A Deep Dive: Fills

Hey! I heard you’re looking for your weekly dose of A Deep Dive! Say no more, because today we are digging deep and going over our next topic: Fills.


People get really confused by nail terminology because there are so many terms for a single item.


Fills, backfills, infills, refills, rebalances, are all synonyms for the same thing.


For all intents and purposes, I am going to use the word fills from here on out for simplicity. But keep the other forms in the back of your vocabulary just in case you come across them in the future.


I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t believe in getting fills until I learned about nail health in school. (It’s crazy how much you learn in nail school that isn’t practiced in salons!) I just thought you got an entirely new set every time you went to the salon. In fact, I thought your enhancements were SUPPOSED to fall off! You can imagine my embarrassment when I learned that you should only completely remove your nail enhancements no more than twice a year!


Each time you remove enhancements, you rip layers of your nail plate off, thinning and weakening the natural nails. It takes 4-6 months for a completely new nail to grow and replace the damaged nail. Therefore, removing product from the entire nail more than once every 6 months practically ensures continual damage and compromises the integrity of the natural nail.


I was stupefied. How come no salon has ever told me that? Why is this not common knowledge?


Now I totally understand why people always complain and say that acrylic or gel “ruin their nails”. It’s because of the horrible, lazy practices like ripping off nail enhancements and insisting on doing new sets each time you go into the nail salon.


What you SHOULD have been taught was how to properly maintain your nails and how to adhere to a FILL schedule.


Enhancements should be filled every 2-3 weeks to ensure proper balance, adhesion, and nail health. Depending on the prep of your nail during the application, your nail growth rate, your lifestyle, and how well you maintain your nails at home, you may be able to go up to 4 weeks between fills. Each time you get a fill, your nail tech can evaluate your nail plate, remove any lifted areas that can trap water and encourage bacteria growth, and balance the product on the nail place into its appropriate place.


Going longer between fills or not getting fills at all (i.e. improperly removing your nails and getting new sets each time) severely damages your nails. Once your nails have been compromised, there is no way to repair them. Perpetuating this habit will elongate the time it takes for your nails to grow out and replace the damage.


If you do not have intentions of keeping nails on long enough to maintain scheduled fills, you should make it a point to have your enhancements removed properly by a qualified nail professional. Do your due diligence and vet out the right nail tech for you. You can learn about how to properly remove nail enticements via the file-off method HERE and soak-off method HERE.


The process I take to provide a fill to a client is as follows:


  1. Using an e-file, remove gel color, any lifting, and shorten/reshape nails.

  2. Perform the dry prep on all nails.

  3. Apply dehydrator and primer to all nails.

  4. Apply product to regrowth of natural nail, blending and balancing into the existing product.

  5. Refine shape with e-file and hand file to perfect.

  6. Add your favorite color or design.

  7. Top it off with your fave top coat.

  8. Oil up them babies! Hydration is key to healthy nails.

  9. Schedule your next fill before you go!

If you're looking for nail art inspiration and examples of my work, follow me on Instagram and Facebook: @KouklaMouNails



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