There are so many terms regarding nail enhancement maintenance appointments, such as back-fills, fill, fill-in, touch-up and maintenance – and it can often seem quite complex to both nail techs to understand what the difference is.

Most clients seem to be familiar with the term ‘infills’ but this isn’t always the enhancement maintenance service that is best for their nails.

There is no correct or incorrect term, but whatever you chose to call it, you must explain the difference and purposes of those nail maintenance services to your customers. This allows the most appropriate service to be allotted and time and price to be justified.

Why we maintain nail enhancements

The natural nail is constantly growing. When enhancements are applied, after a few weeks these grow up with the natural nail and require a follow-up nail maintenance appointment. This ensures that the enhancement remains structurally sound, by ensuring that the apex is put back into its correct place.

If enhancements are not maintained regularly, the grown-out product can put pressure on the natural nail underneath and cause a weak structure, which is more prone to breaking and lifting. The period in-between maintenance appointments differs for each individual client, depending on their lifestyle, aftercare, and natural nail growth.

How we maintain nail enhancements

There are two types of enhancement maintenance services the clients can have:

  • Full maintenance (also known as back-fill, fill, fill-in, touch-up, maintenance, etc.)

After two or three weeks, the enhancement will require a ‘full maintenance’. When the enhancement grows out, it loses balance, the apex moves forward and so does the smile line (on a pink & white enhancement). This consists of the existing product gently being filed down completely and the apex replaced. The white smile line is repositioned and the free edge is reshaped, with excess length adjusted in order to retain the proper balance to the overall structural integrity of the extension.

  • Re-balancing the enhancement (also known as infills, rebalance, refill.)

After around two weeks, the enhancement will require a ‘fill’ at the cuticle area to re-balance the enhancement, by replacing the apex to its original position to restore strength at the stress point where most cracks appear. If the client has regular one colour L&P acrylic enhancements with gel polish application, this service would be acceptable to perform regularly.

Gel polish removal over an enhancement

When to apply a new set of enhancements

For a standard client that keeps to the same style and shape of enhancement, there is no need to remove and replace extensions with a full set, unless we want or need to.

To constantly remove and replace the enhancement puts unnecessary stress on the natural nail, and the regular and repeated use of acetone can dry the natural nails and skin out, leading to a more brittle natural nail and weaker foundation for the enhancement.

Of course, there are times when it necessary to remove a set of enhancements. This could be due to client needs or to replace with a new set due to the following reasons:

  • Creating a new shape

Each shape requires a different form fit and apex placement. If you maintain one shape and change to another other, the fit and apex will be in the incorrect place leading to a weak structure and unbalanced enhancement.

  • Complete design change

If a client has regular custom design nails, then it will sometimes be necessary to remove the enhancements and reapply a set due to the above. Let’s say they had a black free edge and would like to change to a pink free edge, if the set is not replaced you will see a ‘sandwich’ of the different colours at the free edge.

  • Natural nail growth

If the client’s natural nail grows downwards or ski slopes up, then it is necessary to replace with a new set of nail enhancements when required to remove the natural nail growth and adjust and correct with a new form or tip fit. If the natural nail foundation grows this way, by leaving the enhancement over this continually, you will have a weak structure, which will be more prone to breaking and lifting.

You should assess each client’s nails individually, taking into consideration all of the above to make the best decision to suit their needs and most importantly taking care of their natural nail health and integrity.

Love Katie B x

By Editor