Chris science corner – pretty poly

‘Pretty Poly!’ When your technician is crafting an extension. There isn’t much too it really? Is there? I mean really? Come on!!!. Dip the brush in the liquid. Then in the powder…brush it on your nail. Bish Bash Bosh.

I mean they do 1 day courses on it right? So it can’t be that hard?

I can forgive you for thinking this, especially if you are sat with Michaella in Alton or Danni in Petersfield, making it all look as easy as pie….well like any good recipe, the art of making the perfect extension is deceptively difficult.

Here is a quick glimpse into the complexities that are part of the reason why an Apprenticeship with us takes ALL OF 9 months to complete.

Let’s start with the Liquid. Next week we will discuss EMA and MMA (and how other salons may be putting their profits before your nail condition) but this week we will keep it basic (as basic as we can).

The Liquid is actually a Liquid Monomer. Where have you heard ‘Mono’ before? Monopoly (one person/business controlling a whole sector) Monocle (Lens for one eye). On a ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ scale of the world the particles in the Liquid monomer are loosely connected (what makes it liquid). They are on their own.

Like if you go to a house party with no vibe (parents rack those memory cells). People are just sitting noiselessly, alone, not making any connections. This is the fate of our little liquid monomer particles.


They come into contact with the polymer and a chemical reaction occurs (polymerisation) that links them to the other monomers in the room.

Back at the house party this is like when Daz rocks up, with his starry eyed pretensions of becoming an Ibiza DJ and plugs in the sound system. He starts with a crowd pleaser…. ‘Ayyyyyy Macarena’. The first line drops and the lonely jump up, and start doing the dance routine.

Do it now….can you remember? The left arm comes out in front of you. Imagine all the lonely monomers doing this and making contact with someone in front of them. Suddenly they are all connected and make a bigger structure. The moment of reaction. This is the moment your nail technician holds the brush as it forms a kind of gel substance on their brush….The moment of polymerisation.

BUT IT’S fraught with hazards that could stop the whole party.

Too much liquid and the ratio is too wet. The reaction is not complete or stable and the extension will be weaker and won’t last as long. Imagine Dazza hasn’t cranked up the Bass enough and half the room can’t hear. Sure the people nearest him will be dancing but those that can’t hear are still lonely and the overall effect on the party will eventually tell.

Bad technicians will actually err on the side of too wet. ‘Painting’ rather than sculpting. Layer after layer after layer after layer. Wetter than Marti Pellow. You might end up with a ‘natural’ looking extension but durability? that’s another matter.

Or the opposite? Too much powder? the excess will get trapped in and around the extension (sometimes causing visible bubbling) The application will likely not be as smooth because the technician has not had time to sculpt and again, the extension won’t last as long!

In this instance Dazza has played the music too quick and people are Macarenering all over the place!!!!! limbs are flailing, people are getting thwacked, the neighbours are worrying, the party was intense but not likely to last.

This whole consideration (maybe without Dazza) is occurring in your nail technicians head + happens in milli-seconds. Here is a small list of the other considerations happening before even one bead is applied to a tip/form or nail. It happens in split seconds.

1) Cleanliness of brush
2) Temparature of room. Temperature of Product.
3) Liquid Powder ratio (as seen above)
4) Placement on nail/tip/form
5) Using the body of brush to apply pressure to the bead (like blu tack) to improve adhesion (sticking)
6) Pressing the bead so as to disappear onto nail plate (off cuticle)
7) Guiding the bead away from the sides of the extension.
8) Allowing gravity/and gentle manipulation to allow the bead to move down the nail plate naturally.

That’s a snapshot into quite literally a couple of seconds of your service. A good nail technician is a craftsperson, a scientist and an artist (and as our clients can attest often a councillor).