Everything You Need to Know About Acrylic Nails

By Marcella Kukulka

 

There are going to be countless nail technicians who will try to sell you acrylic nails and swear that they won’t do you any damage. And while that may be true the first couple of times, if you don’t go to an outstanding salon or you don’t know much about the maintenance of acrylics, say goodbye to your beautiful manicure! Take it from someone who has been down this sad road before and read up on everything you need to know about acrylic nails. 

 Application of the acrylic mixture. 

Application of the acrylic mixture. 

What are acrylics - how do they work? 

The process of applying acrylics is an interesting yet lengthy process in which plastic extensions are placed over your fingernails as a fashion accessory. While many people choose to mimic the real appearance of fingernails as closely as possible, others like to play around with different shapes and sizes (ie. claws, 3D nail art). As for the application process, the nail bed is filed down to create a rough surface for the glue to seamlessly adhere the plastic extension to the natural nail. Afterwards, the artificial nail is molded out of an acrylic mixture (a polymer powder and liquid monomer), properly shaped, and buffed to a shine. After hardening, the acrylic nails can stay on for up to two weeks before needing maintenance. 


 Nails that need filling below cuticle.

Nails that need filling below cuticle.

Wait, What: Maintenance?! 

If you’ve been paying any attention during your years on earth, you’ve probably noticed that your fingernails grow fairly quickly. To keep your acrylics looking in tip-top shape, some upkeep is required. Every two weeks, you will need to make an appointment at the salon for filling, which is adding more acrylic to the gap that has formed in between your cuticle and nail bed. The nail technician will also add more adhesive if the acrylics have cracked in any places or are starting to lift off the natural nail bed. The acrylics will also require filing and reshaping if they have become uncomfortably long. 


 Removal is done by soaking a cotton ball in acetone, placing it on top of the nail, and then covering in tin foil for about 30 minutes. 

Removal is done by soaking a cotton ball in acetone, placing it on top of the nail, and then covering in tin foil for about 30 minutes. 

What about removal? 

The removal of artificial nails is a completely separate time-consuming process; the acrylics have to soak in acetone for 30 minutes and are then scraped off of your natural nail bed. It is important to have a technician for the removal process so that they can make sure the nail is healthy. If a nail has been on for a long period of time without filling its cracks, fungus can get under the acrylic and cause bacterial infections. 


  Damaged nails after removing acrylics too roughly.

Damaged nails after removing acrylics too roughly.

What other problems can arise? 

If fitted properly by a professional nail technician, artificial nails are usually not problematic. However, long-term improper use can seriously damage the nail bed and affect nail growth. With the constant filing down of the nail bed every time acrylics are applied, your natural nails can get very frail and prone to breakage. To avoid this issue, you can always avoid the filing, but just beware that the acrylics will probably not stick on for as long. Something as harmless as scraping a nail against a firm surface can cause separation of the acrylics from the nail bed. Not only can this be painful, but it also damages the nail bed by stripping off its topmost layers.


 Example of beautiful, healthy acrylic nails. 

Example of beautiful, healthy acrylic nails. 

This all sounds bad - should I still get acrylics? 

While there are many risks to consider, there are also many positives to having acrylic nails. They can prevent people from biting their nails, give you an extraordinary manicure for a special event, and in general are a fun accessory to any outfit! As long as you have an trustworthy nail technician and understand that the price of maintenance can add up fast, you don’t need to worry about anything else. You’ll be on the road to luxury nails in no time!