Getting acrylic applied to your natural nails is a quick way to lengthen and strengthen thin, chipped or chewed nails. You can also use them to make a fashion statement by having them detailed or painted any color you like. There is a myriad of choices for artificial nails; you are sure to find something to suit you. When getting your nails done, there are a few things to consider.
- Choosing a salon. There are two types of nail salons - ones that use drills and ones that use manual files. I have found that when the technician uses a drill file, the result is a smoother, thinner more natural shaped nail. Although a skilled technician can accomplish this with a manual file as well, I find that technicians often lack that skill. One benefit to choosing a salon that uses manual drills is that you are likely to be issued a new set of files that are set aside and labeled with your name; you are assured that you are the only client on whom those files are used.
Another thing to consider is the salon’s hygiene practices. Make sure that the salon you choose uses proper sterilization techniques. They should use new or just sterilized equipment with each customer. If their practices aren’t apparent, then ask.
If you have family or friends who have their nails done, ask who they would recommend. You can learn a great deal from other’s experiences at a nail salon.
- Getting your acrylic nails applied. After you choose the salon, you can make an appointment. Otherwise, many salons allow walk-ins. If you don’t know how your salon handles appointments, call them first. Walking in without an appointment will save you some waiting time if you go when the salon first opens. There will be fewer customers, if any, ahead of you. Be sure you allow plenty of time for your first visit. In my experience the application of a full set of acrylic nails can take up to 2 ½ hours if the tech is using a manual file. If you are going to a salon that uses drills, the time can be cut in half. On maintenance or “a fill” appointment, it can take up to an hour for a technician using a manual file, and maybe half that with a drill.
While you wait for the technician to set up their station you will usually get the opportunity to choose the nail polish that you would like to have applied. You will be asked to sit at a booth where you will place your elbows on a cushion and extend your arms toward the technician giving him/her easier access to your hands. They will trim and buff your nails, then apply plastic tips that will extend the length of your nails. They then apply the acrylic on top and trim, shape and buff the nails to make them look more natural.
After applying the acrylic, the technician usually asks you to settle the bill so that you won’t have to go digging in your purse with newly polished nails, risking one of them getting smudged. Then the polish or airbrush technique is applied and you are asked to wait the prescribed time, usually 5 to 15 minutes, with your nails under a UV light or held in front of a fan to speed the drying process.
- Maintaining your nails. How hard you are on your nails and how fast they grow will determine how often you’ll need to visit the salon for repairs and fills. On average, you will need to visit every two weeks to have the gap between the acrylic and your cuticle (where the nail has grown out) filled with more acrylic.
Check your nails regularly for any discoloration. Fungus can grow between your natural nail and the acrylic if moisture gets trapped where the acrylic has lifter or if proper hygiene is not observed during application. If you notice anything that makes you suspicious, bring it to the attention of your technician. They are trained to recognize and treat nail fungus. It may be necessary to remove the acrylic until your nails are healthy again. In severe cases you may need to see your physician to get a prescription to clear up the fungus.
- Having nails removed. If you decide to have your acrylic nails removed, the best way to do this is to go back to the salon and have them soak the acrylic off. They have a solution that will dissolve the acrylic. Tearing them or filing them off could remove too much of your natural nail, leaving them thin and sore and very fragile.
When maintained properly, acrylic nails can make your real nails longer, stronger and more attractive. A trip to the salon is a great inexpensive way to escape from the daily hustle and pamper yourself.