University of Nails

Michelle Cordes Pugh~ The Nail Rogue

I have been a nail professional for 20 years, and have a Marketing degree from the University of Washington in Washington State, United States. I do a lot of things in the nail industry and I am pretty outspoken, so who knows what kinds of posts you will find here! The nickname "The Nail Rogue" came from the fact that I am truly independent... I do not accept sponsor funds, and any products reviewed here have either been PURCHASED by me or sent to me for my HONEST review. My vision is:

One global nail family, working together to improve the professional nail services industry, while fostering an industry culture of inclusion and affordable professional education. A rising tide lifts all boats!

The Nail Rogue Blog

  • 6 Apr 2017 3:46 PM | Michelle Pugh (Administrator)

    For the March/April issue of Beauty-Addicted Magazine in Italy, my column "Around the World" featured some details and information regarding dipping system nails. While the article is translated (carefully by the editor and myself) into Italian for print, the editor Francesca Torricelli has graciously allowed me to post the articles in English here for my people to enjoy!

    Dipping Systems: A Grand Return

    There is a “new” trend hitting the American nail market for nail enhancements- powder dipping systems. To be fair, there has been certain companies and salon segments that have been using these types of products for nearly 20 years. But there are some new manufacturers, new techniques, new products and new life for this type of salon service technique!

    What is a “dipping system”? At the most basic, it is some sort of a gel or resin with a fine acrylic powder added for strength, plus something to make it “cure”. It is a service designed to be used over tip extensions or on the natural nail; you can sculpt with this type of enhancement as an advanced technique. If the artist prefers to sculpt the extension edge, training classes are recommended. The product line up is very simple, which makes it inexpensive to stock, but it can get expensive to start out if you want to have many color options for your clients. Let us examine what types of dipping systems there are in the market, and what the advantages and disadvantages are of performing this type of enhancement service for your clients.

    Much like acrylic liquid and powder, the most basic and oldest of the dipping systems uses resin and activator as the base for the powder to combine with. For some products, this resin is a gel glue like consistency, while others it is a thinner viscosity like a traditional nail glue. This procedure is much like a fiberglass or silk nail, but instead of fabric mesh, the addition of the powder gives the enhancement strength. The resin, a cyanoacrylate, is brushed on the nail and then the nail is dipped into the powder. The powder combines with the resin, and then an activator is brushed on to cure the enhancement. After the activator step, the nail may be finish filed and completed in the same manner as any other enhancement.


    The newer generation of the dipping system products uses a UV cure base gel instead of the resin. With this system, the UV gel is brushed on the nail like a gel polish, and the powder is poured over the nail. The powder reacts with the oligomers in the gel, and then the nails are placed in a UV or LED lamp to cure for the designated amount of time. After the nails are properly cured, they also may be finish filed and completed as desired.


    The advantages to using a dipping system is that they are very fast to learn and very fast to apply once practiced. As I talked about in the article on acrylic in America, the speed of service can be a huge selling point for nail services in the United States and Canada, where we have a culture of fast! These systems also do not require much preparation to the natural nail, just a simple manicure and buffing to remove the shine from the nail before beginning application. The powders used for these systems are available in a wide range of colors, and some brands can also be used for traditional liquid and powder acrylic nails, increasing a nail technician's service offerings without too much additional product investment. They are virtually odor free (although do not confuse “odor” with “vapor”, but that will be a future topic!). Since the powder can be poured over the nail regardless of which type of system you use, it is easy to do beautiful ombre fades and custom colors, so your artistic ability for color is endless. The end result is a very thin nail that is reasonably strong for it’s thickness. Before you get too excited though, let’s examine the disadvantages.


    The disadvantages to dipping system enhancements are major ones however. The product MUST be used as a tip overlay or on a natural nail until advanced training can be acquired to learn sculpting techniques, and not all dipping system brands are able to create a strong sculptured free edge. The enhancements created with this product are not as hard as liquid and powder acrylic, and not as flexible as gel. There is some concern that dipping the nail into the common use powder is dangerous, if the nail artist chooses to dip instead of pour over with the powder. Finally, being cyanoacrylate based, there has been concern that the enhancement will not hold up well in water long term. As always, consult with product brand manufacturers to determine what they recommend for use, and follow the guidelines of the brand you select to use.


    One size does NOT fit all for enhancement techniques and products for nail technicians, so only the individual artist can determine if offering this system to clients would be the right fit for them and their desired clientele. In the next several issues, we will go through simple acrylic and dipping system nails in step-by-step demos. Knowledge is key to making an informed decision for your business!


    I hope that you found this helpful and enjoyable! The next issue will have a write up on nail service and color trends Around the World! Be sure to follow the University of Nails on Facebook @universityofnails. Until next time, Ciao!

  • 13 Feb 2017 3:00 PM | Michelle Pugh (Administrator)

    Welcome all to The Nail Rogue blog! It is a long and winding road, this thing called life, and now I finally have a home for my nail related blog! There will be SO MUCH to come in 2017, I can hardly stand it...

    While I find two dozen other things to write about, here is the text of the article I wrote for Beauty Addicted magazine from Rome, Italy. The original in italian can be viewed at Beauty-Addicted.it :)


    The question was asked of me "Why is acrylic so popular in America?" The following article is my answer:

    Culture. It defines who we are, what we do, and how we do it. The effect of culture on nails is no different. It can be seen in title: are you a nail technician, or nail artist? Manicurist or nail stylist? And it affects everything we do! Luckily, we are better connected around the world than ever before, which expands the beauty industry and our opportunities for knowledge. There are a few key cultural differences that are worth knowing to make your nail world so much bigger!

    In the United States, everything is fast. Fast food, fast banking, and fast beauty! Drive through coffee bars (shameful, I know!) and drive through pharmacies! Nothing is too sacred to not find a way to do faster. It's our culture. This means there is a large market for fast and convenient nails. And customers expect the fast and easy to be inexpensive too!

    This brings us to why acrylic is so much more popular in the United States as compared to Italy. It is important to remember as we discuss this that even gels are “acrylic”, they belong to the same chemical family. Acrylic as we say is a 2 part system of liquid monomer and polymer powder, whereas gel is monomers and oligomers. It has been said that gel is most accurately described as “premixed acrylic”. However, that premixing comes at a price!

    Even though traditional acrylic has a strong odor, it is very inexpensive to use, and many clients don't care if there is smell. French Manicure, whether the tip is white or another color, is still very popular here. There are salons on every street corner all over America that do a full set of acrylic nails, with white plastic tip and clear acrylic overlay, in 30-45 minutes. This is a technique that can be taught in the salon to new nail techs very quickly, and the customer may only pay $15 for a full set! (Approx €14)

    This is possible because acrylic liquid and powder can be purchased very inexpensively here. There is of course some brands that cost less and some that cost more, but is still less money than most gel. The “discount” salons here, as we call them, use liquid monomer that is $50 USD per GALLON (approximately €46 for nearly 4 liters of liquid monomer!) and by purchasing in quantity, can achieve a cost per service of under $1 of product cost on that $15 service. Some technicians do sculpted acrylic, which fell out of fashion for a time but has made a comeback, and use products that are 4-5 times the price of the products the discount salons use. These advanced technicians also charge 4-5 times as much to the client, making the price difference between their acrylic services and gel services very small. They get to choose which medium to use that will work best for the client. Our consumers want choices!

    Another factor to consider is acrylic is much more universal because of its hardness. While some clients are too rough on their nails for gel, acrylic will stay on their nail without breaking. I say everyone who can wear gel can wear acrylic, but not everyone who wears acrylic can wear gel. We tell clients “your nails are jewels, not tools!”, but they are too busy to listen! Acrylic was also made popular here by nail technicians as early as the mid-1970’s, where gel took until the early 1990’s to make its use widespread. So it has more history in our market. Many of our celebrities with long and bright nails wear acrylic also, and what the famous people have, the clients want!

    Acrylic has a few other differences that make it a choice for some nail artists to use. Polymer powder comes in many colors, allowing to make some very customized nails easily and quickly. There is no need for a UV lamp, so no heat spike while curing and expensive lamps to maintain. And since acrylic cures by heat and not in a lamp, it partially sets while still being moldeable. This makes the artist able to use many different colors on a single nail very efficiently. For many examples of this, search #notpolish on Facebook!

    Next time, we will learn all about nail powder “dipping systems” in the United States and how they fit into what was described here. Such a big nail world!

    Until next time, may all your nails be beautiful and your days happy!

    I hope you have enjoyed this article! The next one will be regarding what the story is with all these dipping systems for nails popping up, and after it goes to print, I will publish it here in english. 

    Don't forget, Nails Over Coffee on Periscope returns MONDAY, FEB 20 at 1 pm Pacific Time (UTC -8:00) @nailsovercoffee, come hang out with us!

    Until next time, CIAO!

    Michelle CP aka The Nail Rogue


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Michelle Pugh is a sole proprietor in Washington, United States. 15 S. Oregon Ave Box A-6, Tacoma, WA 98409

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