Even better than the real thing

Nail enhancements have firmly moved into the mainstream now, with more and more clients realising that those previously scary systems 
are now perfect for making their natural nails stronger and more beautiful looking – and that you needn't go the whole hog with tips and 
nail art in order to enjoy acrylic, gel and hybrid systems. 

The emergence of long-lasting gel colour systems like Shellac and Gelish has opened the minds of clients to what a great nail salon can 
offer natural nails – and of course has started the conversation for clients who may have thought that beautiful natural-looking nails were 
never meant for them.

Creative Academy Educator Donna Gibson believes that clients are a lot more knowledgeable and more inclined to get their nails done now. “I think it's more regular now, it's almost more unusual to see a woman without her nails done! Being able to see things on the Internet and on YouTube has clients more likely to ask questions; therapists just need to make sure they are getting the correct information. 

“I think they're also starting to see that enhancements are not just for extra-long nails, but they can be used for the natural nail and to help bring on the natural nail, to improve the strength of the natural nail. For instance, if you have a client with a very bendy, flexible nail, it's going to bend and flex and not get the chance to grow past the free edge. A good overlay gives the nail the rigidity it needs to grow past the free 
edge and gain that length.”

Sweet Squared CND Education Ambassador Noreen O'Connor agrees that more and more clients are looking at enhancement systems as a viable option for strengthening and beautifying natural nails. “The last seven years have seen a huge surge in people heading into salons to get their nails done, which is great. CND Shellac is the perfect treatment for clients with healthy, natural nails that are looking for a longer-lasting 
colour than an at-home lacquer, but there are of course clients with more challenging nail types to cater for. 

“For clients who need a little more strength to ensure their manicure lasts, an enhancement overlay may be the perfect solution. Education is key here; make sure your clients know this is an option for them, talk to them about what would best suit their nail type and reassure them that 
the end result will have a natural – and beautiful! – appearance, as this might be a concern.” 

Enhancing the natural nail
Many clients worry that if they opt for an enhancement system, their natural nails will be destroyed forever. Again, it's vital for the therapist to know their concerns, to examine their natural nails thoroughly and to implement a care system that will boost the health of their nail as much as possible. 

Bio Sculpture's new Evo gel polish brand aims to enhance the nails with beautiful colour, but protecting the natural nail as much as possible at the same time. “No primers or bonders means that the nail remains healthier,” explains Sinead Ellison of Bio Sculpture Ireland. “We also use the innovative Evo Oxygenating Base, which is permeable, allowing air and water vapour to move freely to and from the nail plate, preventing dehydration and softening of the keratin that may damage the natural nail.”

Bio Sculpture's original gel system is also kind to the natural nail, as there is no abrasive preparation, priming or dehydration as a first step, ensuring no damage is sustained from the outset. Varied flexibility finishing gels are also available to correct a full range of problem nails 
including soft or damaged nails – making this the perfect system for treating clients' natural nail issues.

Julie-Anne Larivière, Salon System's nail design expert, says that clients are actively looking for solutions that will protect the natural nail – both when applying enhancements and in between treatments. “People are more and more aware of the natural nail health so they always tend to choose an option that will be kinder and more natural for their nails. I currently love using the GELLUX Recovery + Base Coat and GELLUX 
Reconstruct Base Coat, as they are great to keep the natural nails strong and healthy.

“My clients are always really careful about protecting their nails and I advise them to use oil daily to keep their nails at their best. Knowing 
your client's needs and being able to support them in this way is a great way to upsell.

”When it comes to choosing an enhancement system, Noreen advises doing your research and not to be fooled by price. “The gap between budget brands and high quality professional brands seems to be growing, and there are more and more nail brands popping up with price points that appear very attractive to professionals in the industry. Low quality products often require harsh preparation of the natural nail, which can lead to service breakdown and the likelihood of brittle and  yellow nails over time. Nail professionals must remember that it takes time to correct these problems for clients, so it's more important than 
ever – and more cost effective in the long run – to choose a high-quality brand that you can rely on.

“With CND Enhancements, nails only need to be lightly buffed with a 240-grit file to achieve a great bond between the product and the natural nail. CND's Retention+ Liquid and Powder system boasts a keratin bonding, cross-linking monomer that gives superior adhesion for lift  prone clients. These benefits allow your clients to leave the salon with nails that look beautiful, last longer and have less service breakdown 
in-between appointments, all whilst maintaining the health and integrity of the natural nail!” 

Training is key
Education is key when it comes to overlays and enhancements, both for the nail technician and the client. Noreen would like more emphasis put 
on basic training for the technician, to ensure that the client gets excellent enhancements that look natural and perform well.

“Nail brands tend to have new colours, finishes or nail art trends as their main focus, simply because these are the areas that pique the interest of the nail professional the most,” she says. “I would love to see greater emphasis on creating enhancements that look super natural – enhancements that are so flawless they simply look like beautiful natural nails! 

“I see so many stunning nail designs done on enhancements that are only half finished and it really takes away from the beauty of what has 
been created. The devil is in the detail and whilst it may not be the most fun topic, it makes the biggest difference to the overall result that you 
can achieve for clients.”

The future of nail enhancements
It's true to say that nail enhancement systems have been developed and perfected over the years, and new innovations are continually 
emerging. Donna is the educator for Creative Academy, the Irish distributors of Gelish PolyGel, which revolutionised the enhancement industry when it was launched a year ago. “PolyGel is the most innovative product to hit the industry in recent years as there's really nothing like it,” says Donna. “It's slap-bang in the middle of a hard gel and an acrylic and works perfectly as an overlay as it's more flexible and featherlight on the natural nail. It doesn't have that heavy feeling that hard acrylics and gels tend to have. There's also no monomer and no airborne dust, so the client is less likely to experience an allergic reaction or skin irritation.”

Donna says that clients are becoming more knowledgeable about overlays and enhancements, and there's real demand for systems that are kind to the natural nail and even boost their strength and length. “I've found that clients want to protect the integrity of the natural nail as much as possible. The fact that PolyGel is free from monomer means that it is kinder to your skin and your nails, and the flexibility means there's less wear and tear on the natural nail when it's used as an overlay.”

PolyGel is most definitely a game changer, but what else could we look for in the future? Noreen believes that technology will continue to evolve and improve systems for both technician and client – and boost a busy beauty business. “I think in today's fast-paced world, systems that require less time to apply and maintain will rule,” she says. “In salons, time equals money, and particularly when starting out with this service the treatment time can be lengthy. Due to this, I can see an emphasis on enhancement education, equipping techs with the key skills required to deliver exceptional enhancements within a reasonable timescale, and making sure it's not daunting for new nail professionals!”

Gel polish systems like Shellac and Gelish continue to lead the way in salons across the country, and continually add new colours to suit the season (turn to our Nail News pages for the latest collections), but they're by no means the only options for clients who want to enhance their natural nail with overlays and gels. Here are just a few of the latest advances in the industry.

Evo from Bio Sculpture is a new gel polish range that offers 
a flexible and strong result. It is used in association with the 
Evo Oxygenating Base, which allows air and water vapour 
move freely to and from the nail plate, preventing damage to 
the natural nail through the dehydration and softening of the 
keratin. It also works great on nails and is easily removed in just 
a few minutes. Plus it's free from formaldehyde, formaldehyde 
resin, DBP, toluene and camphor.
Bio Sculpture: 01 850 0005

OPI Axxium Gel System is for those who 
prefer a brush-on application. Axxium 
offers a remarkable ease of application 
and predictable results, giving clients the 
beautiful, lightweight enhancements they 
want while being a pleasure for technicians 
to work with.
Hennessy Hair & Beauty: 021 434 3436

Gelish PolyGel was the big news in 2017, and continues 
to win over new clients thanks to its innovative formula. 
PolyGel combines the best qualities of both liquid & 
powder acrylics and LED hard gels to deliver strong, 
flexible, featherlight nails. The odour-free formula contains 
no monomer and no airbourne dust. It is 23% lighter than 
acrylics and 16% lighter than traditional hard gels, creating 
the most natural feeling nails with no sacrifice to durability. 
Supreme adhesion means no lifting or separation during 
wear. Plus, nail techs have unlimited play time because the 
all-in-one PolyGel formula doesn't set until it is cured.
Creative Academy: 01 4295122

CND Retention+ Sculpting Liquid and Powders give 
nail professionals the power to create nails that make a 
real style statement. Retention+ creates enhancements 
with superior adhesion to the natural nail with a 
flawless finish and a staying power beyond traditional 
acrylic systems. The liquid in particular is ideal for 
using on clients with nails that are prone to lifting.
Sweet Squared: 01 408 9191

OPI Absolute Precision Liquid and Powders is part of 
the OPI Liquid and Powders Collection that marries 
the benefits of both systems. The resulting hybrid is an 
OPI powder that absorbs monomer more quickly and 
efficiently. The Small OPI Absolute Precision Liquid and 
Powders gives you flexibility to work wetter for fills and 
overlays, and dryer for free edge extensions, without 
sacrificing application performance, working time of a 
fast-set acrylic or the adhesion, strength, and durability 
of a standard set acrylic.
Hennessy Hair & Beauty: 021 434 3436