Nail Prep, whats in it, is it a waste of time?

Thymol Nail Prep step1

Nail Prep, whats in it. In this article we investigate if their is any true purpose to Nail Prep. We look at what goes into it and if all brands are the same.

Nail Prep, whats in it? is it a waste of time?

Recently one of our wholesale, area suppliers asked a very interesting question. She had received this query from more than one nail tech. The question goes something like this, “is nail prep not simply acetone?” It turns out much to my surprise that in fact loads of people use Acetone to prep their nails. Probably we should check up and see more about acetone is. If you want to read a full scholarly report you can do so by linking here>>.

However one point in that article is worth repeating here “Acetone is an irritant and inhalation may lead to hepatotoxic effects (causing liver damage).” 

Our bodies actually produce Acetone in tiny quantities, as a waste product, more so in diabetics. A waste product indicates that our bodies try to get rid of the stuff not get more in! It is a very old solvent and produced from propylene. It is great to clean stuff but is a skin irritant. Furthermore it is far from the best cleaning means for nails.

What is in nail prep

Nail prep contains many ingredients. You can buy brand names that are no more than Isopropanol and water! Then you get better ones that have 2 or even 3 or more ingredients, each doing a slightly different job. The main ingredients in the most powerful and expensive products are isopropyl alcohol, Ethyl acetate and Butyl acetate. The other ingredients are propriety and no company would reveal them as they are not flammable, these ingredients enhance the effect of the prep. Adding water is not a good idea as this will only slow the drying process down.

So what does it do?

Firstly let me say right now not only is it NOT a waste of time but in fact vitally important. You would never consider not finishing with a top coat because you know the manicure simply would not last. Why then consider leaving out the prep?

So what does nail prep do? Nail Prep is a Degreasing Liquid that is used to gently Dehydrate the Natural Nail Surface, before proceeding with the Application of the Nail Primer prior to gel polish nail art or acrylic powder and liquid. The “mission” of Nail Prep, to put it simply and accurately is to Cleanse the Natural Nail, removing any oily trace. Sure you may argue acetone would do something like that but I would suggest that drinking pure alcohol, instead of the kind bought in a store, will get you horribly drunk at 10% of the price, it also could kill you! You see two similar effects ones works the other is likely going to do you harm.

Professionally researched products simply make sense

Nail preps have been developed over years in a laboratory, tested and improved IT IS NOT THE SAME AS ACETONE!

You may read about D.I.Y methods to make your own. Really not advisable. You will save very little money and be mixing some chemicals form the pharmacy! This does not mean they are pharmaceutical grade. In fact quite the opposite, they would contain other ingredients as well which may even have a negative effect! You will mix in quantities advised by someone on YouTube with no credentials at all, rather than a chemist in a laboratory with zillions of dollars worth of equipment. It is as foolish as mixing your own petrol for your car. Bet nobody would try that!

Is it a waste of time?

Simply put the answer is, it’s only a waste of time if you want your service to work! If you do not mind lifting leave it out Nail PrepJoking aside you simply cannot do without it. it is not expensive, takes seconds to dry and will stop lifting, do not forget the primer, after prep and before base. Like any good construction, the foundation is the most important part! By the way primer is a totally different product and we can look into it in a later article.

It is not advisable to use “Prep/primer combos”.  To try and explain the reason for this, 2 in 1 shampoo is also cool but does it work as well as individual shampoo and conditioner? The prep cleanses, once clean you add primer, by putting both on at the same time you not doing the cleaning properly and the priming is getting mixed in with cleansing! Sounds messy and it is. For a very small additional investment get both!

Thymol Dehydrator

These so called Dehydrator/Thymols are what? They are alcohol based and contain such a small amount of Thymol, that their manufacturers do not even advertise the percentage. Probably your local supplier has no idea how much Thymol it contains. They likely have no more Thymol than mouth wash does!  Those products may work against fungus but should not be used instead of prep. Your proof is that they sold in large bottles for less than the same companies Nail Prep product. Obviously it cannot be the same thing. Pure Thymol is expensive! 100% Thymol would be far too powerful. Scientific research is most often done using a 4% Thymol concentration.

QD Thymol Prep

QD has a similar 50ml Thymol Solution (also 5% pure Thymol). Thymol solution should be used either before prep or on clients who are not having any polish or enhancement but have weak or yellow nails, not to be used instead of prep. For this QD has introduced Thymol prep, a nifty idea. It is exactly the same formulation as our prep but with 5% Thymol, you can use on all your clients to kill bacteria and fungus as well as properly prepping. Thymol Prep is for all clients but should you have a client with serious fungal infection do not use. Rather let them see a doctor or if they do not want to, we have our TNT+ for fungal infection.


Nail prep is a fundamental part of nail enhancement and is definitely not a waste of time. Using cheap alternatives will not only not work properly, but may cause harm to your nails. Do the right thing use Prep every time for an optimal and lasting finish!

Thanks for reading this article, happy nailing!

Are you interested in QD Anti Fungal Anti Bacterial products? Take a look here for more info

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