Nail Problems & Solutions

By Jan Nordstrom-Arnold, Co-Founder, CND

The objective of every service is to find the right custom service for every client’s need. The right service involves an analysis of the natural nail type, the client’s lifestyle and desired maintenance schedule, and then matching that need to the wide range of mediums we’re lucky to have in our toolbox. In achieving this perfect match, we’re offering the client value for their time and investment. With due diligence up front, service breakdown is prevented, and nails are beautifully protected and cared for over time.

If service breakdown happens, it can lead to nail damage, which professionals are paid to prevent. Let’s review what breakdown can look like and how to prevent it.


  • If the service isn’t correctly matched to your guests’ needs, or if the natural nail plate is not properly prepared, the service could separate from the nail plate around the perimeter of the nail or even in the middle of the nail, which is known as center pocket lifting (CPL). When this separation takes place, the coating can take a few top layers of keratin with it, causing a weakened substrate and possibly lead to nail damage.

    Lifting is a result of improper adhesion of the coating to the nail plate. The nail is made up of porous layers of keratin, with spaces and voids between the layers. This creates a dynamic surface that expands and contracts with temperature changes, humidity levels, and water absorption.



    The first step to managing this ever-changing surface is through proper nail preparation. Removing oil, moisture, and pathogens from the nail prior to service application will clear the way for attraction between the coating and the keratin. This means removal of true cuticle around the folds. You can remove surface oils and shine, if needed, with a light 240-grit buffer. To dehydrate the nail plate, use a nail cleanser containing acetone; it’s a great temporary dehydrator that removes moisture for about 30 minutes, the perfect window of time to lay down the coating.  

    Next is to find that right coating matched to the client's need for the ultimate professional recommendation. Today, there is a wide range of coating mediums that come in every level of flexibility and hardness. In determining the best match, the general rule is to match soft nails with hard, tough coatings and hard nails with soft, flexible coatings for the right durability and balance.

    The recommended coating options can range from a weekly polish for 7-day wear and bi-weekly Gel Polish for strong nails; 3+ weeks of wear with Gel for challenged nails; and 3+ weeks of wear with Liquid & Powder for soft, weak nails. This recommendation should be based on an analysis of each client’s activity level, nail length, shape, and condition as well as personal style preferences.

Peeling, Chipping, and Breakage:

A broken nail can ruin anyone’s day. Having a cracked or full break of a nail can change the aesthetic of the hand and can even cause painful damage to the nail.


The situation must be prevented by selecting the correct service to nail type, as reviewed above, as well as excellent design of the coating and proper application of the service.  

Correct design ensures beautiful, healthy nails and lasting services. Correct structural balance of the service enhances the cosmetic appearance of the nail while building a structurally sound enhancement. When using Gel or Liquid &Powder, pay attention to the upper and lower arches, making sure they work together harmoniously. Thickness and thinness can co-exist on the same nail as part of integrated design. Some clients believe making the entire nail thicker makes it stronger, when in fact, paying attention to both thin and thickness in the right zone of the nail will lead to the greatest success. This means a thin application around the cuticle line and extension edge for resiliency and a thicker application at the stress point (the apex) for strength and toughness under impact.

Application of the service should be done with care, making sure to sculpt the product with the brush, not the file, to assure proper curing of the coating within 24 to 48 hours. Excessive filing before the molecules are fully formed can disrupt proper curing. It’s also important to keep the brush on the nail during sculpting without touching the skin, to avoid dragging oil and moisture onto the plate, which can prevent secure adhesion.

What can go wrong if the structure is built incorrectly?

  • Product too thick near the cuticle: Too much product in the cuticle area will create heaviness that can lead to lifting around the cuticle and sidewall areas.
  • Product too thick on the extension: Too much product in the extension area will lead to unnecessary stress area cracking under impact.
  • Product too thin at the extension area: Creating an enhancement that is too thin at the tip can lead to chipping and cracking. A well-designed nail is subtly fuller in the center for shock absorption and strength and tapered to thin edges for flexibility.
  • Product too thick overall: Too much product on an enhancement makes it vulnerable to lifting as it lacks flexibility to “give” under impact and can lead to nail plate damage due to its inability to flex and can pull layers of the nail plate with it under impact.

Nail professionals today have a full toolbox of coating options at every level of protection, enabling them to custom service every client’s need for long-term success. Practicing proper design and application technique will further guarantee longevity without breakdown.

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