reapplying a SOG immediately, apply cuticle oil and massage in well.

    *If you find that removal is difficult and requires additional time or you are tempted to “scrape” your nails to remove residue, the application of heat will speed up removal. Place your hand(s) in a plastic bag and apply heat with
    (a) a heating pad that has been heated and then unplugged from the socket
    (b) a rice bag, or
    (c) a therapeutic heat pack (many contain a gel) that can be heated in the microwave.

    Be careful not to have the heat source too hot as you could burn yourself. The plastic bag is to keep any acetone that might leak out of your wrapped nails from damaging your heating device.


    Post by AnnAnn99, Ferretkingdom, and tohillary
     
  7. Sometimes, despite our best efforts we may notice some lifting of our SOG manicures. This isn’t something that happens to everyone, but it does happen to some. There can be many different causes for lifting.

    Possible causes of lifting:
    • Cuticle left on the nail plate, especially if you have lifting at the cuticle area
    • Not properly cleaning and/or dehydrating the nail plate prior to application. NO dirt or oil should be left on the nail
    • Not properly cleaning and/or dehydrating the nail plate prior to application. No dirt or oils left on the nail
    • Performing a “wet” manicure or having hands in water for more than a quick handwashing during or shortly before your manicure
    • Damaged nails. If the nail underneath is damaged and splits or peels, the SOG will go with it wherever the damage is
    • Too thick application of any or all layers
    • Getting gel on the cuticle or lateral folds of skin and allowing it to cure that way. This can cause lifting wherever the overlap of gel onto skin is
    • Not buffing the nail plate when using SOG brands that recommend this step (not everyone finds they need to buff, however)
    • Wayward nails - sometimes one may just have nails that perhaps grow in a curve or something that causes it to pull away from the gel. With this you will see lifting at the free edge, often on only one or two problem nails.

    The first step to prevent lifting is figuring out what the cause is. Troubleshoot various issues first.
    • Make sure you are really removing ALL cuticle from the nail.
    • Really SCRUB the nail plate clean, don’t just give it a cursory swipe.
    • Only perform a dry manicure, and make sure it’s been several hours since you did anything where your nails would’ve absorbed a lot of water (doing dishes, swimming, showering).
    • If your nails are damaged at the free edge, trim them back. Hopefully you can get rid of the damaged area. If the entire nail is damaged then you have to just give them time to grow out. If you have any areas that are peeling or flaking, lightly buff the area smooth.
    • Keep basecoat, color coats and topcoat thin thin thin! Keeping thin prevents pooling at the cuticle and sidewalls
    • Ensure there is NO gel on the skin. Use an orangewood stick to clean up around the nail and get any gel off the skin before curing.
    • If you are using Gelish or another brand that recommends buffing of the nail plate and you don’t do that, try adding that step in. Use a super fine-grit buffer block (like a 320 grit) and just lightly remove the shine from the nail.
    • If you have nails that curve down or in as they grow out, try to trim them shorter, to before where the curving starts. If you keep SOG on the all the time, this may help keep it growing straight, as it did for my oddly curvy middle fingernails, which now grow straight!
    • If all else fails and you have troubleshot all these things and you are still having lifting issues, consider adding a bonder.

    Adding Bonder

    If no amount of troubleshooting the other potential causes has fixed the problem, you should consider adding a bonder. From my experience you can use any acid-free bonder. I’ve used IBD Bonder and Gelish’s ProBond (not to be confused with the dehydrator PhBond), as well as another brand a nail-tech friend of mine gave me when she dropped my bottle of ProBond.

    The main thing to remember with bonder is to use it sparingly and only where you need it. Those of us that do use a bonder do so only on the tips of our nails. Some only use it on the tips of the nails that they have lifting issues with, if it doesn’t happen on all their nails. If you put bonder over the entire nail, it has the potential to make your entire SOG mani a bear to remove. Also keep in mind that using any amount of bonder may add a few minutes to your soak off time, so if you have had removal problems in the past it may make your removal even more difficult.

    Post by Ferretkingdom and tohillary
     
  8. Gelish makes a product called Structure, which is a clear gel that is thicker in viscosity than the gel pollish. It comes in a pot and needs to be applied with your own gel brush. Jessica GELeration’s version is called Build and Artistic Colour Gloss (ACG) has one they call Nail Building Gel. ACG is also coming out with a "LED Smart Gel" that is labeled as a nail forming gel. I don't have any other information on this though, if it will be soak-off, etc.

    Gelish Structure, being thicker in viscosity, is meant to add strength to weak, thin nails while still maintaining some level of flexibility you wouldn’t have with acrylics or hard gels. It is also good for helping add extra strength to a split or tear repaired with a silk wrap, which will be covered in another post. Many people who have damaged nails from acrylics or hard gel nails find that Structure provides them with additional strength need while waiting for their healthy nails to grow out.

    What Structure is not is a hard gel or sculpting gel. It does not have enough strength on it’s own, or a thick enough viscosity to sculpt a tip out of. You can use a nail form to repair a chipped corner, but not to build a whole new tip.

    Like SOG’s in general, it is not a miracle product - you still can’t use your nails as screwdrivers and expect them not to break. :smile: Our nails are our jewels, not our tools.

    Using Structure requires a bit of practice. It’s thicker than the Gel polish, but you still need to keep the coats very thin. Thick coats of Structure will cause pooling and very uneven nails, and you may feel a heat spike when you are curing thick coats. It’s better to do 2 thin coats than 1 thick one. Often times one thin coat is enough though. And if you aren’t used to using pot-style gels, it can take some getting used to using a different type of brush.

    Structure is most often applied after the base coat, but before the color coats. It can, however, be applied over the color coats. I also use a thin layer of structure over glitter to help smooth it out. I also often use Structure for mixing powder pigments into to create other colors, which will also be covered in another post.

    So, what kind of a brush do you use? Well, that’s a lot of personal preference. There are plenty of gel brushes out there to choose from. The most common one seems to be a #6 square or oval gel brush. Whether you get square or oval is a matter of what is easier for you to use.

    I’ve also been successfully using craft store brushes for my gel work. It seems pretty much any quality synthetic bristle brush from the art supply section of a craft store will work pretty well. They might not hold up quite as long, but I’ve been using mine for a year just as often as my actual gel brush and it’s not showing any more signs of wear. If you get a synthetic bristle brush that’s OK for use with oil paints, then you can be pretty sure it will hold up to the solvents in gel polish and clean up with acetone.

    Which brings us to the question of how do you clean the brush when you are done with it? There’s several ways you can do that. You can use a commercial brush cleaner intended for cleaning nail brushes. There are several available and Sally Beauty carries at least one. I simply use a little acetone in a dappen dish. After I’ve cleaned it in the acetone I take some alcohol on a cotton ball and wipe the brush again. I find if I don’t do that the next time I go to use it it’s a little sticky feeling.

    Post by Ferretkingdom and tohillary
     
  9. Doing Nail Repairs for Chipped corners and tears/splits

    Despite SOG giving our nails a little more support, unfortunately breaks still happen. There are a number of things you can do in that case.

    1. Chipped Corners
    Chipped corners are probably the easiest to fix. Often times it’s easier to just file the nail a little shorter and/or round off the corner. But sometimes you don’t want to have to do that.

    If the chip is small enough, you may be able to use Gelish Structure to fix it. You will need some disposable nail forms, Structure gel and a brush.
    • Fist you want to do a dry manicure and prep your nails as usual.
    • Apply the form under the nail. If you aren’t sure how to do this, check out some YouTube videos on how to position them properly.
    • Apply your SOG basecoat to the entire nail. Apply a thin layer of Structure to the entire nail, dabbing on a little extra on the form to help fill in the chipped corner.
    • Cure the Structure. After it is cured you can add additional thin dabs of structure at the chipped area to build it up so it is even with the rest of the nail. Cure in between each layer if you need to do multiple layers.
    • If you are very careful how you apply it at the corner and cure quickly so it doesn’t run you probably won’t even need to do any filing to make it look like there’s no repair there.


    2. Repairing splits and tears
    Often times when a nail tears or splits it will be down low on the side, near the quick at the nail bed. These are never fun, as if you trim it off, you literally have to cut the whole nail down to the free edge. That makes for an extreme shorty, and it’s often uncomfortable and/or painful because a part of the finger that is not normally exposed suddenly is.

    But don’t fear, there is a way to repair these types of splits! A very few are able to put just nail glue over the split before their SOG, but most of us need a little more help than that. All you need is some Silk Wraps or Fiberglass wraps and some nail glue. These types of wraps are easily available at Sally Beauty. I personally prefer the silk wraps as they are easy to smooth out and are pretty much invisible even if you do a light/sheer color.

    • As always, do your dry manicure and nail prep. Be sure to smooth the side of the nail where the split is so there is no rough spot. If there is, it will invariably snag on something and the repair won’t hold.
    • The silk wraps available at Sally’s are self-adhesive. Whatever you get, I recommend you get something self-adhesive, as it makes positioning the piece of silk much easier. I believe the fiberglass wraps they sell are also adhesive-backed, but I am not 100% sure.
    • Cut a piece of the silk wrap large enough to cover the split. You want it to go all the way to the side to protect the split, but you don’t want to cover the entire nail. Just give it a little overlap on all sides of the split, and have it flush with the side edge of the nail.
    • Apply a small amount of nail glue over the silk wrap. I prefer a brush on glue, as I think it’s easy to work with. The 5-second nail glue Sally’s sells has always worked well for me. Just fine one that works for you and stick with it.
    • Let this layer of glue dry completely.
    • Apply a second very thin layer of nail glue and let it dry completely as well.
    • Take a fine grit buffer block and gently buff over the repair. You only want to smooth it out and blend the edges with the natural nail. A 240 grit block usually works pretty well. Just remember to be gentle.
    • Gently clean off any filing dust. A quick wipe with a slightly damp paper towel usually works well, or a quick wipe with alcohol. You don’t want to use any acetone as it will damage the glue.
    • Now you can proceed with your SOG manicure as usual. Since SOG’s self-level, if there is a slight ridge still around the repair it should fix itself.
    • I have a blog post complete with a video available regarding fixing splits. The links are below

    Original blog post
    Updated video on my actual nail


    Post by Ferretkingdom
    with collaboration from tohillary
     
  10. How to add a false tip

    Sometimes there is just no way to repair a split. I’ve had splits that went halfway across my nail by the time I got home so I could attempt to fix it. When they are that bad, repairs don’t usually work for me. I could just deal with having a super shortie, but I prefer not to if at all possible. If you are like me and prefer all your nails to pretty much stay the same length (who doesn’t? LOL), then there are two ways to go about fixing a shortie.

    1. Adding a false tip
    The easiest way (at least for me) is simply to glue on a tip. There are a couple of things I can recommend with this.

    • Use good quality tips - don’t buy cheap ones. Quality tips will have a thinner well area and be easier to blend. If you do have tips with a thicker well, I would file it down thinner before you glue it onto your nail, otherwise you may end up accidentally filing your nail a lot while you are trying to blend it.
    • Use natural colored tips. It is much harder to tell if you have a tip added if you use natural colored tips. Your nails are not clear, so clear tips can be pretty obvious. Sometimes the gel polish will also look a little different over clear, thus the free edge of the repaired nail might look different
    • Get an artificial tip cutter. I have the guillotine type and it works well. I used to just use regular large clippers to clip on either side and then twist the clipped edge free, but this can result in stress cracks which are often invisible. Often sooner rather than later the artificial tip will crack and break from just the slightest bump or tap.
    • Make sure the tip you are using really fits your nail well. If you choose one that is too small and try to flatten it out, it may not stay adhered well and you run the risk of it popping off. It’s better to choose a tip that’s a little too large and gently file the sides down to make it fit before you glue it on.
    • Remember that the false tip will come off when you soak off your manicure. You might want to use a lighter color polish so that you can file it down a little* and then apply the next manicure in a darker color over top of it. That way you’d get two manicures worth out of the added tip rather than have to redo it every two weeks.

    Applying tips is really pretty easy. It’s a repair that for me holds up well, and while it looks like a lot of steps, it takes me much less time than sculpting does. I can often get two full manicures out of a tip if I do a lighter color for the first manicure. By the time nearly 4 weeks have gone by, my natural nail has grown out enough that while it might still be a tad shorter than my other nails, it’s long enough that it’s not so obviously short.

    • Get yourself prepared first. Choose a tip that’s the correct size for your nail. As I mentioned earlier, if you are in between tip sizes, go up and file the sides down until it fits and is even with the sides of your own nails. If the well area is thick, file it down so it’s thinner.
    • Perform your dry manicure as usual
    • Prepare your natural nail that is to be repaired. File the free edge you have left to a nice rounded shape so that the well of the nail tip will sit flush against it.
    • Lightly buff the natural nail, at least at the tip where the artificial nail will be. Wipe away any filing dust and cleanse the nail.
    • Apply your nail glue (again I prefer a brush on glue) to the well area of the nail tip.
    • Butt the ridge of the end of the well up to the free edge at an angle, and then rock the tip back so that the rest of the well comes into contact with the natural nail from the free edge back toward the cuticle. Applying the tips this way rather than just pressing it straight down onto the nail helps prevent air bubbles getting trapped in the glue.
    • Hold the nail tip firmly pressed against the natural nail for a minute or so while the glue sets. Give it a few minute to fully dry.
    • Trim the nail to the desired length using the tip cutters, file it to the desired shape, and buff the surface of the tip so it’s not shiny. If you still need the well area blended more, do so very carefully to avoid damage to the natural nail.
    • Wipe away any filing dust with an alcohol-dampened pad or gel cleanser.
    • Apply your SOG basecoat and cure
    • Use Gelish Structure in a thin layer over the entire nail and cure**
    • Use additional structure dabbed on a little at a time over the area between the natural nail and the tip, as this is a stress area and needs reinforcement. Do this in thin layers a little at a time, and cure in between layers. If your tips have a thin well, you really won’t need to do much here.
    • Continue with the rest of your SOG mani as usual


    * If you want to be able to do this, I highly recommend using the thicker builder mentioned below. If you are going to attempt to file off SOG polish to preserve the tip, you have to be extremely careful not to file completely through the gel in any areas as you would then cause damage to your natural nail. It can be pretty hard to tell if you are down to the structure/base gel or if you are hitting natural nail.

    ** Instead of Structure you can also use a Soak off Builder gel. IBD makes a soak off builder gel that works very well, and I will talk about it more below with regard to sculpting a tip. If you use the builder gel, you can apply it slightly thicker. This may make it easier to blend the tip, as well as make it easier to file off the SOG polish without risking damage to your natural nail if you want to try to preserve the tip.


    Post by Ferretkingdom
    with collaboration from tohillary
     
  11. Sculpting a tip

    Sculpting a tip requires a bit more skill and practice than simply adding a tip. While I have done it several times, I am certainly not an expert at doing it. Sometimes my sculpts come out better than other times.

    Scultping also requires you to use a different type of product. Something like Gelish Structure will not work - it’s too flexible for tip sculpting. The only easily available soak off builder gel product I’ve ever used has been IBD’s Soak Off Builder Gel. There may be others, but I don’t use it often enough to have gone searching. This one works pretty well. It’s thicker viscosity and cures harder. I wouldn’t try to sculpt anything super-long with it, but I have successfully been able to sculpt a tip to match the length of my other nails when I’ve broken one. It soaks off pretty easily as well, though sometimes more time is needed as you end up with a thicker layer of gel.

    Another disadvantage to using the IBD builder gel is that it is clear. It comes in no other color, which makes it impossible to make a natural colored tip without coloring the gel, and I haven’t bothered to try to do this yet. Depending on what color gel polish you put over it, it will be pretty obvious that it looks different than your other nails, just like if you glue on a clear tip instead of a natural one.

    Sally Beauty does sell IBD products, but many of them do not sell the soak off products. Those often need to be ordered online. The jars look frighteningly similar, though. Look carefully, if it is a soak off one, it will say “soak off” somewhere on the label. None of the 6 Sally Beauty’s near me sell anything soak off. They do however sell their traditional gels, including clear and pink builder gels.

    That being said, I HAVE used the non-soak off version of the builder gel. I certainly would NOT recommend everyone do this. Eventually it will soak off, but only after filing the majority of it off and soaking quite a big longer. I have a process I follow when I do this, but it’s certainly not something I’d recommend for the inexperienced. You have the potential to do a lot more harm to your nails than good if you aren’t very careful.

    There are different types of nail forms out there to consider. Some are horse-shoe shaped (which is what I have) and some are rectangles with a hole in the center. they also come in various lengths. I just use the short ones as I am not sculpting any very long tips. Sometimes with the short ones though it is harder to get a correct c-curve, so next time I think I will try the squared ones.

    If you are unsure how to use paper nail forms, please google it or search on YouTube. Sometimes getting them placed correctly is a challenge. I’m a very visual person, and exactly how to place them is something I think is easier seen than explained in writing.

    I will say that the shape of the ends of everyone’s fingers is not the same. If you need to trim this part of the form to get it to fit snugly against the finger under the nail without wrinkling, please do so.

    I also highly recommend watching some YouTube videos on how to do gel nails. While you certainly won’t use everything you see in the videos, you can get a lot of tips.

    If you are up for the possibility of sculpting a tip, you need to gather a few supplies.
    • Soak off builder gel
    • Disposable nail forms
    • Something to cleanse the nail (alcohol, acetone, branded cleanser for your gel polish)
    • A gel brush
    • Orangewood stick
    • A good nail file
    • A buffer block
    • Patience

    Once you have everything gathered, you are ready to start the sculpting process. Remember, this can take quite a bit of practice to get this even and natural looking. This is the process I use. it might not work for everyone. Tweak it as you need to. I’ve done this several times, but each time I do it, I learn something new.

    Always be careful not to get any gel on the skin or cuticles. If you do, use the orangewood stick to remove it before you cure.
    • Do your dry manicure first, including pushing back cuticles
    • If you have any free edge left (I usually don’t, or I wouldn’t be bothering with this), file it into an even shape
    • GENTLY buff the surface of the nail with a 240 grit soft buffing block. I like the polar blocks they sell at Sally’s.
    • Clean the nail surface with alcohol, acetone or your cleanser to remove it of filing dust, dirt and oils
    • Fit the nail form around your nail. You want it to be just under the free edge of the nail, and come straight out from the fingertip, not slanting upwards or downwards.
    • Pinch the free edges of the nail form together. This forms the c-curve so the nail you sculpt isn’t completely flat across
    • With your gel brush, pick up a small bead of gel on the brush. Place it on the form directly in front of the edge of your nail. Gently “pull” it to the outside edges of the nail.
      - Gel is sort of stringy, so you want to gently place the brush on top of the gel and sort of pull it where you want it. Don’t try to pat it into place like you would acrylic, it won’t work.
      - You should now have a very thin line of gel on the form, butted right up against your free edge all the way across. Cure this for in your UV lamp. Note: The IBD soak off builder gel can ONLY be cured in a CFL UV lamp, not in an LED lamp.
    • Scoop up another small bead of gel, this one can be slightly larger than the first, as this will be the foundation of your tip, so it will be roughly as long as you want your tip to be. Again place it on the form at the center of the nail. Gently pull it outward to the sides.
      - Try not to go past where the sides of your nail are.
      - Gently form the sides and front of the free edge by using the brush to push the gel where you want it to be.
      - Carefully sweep a little bit of the gel up onto the nail plate, over the thin line of gel you added initially
      - Cure in your UV light
    • Take a look at your sculpt so far from all angles. Look at it from the top, the sides, the front. You want to get an idea of if it’s smooth and even already, and where you are going to need more gel if it’s not.
    • Pick up another bead of gel and place it on the middle of the nail. Gently push back toward the cuticle, and then pull it forward. You want it to be just a thin layer of gel over the entire nail, all the way down to the edge of your sculpted tip. If you had any areas of your tip that were uneven, add little dabs of gel to fill them in. Cure in the UV light.
      - The gel layers will be a bit thicker than if you were applying gel polish or Structure gel, but not too thick. If they are too thick you will feel a terrible heat spike when you try to cure them in the lamp.
    • Again, take a look at your nail from all angles. See if there are any areas that still need more gel, or if you need to add more gel to the nail bed area to create an arch. If it needs more tweaking, do it now and cure
    • Once you are happy with your sculpt and it’s pretty smooth and even, wipe away the tacky layer with alcohol or your gel cleanser. Don’t use acetone here.
    • Remove the form from under the gel carefully. The new sculpt may have uneven edges, so file the sculpted tip to make it even and natural looking.
    • Use your buffer and buff the top smooth with your 240 grit buffer. This smooths any little bumps or ridges, as well as removes the shine so you can apply gel polish over it.
    • Remove any filing dust with alcohol or cleanser and continue on with your SOG application of base gel, color gel and top coat gel.

    Post by Ferretkingdom
    with collaboration from tohillary
     
  12. You may have seen these called “rockstar nails” or “glitter toes” in pictures and in salon ads all over the place. They are quite easy to do, and it’s a really fun way to dress up a manicure. Glitter is also a very inexpensive way to expand your SOG collection. A $2-$3 container of glitter gives you an entirely new color option you didn’t have before.

    There are not many more steps than doing a basic SOG manicure. All you need is some glitter and a small brush. I use a #4 round, synthetic bristle brush with slightly long-ish bristes - they are probably about ½” long. You just don’t want a super stiff brush. Any flexible bristle brush should work just fine.

    The only other thing you really need to do glitter work is something to catch all the excess glitter. Glitter is a bit messy. :smile: I just use paper towels myself. That way I can just ball it up and toss it when I am done. One end of my kitchen table cloth where I always do my nails however is permanently embeded with sparkly bits of glitter and pigments. :smile:

    Now, where to find glitter? There are MANY options out there! One of my favorite sources for glitter is a seller with the username ArtsyFartsy_Crafts on eBay. She has a ton of colors (especially a ton of my favorite - holographics!) and you get a good quantity of glitter for an inexpensive price. She is always adding new colors too. She ships fast, inexpensively and combines shipping. She has a facebook page also, and sometimes has specials for her facebook fans.

    There are TONS of other places to get glitter. Your local craft stores should have plenty of options. A lot of people like the Martha Stewart glitters, often in the scrapbooking section. Michaels’ Recollections glitter is pretty nice if you have a Michael’s nearby. A quick google search of glitter will give you more than enough options. And once you start the glitter addiction, you’ll need all those options to feed it. :p

    The trouble with glitter is that there seems to be no standard terminology for the sizing. One store’s Ultrafine might not be the same glitter size as another store’s ultrafine. Generally, ultrafine or microfine is what you are going to want, but the particle size can vary depending on where you buy from. Many places will give you the actual particle size of the glitter in inches, or fractions of an inch. You may see it listed as 0.008” or 1/125”. Occasionally you may even see it as microns, but not often - that is usually reserved for pigment powders. If you do find one in microns, you can use a website like www.onlineconversion.com to convert it into inches, as I don’t know them off the top of my head.

    Common sizes of glitter to use for Rockstar mani’s is either 0.008” or 0.004” (1/250”) hex cut. The larger glitters like 0.064” or larger don’t cover the nail as well, and you will have visible gaps between the glitter pieces, so your manicure will look blotchy and uneven. Chunky glitters like this however if you want to use a few individual pieces to add sparkles instead of adding rhinestones which would be more raised. For this you can even use super chunky 0.015” glitter. Square cut glitter generally doesn’t cover as well either and doesn’t lay as smoothly on the nail.

    If you get two of the same color glitter in different sizes, it may have a different apearance when scrubbed onto the nail. 0.004” glitter will cover more fully, without much visible gaps between the glitter particles. However 0.008” glitter is generally a little more blingy. Use what you like and what you can find.

    It is sometimes recommended that you use a separate topcoat for glitter work. I don’t, but if you find that easier then by all means do so. I usually apply a layer of structure over my glitter to help smooth it out, which solves the problem of glitter in the topcoat anyway. Others use two coats of topcoat instead. This can cause glitter to get on the topcoat brush, and thus topcoat bottle, which can pose potential problems or future manicures. On the occasions I haven’t used the structure, I didn’t find that I got much glitter in my topcoat brush. I just checked it, and if there was any glitter wiped it off with a paper towel before I put it back in the bottle.

    In general, you want to use a similar color polish under the glitter. For example, if doing a silver or siliver holo glitter, many people will use Midnight caller underneath it. When I used my red holographic glitter, I used Orly Gel FX Ruby underneath it. I have also done contrasting colors though - like putting a light pink or gold holographic glitter over black. It gives it a totally different look. Play with it! That’s the beauty of doing your own nails - you can experiment all you want!

    You can even do a “peekaboo rockstar”. This would be doing another color over top of your glitter, then using a brush or dotting tool to carve out a design, allowing the glitter to only show through in certain spots. You can see this type of design at the end of my water marble video on YouTube (water marbling is a whole other ballgame).

    Another fun thing to do, apply a jelly-like color over your glitter. The glitter shows thorugh, but with the hue of the top color, and it looks like the glitter is embedded in the gel. For example, I did a layer of RCM’s Midnight Affair (a dark blue jelly), then scrubbed silver holo glitter onto the tacky layer of the first coat. Then I topped it with a second coat of Midnight Affair.

    Glitter can be mixed just like your polishes. You can mix multiple shades of the same color glitter to achieve a glitter manicure with a little more depth and variation. You can also mix completely different colors to make a custom mix. An example would be mixing dark red, silver and pink glitter to make a Valentine’s Day glitter mix. Use a small dappen dish or contact lens container to mix your glitter before applying to your nails. Do not stir your glitter with a brush because it will not mix evenly, an orangewood stick will work best. Keep track of your ratios so that you can make more if you run out part way through your manicure.

    So, how do you “scrub in” glitter you ask? Very easy. I promise. :smile: To help, here is a blog post I did on how to do this, as well as a video.

    • Glitter sticks to just about everything, so just dip your brush into your glitter. Some dampen the brush with alcohol. I used to, but found it’s really not necessary. You definitely want to have a towel down to catch all the extra glitter.
    • Gently pat it onto the sticky layer of your cured color. Keep doing this until the entire nail surface is covered (or just the area you want covered).
    • DON’T cap the free edge with the glitter. You’ll never get it completely smooth, glitter will catch on stuff or you’ll pick at it and it will cause your mani to chip.
    • Once the entire surface is covered with glitter, take your brush and quickly whisk it back and forth across the surface. This helps remove any extra glitter and makes it lay flat.
    • I take my fingertip and press it along the free edge of the nail as well, just to ensure there is no glitter hanging over the edge that will cause a problem later.
    • You can now finish the manicure however you choose.
      - Apply two coats of topcoat if necessary to make it completely smooth.
      - Apply a coat of Gelish Structure with a separate brush, then your topcoat (another way to make sure it’s completely smooth)
      - Or before you do the topcoat, do a Peekaboo design or apply a layer of a gelly finish polish over it.

    You can also add glitter to small portions of your nail to create a glitter fade effect. This can be achieved by only applying glitter to specific area of your nail and very carefully removing the excess.

    It is of course also possible to mix glitter into SOG, much like you would a pigment (see the post on pigments), but I find that it is very hard to get a smooth and even coverage of the glitter. Scrubbing in is much easier.

    Post by Ferretkingdom and tohillary
     
  13. Adding Pigments to SOG Polishes

    Have you ever wanted to create your own custom nail color? Well guess what? You can!

    Pigments are colored powders that are used to, well, color things. Pigments are often micas, oxides or ultramarines. They are extremely fine powders, with particles measured in microns, though you won’t often see particle sizes listed.

    When it comes to pigments, you have MANY options.

    For a really easy to come buy sources - Makeup! Yup, regular old makeup from the drug store. Have any cheap eyeshadows that you love the color of but never wear because don’t stay on long? Try using them for coloring your SOG instead!

    The only thing with makeup - make sure you stick to powdered makeup only. Don’t try to mix liquid foundations, blushes, etc. I have successfully used both loose and pressed eyeshadows, blushes and foundation powder though.

    There are plenty of other places to buy pigments as well. Jacquard Pearl EX has some really nice craft pigments. You can find them at your local craft stores, or online at places like Amazon or Dick Blick Art Materials. They can be bought individually or in sets or “Series” as they call them. There are 3 “series” which have 12 colors each.

    Another great place to look is at places that sell pigments for people who make their own makeup. Here are a few that I like to shop at. :smile:
    Coastal Scents
    DIY Cosmetics
    The Conservatorie
    TKB Trading
    Fyrinnae Costmetics

    For makeup pigments, micas are probably the most commonly used, at least by me. I haven’t ever tried any of the ultramarines. I have a few oxides, and those I have found you have to be careful with. If you add too much, there is a lot of residue left behind and it WILL get all over your topcoat brush.

    Many of us have also found you can use pigments and flakes sold for the automotive industry, but I will cover that in another post.

    There are a few different ways to use pigments.
    • You can mix them into Gelish Structure gel and apply them with your own brush.
    • You can mix them into something nearly colorless, like Gelish Simple Sheer or one of it’s dupes and apply with your own brush.
    • You can “scrub” them into the tacky layer, just like you would do with glitter.


    When I started out mixing, I always used my structure gel. I have found though that if you do too many coats of Structure, it can be a little harder to soak off. That’s when I started mixing into a little bit of Simple Sheer, which I picked up in a mini bottle from Sally’s. That has been working wonderfully for me! The advantage to mixing is that you can control how pigmented you want the color to be, and also mix more than one color of pigment together.

    I have also just scrubbed the pigments into the tacky layer. This works pretty well for anything that’s super fine and smooth. I wouldn’t try to do this with a pressed powder that you scraped a little pigment off of - it might be too lumpy. You can’t blend colors together if you do this either, but it’s certainly easy to do.

    I used to just mix up my custom colors on a piece of tin foil. I still do if all I am doing is mixing up a small amount for swatching. If i am mixing up enough to do a manicure with however I use an old contact lens case, as was suggested by another tPFer. Being a contact-wearer, I have tons of these things, so it was a free option for me. The contact case is opaque, so it keeps stray light from curing it, and you can cover it and save it in case you need to do any small repairs during the life of the manicure.

    There is no set amount I use. I don’t measure anything. I am guilty of never mixing the same thing twice. LOL. For a full manicure, I usually use about 10-12 drops of clear or color SOG, depending on what I am mixing. By drops I mean, pull the brush out of the bottle fully loaded, don’t wipe it on the neck of the bottle, and let it drop off into whatever you are mixing in. For structure, I will usually scoop up 2-3 little blobs with my craft sticks I use for mixing.

    The mixing sticks I use are actually wooden craft sticks, called Woodsies Craft Picks. I got them at JoAnn’s, and they were about $5 for a pack of 250. You can also get them on Amazon here. They are a bit wider at one end, and narrower at the other. You need such a small amount of pigments for the tiny bit of gel you use for a manicure, that I generally use the narrow end to pick up the pigments from the container. For a full manicure, I usually only need an amount the size of a grain of uncooked rice.

    Some pigments are great on their own, and others look great over a different color base. The color-shifting pigments for example have the most dramatic shift when they are applied over a black base.

    You do need your own brush of course to apply these colors you mix up. You can use any type of gel brush you are comfortable with. I usually use a #6 oval gel brush. I’ve found craft store/art supply store brushes also work well. Get something with synthetic bristles that’s OK to use for oil paints. These types of brushes can hold up to the solvents in gel polish and the cleaning with acetone.

    Here is a link to the tPF thread on adding pigments.
    http://forum.purseblog.com/nail-care/pigments-for-sog-polishes-719061.html

    Post by Ferretkingdom
     
  14. Spectraflair, Automotive Pigments and Flakes

    As with the other pigments, you may want to refer to the Pigments for SOG thread.

    Often times, automotive pigments are made out of some of the same materials other pigments are made from. “Metal Flake” is not really metal at all in most cases, and they are solvent resistant (the color won’t bleed) when mixed into nail polish or gel. Also, the only super-fine holographic substance (Spectraflair - the Holy Grail of holographic goodness) is an automotive pigment. It is also an easy way to find color-shifting pigments, as they are much more common for DIY car painters than they are for DIY nail polishers!

    There has previously been debate on tPF and also on many nail polish blogs about the safety of this. No one that I am aware of has had any issues using these things in nail polish. I wouldn’t wear it as makeup perhaps, nor would I want to drop a big container of it and be breathing all the little dust particles in the air. But the amounts we are using for something like a manicure or a bottle of nail polish are tiny.

    The bottom line is this - if you don’t feel comfortable using these things in your SOG manicures, then please don’t. This is not what they are labeled for.

    As for the rest of us daring souls, there are many places to buy these types of pigments. eBay has a wealth of sellers. Just do a search for Pearl pigment, automotive pearl, automotive flakes or similar things. Of course you want to be sure you are ONLY buying things in powder form, never in liquid form.

    There are also many websites that sell powdered pigments and flakes, such as TCP Global and The Coating Store, as well as many other online sellers of custom car paint.

    To use these pigments, you would mix them in small amounts into your gel just like any other pigments, as I have discussed in the previous section.

    The Flakes are basically glitter, so you would want to use them in the same way you would use glitter. For me, I scrub it into the tacky layer just like I would any other glitter. The sizing of the particles is even listed the same way as regular glitter.

    Spectraflair is the holographic pigment several of us use to make things rainbow-sparkly. It comes in three sizes, and its measured in microns.
    • Fine grade - 14 microns
    • Medium or mid-grade - 20 microns
    • Coarse grade - 35 microns

    The larger the micron’s here, the more sparkly it is. Any of them can give you a linear holo effect, but the sparkle is better with the coarse grade. I think the linear effect is more pronounced in the mid-grade. The fine grade doesn’t really impress me much. It’s very silver, but not as pretty of a holo effect. I prefer the coarse grade if I’m given a choice.

    It is often purchased by some individual person in a large container, and then parcelled out into little 1-gram baggies or jars and resold to people like us who want to franken (mix) their own polish colors. It ranges in price from about $15 to $30 a gram, depending on where you buy it from. Expensive? Yes. But don’t worry.... A gram is enough to mix up like at least 5 whole ½ ounce bottles of regular polish, so if you are mixing a tiny bit at a time for a single SOG mani, you will probably never run out!

    The fine and mid-grades seem to be the easiest to find, and the ones most often listed on eBay and eCrater. I’ve even seen Spectraflair listed on Etsy. Moseart.com also used to sell it, but I do not think he is doing the small sizes anymore. You could email and ask though. If you are in the UK, check out Custom Creations Paints, as they sell it

    The coarse grade can be purchased, at least at the time of this writing, from the MoreNailPolish blog. There is also someone (Lori) who sells it through the Polish-Aholics Anonymous group on facebook.

    To use Spectraflair, you want to mix it up just like other pigments. Start out using VERY small amounts. Very, very small. Probably less than the size of a grain of rice if you are just mixing for a single mani. Spectraflair is naturally silver in color, so if you add too much of it to a colored gel, it will just grey it down and make it look silvery and the color of the original SOG won’t show through. If you want to do a manicure that is just silver holographic, then you will need to use a bit more Spectraflair.

    You can mix a small amount of it into clear gel or topcoat and make yourself a Spectraflair topcoat. You will still be able to see the color of the gel underneath, while adding holographic sparkliness on top. Just again, be careful how much you add! If you add too much, you will end up with a silver holographic polish (which is also gorgeous, I will add). :smile:

    If you are going to mix up a whole bottle of topcoat, as some have, add some of the little mixing balls so the Spectraflair can be mixed up again if it settles to the bottom.

    If you mix it into clear, and apply it over a black base, the rainbow effect is the most pronounced, however play around with it! That’s the fun part!

    Also, because of it’s light silvery color, it has a tendency to lighten up the colors you mix it with. For example, when mixed with OPI’s nearly-black Here Today Aragon Tomorrow you get a forest green color. :smile: Very pretty indeed!

    Post by Ferretkingdom
     
  15. Some people have found that using a traditional basecoat under their gel manicures has helped their removal process. It seems to have been especially helpful to people who have had problems removing in the past. The basecoat prevents the foundation layer of the gel manicure from adhering directly to your nail plate, thus making removals faster. However, in some cases people have reported that their nails chip much easier and show much more wear when using a traditional polish base coat. Results vary from person to person.

    If trying this out, you would apply a coat of regular nail polish basecoat after performing your dry manicure, cleansing and dehydrating your nails, but before applying the first layer (Gelish Foundation, Red Carpet Manicure Structure, etc) of your gel manicure. It is imperative that you allow the traditional base coat to dry COMPLETELY BEFORE applying your foundation gel. If you do not allow your basecoat to dry, your nails will chip and lift within a day.

    When using a traditional basecoat, try what you have at home first. Many people have found that what they already had worked fine. If purchasing a basecoat for the first time, many people have reported having success with CND Sticky and Orly Bonder. Just try make sure to use something intended as a basecoat, not a topcoat or an all-purpose clear polish.

    Post by ToHillary
     
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