Rehab Your Nails: How to apply a silk wrap

5:50 PM

We've all been there: you're growing out your nails, they're long and fabulous and all the same length (FINALLY) and then...chaos.  One breaks.  Or worse, splits halfway down so that you have to baby it until it grows out.  Except if you're anything like me you forget to baby it after like, an hour, and then it inevitable rips off painfully. Ouch.  Today's post will not only show you how to fix said break, but also show you how to beef up your natural nails while they're thin or just keep them a bit stronger whenever you feel you need a little more strength! You can wear silk wraps the same way as you wear acrylics but with more of a natural look and less skill!*

*Note: While wraps will cause less damage to your nail when properly applied than would an acrylic they are NOT without their drawbacks.  It will cause minimal surface damage as will any product applied to the top of your nail plate for strength (ie: tips, acrylics, gels, or full coverage false nails).  Wraps do dissolve easily in acetone and should be repaired or replaced every four weeks for maximum strength.

These are the basic supplies you will need to give yourself a wrap.  Some of them, as always, are optional.  I don't think that tweezers, Bond-Aid (or a dehydrator), or accelerator are strictly necessary.  However, if you are not going to use a nail dehydrator I strongly suggest substituting acetone or alcohol because it does really help the resin adhere.  Also, the accelerator is a BIG help since you won't have to wait forever for the resin to set.  You will also need a pair of nail scissors, which I forgot to picture.

This is a picture of the resin and accelerator.  I'm using ASP here but I really recommend Rap Stick. It's sold at Sally's Beauty Supply and it's not incredibly expensive (about $10 for both the accelerator and the resin).  It's much thicker than the ASP, the lid doesn't get glued shut (major bummer), and it's a bit cheaper.  Resin is only good for 6 months so don't buy a ton of it if you don't plan on using it.  Also, I use the Swiss Silk 40 pack of pre-cut silk wraps which can also be purchased at Sally's Beauty Supply for around $4.  If you do choose to use a resin/accelerator set PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE purchase the same brand and be VERY careful with them.  Accelerator should be LIGHTLY spritzed at a distance of about 6 inches from your nail.  Trust me, you don't need much.  If you over spray your nail (spray too close or too many times) you WILL burn the crap out of your finger.  It hurts. A lot. I've done it and it feels like sticking your finger onto a hot coal.  It doesn't cause residual damage and it only lasts a few seconds but if you do it once you won't want to do it again!! I hold my accelerator about 6 inches from my nail and lightly spritz twice.  You may want to spritz it once onto your paper towel to be sure there isn't anything jamming up the dispenser. You want an even, light spray of accelerator.

Here's how to apply the wraps:

This is the nail I'm applying a wrap to.  It's not broken, it's just thin and I wanted to keep it thicker to prevent it breaking while it was growing out.  Start by doing a basic cuticle care routine. Then swipe nail with alcohol or acetone to clean the plate. Then buff lightly to remove the shine and use the Bond Aid or alcohol to dehydrate the nail plate. Don't touch the nail after you've dehydrated it or you'll defeat the purpose.

Next tilt your nail at an angle towards you. If you use the ASP resin be aware that it is SUPER thin. It's like pouring water down your nail plate. I bought tip extenders to use with mine to make it easier. The Rap Stick is much thicker and easier to control. You might want to slide a paper towel in between your finger and your hand so that if resin drips off the nail (which won't happen with Rap Stick!) it won't go all over your hand.

Now drop a TINY dot of the resin towards the top of your nail but NOT TOUCHING YOUR CUTICLE. Rule of thumb is 1/16 of a inch or enough space to be able to turn a file at a 45 degree angle without hitting the skin. Since the resin I use is thin I form a TINY bead on the extender cap and then just place it at the base of my nail. As it runs down towards the free edge, use the tip of the glue to spread it evenly over the nail. Try to avoid the skin.  If you're using the Rap Stick this is going to be a lot easier for you since the resin is more of a gel. You can place the bead and use the cap to spread it while gently squeezing the bottle to dispense more as needed. You just need a thin coat, nothing super thick.

This is the gap I left between my nail and the cuticle. You could leave a little more but don't leave less. If it hits the skin your wrap will lift. After the resin is down use the tweezers to place the wrap on the nail plate.  It should also start about 1/16" from the cuticle.  Press the wrap down with the tweezers or an orange stick (or use a plastic bag to smooth it out so that you don't stick yourself to the nail!). It should sort of disappear on the nail.  Once it's down, spray twice with the accelerator. Reminder! Spray from a distance of 6 inches or you will burn the holy crap out of your finger. It hurts. Trust me.  Next you can use your nail scissors to nip the excess wrap of the tip or sides of your finger.  You can use a file to file off any excess that can't be removed with your scissors.  Then add two more coats of resin the same way as before.  You don't need to add more than one silk wrap, just the extra resin.  Spray them to set between coats.

Here is my finished wrap.  When you're finished applying and setting resin you can use a buffer to buff the wrap smooth.  Just be careful to buff gently and not buff off all the resin!  You can add cuticle oil which will not only soothe your cuticles but will also help you see where there are lumps in the resin.  To upkeep a wrap you should add two more coats of resin two weeks from the initial application and at four weeks you'll want to add another silk wrap.  If you're using it to grow out a break you can soak the wrap off easily when the break has reached the free edge.  Be aware also that if you remove your polish a lot or use acetone you'll need to apply the wrap more frequently since it will dissolve.  If you're running short on time a quick coat or two of resin with no wrap can also add strength to nails as well as curb breaks, peels, and tears in the nail.  

I hope you're all enjoying this series!! There will be a final rehab post on May 26th which will also kick off my Rehab Your Nails giveaway!! I can't wait to share it with you all!

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  1. Great job. I want to try this on my thumb to help grow out a splt that wont go away.

  2. Cool, This is how I do mine, Except I used the IBD? brush on gel resin...

  3. this is terrific information- reblogging thanks Bee!

  4. Great post, Thanks! I have been applying extensions and wraps to my nails for fifteen years, on and off, and have recently begun experiencing shattering of the resin layer after using accelerator. What is going wrong?

    1. It's possible the resin is no good, it's not compatible with your nails (and that can happen over time even using the same product), it's being applied too thickly or many other things. I'd have someone look at it to determine the actual cause OR try a new brand and see if that doesn't solve your problem. :)

  5. Great post I have just purchased all these items but my nails are very short some have a free edge of maybe 1/16th (maybe)... others have no visible free edge. Is there a minimum length of free edge that you recommend before applying silk wraps ?

    to get a better idea compared to the free edge of the nail in the pictures of the post, my nails is just a bit below half of that

    1. There is no minimum length but just for health and balance reasons I recommend to clients that they do have SOME free edge before they start using wraps. Since they are intended to repair nails or strengthen the free edge, there isn't a lot of point if there is nothing to strengthen! As long as there is a free edge, you can use wraps! You can also use them in conjunction with nail tips to create less harsh acrylics.

    2. Okay thanks you :)

  6. Just tried this now with a little ASP kit from Sally Beauty. I had a dream the other day that my nails, which always peel, started to peel in the middle of the nail plate instead of at the edge.. I had to go to the salon to repair them and oddly wraps were what the nail tech wanted... some more crazy stuff happened to solve the dream problem, needless to say, I woke up FREAKED out! Normally I deal with ragged, frayed tips and they catch on everything in addition to being soft and thin. I woke up that morning knowing I needed to follow up and wrap them. I had my daughter trim the silk on my right hand with nail scissors. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of two tips when I filed the excess fabric down, but your tips here did steer me correctly through terra incognita. Thanks, Bee!

  7. If you polish over the wrap can you change the polish without re-doing the wrap?


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