Here are some common questions and answers about our Nail Courses, Nail Enhancements and Nail Products. If you have a question which is not listed, please click the "Free Callback" button at the top of your screen and one of our experienced and friendly staff will call you right back.
IF you would rather phone us, our number is 01440 820 999 and our lines are open Mon – Fri 9am-6pm, or click hereto email your question.
Q. What's best to learn first, Gel or Acrylic?
A. They both produce great looking nails. This is what you should consider: Acrylics have been around the longest, so generally there are more customers for Acrylic Nails than Gels. However if there is a good Gel Tech in an area, then there will be more Gel customers in that area. Gel is slightly easier to learn than Acrylic because you do not have to mix powder and liquid, but many Techs say Acrylic is more satisfying to work with. Acrylics have a smell that you (or your family) may not like, Gels are odourless.
Q. How long does it take to do one of your courses?
A. Most of our students complete the course in about 12 weeks, working 5 hours a week. It depends upon how many hours you can put in. If you can do 3 or 4 hours a day you will complete the course in a couple of weeks. There is no time limit, we have had students complete the course in one week and others have taken 9 months.
Q. I've seen a second hand course on Ebay. Will I get a certificate if I buy the course?
A. No, unless you have arranged transfer of the course in advance. We will only assess work, and issue certificates sent to us by the original purchaser of the course unless agreed by us in advance. Under some circumstances it is possible to transfer a course, for example an unused course to another family member. This is within the family group; sister, mother, daughter. If the retiring student and new students are not at the same address we would seek clarification of the relationship, but please phone us to arrange this first.
If you buy a second hand course from ebay, for example, you will have to purchase the assessment for that course separately for which there is a charge of 97 pounds. This buys you: telephone support, special prices on any additional Nail Trainer nails and extension tips you might need, assessment of your work, issue of re-take cards, products and re-assessment if you fail, issue of your certificate and membership of 'Aspire' when you pass. Exclusions apply - Maintenance and Manicure and Pedicure courses.
We strongly advise you to call us first before buying a second hand course as many will have used, out of date, or missing items, some may have payments outstanding under our 'pay as you learn' scheme. You may well end up spending more to get a complete course than if you had bought a brand new course.
Q. Is the certificate I get recognised?
A. Yes. Essential Nails is a member of the following professional bodies:
Habia ( The government recognised standards setting body for hair, beauty and body art & nails).
British Learning Association.
Guild of professional Beauty Therapists.
Professional Beauty Direct.
Forum Distance E-Learning (Europe)
Our certification is nationally recognised within the nail industry. On completion of the courses and on passing, you would have qualified as a Nail Technician in the system that you have chosen. The certification gained will allow you to obtain your insurance and work on human hands whether you decide to work from home, be mobile or work in a salon.
Q: Is there a time limit to complete a course?
A: No. We have had students complete the course in a couple of weeks, others take 9 months. Everybody has a hard time dedicating time to themselves. Family, events, duties, etc. always seem to interrupt our best intentions, don't they? But I in all honesty, those who start and finish a complete card within 3-6 weeks tend to score much higher because the focus of learning is less likely to be broken. Only when you are happy with the results of your nails (both visually and technically) and you think that people will be willing to pay their hard earned money for them, should you submit your work for assessment. If your not happy with your standard, get yourself some more Nail Trainer nails and keep practicing. Then redo the cards, focusing on quality. However, please note that the shelf life of some products is limited to 6-8 months.
Q: When I get my course, what should I do first?
A: 1. Check the contents to ensure every item is there.
2. Read the introductory letter.
3. Watch the instructional DVD in its entirety at least once.
This is to familiarise yourself with the structure of the course. Spending time watching the DVD first will be invaluable to you once you start the practical work. The worst thing you can do try to make a nail first (like you've seen in a salon). You'll be making mistakes straight away and may end up ruining the tools or products.
Q: Is it necessary to read the entire textbook in the course
A: Yes! You will not be able to answer some of the test questions unless you have. The book we include in each course is your nail "bible". Since Information is power, charge your brain with this wonderful knowledge!
Q: Is spending only 1 hour per night practising going to be enough?
A: Yes. One of the major benefits of an Essential Nails course is the flexibility. You can work whenever you want to for how ever long you want too. Consistency in repetition is the key. So as long as you're determined to sit down and focus on the course on a regular basis whether that is every night, twice or three times a week you will be fine.
Q: The card states that I need to save nail 1 and 10, then nail 2 and 9 and so on to complete the Essential Techniques card, and every tenth set on the Whole Hand practice card. Do I have to do that even if I think that they aren't good enough or I think that I can do better?
A: No. We want you to send in your best work for assessment. If you know you can do better, substitute a new nail on your card. You have received 100 assorted nails in your kit and you can purchase additional nails and tips at special prices so you can practice as much as you need to perfect your technique. The first progress card (Essential Techniques) can be completed with size 13 nails or the less demanding size number 6. I suggest that you put aside 30 nails and complete this card three times saving your last, (this should be your best) set on the card for assessment.
Q: I find that the hardest technique for me seems to be putting the tip on the natural nail without getting air bubbles. I have tried all amounts of adhesive and also the rocking motion but I am still getting air bubbles.
A: If your glue application to the tip's well is ample and rocking the tip does not cure the problem, then try putting glue on the tip well and a tiny drop on the nail where the air bubble appears. Apply firm pressure and be patient while allowing the glue to set. If you see a bubble under the tip well, quickly rock the tip slightly to remove the air pocket then hold in place until it sets. Make sure that you do not seesaw the tip on the free edge of the nail i.e. do not lift the tip up at the front as you lower the tip on to the nail at the back. Holding the wall of the tip well firmly over the free edge will stop air getting back under the tip. If you continue to get air bubbles with the number 13 nail, switch to the number 6 nail, youll find its easier.
Q: I have found that the primer that is in the kit has broken some of the practice nails so is it OK to stop using it?
A: No. Please do not skip this step! It is a vital part of the preparation routine. Without it, you will definitely experience massive problems when working on clients. The reason the nail trainer nails are cracking is you are using too much. Literally 1/2 drop can do 5 NOTE: For training purposes, the primer contained in the Essential Nails course is not the same intensity as the full-strength primer.
Q: I seem to have difficulties in blending the tip wells properly, without lines. Any advice?
A: When you are filing down the seam line, Remember, just 4 or 5 strokes with the coarse side of your black file to take down the bulk, and then switch to the finer side to blend. If you remove too much with the coarse side, there's no going back to fix it...either it will break away while you are working or shortly thereafter. In the DVD everything is covered in detail, so please duplicate every step exactly. Change one thing, and you're not guaranteed the same results.
Q: Do I have to use the same filing routine as in the DVD?
A: You do if you expect to get the consistent results! The file grips, finger positions and the sequence that you file as shown on the DVD will produce consistent high quality nail shapes. Learn them so they become automatic and you will automatically produce great nails, time after time.
Q: What do I do with the maintenance nail? (The long one with the crack and chip in it.)
A: This is the number 18 nail and it simulates an extension with two-week re-growth. You need to remove the outgrown overlay before applying a tip and overlay. To do this, file down the bulk of the crown (top of the nail) to a normal height. File it until smooth. Then file down the free edge of the nail to the length of a natural nail bed (so it looks like a number 13). Smooth out the entire surface of the nail including the cuticle area and sides. Using the coarse side of your file will make this job a lot easier and faster. Smooth over the entire nail with the medium side of your file to finish. Then tip it, blend it, overlay it, file/buff, and polish it just like the others. Remember part of your mission is to make all the nails look as similar to each other as you possibly can! Consistency is part of the criteria we are looking for when we assess your nails.
Q: Why is it important that the nail's crown be built up thicker? And is this called the apex?
A: Yes this is the apex. The centre of the nail is where the nail gains its strength and durability. If the overlay is thin at the crown the nail will break easily. Aim for the crown to be 1mm thick, but no more!
Q: What is the total target time for one hand?
A: Do not worry about speed yet! The reason is that you should focus more on quality than quantity right now as you are still learning. So although you should make note of the time, assessors would much rather you apply and blend the tip properly and it take you 5 full minutes for one nail, than do it in a hurry and mess it all up because your trying to do it in under 2 minutes. Assessors will not deduct points off for time. Once you have mastered the techniques successfully, you can then aim for 25-35 minutes for each hand, as a good salon time.
Q: Everyone knows how to polish nails so why is this part of the course?
A: Not everyone knows how to polish nails professionally. Picture-perfect polishing techniques take practice. Ensure there is absolutely no polish on the cuticles, but it is as close to the cuticles as can be (otherwise, it looks like the client needs a fill.). The polish must cover both sidewalls completely. The best way to polish is to anchor your hand (or at least your pinkie) against something whilst bracing your hand and arm on the table, for stability. Watch the polishing section of the video and duplicate exactly what you see. Please use only the polish that is included in your course.
Q: What do I do if I run out of any of the products in the course?
A: Within your course you will receive tools and enough product to complete the course work required. But if you would like to purchase anything from our product range you are very welcome, call one of our advisors on 01 440 820 999 or browse our shop at www.essentialnails.com and order on-line. You will have received 100 refit nails and extension tips in your course. To complete your course you may need another 300 of each. We supply these to you at a special low price while you are studying. As you use up each pack, please phone us on 01440 820 999 to get more supplies.
Q: How long does it take to get my results back once I've sent them to Essential Nails?
A: About two weeks. Our assessors are very thorough and gives each submission individual attention. We realize the number of hours students have dedicated to completing the course so we do not want to discredit their loyalty and commitment to the course with a quick assessment. Including mailing time please allow up to two weeks for marking and returning your work. REQUEST: Because the nail submissions are slotted into holes in the cards, it would be greatly appreciated if you could tape the backs of the nails down to the card. Simply turn the card over, with the nails intact, and lay down strips of tape, then press down between each one to secure them. This will protect your nails from coming out of the cards during the mailing routines. Thanks!
Q: I thought my nails looked good. Why did I not pass the course?
A: The reasons why you have not passed will be stated in the detailed report returned to you with your nails. If you find our scoring severe and critical, it is because we set our standards high and want you to be the best nail technician you can be. Do more practice nails, eliminating the errors outlined on your assessment. Once you feel you've achieved an honourable standard (that clients would be willing to pay you their hard-earned money for) resubmit your nails on the new assessment cards that were sent to you with returned work. Our assessors will be happy to reassess your work. Receiving a certification from Essential Nails is not a CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE... it is a CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT which is much more highly regarded. You'll thank us in the end, and your clients will too!
Q: Once I have my certificate am I free to perform services for "REAL" people?
A: Yes. But why not order the Maintaining Nail Extension Course upon completion of your nail extension course, you must know how to maintain clients nails competently when they return to you in 2-3 weeks time. The course will give tips and techniques to enable you to confidently deal with damaged nail extensions. The course covers all three systems (Acrylic, Gel and Fibreglass), the recommended removal procedures of each, and much more!
Q: Once I have passed the course, how do I advertise my services?
A: You must advertise. Grab any opportunity but keep an eye on costs. Talk to your local newspaper, if you've just qualified, or opening a salon or providing you first treatment, tell them. If you have a story, they will print it (mum at home, learning a new trade and being successful type stories appear regularly)., this will get you massive, instant exposure for free. Advertise on your car and in you window - it's free. But the best advertisement you can get is free. It's "word-of-mouth" (your customers talking to their friends about how pleased they are with the fantastic looking nail extensions that YOU provided them!) Pass out your business cards anywhere and everywhere and always give 3 to every client for referrals. You may want to encourage a referral program; giving the referrer a free service once they've sent you three new clients. This will take some organising on your part, but the effort is well worth it. You'll have your appointment book filled in no time.
One of my favourite mottos:"Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise!"
(Quip from Ted Turner, CEO Turner Broadcasting)
Q: Do I strictly have to apply only 3 layers of gel when building the nail?
A: No, there is no rule for it. In general, 3 layers will be applied but as beginners often have to correct the still uneven surface by filing an extra layer of Gel might be advised.
Q. My Acrylic Brush has gone hard, what's the best way to clean it?
If you're working with a natural hair brush (kolinsky), and it's a general clean, then it's best to use some clean monomer in a ceramic dish and paddle the brush on the bottom of the dish to flex and soften the acrylic.
If the brush has hardened product that can't be removed, you should soak it over night.
Using monomer is best because specialized brush cleaners often use acetone as the main ingredient, and if you use it on a natural hair brush it can dehydrate the hair and make it fan out. But in extreme cases where monomer won't remove the acrylic, brush cleaners or acetone should be used.
If the brush does lose its shape, put liquid soap on it to reshape it and then let it sit for 48 hours. After that, rinse the brush and soak it in monomer again for at least two hours. The soap kind of works like a conditioner for the bristles; it helps bring the bristles back to their original shape.
Q: I've heard that using a UV lamp speeds up polish drying times. Is this true?
A. Yes using a UV lamp will speed up the drying time for most nail polishes.
For most "standard" nail polishes it's the evaporation of the solvents that causes the polish to dry, and this happens faster when its warm. So it's the heat produced by the lamp that makes the polish dry quicker, not the fact that the lamp is UV. You will get a similar effect from any heat source, such as a 100w lightbulb.
The other thing that speeds up the drying time is any movement of air over the polish; that's why waving your hands about helps. So a cheap polish dryer which has a little fan that blows air across the nails can have the drying time.
Watch out for the new Gel based polishes; they ONLY cure under UV light, and are becoming very popular, if you apply these and you don't have a UV lamp then you'll be waving your hands around for a very long time!
Q: Theres some water vapour in my airgun, is there anyway to stop it?
A: There are lots of ways professions get rid of air when using a compressor and airgun. We have made a document which out lines the best way to reduce water vapour in your compressors, you can get the document here. The document is in pdf and requires the free adobe pdf viewer.
If you would like more information on how to chose a nail course please click here.
Q: MMA and EMA. What's the problem?
A: You should not be using nail products that contain MMA. EMA is used in all reputable brands including Dream.
More information; MMA stands for Methyl MethAcrylate. It is a monomer and has been used in some nail products sold over the last few years. It is a substance that has been banned in some states in the USA since the mid 1970's. No professional, branded nail products sold today will contain MMA.
EMA stands for Ethyl Methacrylate and this product is used in all the reputable nail Acrylic systems on the market today. The product has had extensive research and has been declared safe for nail enhancement applications.
What happens if I use a product containing MMA?
MMA can cause severe allergic reactions and it's very easy for clients to become sensitised to it. It requires the natural nail to be heavily "keyed" to adhere, but once it does stick, it forms an extremely strong and hard bond to the natural nail. So strong, in fact, that if a client were to accidentally catch a nail, there is a good chance that the natural nail will be ripped from the bed rather than the enhancement detaching.
Of course, this is one reason why unscrupulous Nail Techs use it; it's easier (even with a poor preparation and technique) to ensure the nail enhancements do not lift and do not come off easily; MMA really, really sticks! It's also cheap. It's sold on the black market in industrial volumes, in un-marked, un-branded containers.
All Nail Techs should remember that good nail enhancements are DESIGNED to come off either soaking or gently filing but especially if a nail is snagged. It's better to lose the extension, than risk permanent damage to the natural nail.
Most damage caused to the natural nail is due to the aggressive filing (usually with a drill) by unscrupulous Nail Techs trying to remove or rebalance MMA based products previously applied to the nail.
How can I make sure the products I use do not contain MMA?
It's quite simple. No reputable nail company will sell you nail products containing MMA. Buy branded products from a reputable supplier. Avoid nail products being sold in bulk, or in unlabelled containers, or from someone in a pub or out of the back of a van.
Q: Can the fumes from Acrylic nail products harm the unborn baby?
A: The short answer is that there is no evidence at the present time, to confirm that working with nail product while pregnant, can cause harm to the developing baby.
More information; This is a natural concern for any woman considering whether to learn Acrylic nails or have Acrylic nails applied while pregnant. The first thing to understand is that there is a risk associated with everything that you do; there is a risk of an accident when driving a car, or traveling on a train or by aeroplane. The risks are small, so most people accept the risk and drive or fly. Likewise there is risks from all sorts of chemicals that are in use daily around the house or you place of work, cleaning products, bleaches even some soaps and detergents can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
So are the chemicals used in Acrylic nail products safe? No one can say that they are 100% safe, but they are as safe, or safer, in terms of risk, when compared to those activities outlined above. There is no evidence at the present time, to confirm that working with nail product while pregnant, can cause harm to the developing baby. The only known danger from nail products is from the possible exposure to solvent vapours, more commonly called (incorrectly) "fumes".
To expand a little, let's see what Doug Shoon has to say. Doug is from Creative Nail Design in the USA, and is the foremost authority on Nail Product chemistry:
Could the fumes form Acrylic liquid harm an unborn baby?
This is a very common concern for nail techs. The smell (or odour) you are referring to is from a substance called ethyl methacrylate or EMA. It is the major monomer used in most odour based nail enhancements.
First, the correct technical terms;
Unless your salon is next to a welding or car repair shop, you probably have no fumes around. Fumes are a smoke which contains small particles, i.e. welding fumes, car exhaust fumes or bonfire or cigarette smoke. In the salon, we have vapours. Vapours are created when liquids evaporate.
Now, to answer your question; EMA is one of the most studied monomers in world. It is used in thousands of applications and by hundreds of different industries, including the nail industry. Over the last twenty years there have been many dozens of scientific studies performed on this monomer. Every one of these studies were evaluated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board (CIR), a group of world leading medical experts in cosmetic ingredient safety. EMA has been exhaustively reviewed TWICE by this prestigious board, during the last seven years.
In the first review, the CIR expert panel determined that EMA was safe as used by professional nail technicians. During the second review, the CIR determined that EMA was even safer than originally thought. They now believe EMA is SO SAFE, it can be used in retail nail products, as well. John Bailey (the Director of the FDA's Color and Cosmetic Division) sits on the CIR expert panel. Eric Schwartz from OPI and I spoke with him personally and asked him what he thought of the CIR ruling. He absolutely agrees the scientific information shows that EMA is safe for use on fingernails. To reach this conclusion, the CIR considered the effect of long term inhalation and skin contact. They looked at both scientific studies, as well as, medical reports and studies done on workers in factories that make and use EMA.
I completely agree with the FDA and CIR. In my opinion, there is no doubt that EMA is safe for use by nail techs. BTW: the CIR also determined there is no evidence that EMA can affect or harm unborn babies. The strange odour of the substance concerns people and makes them fearful. But odour has nothing to do with safety. Some very dangerous chemicals have no odour or even smell sweet and wonderful. For example, the vast majority of cosmetic related allergic reactions are caused by fragrances in products. This is why it is foolish to assume that
odourless or odour free = safe. It does NOT!
Of course, you should still take care and work safely. Working safely is important no matter what your profession. Nail techs should make sure they use proper ventilation to control both dusts and vapours. Nothing in the world is 100% safe. Millions have died from over exposure to water. Even so, we know that water can be used safely. The same is true for nail enhancement products.
Thanks to Doug Shoon and Creative Nail Design for the analysis above.
If you still have concerns then always speak to your GP or Midwife.
Q: Can the UV light used to cure Gels cause skin cancer?
A: Very unlikely. There has only been two cases in the whole world where a melanoma found on a client hand might be attributable to use of a UV nail lamp. Even in these two cases it could have been due to exposure to the sun, or to UV from use of a sun bed.
Read on if you want to assess the risks for your self;
There have been reports in the press recently regarding concerns that the use of UV lamps to cure nail Gels may cause skin cancer.
This is a direct spin-off from the scares to do with high and continued use of UV sun beds for tanning, and in our opinion there is a negligible risk of any cancer being caused by use of UV lamps in the application of UV Gels.
Let's look at the relevant risks; To achieve an all over lasting tan, requires you to lay in a high power bed, exposing the maximum amount of skin to UV light for hours at a time, with the treatment repeated regularly. Probably 4 times a week for 15 minutes, that's an hour a week, or 50 hours a year. The power of the tubes fitted to these beds are in the region off 100watts, and there can be up to 30 of these tubes in each bed. That's 3,000 watts of UV light, and it's used to deliberately turn your skin brown, by stimulating the skins response to harmful radiation from the Sun. Yes there is a risk that you will get skin cancer, just in the same way that there is a risk from getting it from being exposed to strong sunlight without protection.
Now let's look at the use of UV light for nails; the power of lamps.
The power of these lamps is between 9 and 30 watts. That's between 0.3% and 1% of the power compared to a sun bed.
Curing time; The curing time is between 4 and 12 minutes (to cure 2 lays using a standard lamp). Say you have this done every two weeks, that's 2 to 6 hours a year. That's about 5 to 10% the time on a sun bed.
Skin exposure. You are only exposing your fingers and a part of your hand, and that as a percentage of skin exposed is about 5% of that compared with a sun bed.
So what is the risk of getting skin cancer when using a UV nail lamp as opposed to getting a tan on a sun bed, or worse going on holiday in the sun for two weeks?
It's about (0.01 x 0.075 x 0.05 =) 0.0000375%, or a very, very tiny chance indeed.
Another way of thinking about it, is that having your nails done is the equivalent of spending an extra 20 seconds a day with your hands in sunlight.
If you are really worried you could wear fingerless gloves whilst having your nails cured, or apply some sun block on your hands.