Combining gel and fiber wrap is a technique used to give added strength to a gel nail, either in the stress area to prevent breaks, or elsewhere on the nail where it may be weak or have a pre-existing problem. It is done by sandwiching the fiber wrap between layers of gel; thus allowing the fiber to be a bridge between the two areas. Generally fiberglass is used because of it’s light weight and strength, but silk also may be used. This technique can be used during a full-set when applying tips or sculpting a nail or during fills. It may also be used for a single nail repair between fills, or used to repair broken nails of natural nail (manicure) clients. In fact, it's a great way to introduce manicure clients to the wonders of gel!
The basic procedure for fiber wrap (during a fill, full-set or repair) is to lay down one thin coat of regular gel and then cure 1 complete cycle. Next, place and PAT down a piece of fiber (glass or silk) into the tacky residue layer until it disappears, (pick up fiber with "sticky" gel nail brush),and cure again (about 1/2 a reg. cure). Lay down your next coat of gel as usual, adding any arches, etc, that may be needed, and cure again as usual. Fiber should always be sandwiched between cured layers of gel. The preferred method is to lay it into the cured gel residue of the previous layer, re-cure, and apply another layer. This is not adding any steps or time to your procedure as you would be doing this as part of the natural layering process of doing gels.
When using fiber in conjunction with a white free edge gel over a form (vs. using over the natural nail or a tip with clear gel). 1st apply form, apply 1 thin coat of clear gel to nail bed, cure 1 full cycle. Next, per usual procedure, apply white gel to area needed: the entire free edge or a chipped corner for instance. Cure again for a full cycle.
Now, cut your piece of fiber - large enough to bridge from extended white free-edge gel area and back over on to rest of clear nail bed. (Be sure it is sized properly so that fiber does not hang off nail, touch sidewalls or cuticle, or not be able to lay down smoothly.). With your gel brush, touch the piece of fiber gently and pick it up, lay it down on the nail and press it in, patting the fiber piece into the tacky residue from the last cure until it disappears. Quick set the fiber to cement it into place; about 15-30 seconds - just long enough so that it won't move when you apply the next layer of gel). Finally, continue with at least one more coat of gel as per your usual method in this procedure.
Some manufacturers specify to lay fiber into an uncured layer of gel, however there are problems with that method: 1) the fiber tends to float to the top and you end up with fibers sticking out, 2) the fiber slides around too much before the gel cures, and 3) the gel ends up in sidewalls because you spend too much time fiddling with the fiber while the uncured gel is already leveling. Another concern with that method (adding fiber to uncured gel layer) is that the gel under the fiber may not cure completely because of the fiber blocking or reflecting the UV light away.For these reasons this author recommends to place fiber into cured gel only.
Working with clear gel on a form can be tricky. It can be difficult to tell, exactly, where the gel is - and isn't! Many techs tend to use too much gel (rather than too little), just to be safe. Sometimes (well, fairly often for newbies) extra gel may run on the form and cure into funny shapes - clients have called these "abstract nail art". To remove, use straight bladed (not curved) toe nail clippers to clip away the excess gel easily from the free-edge and the side-walls.(PUT ON THOSE SAFETY GLASSES AND WATCH THE CLIENTS SKIN!) Now you will be able to straighten and taper the sidewalls appropriately, without a ton of filing
Clear Gel Extensions
Use fiber for quick nail extensions/repairs with clear gel (short extensions,25% or less) at fills. Simply use the clear gel on the forms - the fiber clouds up the gel just enough to be un-noticeable on short extensions, corner chips or missing sidewalls.
Natural Nail Repairs
Use fiber to save a natural nail that is cracked all the way through and just barely hanging on, or even for one that has completely broken off (provided she saved the piece of nail). First, put a form under the nail for support, next use the tiniest bit of adhesive to hold the broken nail piece to the remaining nail (the adhesive is not "permanent", it is only to hold the nail in place while you repair). This re-attachment may not be a perfect match, and she may even be missing part of the nail, but that is OK, you will fix it. Now, simply follow instructions for a gel nail overlay (or tip overlay) with fiber, and Voila--- re-attachment! Be sure to add extra fiber to the sidewalls or the crack may re-start and take over eventually!
Step-by-Step Procedure for Natural Nail Repair
We all have those clients who are die-hard natural nail enthusiasts. Many will go to any length to save a natural nail, even if the nail becomes more enhancement than "natural". These clients want (even need) to be able to say that their nails are "real". As long as they have "real" nail under a gel coating (for strength of course), then they are satisfied.
- Prep nail - buff, sanitize, etc
- Apply form
- Adhere broken off piece of nail as best you can; an adhesive quick-dry spray will be useful. If she has lost the piece of nail, all is not lost, you can sculpt the missing section on the form using clear gel.
- Buff nail to remove shine from adhesive.
- Dust, sanitize nail.
- Apply primer to nail - either liquid primer or primer gel - and let primer air dry or cure in light as needed.
- Apply a coat of gel to nail.
- Cure gel
- Add strip of fiber to nail that bridges the nail and the extension, and pat it in well.
- Place nail in light to set for 15-30 seconds. This step firms up the fiber enough so that it will not move when you apply additional gel over it.
- Add 2nd coat of gel. Be sure to completely cover and encapsulate the fiber. Pay special attention to the sidewall areas on the form. It can be beneficial if the clear gel seeps (just the tiniest bit) around and under the natural nail onto the form. You need to build this gel nail on to and around the natural nail. Add arches and other structural gel as needed. al gel over it.
- Optional: add additional thin strips of fiber running length-wise along the sidewalls. However, if this fiber is too close to sidewalls it will cause lifting! Or, simply add another piece of fiber wherever you choose ---for additional strength and/or to opaque clear gel on free-edge. If you add this extra fiber, then be sure to set it in light for 15-30 seconds.
- Add 3rd layer of gel as needed; either for additional structure and building of gel or if more fiber was added
- Cure nail. Remove form and cure again, this time with nail upside down for one cycle. This will cure any gel that may have seeped under the form and nail.
- Cleanse nail: saturate lint free wipe with cleanser and remove sticky layer.
- Do finish work as usual: refine shape and contour as needed, taper sidewalls, flush cuticle area, buff. If gel ran on the form, then use clippers (as noted above) to cut away excess, then proceed to filing the shape of the sidewalls and free edge. If this is the only gel nail the client is wearing, then be sure to shape it to match her natural nails. If client will be wearing polish, then there is no need for a gloss coat application, simply polish this nail as you would the others.
Fiber reinforcement is also good for sidewall repairs. Nails that have become too "skinny" or tapered too close to the stress area, not only look unattractive, but also become weak and are prone to breaks and chips. During a regular fill: file the area thinner than usual during prep. Cut pieces of fiber into long, thin rectangles (rather than squares). After applying and curing first coat of gel, place these pieces on the nail as close to the side-wall edge as possible, then continue as above. If necessary, use a form to help build out the sidewalls, using the method detailed above for a natural nail repair as your guide.