Nail Wraps

By Lynda Gregory Friesen
 21  Jan  2017



A Little History of

Wrap Nails


Nail wraps have been around in some form or fashion since the 1920s. Early manicurists repaired nail breaks using tea bags or coffee filters. It has been rumored the early Egyptians used paper to wrap their nails. Wrapped nails hit the mainstream American nail scene around 1980 with the introduction of Linen Batiste Nails’ line of linen fabrics and adhesives (“The History of Nail Care, 2003). They quickly expanded their line to include silk fabric. At that time, the fabric was on a roll of 1” wide fabric that was stretched across the nail, glued a little at a time, waiting for the glue to dry in one area before moving on to the next. The nail technician would continue to stretch and glue until the entire nail was covered, then the excess fabric was cut away from the sidewalls and free edge. Because there were no glue dry accelerators the process could get bogged down if the humidity was high, which increased glue dry times. Today, manufacturers produce precut self-adhesive backed wrap material and glue dry accelerators making application less time consuming.


Fabric Choice and the Application Process

Fiberglass, silk and linen are the most common fabrics used today to create nail wraps.  However, paper, cotton fibers, and in a pinch even toilet paper can be used to save a nail from breaking. So, just about any fibrous material can be used to wrap the nail and add strength. While fiberglass and linen are good choices for wrapping nails, linen remains white when applied and the fiberglass mesh pattern is also visible on the nail, which means you have to finish with an opaque color if you want to conceal the fabric. Silk fabric is virtually invisible on the nail, therefore can be worn clear or a French/American manicure finish may be applied, this makes silk the more flexible choice for wrapping nails, allowing the wearer to choose color or au naturel. Silk wrap nails can be applied over a plastic tip if added length is desired or directly to the natural nail; even short nails can be wrapped. A piece of silk fabric is cut to fit each nail and applied with glue or resin. Several additional coats of resin are applied to add strength and durability to the nails. The wrapped nails are then shaped and smoothed to finish. It is recommended to seal the nail with either traditional polish or gel polish to protect the material from the elements, i.e. sun, water, detergents, hair products, and so forth.

The Benefits of Silk Wrap Nails

Silk wrap nails are by far the most natural looking nail enhancement on the market, they are thin so they look like a really strong version of your own nail. In fact, people will ask you, “Are those your nails?”. Silk wraps allow most wearers to have the length of nail they desire.  Because the silk product is lightweight and only the shine is removed from your natural nail during application there is very little damage if any to your natural nail. Silk wrap nails are a great way to transition out of acrylic or hard gel nails. People who are allergic to acrylic or gel polish can generally wear wraps with no problem since it is a different chemical makeup (B. Rubin, 2014).  Anyone with weak nails that split, peel or break will see marked improvement in appearance and strength of nails while wearing silk wraps.

Are Silk Wrap Nails Right For You?

Honestly, silk wrap nails don’t always work perfectly for everyone. Silk wraps work great for about 85% of clients. For those who fall into the other 15%, this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t wear them, just that they might have more problems, such as poor long-term adhesion and nail breaks, requiring the nail professional to replace the silk more often. This Nail Specialist has found there is often an adjustment period, a settling in if you will, once the nails and the client adjusts to having silk on, even if problematic in the beginning, this generally improves over time.
An experienced professional can look at your nails, quiz you about your lifestyle and previous nail enhancement history and give you and idea of whether silk wraps are the right fit for you or not. There are so many variables involved with the success of silk wraps, for example, the thickness of the natural nail, the texture of the natural nail, how oily the natural nail is, how dry the natural nail is, how much constant exposure to water there is, the kind of work a person does, if sports are played, if yard work is performed, does the person abuse her nails, using them as tools, etc. The only true way to determine whether silk wrap nails are right for you is to wear them for a while and see how it goes.
Like any nail enhancement silk wraps nails do require a commitment to maintenance. The manufacturers of wrap systems recommend that every two weeks you should see your nail professional for maintenance. Failure to receive timely maintenance can result in product breakdown, i.e. lifting, separation of the wrap and nail breakage. Experience has also proven this to be the best time frame for the majority of clients to assure success with silk wraps. At any time, the silk wraps can be safely removed by soaking in acetone and your natural nail will be as it was before.
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Smith-Dane , E. (2013, July 12). Damage Caused by Electric Nail Drill. Retrieved January 21, 2017, from