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Acrylic Nails—Your Ultimate Guide To Fake

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Acrylic nails are the original falsies, and the most common type of artificial manicure found in cheaper salons. They are often the least expensive option for full-on fake nails, and their tried-and-true reputation satiates nail stylists of all sorts. If you’ve been considering acrylic claws, read on to know what to expect both in and out of the salon.

APPLICATION

The nail itself is created by dipping a brush into a chemical liquid and then into a powder,  creating a gel-like substance that is then thickly painted over your fingernails. The acrylic solution won’t stick to bare nails on their own, so the top layer of the nail must be buffed away by a small electric drill (if you ever hear complaints about thin, brittle nails from acrylics—this is why).

The thinned nail plate is then painted with a dehydrating solution which dries up any natural oils—all to ensure the acrylic bonds with the nail as strongly as possible. Long acrylics are created by gluing plastic tips to the nail edge and sizing down appropriately. The acrylic solution is then painted over both the real nail and the tip, creating instant length without the growing pains. The acrylic will harden instantly and can be buffed and filed into the square- and oval-tipped shape of your dreams.

REMOVAL

Removing acrylics can bit tricky. Some salons will soak the individual nails in nail polish remover to loosen them from the nail bed. After that, they may either file them off using the electric buffer, or simply pry them loose using small clippers or even the thin edge of a plastic nail tip.

REAPPLICATION

If you aren’t quite ready for a fresh set, you can opt to have a nail “fill” instead, where the grown out portion of the nail base is filled in with more acrylic. Re-shaping and a polish change will help them look brand new, but it’s generally good idea (money permitting) to get a new set of acrylics every few months so you can see and monitor the health of your nails underneath.

PROS

Nail polish can be applied to and removed from acrylics just as on natural nails with virtually no chipping. Endless nail art opportunities and The endless long lasting nail art possibilities and affordable price are major pluses.

CONS

Cheaper salons often use acrylic solution containing methyl methacrylate (or MMA)—a toxic chemical substance which is not approved by the FDA and technically illegal in the States. MMA acrylics are especially difficult to remove and the solution itself has a strong scent. MMA nails are also rock hard and will not flex along with your nail, causing potential painful breakages. An easy way to check if a salon uses MMA is to read the ingredient label. If a salon refuses to let customers read a bottle, it’s a clear indication something isn’t right.

In the end, acrylics did more damage to our nails than to our pocketbooks, but our manicure lasted for weeks! The strength of the acrylic made our nails feel rock solid, but a fear of painfully breaking them kept us from putting them under more stress than they’ve already been through. Acrylics may be old fashioned and a little risky, but all in all, we were happy with our crazy claws—no matter how criminal they might be.

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