Now that long-wear lacquers and gel polishes are here to stay, nail care professionals are seeking healthier, less damaging methods to easily remove product from clients’ nails. Moreover, nail care brands are increasingly creating removal techniques that won’t damage nails and skin, like the use of pure acetone, scraping, or filing can.
Modern removal options now range from steamers to peel-off base coats, and top coats that guarantee gel removal in five minutes, but one of the most innovative removal techniques on the market currently is “steaming.”
Invented by manicurist Katie Cazorla, owner of The Painted Nail salon in Hollywood, the steam technique involves using a small sauna-like machine that doesn’t really steam polish off the nails, but heats and mists nails with a specially formulated acetone solution. These new removal products like The Painted Nail’s Steam Off and Gel II’s Steam Gel-Polish Removal System are on the rise and are quickly becoming the norm for polish removal options.
How does it work?
The steam removal system works so well because it uses heat to speed up the removal process. Solvent removers like acetone dissolve quicker when they are heated by as little as 10°F. Heating the remover accelerates the removal process and forces the product to peel away from the nail faster. This reduces the amount of damage that can occur when utilizing the regular soaking method, then scraping or filing off the remaining product.
When using the steam removal method, first pour a small amount of remover in the cup inside the unit and turn it on. The unit will heat up and then beep when it’s ready.
Next, insert your client’s fingertips into the holes, position their hands to rest on top of the unit, and let the steam work. Make sure your clients’ hands conform to the contour of the machine, and their fingers are relaxed inside the unit to ensure they are getting maximum coverage over all nails.
Finally, once the timer sounds, remove the client’s hands from the unit and remove any remaining product by wiping, brushing, or flaking away using an orangewood stick. You will notice that the client’s nails and fingertips aren’t white and dried out as with soaking.
The steam remover method can be used to remove traditional polish, gel polish, acrylic nails, or gel extensions. Most regular polishes dissolve in about five minutes, and gel polishes and acrylics break down in 10 minutes or less, depending on the thickness.
If you have trouble steaming the product off, simply steam for another short cycle until the nail product you are removing simply falls off. By doing so, you avoid scraping, buffing, or filing off any additional product, thus preserving the health of the nail.
Although it may vary depending on the manufacturer, the system is sold as a kit that includes the steamer unit and a specially formulated remover—which in most cases is a pure acetone-based product with moisturizers, vitamins, and conditioning agents added.
Steam units are lightweight and easily portable, and they are easy to clean and sanitize. You can even use some machines for warm oil manicures. The steamer unit is also great for removing adhesives, iridescent paper, nail coverings and even stubborn glitter polishes!
Other removal techniques to watch
It’s worth mentioning that although steam has stolen the show, CND recently introduced the Xpress5 Top Coat, which enables CND Shellac to melt away in five minutes versus the customary 20 minutes.
These new techniques are awesome for clients and professionals all around!
Photo: Shutterstock Margostock
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Tiffani Douglas is an author, speaker, beauty-marketing consultant and licensed nail technician with over 20 years experience in the beauty industry.
A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Tiffani worked her way through college as a manicurist to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, with a concentration in strategic marketing. After college, she went on to work in corporate America as a marketing and media maven, but ever passionate about the beauty industry, she founded her own mobile spa.
During that time she also began consulting other beauty professionals in the areas of marketing and branding, which sparked an idea to write two e-books, Social Media Marketing: A Guide for Beauty Professionals and Are You a True Beauty Professional– 7 Practical Steps to Being More Professional, Upgrading Your Business and Increasing Your Revenue. She recently released her first published book, Straight Outta Beauty School - 10 Things You Need to Know and Do After You Graduate.
Tiffani resides in Dallas, Texas where she continues to inspire beauty pros young and old by offering them the tools they need to grow personally and professionally.