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All About Acrylic Nails

Fake 'Em Till You Make 'Em: Acrylic Nails 101

There are few people with long, perfect nails who aren't using at least a little — and usually a lot — of acrylic nail powder. Acrylic powder is a polymer that, combined with a setting agent, creates a resin with properties similar to your natural nails, except even stronger and more flexible. Which means it's a great way to cover up a myriad of nail issues, and a life-saver even for non-biters and people who've never had a chip. To learn about the best ways to use acrylic for yourself, keep reading.


  • Structural support. As your nails get longer, they almost always get thinner, too, and the length increases your risk of cracks and chips. A little dab of acrylic, though, can keep even the most fragile nails together, and protects from breakage.
  • To add a little length. You like your nail length for daily wear, but maybe you've got an event coming up where it would be nice to have a little more. Acrylic tips are a good choice because, unlike drugstore glue-on nails, which cover your entire nail, the tips just stick on the end of the nails you already have and look a lot more natural. They also stay on until you get them taken off, not 'til the nail glue wears out.
  • To change your nails' shape for fun or after a bad manicure. Ever had a mani where the technician both shortened your nails way too much and left them in a shape that made you want to cry? This is where acrylics can be a life-saver. You can get tips in any shape you like, from square to almond, and they'll stay on until your natural nails have had a chance to grow out.

Photo by Flickr user Joe Shlabotnik

Miss-Bree Miss-Bree 7 years
yuck. I've gotten them occasionally since high school, however I've now sworn off. Not only do they kill your nails underneath, I now think they look really trashy. Anyone can tell when you're wearing them. I just think that shorter and well maintained natural nails always look better.
nicky360 nicky360 7 years
I wore them on and off for about ten years until I had a horrible allergic reaction to the powder. My nail beds were swollen and I had red rashes covering my fingers. Definitely a DON'T!!
Frenched Frenched 7 years
OMG. I'm totally having issues with my acrylic nails right now. My natural nail has ridges and they have weakened so much. I just don't think that's healthy. Plus, my nails grow really fast so it's also costly to get 'em done every two weeks. They're pretty but, I think I'll just stick with short but chic nails for now.
oni1 oni1 7 years
i've also had a horrible experience. they left my natural nails so thin, soft and weak. and all that soaking in acetone trying to remove them can't possibly be good for me. i won't try them again for a long time, if ever.
Lori-Gragg Lori-Gragg 7 years
I had my nails done a couple of yrs. ago,and one day when I was getting into the car,I somehow hit it on the door handle,and popped one of my nails loose,and it took my natural nail with it not all the way,but I could lift it up and see the skin under my nail,and it bleed for about 15 min.and hurt sooooooooooo bad,and then I had to stick my finger in acetone and it burned,and took forever to get them all off,,and I've never had them done again.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I just think shorter nails that are filed are so much nicer looking than longer nails - especially the obvious acrylic nails.
weffie weffie 7 years
i agree with sham & jaclyn, i got acrylics a few years ago and i was horrified by what it did to my real nails. a few of my friends love them, but they've been getting them for so long their natural nails are way too weak to even try to grow them out... so i guess they "love" acrylics like an alcoholic "loves" booze :P
beauty-and-brains beauty-and-brains 7 years
I had acrylic nails for about 3 months this past summer and my nails are still recovering from them. I had deep ridges in my nails and they were are really weak. They sure looked pretty, but it wasn't worth destroying my natural nails. And, I spent about $30 every two weeks to keep them in good shape. Not worth it!
sham28 sham28 7 years
DON'T DO IT! They cost a fortune and destroy your nails. Take pre-natal vitamins, they help a LOT with nail growth (and hair) and get a layer of gel with your next manicure for support and strength.
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