Nail Terms and Items [14 Things You Should Know]

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When it comes to nails and manicures, there’s a lot of different terms to be aware of and consider. It can get confusing.

So to make life a little easier, I pulled together a glossary of all the main terms used regarding nails.

From manicure steps and processes to specific items.

Whether you are heading to the salon, or looking to do your nails from home; these terms are commonly used.

Here are all of those things you will need to know.

What Is A Nail Buffer?

A nail buffer is a small piece of equipment, usually a block, that allows you to shine your nails.

It enables you to polish the nail, making it look more consistent and shiny and also helping any polish grip your natural nails.

The act of buffing does not make nails stronger, but do help a manicure to last longer.

What Is A Nail File?

A nail file is a handheld tool that you can use to gently grind down and shape the edge of nails – whether they are natural or an enhancement.

Nail files are commonly used in manicures, along with pedicures and are generally used following the use of a nail trimmer.

Nail files are made of different materials, including an emery board, glass, crystal, or metal.

They are also available in different levels of ‘grit’ – which effectively makes them more coarse or not.

What Is A Cuticle Pusher?

A cuticle pusher is a small tool used to remove skin around the cuticle. This enables your nails to grow out stronger.

Cuticle pushers are often made of stainless steel metal and have two different ends used for different purposes.

One end will be a curved edge, to match the shape of the natural nail, and is used for pushing and shaping.

The other end, which is often in the form of a blade, enables you to scrape the hard-to-remove skin and any dirt under the nails. This end is also sometimes used to remove excess glue residue.

Often, cuticle pushers will come with two ends.

What Is A Cuticle Nipper?

Cuticle nippers are small, scissor like tools, that allow you to trim back hard to reach cuticles and hangnails.

They are often made of stainless steel and are most effective for getting into areas that require more precision.

What Is Liquid Monomer?

A liquid monomer is a formulation that is used to create artificial nail enhancements, such as acrylics.

To do so, you need to combine the Liquid Monomer (singular molecule) with a Polymer Powder.

In doing so a chemical reaction takes place and the Liquid Monomer and Polymer will fuse and bind together; creating a hard structure and plastic enhancement.

What Is Liquid Polymer?

A Liquid Polymer is more commonly known as a powder, and this is combined with a Liquid Monomer to create an acrylic, plastic, artificial nail enhancement.

Polymer is actually several molecules already fused together, and it actually starts out as a Monomer in the manufacturing process.

What Is Acetone For Nails?

Acetone is a chemical formulation used to soak off nail polish quickly and more easily. It is also used to remove natural oils ahead of any nail polish application.

As a chemical, it can be quite damaging and drying to the cuticles.

Non-acetone based nail polish removers are therefore available on the market to offer a less harsh alternative, although they are not typically as effective.

What Is PH Bond?

PH Bond is a thin liquid used to prepare nails by dehydrating, sanitizing, and removing any natural oils on the surface.

They are solvent-based formulations that often contain alcohol, and help to raise the PH of the natural nail (making it more alkaline).

PH bond is primarily used to ensure that gel polish adheres better and is less likely to peel off.

They evaporate soon evaporating after being applied.

What Is Nail Dehydrator?

Nail Dehydrator is a chemical liquid used before nail extensions are applied. It is used to remove grease and natural oils from the nail surface, prior to the application of nail primer.

The purpose of a nail dehydrator is to ensure better adhesion.

What Is Nail Primer?

A nail primer helps to ensure gel, gel polish or acrylic manicures last longer. They work in similar ways to bonder; by altering the PH of the natural nail and ensuring enhancements can adhere better and that no air bubbles develop.

However, primers are different to PH bond as they promote adhesion differently.

Equally, acrylics will always require a primer, whereas a bonder cannot be used instead.

Primer is only applied to the natural nail, and are much more corrosive than that of a PH bond.

What Is A Base Coat?

A base coat is a polish that is applied to the natural nail ahead of colored polish. It is applied to protect the natural nail from damaging effects of colored polishes – such as discoloration and brittleness.

Base coats also help the nail polish to adhere and essentially act as a barrier between the natural nail and the polish used.

What Is A Top Coat?

Top coat is the final polish applied over a manicure. It serves as a protective later, sealing the colored polish and preventing it from chipping and damage.

Top coats are often available in clear colors and are primarily used to promote the longevity of a manicure.

What Is A Cuticle Oil?

A cuticle oil is a product used to moisturize the natural nail and cuticle areas.

Cuticle oils are made of different ingredients, sometimes including minerals and vitamins, but their primary purpose is to nourish and eliminate dryness and damage and enable them to restore their strength and health.

What Is A Cuticle Cream?

A cuticle cream is a thick, moisturizing cream that is designed to be applied to the cuticle and nailbeds to restore hydration.

They are typically much thicker in consistency than cuticle oils and longer wearing.

Cuticle creams often include vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting ingredients.

What Is A UV Light For Nails?

A UV light is a lamp used to cure gel nail polish. This enables the gel to set and not smudge, as gel polish is formulated to harden when exposed to specific wavelengths of light.

A UV light will emit ultraviolet light wavelengths – invisible light that is naturally present in sunlight.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of different nail terms to be aware of and familiar with.

Getting the wrong product can literally make or break a manicure.

From reducing its effectiveness and durability to it not working altogether!

So, familiarize yourself with the terms here and perhaps even bookmark it too.

That way, you’ll know exactly what your technician is referring to, or you know exactly what you will need to go and get ahead of your next home mani!