P&W Acrylic Back Fill

A Growing Trend

“Pink and White” nails, also known as “P&W’s” or “Permanent French Manicure” are a growing trend that more and more clients are demanding. Clients love them for their beauty, their versatility, and for ease of wear. P&W’s can be very subtle and subdued (very natural looking) at one end of the spectrum - to a bold statement with a “wow” look at the other end. Various looks are achieved by varying the color of the white free-edge material and the shape and depth of the smile line.

A full set of P&W’s can easily be achieved with white tips and a clear overlay. Other techs prefer to use clear or natural tips and then add the white free-edge themselves, while others like to sculpt on forms. Whatever method is used to achieve the initial P&W look, eventually they are all going to have to be maintained. The fill procedure is basically the same regardless of what method was used on the FS.

Perfecting the Pink and White backfill procedure takes time, practice, and dedication. It is not a skill that comes easily to most nail techs. Those who do take the time to perfect this technique reap the benefits of higher service prices and very happy clients whose nails are often admired by friends and strangers alike. Nothing beats P&W’s for attracting attention and bringing in new customers!

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Pre-Service: wash hands, push back cuticles (see complete details in Nail Tech 101).
  2. Shorten the nails to the desired length and file the preliminary shape into them. This can be done with a hand file or an electric file.
  3. Check for lifting. If possible, file away the lifted area until it disappears and blends with the rest of the nail. If lifting is more severe, use proper nipping methods to remove the lifted material.
  4. Rebalance the nail. Using a hand-file or drill, move back the arches and take down the thickness at the free-edge. Remove about 1/2 the thickness of the ‘old’ white, thus allowing for the new white application as the smile line is reapplied; if the white is not thinned enough then the nail will get too thick! (Sometimes this CAN mean removing almost all of the old white, so a drill is most helpful!) Bevel the new FE.
  5. Blend the cuticle and sidewall areas as you would for a regular fill. Pay particular attention to not leave any areas unblended, as of course there will be no colored polish on the nails to cover any defects or ‘fill lines’.
  6. Use an electric file to trench a new smile line with a back-fill or FM (French manicure) bit of your choice. Trench from where the new smile line should be to where it used to be, maybe a bit more. If you don’t have a backfill bit, then file the white free edge with a hand file or with a regular drill bit; reduce the thickness of the entire FE, more than in a regular fill to accommodate the additional white acrylic application.
  7. Continue with normal prep and prime procedures: dust nails; apply sanitizer (or pH balancer). Apply primer to natural nail outgrowth and allow to dry.
  8. Apply the white free edge powder. With acrylics this will usually be a dryer ratio than the rest of the nail - to keep it strong and crisp. Practice with different ratios of liquid to white powder to see which ratio gives you the best coloration for your free-edge and control for making a crisp smile line. If you drilled in a trench, then fill the trench with white acrylic first – using it as a guide for placement of the smile line, and then pull out the white over the rest of the free edge if needed for color consistency. If you did not trench the nail, but instead thinned the entire free edge – then apply this white free edge ball similarly to how you would on a tip overlay.
  9. Swipe the smile line as needed. Use a clean, dry brush to help push and nudge the smile line into place.
  10. Now, continue with normal fill procedures. Apply product at cuticle area and then in middle of nail (or use 1 ball method if you prefer), and pull acrylic out thinly over your new white FE. Be sure to use the same color acrylic on the body of the nail as you did at the full set.
  11. Continue with your usual finishing work, which should be very minimal if you sculpted well to begin with. Blend cuticle area gently, check sidewalls and free edge. Now contour the top as needed, if at all! (Strive for no contouring to reduce lifting later; sculpt with your brush, not your file!)
  12. Buffs as per your usual procedures, then use a 3 or 4 way buffer to achieve a stunning high-gloss shine. Or, after buffing, dust the nail and proceed with a thin gloss coat application of gel (see Gel Nails section for details on this procedure). Of course, if you prefer, you can simply apply a clear or translucent French manicure topcoat.
  13. Finally, send the client to wash her hands (yes, even if you're not polishing, removal of acrylic chemical residues is critical to help prevent long-term client sensitization!). Continue with normal post-service: take your payment and book her next appointment.