Nail Wraps: How, Why, When, and What?

Wrapping Up Wraps

Nail wraps can be traced back to their origin in the 1940’s when manicurists (now known as nail technicians) used products such as tea bags, coffee filters, and even cigarette paper to strengthen natural nails or to fix a painfully broken nail. Wraps grew with popularity as women searched for a way to keep their nails from breaking so that they could grow them out long and glamorous. The wrap process consisted of placing the paper into a layer wet nail lacquer, then adding additional layers of polish to saturate and encapsulate the paper. Of course, the procedure had to be repeated at every manicure as polish remover would loosen and remove the wraps. There was no such thing as nail glue or crazy glue back then!

As time marched on the most popular choice for wraps soon became linen, which aided in strength but didn’t look natural without polish. Soon silk entered the market; while silk was more natural looking it didn’t offer the same strength as linen. Finally, fiberglass wraps hit the market in the 80’s and were welcomed with great interest from most nail techs. Fiberglass afforded clients strength, clarity and a lightweight alternative to acrylic.

How Do Wraps Work?

The wrapping technique is a completely different technique than acrylic or gel. A piece of wrap material (be it linen, silk, or fiberglass) is placed over the nail and resin is used to adhere it to the nail. Accelerators, which can be spray or brushed on, are used to speed up the hardening process of the material and resin. Wraps are generally done as a natural nail overlay, or over plastic tips. Wraps do not require the use of a primer.

The Material

Today the most popular material used for wraps is silk or fiberglass. Techs can choose from bulk pieces or strips of fabric that they cut to size, or use one of many brands of pre cut-materials. Like plastic tips, the pre-cut fabric is offered in different sizes to fit each nail more precisely. Many materials produced for wraps have an adhesive on the back; this small amount of adhesive allows the technician to place the material on the nail and apply the resin without it slipping out of place.

The Resin

The resin is the “glue” that sticks the material to the nail. Resin comes in different viscosities. Thicker resins can help build some arch in a nail; while the thinner resins are necessary to be sure the wrap material gets thoroughly saturated. Most resin for wraps comes in plastic bottle with a nozzle; the nozzle is used to spread the resin into place. Other brands use brush-on glue.

The resin can also used to protect the natural nail. A bonded base is created by application of 1-2 coats of resin to the natural nail prior to application of the tips.

The Activator

Activators are used to accelerate the drying process and create a strong hard surface. They come in pump sprays, mist sprays, brush-on, or dropper application. Always be sure to use the activator that is recommended for the resin you are using. Mixing products can lead to improper drying; this can affect the strength of the nail and cause heat spikes on the nail surface. Follow the application instructions given with your activator.