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
Pathogen: A micro-organism which is capable of causing disease.
Photoinitiator: A photoinitiator is a molecule that creates reactive free radicals when exposed to radiation (UV or visible). Synthetic photoinitiators are key components in photopolymers (i.e., UV Gels)
Polymer: Any of numerous natural and synthetic compounds of unusually high molecular weight consisting of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule. The powder part of a liquid and powder nail coating.
Polymerisation: The process of forming a polymer. To unite two or more monomers to form a polymer. In nail coating this is achieved by mixing liquid and powder or by curing in a UV or LED lamp.
PEP: an acronym for The process of preparing the natural nail to receive a nail coating, these are:
P- perform a manicure
E- Eliminate contaminates
P- Purify the nail plate
The effects of PEP will last approximately 30 minutes before the nails oil and moisture are replaced by natural means.
Primer: Primers are usually made with 100% pure methacrylic acid. Although primers are caustic to skin, they are not caustic to the nail plate. Primers aid in product retention because one end of the molecular chain is attracted to the oil molecule in the natural nail plate, and the other end is attracted to the monomer molecule. Primers act like double-sided sticky tape.
Proximal Nail Fold: The proximal nail fold is often mistaken for the cuticle. The cuticle is actually shed from the underside of the proximal nail fold. ‘Proximal’ means “nearest attached end”. The proximal nail fold acts as a seal to protect the matrix where the new nail plate is growing.
Pseudomonas: Pseudomonas infections are diseases caused by a bacterium from the genus Pseudomonas. The bacteria are found widely in the environment, such as in soil, water, and plants. The can get on to the nail through areas of lifting and leave a tell tale green stain on the nail which is a by product of the bacteria. Once the old enhancements are removed the nail can be cleaned and the enhancements re applied. The bacteria will be gone but the stain will have to grow out.
Pterygium: Pterygium is a nail abnormality that is either dorsal or ventral depending on the site of involvement. SEE Dorsal Pterygium or Ventral Pterygium
Radiation Cure: The process of using UV or LED to cure and harden the nail coating .
Rebalance: a rebalance is the process of correcting the structure of a nail enhancement following a period of growth. Often know as infills by clients. SEE Infills.
Sanitisation: reduces the number of pathogens or bacteria on a surface.
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) was MSDS material safety data sheet: Chemical information sheets also containing safety precautions on each potentially hazardous product one uses. It is usually a condition of your insurance that you have a copy of DS for all products containing potentially hazardous chemicals.
Sculpting: a method of creating nail enhancements on a form.
Sector Sculpting: Structurally engineering the enhancement for proper balance.
Sensitisation: Sensitisation is a type of allergic reaction in which the affected person becomes increasingly sensitive to the allergy causing substance through repeated and prolonged contact. SEE Overexposure
Sensitiser: A chemical that causes a substantial portion of exposed people or animals to develop an allergic reaction in normal tissue after repeated or prolonged exposure to a chemical.
Solehorn: the rigid epidermis stays attached to the bottom of the nail plate until it grows beyond the free edge. This dead tissue is called the solehorn cuticle, and will eventually slough off by itself or is removed during a manicure.
Solidification: the process of turning from a liquid to a solid.
Splinter haemorrhages: are tiny blood spots that appear underneath the finger or toe nails. They look like splinters and occur when tiny blood vessels (capillaries) along the nail bed are damaged and burst. Essentially it’s a bruise caused by trauma to the nail.
Stamping: in nail art, the process of transferring a design from a stamping plate on to the nail.
Sterilisation: Sterilisation completely destroys all living organisms on an object or surface. To sterilise tools an autoclave is required, however in the UK because we do not come into contact with bodily fluids Sterilisation of tools is not required. Tools must be sanitised. SEE Sanitise.
Strength: The ability of a substance to withstand breakage under force. Nail strength is an important factor in determining the best nail coating for your client. Not to be confused with nail hardness- hard nails are often not very strong.
Sweet Squared: The authorised UK distributors for CND, and Light Elegance