Did you know that the Nail Industry was born in the 1970’s with acrylic artificial nails? Back then, acrylic systems were very hard and did not offer and flexibility because the acrylics were originally developed for Dentistry.
The early days of acrylic nails
It was originally believed that if the acrylics weren’t hard, the clients natural nail wouldn’t be able to grow and then the artificial nail would break. But over time, as the nail industry developed and grew into a worldwide phenomenon, it became clear that if a set of acrylic nails was going to last, the acrylic needed a balance between flexibility and hardness. In fact, it was actually discovered that if the acrylic was too hard, the product would not adhere properly to the natural nails.
Acrylic product would only adhere when the conditions of the natural nail corresponded to the properties of the artificial nail. In the past nails had to be “roughened up” with a 100 grit file and aggressive primers were used to make sure that the acrylic product penetrated deep into the natural nail. This is where acrylic nails of the past developed a reputation for damaging people’s natural nails. This kind of product application resulted in complaints such as sore nails from excessive filing, allergic reactions and bloody breaks.
How acrylic nails evolved
As acrylic nails became more and more popular, better acrylic products were released. The first major change was the addition of UV blockers which made sure that your acrylic nails did not discolor. Customers originally wore their acrylic nails with nail polish, not just because it was fashionable, but because early acrylics had the tendency to yellow. UV blockers are still used today to stabilize the acrylic colour. (Magnetic’s Prestige Acrylics will never discolor or yellow.)
The real breakthrough in acrylic nail technology came with the development of a liquid with excellent adhesive properties that made the need for primers totally unnecessary. By the way, none of Magnetic’s nail products contain primers or harsh acids, in fact they are very mild and easy on the natural nail.
I don’t want to turn this post into a boring science lesson, but the next generation of acrylic powders and liquids began to use a crosslink molecular structure which gave acrylic nails much more flexibility. Unlike earlier acrylic nails, acrylics that used a crosslink structure would not break it they were bumped or pushed.
Today, most modern acrylics liquids and powders use an interpenetrating-polymer-network structure (IPN). This allows you as a nail technician to build thinner artificial nails that look natural and have a lot of flexibility. This is why we regularly get comments from customers who use Magnetic’s Prestige Acrylic saying, “I have never had acrylic nails that feel so light and natural!
Another important advantage of this IPN molecular structure is that acrylic nails are even more resistant solvents, stains and dyes. Curing also takes a little longer giving the nail tech more control over the product and the ability to create even deeper smile lines.
The acrylic mix ratio
Each acrylic nail system consists of two components – a liquid and a powder. The ratio between these two components is called the mix ratio and is extremely important. Magnetic recommends a ratio of 2 parts liquid to one part powder, but this ratio can be adjusted freely by the nail technician, depending on her needs.
When we look at the functions of a liquid and a powder, the liquid is responsible for adhesion, molecular structure and flexibility while the powder provides filling and colour to the artificial nail. In other words, the liquid serves as the cement and the powder as the building blocks
Since it is the powder that provides the colour, it is extremely important to use the same ratio of liquid and powder. If you are working on a clients acrylic nails and one nail is applied very wet and the next nail is applied very dry – the difference in colour between the two nails will be clearly different. This is especially true for French Manicures: if the white powder is applied too wet, it will dry into a grey shade and the lovely white french manicure effect will be lost.
The mix ratio also influences the processing time of the acrylic product. Many nail technicians mistakenly think that if they want more time to work with the acrylic product then they must work with a wet mix ratio. However, if you need more time to create the perfect smile line, it is better to work with a dryer mix ratio. The advantage of working dryer is that white acrylics stay white, because as more powder is used it takes longer for the liquid to make molecular connections, therefore reacting slower, giving you more time to work.
If you work with a mix ratio that is too wet, there is a possibility that the liquid will flow out of the mix and end up in the cuticle which will result in lifting. But, what is even more important are the complaints of clients who eventually develop allergic reactions because of acrylic liquid spilling onto their cuticles and skin.