Professional Beauty
Professional Beauty



When it comes to acrylic nails, arch placement really is everything. It’s the foundation to strong enhancements that clients will want from you time and time again. However, getting the arch placement right is probably one of the toughest things for nail techs to achieve Colour Riot Nails founder Tinu Bello gives us the lowdown on understanding the arch to ensure you get accurate apex placement.

Where should the arch placement be?

“Your arch placement should be in the middle of your client’s nail, known as the stress zone (aka the apex). It should transcend nicely from the cuticle to just over the free-edge and shouldn’t be too high or bulgy,” explains Bello. Correct apex placement requires the acrylic at the cuticle being flush, the acrylic at the apex being thicker because this is the stress area, and the acrylic at the free-edge being thinner.

“Another thing to think about is the symmetry because if the arch placement isn’t symmetrical then you will do the enhancement wrong,” says Bello. “If the side walls aren’t straight then the apex will receive the stress, which isn’t good for the client’s natural nail. This is why your side walls always have to be as straight as a ruler. There should be no indents either and you shouldn’t be able to see the natural nail.”

What are the big no-nos?

Bello explains there are a few mistakes techs can make when trying to get the arch placement right. “If you’ve put the arch placement too high on the client’s nail then unfortunately the only thing you can do is carry on. Then, you will have to work hard to file that nail down and that’s where the arm work comes in,” she says.

“Doing the arch placement too low or starting too thick at the bottom of the nail bed are also big issues. Plus, if it’s too flat or there’s no arch at all, then there will be a lot of stress on the nail bed and the set will probably break within a few days, if not a few hours.” Be aware of having the acrylic too thick at the free-edge too.

Is it better to use tips or forms?

Bello states that this is down to personal choice and experience, adding: “Both methods are fine but, in my opinion, forms are a much more advanced skill. Using tips is easier and quicker than cutting and using a form, which has to be placed correctly. However, you still need to adapt tips to the client’s nails in the same way you would forms as this is key to delivering a good set of acrylics that will last.”


Tinu Bello is founder of Colour Riot Nails salon in Shoreditch, London.

This article appears in the April 2021 Issue of Professional Beauty

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This article appears in the April 2021 Issue of Professional Beauty