Sunday, 3 July 2011

STEP-BY-STEP GEL NAIL LESSONS - Lesson #7) Pink and Whites with Gel

STEP-BY-STEP GEL NAIL LESSONS - Lesson #7) Pink and Whites with Gel
See the full-set section above for info about building the full-set as pink and whites. The following info is in regards to maintaining P & W's after the initial full-set.

Honestly, it took me 2 years to perfect the Pink And White backfill to the point that it took me the same amount of time as a "regular" fill, and another full year until it finally took LESS time (because of the "no polishing")than a "regular" fill. To this day I am still refining and perfecting my Pink and White backfill technique. By the way, a noteworthy point of interest: Pink and Whites do NOT have to be PINK. Clear is just fine! The pink comes from their nail bed sufficiently in most cases. Plus, the outgrowth is much less noticeable with clear than with pink! Reserve the pink for nail biters or others with ‘ugly’ nail beds.

I've been doing nails about 12+ some years now, and started doing P & W's on a regular basis 6 years ago.... before that I would give-up on them because of all the extra time it took.... but like any other procedure or skill in our industry, I found that in time and PRACTICE it finally came to me. Now I purposefully schedule my book so that my last appt before I leave is a P&W so that I can look forward to no polish drying time and so leaving the salon 10-15 minutes sooner!

Personally, I used to really like the Atwood Industries backfill bit designed by Lisa Comfort (it cuts a really nice trench, IMO). But recently have gone back to just my normal barrel bit and removing most of the free edge white gel to the proper thickness to accommodate the new gel to be applied. Trying to match the color of the ‘old’ white to the new white is very difficult, so you end up recovering the whole free edge anyway to get even coverage with no shadows or color disparity. I am inclined to change my mind on these issues regularly though (I’m still learning and changing), that’s why I offer both opinions; my current one and my previous one. As for what my future opinion will be? Stay tuned to my message boards and newsletters for that info as it develops over time. There is no ONE right answer to many technical nail questions. Sure, there are plenty of wrong answers, but there are also many acceptable and ‘right’ right answers. Use your own best judgment and choose what works best for you, and be open to change :)

Back to the topic at hand: YES, you do need to file off about 1/2 (sometimes more!) of the old white from the FE to re-cover with the new white (at the new smile-line and out over the FE), in order to get nice, even white colorant on your FE (free-edge), and to prevent to FE from getting too thick after multiple fills.

What product line you use may or MAY NOT contribute to your speed and skill level, while I do have some personal recommendations in that area that I feel are relevant (everything I personally use based on my years of experience is what I sell in my store at ) -- it’s not really important for this discussion, but I do have some general generic tips that you may or may not already know, so here goes..... (see also the regular fill steps above for more info)

Here are my over-simplified (or maybe not so over-simplified? Maybe the better description is "short version".... as there is so much more I could address in this section!) This is an area that is covered in depth in the educational gel nail video tapes I produce and sell in my online store at (specifically: Live Lecture, Gel Basics, In The Salon, and Tampa Live are the ‘basic’ building blocks of any gel nail education; beginning or advanced).

Pink & White back-fill steps

1) Regular prep... wash, sanitize, remove polish, push back cuticles.....

2) Shorten nails (I use a one-cut tip slicer, others use a drill or by hand), whatever your usual and customary method.

3) Rebalance the nail. By hand-file or by drill, move back the arches, take down thickness at the FE (free-edge), remove about 1/2 the white there, allowing for more white application, so it doesn't get too thick! (Sometimes this CAN mean removing almost all of the old white, so a drill is most helpful!) Bevel the new FE.

4) Blend the cuticle and side-wall areas.

5) Trench the new smile line with the back-fill or FM (French Manicure) bit of your choice. Trench from where the new smile line should be to where it used to be, maybe a bit more. OR file by hand or with a regular drill bit; reduce the thickness of the entire FE, more than in a regular fill to accommodate the additional white gel application.

6) Re-examine nails for any other re-adjustments necessary, but don't drive yourself nuts!

7) Do all your usual pre-product application stuff.... dusting, pre-primers or de-hydrants or pH balancers, primers, etc! (See acrylic nails and gel nails full-set lessons for more info on primers)

8) Apply your white Free Edge (FE).* Use the "tail technique" (see lessons above) to "draw" your new smile line, either right onto the nail at the new smile line, or INTO the trench you drilled. Now gently pull the gel out from the smile line over the FE. (See French Manicure polish steps in Hints & Tips page for more a bout "drawing" the perfect smile line. For crisper smile lines with gel, set nails up one at a time (5 to 10 seconds to set), alternating hands, then cure the entire hand. *For more on gel smile lines see my message boards at and . (The white gel I like best for this procedure is from Light Elegance, see my links page for info.)

9) Now, continue with your normal fill..... Apply I thin coat of gel to the nail bed, from cuticle up to smile line, but not on the white FE yet, and cure. Apply second coat as per your usual steps... float a coat over the entire nail (including the white FE now) and add arches as necessary for re-balance etc, and cure.

10) Cleanse tacky dispersion layer with cleanser or alcohol as usual. If nails are PERFECT (hopefully! But this takes time and practice!) then send client to wash and you are done! If not perfect, then continue with your usual
finishing work, (see previous lessons for these steps if needed) which should be VERY minimal if you sculpted well to begin with. Blend cuticle area gently, check side-walls and FE. Now contour top ONLY as needed, if at all! (Strive for no contouring to reduce lifting later, sculpt with your brush, not your file.) Buff as per your usual procedures, then 3 or 4 way buff to a high-gloss shine or apply a finisher or gloss gel , cure, then cleanse, or simply apply a clear or translucent French manicure topcoat color.

11) Send the client to wash (yes, even if you're not polishing, removal of chemical residues is critical to help prevent long-term client sensitization!).... take your payment, book her next appointment, and NOW you're all done.

Remember the "100 Full-Set Rule*" and practice, Practice, PRACTICE! (See ‘Hints & Tips’ page from main menu here at

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