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Nail Foils

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Random placement of transfer nail foil on gel polish, by Kelly Melanitou

What are nail foils?

Nail foils are solid metallic, coloured, or patterned materials. The foil itself is attached to a thin, clear plastic and needs to be released from that plastic and adhered to the nail when it can be coated to keep it in place.

Foil can be applied:

– Randomly.
– In specific areas and shapes where there is an adhesive or inhibition layer from a UV-cured coating.
– Over the whole nail. This takes some practice as the foil is flat and not easy to follow the curve of the nail.

How do we use nail foils?

There are 2 usual methods of application:

  • Specialized foil adhesive. This is often an adhesive that applies to look white but, after a short time, will go clear and this is the time to apply the foil as it will only stick to the clear adhesive
  • A lot of UV gel polish inhibition layers will allow foil to stick (not all!)

With specialized foil adhesive:

This method is preferred when we want to apply the nail foil on a non-sticky surface: dry nail polish, finished enhancement, etc.

  • Apply the adhesive on the areas where you want your foil to be, or over the whole nail.
  • Allow it to dry until it goes clear.
  • Press the foil down on the nail, and pull in a swift motion.
  • Cover with nail polish top coat to protect your application. Keep in mind that some nail polish top coats may damage the foil and remove the colour. You need to find one that works effectively. It is usually one that has butyl acetate high on the list of ingredients.

With UV gel polish:

This method has very extensive use nowadays, due to the popularity of UV gel polishes.

For random placement:
-Apply your second color coat and cure.
-Lightly press the foil on the nail in random areas. The more the pressure, the bigger piece of foil will adhere to the nail.
-Cover with your system’s top coat and cure.

For full coverage:
-Apply your second color coat and cure. You can also do only one layer of color, however, two coats will provide more durability and more even coloration.
-Carefully apply the foil over the nail. Be careful of your placement since, once the foil touches the inhibition layer, you cannot move it around without pieces of it getting stuck to the nail.
-Press down evenly. For more secure adhesion, rub the surface of the foil until you see the design getting separate from the plastic backing.
-Cover with your system’s top coat and cure.

Some nail brands have now created special “foil gels” that are applied over the color coat and before the top coat. These provide the much-needed adhesion that maybe their color coat is not providing.

For specific areas:
-Complete the application of your UV gel polish system, and remove the inhibition layer from the top coat.
-Use either a foil adhesive, a foil gel, or your gel polish top coat with a striper brush to create the design you want. Cure.
-Press the foil on your design.
-Cover with your system’s top coat and cure.

Troubleshooting

For the metallics and solid colours it is usually obvious which side is the one that will stick to the adhesive (the plastic backing will not stick, and the foil will not release). Some, often the clear patterned versions, are hard to distinguish which side to use. The only solution is to try it and discover the correct side.

Sometimes a foil will not stick and release even though everything else is correct. It is worth wiping the back of the foil with some alcohol on a pad as it may be greasy.

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