How to identify the cause of a nail break
By Katie Barnes | 17 April 2018 | Blog, Nail Techniques
Educator and award-winning nail technician, Katie Barnes, offers reasons why enhancements can break – and how to identify them
The most common reason for the breaking of nail enhancements is due to wear and tear or trauma by the wearer, but a break can also be caused by unsuitable lengths and shapes for the wearer and service breakdown.
How many times have we had a client return to say they do not know how the nail was broken? They did nothing and suddenly the nail was gone. I’ve once had a client return saying all 10 nails washed away in the shower! As professionals, we know this isn’t possible. In this situation, it is important to inspect the nail to identify the cause of the break so to prevent future occurrences.
How does a break occur?
For a structurally sound enhancement, the most important elements are apex, C-Curve, side walls, lower and upper arch. All of these components have to work in harmony to ensure the longevity of the enhancement. If one element is incorrect or gets damaged, the whole structure will be compromised. Nail enhancements are designed to break under pressure so to not damage the natural nail underneath but both tech and client can take a number of steps to ensure this doesn’t happen unnecessarily.
The tech should ensure they are creating an architecturally sound enhancement that’s suitable for the client’s lifestyle and they should provide correct aftercare and maintenance advice. The client is then responsible for following that advice and not using their nails as tools.
Identifying the break
If the free edge length is missing, the nail will have experienced some sort of trauma such as a knock. This could be caused by a number of day-to-day activities or repetitive trauma that the client isn’t aware of; from opening cans or general housework.
Sometimes, the nail can be knocked and the enhancement appears intact but may not break until a few days later. The wearer will automatically assume they did nothing at the time to cause that break but the original trauma actually created a hairline crack in the enhancement causing a weakness.
If the client goes too long in between services, side walls are compromised and too much bulk and stress from the enhancements being too long for the wearer’s lifestyle or a poorly structured nail is likely to be the cause of a hairline crack and therefore a break of this kind.
If the enhancement is no longer on the natural nail, and the natural nail has white marks, red patches and tears in the nail plate the likelihood is that the client has picked or pulled that enhancement off. It could have been knocked, or it lifted, and then the rest was therefore picked or pulled off. However poor the application, it is extremely unlikely that an enhancement comes off in one.
Another reason for breakages is under curing or incorrect mix ratio of the enhancement, products. This would result in service breakdown. Have a read of my previous Scratch blog on lifting for causes of this.
How to deal with a broken enhancement
When a nail enhancement has broken, or even got a hairline crack, it is important that the client books an appointment as soon as possible to ensure no further damage occurs. It is paramount to remove all traces of the enhancement and check the natural nail underneath for any problems. If there are any signs of bleeding, swelling or infection, do not touch the enhancement until it is healed, otherwise you could end up causing more issues. Refer them to a medical professional if you are concerned. Advise the client to keep the wounded clean and covered with a sterile dressing or micropore but not a plaster, which can attract moisture, leading the bacterial infections.
Chat to your client to determine how they experienced the break or when they became aware of it. Sometimes, the client won’t admit or realise their part in the break due to embarrassment so make sure they feel at ease with you to discuss the cause, so you can then tailor advice to help them protect against future nail breaks.
How to charge for nail repairs
Some techs will offer repairs free of charge, and others will charge a small fee per nail repair. It is more than likely the client will have caused something to break the nail and it is the techs product and time spent repairing that. I did not used to charge for this, then as soon as I introduced a charge, the number of breaks suddenly reduced and clients took more care and responsibility for their nails. Clients who do not have regular maintenance risk damage to the extensions and therefore potentially damage to their natural nails.
Love Katie B x