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!