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Inside track on how to sculpt nails


Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Mastering the art of nail sculpting involves choosing the correct nail form and placing it accurately, as well as appropriate brush work and filing.


Katie Barnes, award-winning nail tech and owner of the Katie Barnes Tool Range & Education, likens nail sculpting to building a house or laying floorboards – if these have any errors then everything that goes on top will also have flaws. “While it can seem time-consuming spending longer perfecting the form fit, and creating the necessary adjustments, it will result in a better application and reduce time spent on application and filing,” she adds.


Some nail forms aren’t suitable for all shapes. Barnes continues: “I recommend selecting a form suitable for square shapes, because this can be made into an almond, but a form suitable for almond or stiletto shapes is not suitable for a square form fit.”


She advises that nail techs always check the side view and positioning when they fit the form. “You need to measure against the finger and not the natural nail side wall. Fingers are often crooked, so it is important to only use the end finger joint to measure this. By lining up the form at the perfect angle with this part of the finger, it will automatically create a corrected natural side wall. While the upper arch changes on different shapes, all side walls must come out straight.”


There should be no gaps between the nail and free edge. Removing the free edge can make it easier to apply your nail form correctly. No creases or dents must appear in the form.


According to Barnes, product should be applied as though you are not going to file and techs should not apply too much product. “You should sculpt mainly with your brush to ensure the product is where it needs to be and is well adhered to the natural nail.”


Some areas on an enhancement require more product, such as the apex, and others less, such as the free edge. The trick to sculpting with your brush is mastering your mix ratio and knowing exactly when to and when not to be moving your product.


Perfect your upper arch and apex placement as it provides support and reinforces the stress area. Final refinement can be achieved by filing with a fine grit such as 240 and with a light pressure to preserve the integrity of the acrylic.

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