June 2008

Vicki Peters

The Nail Extension | by Vicki Peters


Your Fill-In Service

Fill, fill-in, backfill, rebalance—what ever you call it—while it is the service we perform the most, it is the service with the least education available explaining how you can do it efficiently.

A good basic fill should be quick, with a good system that gives maximum results. Let’s look at some of the procedures that can help you define your fill service and keep you on track.

Average fill time: I believe the average fill time should be one hour. It’s unfortunate many consumers are becoming accustomed to nail services at non-standard, no-frill fill salons that offer 30 minute services. They accomplish them using shortcuts including not refining tips, not blending the cuticle area correctly and fast damaging drill work. We need not rush our good work to attract clients who want good safe service.

Steps to staying on time: Now that we have established the fill should take an hour, divide your service time into four fifteen-minute sections that will help you stay on time.

Prep takes 15 minutes. Always have the client wash her hands and brush her nails before you start the service. This saves time by eliminating her leaving your station to wash when you’re done. Additionally, her cuticles will be soft. Watch the clock. If you are going to get behind this is where it will probably happen, especially if you’re backfilling. Also focus on what you’re doing and don’t stop to talk—that’s wastes time. Chat during the filing stages, it’s easier. If your backfilling time is going to be tight to fit it into an hour, adding another 15 minutes is reasonable.

Application takes 15 minutes. Prepare your products, pour your liquids, turn your UV lamp on or anything else you will need depending on what products you’re using. Check the clock to see where you are for time.

Shaping takes 15 minutes. Check the clock to see if you’re on target for time. Devise a good shaping and filing system so you get the most from your files. Use a file that gives you the most bang for your buck, not too coarse (it will leave deep scratches) but not so soft that it takes you forever to shape. I prefer a medium bit or a 150-grit file.

Finishing takes 15 minutes. This will vary depending on what your finish service is. If you’re polishing, you must buff more to make a smoother surface for polish; you may also want the client to wash. If you’re finishing with a gel sealant, do not have her wash—gel adheres better to a dry surface. This can be a great option; you can apply a gel sealant instead of a base coat and then apply polish for an amazingly smooth finish that takes less work. Applying a gel polish color is another option; again, do not have the client wash.

Troubleshooting problems: Two problems that are prevalent when doing fills are lifting and pocket lifting. Pocket lifting is where the center of the nail pops loose while the surrounding product area stays down tight. Some companies say it’s because you’re working too wet with their acrylic. Using a drier consistency can help. If the problem persists, try another acrylic product and see if that solves the problem. Pocket lifting seems to happen the second or third fill after you’ve applied a full set and mostly on the thumbs and middle fingers.

Poor prep work and inexperience with your application techniques in the cuticle area can cause lifting at the cuticle. It is critical to take your time making sure your prep work is spot-on and that you clean the nail plate properly. You need to gently remove all the shine, without cuticle residue or oils. Apply prep products neatly.

Your application at the cuticle area takes experience and good technique. For acrylic, use a wetter consistency and smaller amounts of product at the cuticle. Apply them and let them flow—with good control—to attain the results you want. Because the fill area is usually small, use less product. Place it on the edge of the existing product and press upwards; don’t apply it too close to the cuticle and make a mess. Having good control and knowing exactly where your product is going to flow will help. The same applies with gel. It’s all about control and knowing your product.

Once your fill is complete, you can apply hand lotion or cuticle oil to finish the service. Have the client pay for her services, gather her personal things and escort her to the door or to the waiting area if she is drying her polish. It’s important to dismiss the client from your station once she is done so you can have a break and clean your station for the next client.

Vicki Peters is a 26 year veteran master nail tech, competition champion, judge, international educator, author and manufacturer and serves on the Nail Manufacturer Council. For more information visit www.vickipeters.com or email her at Vicki@vickipeters.com.