An Ounce of PREVENTION for Maximum RETENTION.

Getting your Airbrushed Nail-Art to go the distance.
By Laura Morgan

All of the techniques represented in this article apply to all Airbrush paints. I have chosen to focus on the French Airbrush because of its popularity and because the techniques are particularly important when creating this beautiful look.


"The goal is to apply paint in dry matte finish layers. Any wetness or excessive paint build up, particularly at the free edge, will compromise retention."


Problem: "Help! My French Airbrushes are wearing off the ends!"


I receive many calls a day regarding Airbrushed French Nails. This is everyone's favorite design to do, but it takes a bit of finesse to do it properly.


First a fact about White Nail paint… White is the heaviest pigment on the color wheel. It has a tendency to clog Airbrush guns and can be somewhat temperamental by nature. These characteristics are common to all white paints to varying degrees. Medea white is formulated to be thinner than many other manufacturer brands. This makes it much easier to clean out of your airbrush and causes relatively no clogging problems. It is very important to apply Airbrush paint patiently, especially white. Paint applied too quickly will be wet and will not set up properly.


Even though I constantly remind students to apply paint in dry layers, in my classes I have noticed a common scenario…their idea of dry and mine are two different things! It seems we need to be very specific on what to look for. Here it is in a nut shell.


• Apply white in ultra light layers, building up the color slowly. (The goal is to never see any shiny surface. It should look matte finish during the ENTIRE application process.) Any wetness or excessive paint build-up during application will compromise retention. If you are still seeing wet-looking surface while spraying, work on your technique.


A few other common mistakes


1. Make sure nails are clean, clean, clean. For example: Do you oil buff? Remember all those times you applied regular nail enamel and watched it go on uneven because your client didn't wash with enough soap AND scrub their nails with a brush? If you thought that was bad, it is murder on Airbrushed Designs. Though you probably won't notice until you apply topcoat and watch it run and/or streak. Even if you manage to get the topcoat on successfully, your client may show up the next day with one of those "I was just sitting there doing nothing and my polish came off" stories…only this time she may be right! Watch out for Gel Nail residue as well. Tell them to scrub with lots of soap.


2. You must use an Airbrush base coat on the nails and/or along the edge of the free-edge. If you need to use a ridge filler or natural nail base coat, apply an airbrush base coat over the top of that and let dry thoroughly before using Airbrush color and stencils.


3. Mist white paint along the edge of the free-edge by bending the finger slightly upward while you spray along the edge. (Don't over do it here, a little will do.)


4. Don't forget to seal the edges with topcoat. Be generous.


5. Use a good UV topcoat over 1 coat of the Medea topcoat. (Pro finish, Infinity, NSI, Cosmic Acrylic Coat, etc.) Seal edges well. If you don't have a UV drier, use a Heat coat that cures under a light bulb.


6. Allow adequate time for topcoat to set up completely. Studies show that if a person is hard on their nails within 1 hour of polish application, retention will suffer. This applies to regular nail enamel as well. Remind your clients. They may have gotten lax about this.


7. Retail a good topcoat and get salon customers to apply extra at home. When clients pay extra for Airbrush designs, they have high expectations. Have them apply an extra coat the next day and as many more as they have time to. This makes a BIG difference! I have never had anyone object to this. In fact, they come in and apologize to me if they haven't taken care of them. In other words, they know they have to do their part.


Pay close attention to these basics and you should solve 99% of these types of problems. Reasonable wear on the ends is to be expected with anything applied to nails. Expect airbrushed nails to wear, comparable to what regular nail enamel would.


Laura Morgan is a 15-year veteran in the Nail Industry and has spent many years in Salons and Salon Management. She has been the National Director of Education for Medea Airbrush Beauty Products and has taught Nail technicians and students at the International level.


Reprinted with permission of Medea Beauty