Gelish Spring 2019 Collection Sneak Peek!

The latest edition of Nail Magazine has just come out, and it includes a brochure with a sneak peek of the Gelish Spring 2019 collection, called The Color of Petals. This collection includes some lovely pastels and nudes, as well as a dusty coral and purple.

the color of petals bubbles

Spring collections are usually released in early March, so we have a few weeks to plan out which colors to buy. Which will you add to your salon offerings?

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Healthy and Prosperous 2019! Maintaining Back Mobility and Strength for Nail Techs

While this post contains some affiliate links, all the information is my experience or research compiled by me. These are products I have personally used as described. If you find this information helpful, please consider shopping via the links provided.

Understandably, nail techs are “…more likely than most to suffer from occasional or even chronic back pain as a result of sitting for extended periods of time.” As with the previous post on wrist health, there are a few things we can do to prevent and alleviate these issues.

  1. Take a few minutes several times a day to stretch your back.  Here’s a simple thoracic spine stretch from Prevention.com. I love this one, or simply lying flat with knees bent… Or, even better, doing legs up the wall for a few minutes at the end of the day feels amazing!
  2. Incorporate some back strengthening exercises into your workout.  Prevention.com recommends a few reps of raised kicks and swimmers.  You can do these while you are watching TV in the evening and, with consistency, they will make a difference!
  3. As with the previous post about wrist pain, it’s important to use correct posture while working. One of the most helpful habits I’ve found is to keep the clients’ hand or foot close to you so that you don’t have to bend over and lean forward to work on them.  To help with this, you can have tools that

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    hold your client’s wrist or ankle elevated while you work, like the Wrist Assist, Pampered Perch or PediStil.

  4. Finally, a chiropractor and/or massage therapist can help you with body work that will relieve pain and help keep your back in good health. Seek out one in your area! If that’s not possible, you can try some body work on yourself each day. Roll your back out on a foam roller (here’s the firmer of the two I use, firm enough to lean back on without the roller deforming under you),

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    and graduate up to rolling a “peanut massager” around the spine (this is the one I have and it’s great!).

Those are my best recommendations to keep back pain away.  What do you think? Any personal experiences with back pain? Leave a comment below!

This article is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.

Healthy & Prosperous 2019! Maintaining Wrist Mobility and Strength for Nail Techs

While this post contains some affiliate links, all the information is my experience or research compiled by me. These are products I have personally used as described. If you find this information helpful, please consider shopping via the links provided.

Understandably, “Nail techs are at increased risk for carpal tunnel and other wrist maladies.” In addition to working with our hands, we’re probably also on a computer for a good portion of the day.  All this can lead to overuse injuries like tendonitis, or worse. In this post we’ll talk about some preventative steps nail techs can take to ward off these common injuries.

  1. Carve out a few minutes for stretching and strengthening the arm throughout the day. Prevention Magazine recommends some simple stretches and exercises, including:

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  • forearm stretch
  • wrist extension
  • finger flexion and extension
  • grip strengthening with a stress ball (Theraband brand products work well for me with these types of exercises, and they were recommended by my physical therapist.)

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2. Use correct posture and wrist positioning. One of the biggest issues I find here is keeping your clients’ hand close to you so that you don’t have to bend over and lean forward to work.  To  help with this, you can have tools that hold your client’s wrist or ankle elevated while you work, like the Wrist Assist, Pampered Perch (which I like because it indicates to the client where you’d like their arm to be) or PediStil.

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3. Wear a wrist brace in off-time if you start to feel pain or other symptoms. As un-glamorous as this is, it really did help me a few years ago when hours of nails and computer work took their toll.  I wore my brace every night as often as possible – you don’t have to take it on vacation or anything.  Keep in mind that this will likely take a few nights to adjust to wearing…  At first I would remove mine in my sleep!

Those are my best recommendations to keep wrist pain at bay.  Do you  have any others? Any personal experiences with wrist pain or injuries? Leave a comment below!

This article is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.

Unboxing: More Clear Jelly Stamper Plates and Polishes

Clear Jelly Stamper (CJS) offers an array of products for stampers of all levels. I’ve had the XL stamper plus a few plates and polishes for about a year, and decided it was time that I add to my design and color offerings.

ClearJellyStamper Plates

This time I purchased the largest bottle of black polish CJS offers, because I like to stamp my outline image in black. I also bought a “You Choose” Kit of 6 polishes, which is a small savings over buying each one individually. I did the same with small plates, picking a “You Choose” Kit of eight plates and a free plate holder.

These stampers, plates and polishes stamp beautifully and consistently every time. I’ve had great results, and will probably purchase more from this company in the future.  I recommend these products over some of the off brand similar items you can find online. You get what you pay for, and I think you’ll find that these products deliver.  Clear Jelly Stamper is the original clear stamping head, and the company has really turned stamping into it’s own art form. They even have accessories and organizational products to make the job easier, which I love!

video thumbnail unboxing CJS

If you’d like to see exactly what you get when you order from CJS, please check out my unboxing video for these products on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel.  And, we’d love to hear from you in the comments on your experience with these products!

Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Some Final Thoughts

This post contains some affiliate links. If you find the information here helpful, please consider supporting the site by shopping via the links provided.

There are so many wonderful nail treatments available now in salons and for home use. In this series we’ve reviewed the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails, and with this post we conclude the series on selecting the best system for your needs, wrapping up with a comparison of some available systems.

When deciding which system is right for you or a client there a few lifestyle aspects to consider, such as how long you like wearing a nail color or design, your preferred nail length, product removal time, or how long the manicure needs to last.natural nail manicure product spectrum

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The graphic above (© Smoke &Mirrors) details what you can expect from the systems we reviewed in the last four posts in terms of wear time.

So, if you love changing your nail color frequently, you’ll probably want to focus on products to the left side of the scale,

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like traditional or hybrid nail polishes.  On the other hand, if you’re super busy (who isn’t?!?!) and don’t have time for frequent color changes, you may want to try a gel polish or even dip powder nails.

The time you’ll spend removing the product also increases as you move right on the scale. Fittingly, the longer the wear time of the product , the longer a removal time it will require.  However, if long wear time is your priority, you’ll likely find the increased removal time to be worth it!

So, what are your thoughts on these systems? Do you alternate between systems depending on the season? Does your salon offer all these options? Have you had better results with any particular system? Leave a comment or question below!

Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Dip Powder Manicure

This post contains some affiliate links. If you find the information here helpful, please consider supporting the site by shopping via the links provided.

There are so many fantastic nail treatments available now in salons and for home use. In this series we’ve reviewed the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails. In this post we continue this series on selecting the perfect natural nail manicure system for your lifestyle, examining the latest trend in manicures: the dip powder manicure.

S&M 2 November 2017 D

I love (sarcasm) how people think this is a new thing, when I’ve been doing dip acrylic manicures on my own nails since I was a teenager in the late 90’s. It’s not a new technology, but a revived product, much as gels were in the early 2000’s. And please, please don’t call them “SNS nails”! That’s genericization like “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex” or “Shellac” nails, and all the great brands of dip systems on the market deserve better.

Pet peeves aside, this is one of my favorite techniques. After applying a prep or primer to the natural nail, the tech applies a cyanoacrylate-based resin base coat, then dips the nail into the extra fine acrylic powder. This process is process is repeated once or twice more, then an activator may be used before applying the cyanoacrylate-based top coat. The results:

  • Less filing than traditional acrylic application
  • Thinner than traditional acrylic application
  • Lighter than traditional acrylic application, similar to gels
  • More natural-looking than traditional acrylic application, like gel overlays
  • Stronger than gels, though they are not a flexible
  • Less odor than traditional acrylic application
  • Durable
  • Soak-off like traditional acrylics, though typically faster

And, with dip systems you have options:

  • May be combined with fiberglass nail wraps
  • Easy to repair split or broken nails
  • Polish is optional with colored powders
  • You can use multiple colors of powder for long-lasting nail art

Some things to consider, though:

  • This is not a gel system, and don’t let anyone tell you it is. These systems are straight-up glue and powder. No lamp necessary.
  • Ads might say these last four to six weeks but, trust me, you won’t like the look of your grown out enhancements after two or three weeks.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you this is a natural or chemical-free manicure. While the ingredients aren’t likely to cause an allergic reaction, they do involve chemicals!
  • It’s been said that it’s not sanitary to dip multiple clients in the same powder. I find it very hard to believe that any infectious organisms are going to live for very long in dip powder (as it cannot in nail polish).  However, the pour or sprinkle techniques are the safest for everyone.

Most people I know personally that have worn dip powder nails love and recommend them as much as I do. Dip nails are a great alternative to gel polish. Ready to try for yourself?

Some professional brands to find at the salon are:

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  • Gelish Dip – (My personal favorite.) You can choose from 120 colors and counting, and they match the Gelish gel polish and Morgan Taylor traditional nail polish colors, to cover all your options for manis and pedis!

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Some easy-to-find beauty store brands are:

Second only to gel polish, this is one of my favorite nail products.  What about you? Leave a comment below! Is this your favorite natural nail manicure product?

Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Gel Nail Polish

This post contains some affiliate links. If you find the information here helpful, please consider supporting the site by shopping via the links provided.

There are so many amazing nail treatments available now! In this series we’ll review the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails on the market today. Here we continue our series on selecting the perfect natural nail manicure system for your needs, exploring the pros and cons of gel nail polish.Make a Splash collection beauty shot

Gel Nail Polish

But first – did you know that gel nail enhancements have been around since the 1980’s, but just didn’t have the break out success back then that they were in the early 2000’s?  “At the time, the manufacturers of gel lights and the gel itself had not joined forces, not yet recognizing the need to precisely match the intensity of the light to the photoinitiators in the gel… ­using the wrong light or applying too much gel caused a burning sensation on the client’s fingertips. ­Additionally, education on gel application was limited, leaving nail techs in the dark about the product, and home-use ­systems were introduced around the same time, damaging the reputation of salon-use systems by ­association. By the end of the ‘80s, many companies had pulled their gel products from the market.”

Then, in the late 1990’s and early 2000s, the gels that we think of today, with improved formulas over what was available in the previous decade, began to emerge. About 20 years later, it’s hard to imagine a nail services menu without gel services on the list. S&M African Safari collection bottlesAccording to the 2018-2019 Nail Big Book, 90% of salons responding to the survey offered gel polish services. The only other service offered as frequently among respondents was manicuring, also at 90%.

Some of my most enjoyable moments as a nail tech have come from seeing the amazement on clients’ faces when they pull their hands out of the lamp for the first time, and I begin wiping the inhibition layer from their fully cured gel polish manicure. With big eyes, they usually ask something like “Are they already dry?” and I tell them that they are free to do whatever they need to do. They can hardly believe that it’s OK to reach for their keys and walk out of the salon without sitting for awhile to let their manicure finish drying.S&M Just For You 3 collection bottles

Besides this revolutionary speed in finishing a manicure, I love how long gel polish stays on clients’ nails. Even clients who are really hard on their hands typically get more than a week out of their manicure.  Personally, my nails have grown out to the point that it’s bothersome before my nails begin to chip or peel.

Unfortunately, gel polish’s greatest strengths are also a cause for it’s greatest weakness (in some clients’ eyes): the soak off process for removal. And, since it takes so long to remove, clients who get tired of their polish color in less than a week might find the wear time and soak-off to be a negative.

While gel polish might not be for everyone, it certainly fills a need for many people. Ready to try for yourself?

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Some professional brands to find in the salon are:

  • Gelish – If you’re a regular reader, you already know I highly recommend Gelish brand products. I’ve been using these products in the salon and personally for almost a decade now with nearly flawless results.
  • OPI Gel Color – Many techs love this gel polish from a trusted brand.
  • CND Shellac – this may be the quintessential gel polish now due to genericization, though gel polish should be called by the correct name and brand used should be obvious to clients.  Using inferior products can lead to service breakdown and, if it happens frequently enough, a downgrading of the professional service.

Easy-to-find beauty store brands are:

  • Gelish Mini – the same great formula as the full-size Gelish, but in smaller amounts for personal use (fewer manicures)
  • China Glaze Gelaze – to make things even easier, this brand requires no base coat; only top coat.
  • FingerPaints – this is the Sally Beauty house brand, and has been around for several years.

You can also find one-step, no-cleanse gel polishes (no base or top coats required), and the latest development in gel polish systems – peelable base coat. I can’t vouch for any of these products personally yet, though I would be willing to test them out:

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  • Gelish UNO – By Gelish MINI, this is a is a DIY, instant manicure. Brush on polish and cure – no basecoat, topcoat or cleansing is required.
  • Maniology Peelable Gel Base Coat – intended to be a temporary, peel-off coating for natural nails, to be painted on and removed easily later

 

I personally love gel polish.  It’s one of the greatest inventions ever, in my opinion. What about you? Leave a comment below! Is this your favorite natural nail manicure product?

 

Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Hybrid Nail Polish

This post contains some affiliate links. If you find the information here helpful, please consider supporting the site by shopping via the links provided.

There are so many amazing nail treatments out there! In this series we’ll review the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails on the market today. Here we continue our series on selecting the perfect natural nail manicure system for your needs, looking at “hybrid” nail polish.

Hybrid Nail Polish

Hybrid nail polish is also called long-lasting or long-wear nail polish, and it attempts “borrow some of the best qualities from both gel and lacquer without needing to be cured” .  It seems the goal in developing hybrid polish was to create a polish that would last as long as UV-cured gel polishes, but applies easily and could be removed as quickly as traditional nail polish. Some brands take this a step further by incorporating oligomers into their top coats that cure in ambient UV light, and become harder over the course of a day or so.

Hybrid polishes were introduced a few years ago, after the gel polish craze evened out, and seem to have been going steady ever since. Like traditional polish, they’re easy to apply in the salon or at home. Some brands make it even easier by requiring no base coat for their systems. However, it’s important to use the correct base (if required) and top coat for the system to achieve the result for these polishes.

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Ready to try for yourself?

Some professional brands are:

 

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Easy-to-find drug and beauty store brands are:

 

 

 

 

I tested the Sally Hansen brand earlier this year. Here’s one of my manis with a color called Shock Wave.

S&M 25 March 2018

From my perspective, these hybrid polishes felt like a wannabe gel polish – they fell short on delivering on their promises and, overall, my experience with these was a non-starter.  Leave a comment below with your experience! Is this your go-to natural nail product?

Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Traditional Nail Polish

Note: this post contains some affiliate links.

On this blog I post a lot about gel polish and occasionally about traditional polish, but did you know there are other systems available that may meet your natural nails manicure needs and fit your lifestyle? There’s also the latest craze – dipped nails, which isn’t nail polish like we usually think about it.  There are so many amazing treatments out there! In this series we’ll review the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails in the market today.

Traditional Nail Polish

Traditional nail polish is also sometimes called lacquer. This is the system that most people are familiar with, as it has been around for decades, can be found at most department or drug stores, and is easy to apply (but surprisingly difficult to apply well).

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The technology that traditional nail polish uses typically includes nitrocellulose, film-forming agents, resins, solvents, and, of course, colorants. Professional systems usually include at least a base and top coat formulated to work with their lacquer colors, as well as other nail treatments such as strengtheners, finishers and drying agents.
One of the most-trusted (and my personal favorite) traditional polish brands is OPI. I also recommend Morgan Taylor.

Is traditional nail polish for you?

If you enjoy self-care time for getting weekly nail services and love trying new, on-trend colors, then traditional polish might be perfect for you. Traditional polish is a quick treatment that is perfect for combining with other pampering salon services.

Is this your polish of choice? What do you love about it? Leave us a comment!

Healthy & Prosperous 2019! Healing the Winter Itch

Note: This post contains some affiliate links. These are products I have personally used as described. If you find this information helpful, please consider shopping via the links provided.

Do you notice that your skin gets drier and even itchy or irritated in the winter?  Apparently this is a super common condition known as “winter itch”, and I’ve had it for the past few years.  There are a couple things I’ve finally figured out will successfully fight it, though, and I wanted to share them with you in case they’re helpful for you or clients.  One of the worst places this shows up can be our hands, because of the constant hand-washing we do to keep the germs away!

  1. Drink more water – Of course we know we’re supposed to be drinking 6-8 cups a day… in winter it’s more crucial that we make an effort to drink more.

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    Because it’s cooler our bodies usually don’t sweat as much and we may not feel the urge to drink. But staying hydrated from the inside out will give the skin a way to stay hydrated. We use Contigo brand waterbottles that auto-seal, so you can toss them in your bag or the car without worrying about spills, and the ounces are measured. I try to drink at least two 24 ounce bottles of water each day in the winter.

  2. Increase the humidity of your home or work spaces – this has been the biggest help for me this season. I’ve added a humidifier to my bedroom and it has done wonders for my skin.

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    If you’ve got a small or medium are to humidify, I recommend the Sunbeam Warm Steam Vaporizer.  It’s super simple to set up and use.  Typically I refill the tank in the evening and it runs all night. It’s also got a small footprint so it’s easy to find space for it in a smaller room or in the salon.

During cold and flu season you can also add an inhalant such as Vick’s Vaporizing Liquid, which adds a clean scent to the space.

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To up my scented mist game, I’ve ordered the VicTsing Cool Mist Humidifier and Essential Oil Diffuser. This is a small humidifier intended for use with essential oils, which I’ll be using in my small office space.  I also think these would be excellent to have near the nail table. They do require a bit of maintenance but it’s worth it in the cold months!

3. Avoid harsh soaps and moisturize – This seems like a small thing, but it can be very effective! For about a decade I’ve been using natural soaps when possible, and they work just as well as the pharmacy soaps for our needs. Our favorites are Mrs. Meyers and Dr. Bronner (check out the peppermint scent for winter!).

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These are best for home use, since you’ll want a germ-fighting soap (here’s the one I’ve used on doctor’s recommendation) in the salon. Check out this article from Nail Magazine on why this is important.Once you’re done washing your hands (or other parts) it’s best to add some oil or cream within a few minutes. I’ve tried so many products over the years… Here are some of my favorite solutions:

  • An ointment for very dry skin, which will help lock in moisture. Just know that ointments can feel heavy and greasy, so I recommend applying just before bed and wearing PJs that aren’t your favorite.

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    This is also a great time to apply ointment to your hands and put on gloves that help contain the moisture.  I use Cara brand dermatological gloves; I keep these in my nightstand for this purpose, and have used them through 2 winter seasons. They’re great because you can throw them in the wash after several uses.

  • A cream for dry skin – Palmer’s brand is my favorite to use every day. This should feel really good on winter skin!
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    And for your face, a light moisturizer.  Here’s what I’m currently using. Because your facial skin is sensitive and can feel dry (mine does!) or even look dry. This lotion works great under foundation, too!

With this post I’m kicking off a new informational series of posts designed to promote a healthy and prosperous 2019 for everyone.  I hope you’ll come back for more health and wellness tips for you and your clients, and some reviews or best practices ideas for nails techs.

Happy holidays, and here’s to kicking off an amazing 2019!