This Glossary series contains some of the terminology associated with natural and artificial nails, procedures, and a few important product or additive definitions as I understand them. Many of these terms are confusing, difficult to pronounce and understand at first, especially the chemical and medical ones! I’m an interested Nail Technician and by no means a scientist or expert. This glossary is something I wished I’d had access to when I was just starting out.
Occasionally I will edit these posts to add or amend information, as and when I learn more or come across new terminology. The beauty of this industry is that it’s constantly evolving as new scientific discoveries and product developments become available.
I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions, additions or edits to this series. It’s definitely a work in progress and has taken over a year to get this far. I’m hoping this will become a useful up to date resource for all professional nail technicians and students.
Efile / Electric file: these are nail files powered by electricity and when used by a trained professional can be a brilliant tool for debulking enhancements prior to rebalancing. When used on a slow speed, with the appropriate bits, can be used in the PEP process to gently remove the cuticles. SEE PEP.
Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA): Ethyl Methacrylate is most widely used in monomer form, as one part of the system used to create artificial nail enhancements. EMA can be safely soaked from the nail plate for complete removal. EMA is a ‘flexible’ monomer.
Etch / Etching: This term is often used to describe the filing process used to remove the surface shine from natural nails in preparation for a nail enhancement service. ‘Etching’ is usually accomplished by using a heavy grit file to remove the surface shine from the natural nail, and to disrupt the nail plate layers. Today’s products do not require the use of this damaging method to ensure adhesion. Etching is not recommended.
Epidermis: The epidermis is the upper most layer of skin. When under the nail it is attached to the bottom of the nail plate and is ridged with tiny ‘rails’ that run in the same direction as the dermis grooves. The effect is much like a train riding on its tracks as it moves forward.
Eponychium: The eponychium is the extension of the proximal nail fold at the base of the nail body which partly overlaps the lunula. This is living tissue and should never be cut or abraded.
Esters: A small specific portion of a structure of a molecule. All nail coating polymers, except for polishes, contain esters. These are the solvents which aid in the drying process, common organic esters include ethyl acetate and butyl acetate.
Flash Point: The temperature at which a substance gives off a sufficient amount of vapors to form an ignitable mixture with air. Products with a low flash point (below 100° F) should not be used in the presence of (or near) fire, flame, sparks or high heat, i.e., a candle . The flash point of a product can be found in the SDS – Safety Data Sheet
Flexibility: Determined by how much a substance will bend under force. An important factor in choosing the correct nail coating for a client.
Forms / Nail Forms: a sticky shaped support which is applied to the finger to enable nail enhancements to be built on to the natural nails, used in both acrylics and hard gels. Various designs of forms exist and have allowed for the development of extreme nail shapes.
Free Radicals: Free Radicals are the most widely used photoinitiators. Free Radicals Or photoinitiators absorb light they then produce a reaction that can initiate or catalyse chemical reactions. This process is initiated using either UV/EB curing or LED curing. SEE photoinitiators. Radiation Curing. UV. LED.
Fumes: Irritating smoke, vapor or gas. Monomer is often very smelly and could be described as a fume although not harmful.
Fungi: Fungi are microscopic plant organisms consisting of many cells, such as mold, mildews and yeast. Fungi are incapable of manufacturing their own food and behave as either parasites or saprophytes. Athletes Foot is a commonly found fungal infection and is a contraindication. SEE Contraindication