I’ve always wanted to be that woman that, who, to paraphrase Swizz Beatz, has her hair done, nails done, everything did. But I've also always been aware of the grim stories that can come with getting acrylic nails, so have long shied away from the salon and getting I-have-my-life-together nails.
Until one day I just did it on a whim, and I have to be honest, I was beyond happy with the results. I opted for a bit of length in a squoval shape to ease me into the world of acrylics and it really wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.
The upkeep is minimal, but necessary, especially if you want your mani to last and your nails underneath to look healthy. When you don’t have acrylics, small things that you should to do for healthy nails but you don’t (we’re human, after all) become a necessity like wearing gloves when you’re cleaning the flat and keeping your hands and nails moisturised. Want #nailfie-worthy talons? You’re going to have to keep cuticle oil and hand lotion in your bag and on your bedside table.
If you're considering taking the plunge, here's absolutely everything you need to know before, during and after getting acrylics. There are so many shapes to choose from you can have a look at our easy guide here. And when you’ve picked that, you’ll have a field day with nail art and designs.
Follow the steps below, and I promise your manicure won't end up as a viral salon horror story.
1. Prep work is everything
It’s all well and good wanting acrylic nails but first, you need to make sure your actual nails can handle them. If you nails are brittle or weak then you need to get them back to optimal health before going near acrylics.
Ama Quashie, session manicurist and founder of AMA the salon, suggests jojoba oil as a natural strengthener. “Often a lot of nail strengtheners will have formaldehyde in them,” she warns. “A completely natural nail strengthener is jojoba oil – its one of the only oils that the nail fully absorbs.”
2. Do your research
Did you know there are a million different options for false nails? Ok maybe not a million, but there's definitely a lot. Do you want powder dip, gel acrylics or sculptured nails? Salons usually offer one of these types of false nails, so if you’re set on a specific formula/application, be sure to check the salon menu prior to booking.
3. Check the instruments
Sounds obvious, but it’s so important to make sure that the tools that your nail tech is using are sterilised before you start your appointment. Unsterilised tools can lead to nasty infections – which is not only a bit grim, but will also ruin the overall look of your manicure.
4. Don’t skip the manicure side
The significance of the manicure side of your appointment is two fold. Firstly, acrylics can’t stick to the cuticle, so if you don’t get them taken care of your brand new nails won’t last as long before they need redoing. Secondly, it looks so much neater. That’s all.
5. Decide on your shape and length
This is the most fun part of the appointment, along with choosing the colour. If you’re a complete newbie to nail shapes I’d opt for oval, because it’s the most classic shape. Then you need to decide on the length. Now, you might be tempted to go long but trust me, if this is your first time you will regret this – it’s much smarter to start short as you get used to having fancy nails, then get them filled in as they grow longer.
6. Take care
So now you have your shiny new nails, it’s time to protect them from getting completely wrecked by day-to-day life. We're always going to have to do the boring stuff like clean the shower and wash the dishes (ugh). So whenever you’re using any cleaning products, especially ones that contain bleach, make sure to wear gloves as they'll prevent the chemicals from messing with your mani.
Nails, meet your new best friend, cuticle oil. “Use cuticle oil religiously. Have a mini bottle in your handbag and apply as and when you have a spare moment, or if your nails look particularly dry,” advises Ama. This will keep your nails strong and the skin around them healthy.
8. Remove and rebalance with care
A lot of the damage associated with acrylics happens because of improper removal. Many salons have been known to use drills to file the acrylic off, but this will also remove layers of your own nail. Instead, it's best to soak each nail in acetone for 30 minutes, this breaks down the acrylic so that it can be removed without causing long-term damage to your nails.
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