Salon owner, educator, former Scratch columnist and award-winning nail stylist, Katie Barnes, reveals how to take care of your tekking essentials; your tools.
From scissors and cuticle pushers to tweezers and nippers, the sharp implements you use as a professional nail technician must be properly maintained.
To perform safe and professional nail treatments, it is paramount to ensure your metal tools are kept in optimum condition, especially those with sharp edges. If your tools get blunt, they are more likely to hurt or cut the client from needing to use more forced pressure for the same results, whereas sharp tools will make the job easier and more effective.
Over time, your tools will wear down with use and poor storage techniques can make this worse. Your tools should be carefully stored in a neat, closed container to avoid damage and future contamination. Try to use the protective caps your tools come with to product the sharp tips and be careful not to drop them.
When performed correctly, sanitising tools should not cause them to prematurely blunt and dull. If you keep your metal implements in barbicide, place a piece of cotton wool in the bottom of the glass jar, to avoid blunting the sharp edges. Ensure your tools are of high quality and are stainless steel to avoid rusting with sterilisation and disinfection.
A great tip that I learnt recently from David Fowler involved sharpening and tailoring a cuticle pusher. If the cuticle pusher isn’t manufactured to a high standard or is just well-worn or blunt, you can sharpen it up by using a 150-grit file to thin it.
If the tool is too wide or square, you can also file the corners to a shape to suit you. It is worth ensuring this is done on a regular basis to ensure your tools are always in top condition, depending how often you use them.
If you use a cuticle tool when removing enhancements, don’t be tempted to use the same one that you use to remove cuticle as it will become clogged and blunt with product and be therefore ineffective.
Cuticle nippers are intended for removing dead tissue and cuticle imperfections such as hangnails only – you should never trim living tissue. High quality nippers come in a variety of sizes and most are crafted of stainless steel, making them strong, durable and easy to sanitise.
Don’t be tempted to use nippers to remove lifting from L&P acrylic – as well as damaging the nail plate, you will ruin your nippers. I prefer to use thin, curved cuticle scissors as opposed to nippers because it provides a closer and more precise finish.
Cuticle scissors must be so finely pointed and thin because a tiny blade is needed for precise results. If the tool isn’t finely pointed, it will not cut as close as necessary meaning you are more likely to leave ragged edges and damage to the client.
I recommend two types of scissors when making precision cuts to tailor your forms: a thin and curved pair for cutting the form to fit perfectly at the free edge and a thin, straight pair for the 45-degree cuts to get your C-Curve pinch.
Constantly cutting forms will blunt these, so always have a separate pair for cuticle work. It is important that these scissors are not too stiff or thick, as you will not get precise cuts and are more likely to tear and fray the form. As scissors have moving parts, they will require occasional lubrication to avoid them getting stiff.
Tweezers are great for picking up small nail art items such as gems and foils. Ensure these are kept clean and free from products such as glue.
If your tools show any sign of rusting, look worse for wear or are not performing at their best, it is time to throw them away. Whilesanitising your tools is important, ensuring you are working with high quality implements and keeping them in this condition is just as important.
Love Katie B x