Nail Technology Terminology

Glossary of Nail Technology Terminology

The terminology used in nail technology can be very confusing at times. Many terms are unclear, ambivalent, or downright backward and upside down! Sometimes it can be hard for new techs (and even veterans) to be sure what is being discussed or described when watching a video, taking a class, reading manufacturer instructions, or simply chatting with a client or fellow professional.

This list contains standardized definitions of many commonly used terms, procedures, products, chemicals, MSDS/chemical terms, and nail anatomy as used regarding natural nails and nail enhancements.

This glossary will likely be a perpetual project in process and we welcome any discussions of alternate definitions (we’re not perfect, mistakes can happen!), and requests for additional terms to be added. Direct email regarding omissions or corrections to:
ABS Plastic
Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene monomers, a co-polymer used in the manufacture of most plastic nail tips.

A substance added or applied that takes part in a chemical reaction, meaning that it becomes part of the finished product. See "catalyst" also.

Having a pH of less than 7. Vinegar and lemon juice are acids. See also "pH".

Acid Primer
Acrylic acid primer; usually refers to methacrylic acid type primers (MAP) that promote adhesion between thenatural nail and enhancement product.

Solvent used to break down nail polish and acrylics. A chemical in the ketone family. Acetone is neither better or worse than non-acetone polish removers. Non-acetone polish removers are made from MEK – methyl ethyl ketone, also a member of the ketone family.

Generally refers to two-part liquid monomer and powdered polymer nail systems.

Acute Effects
Adverse health effects caused by sudden or short-term exposure. Refe