Acrylic Nails 101: What You Need to Know Before Your First Set (2024)

Have you ever checked out someone's nails and wondered how they look so strong and healthy? While they could be wearing high-quality press-ons, they could also be rocking an acrylic manicure. Often utilized for longer shapes, such as almond, coffin, and stiletto nails, acrylic manicures help add structure and longevity to any nail look.

While most acrylic manicures are performed in salons, you can also try DIY acrylic nails at home. Of course, before booking an appointment or stocking up on acrylic nail supplies, you might want to brush up on acrylic manicures in general. We're here to help. Ahead, find everything you need to know about acrylic manis, straight from nail pros Morgan Dixon and Mazz Hanna.

Meet the Expert

What Are Acrylic Manicures?

Acrylic nails are lengthening enhancements sculpted with a mix of powder and liquid monomer, Hanna tells us. (Hence why they are also known as L+P.) "We take a brush and dip it into an acrylic liquid—we use this to make a moldable acrylic bead by dipping the wet brush into our acrylic powder," Bellacures nail artist Hayley Dang told us previously. "Once we have our bead, we place it into the nail bed, spreading it until it is even across the length of [the] natural nail and the plastic tip."

Once applied, the acrylic is cured and ready for polish. Depending on how long you want your nail look to last, you can choose from regular polish or gel applications. The technique strengthens and often lengthens the natural nail. While most acrylic manicures feature exaggerated lengths, Dixon says acrylic can be used on any. "It is a great service for people who need extra durability," she explains.

How Long Do Acrylic Manicures Last?

Acrylic manicures typically last between two to five weeks, according to both Dixon and Hannah. As with most manicures, it ultimately depends on how hard you are on your nails. "Acrylic manicures are extremely durable and will last a long time when applied and cared for properly," Hannah says.

The Cost

Nail professionals typically charge around $25 on top of their base gel manicure rate for acrylics, Dixon says. The cost of an acrylic manicure ultimately depends on where you live and the skill level of the artist performing your manicure. Generally, salons in major metropolitan areas get away with charging more. FWIF: When we reported on the seven types of manicures, artists shared that the average acrylic manicure is between $50 and $95, though it will cost more to incorporate detailed nail art.

Safety Considerations

Acrylic manicures are safe so long as they're applied and removed properly. That said, Hanna points out that nowadays, less toxic options—such as Gel X by Apres Nails—can help you achieve similar results.

Still, if you're set on acrylic, she says there are a couple of things you'll want to keep in mind. "When getting acrylic, it's extremely important to make sure that the salon you are going to has proper ventilation for both your and your nail artist's safety," she tells us. "All nail products have chemicals that can be harmful [without] proper ventilation." Additionally, she points out that she wouldn't recommend acrylic nails to people with sensitive skin or allergies, as some people have adverse reactions to L+P.

Does Acrylic Damage Your Nails?

Acrylic nails can absolutely damage your nails if you don't remove them with care—but that goes with pretty much any type of nail enhancement. If you don't take the time to soak your acrylics and gently roll them off your nails (or head to the salon so a professional can remove them properly), you risk peeling off layers of your natural nail. This can make them thin and brittle in the long run. "Professionals know when to stop and what to look out for [when removing acrylic nails]," Dixon says. "If you notice your nails thinning or feeling weak, they are not doing the service correctly."

It's important to note that purposefully peeling or scraping off your acrylic isn't the only thing that can damage your nails—being rough on them can, too. "The natural nail can be damaged from lifting or peeling acrylic," Hanna says. Because of this, she suggests giving your hands a little TLC when going about daily life. "When [performing] tasks that would typically ruin your nails, such as gardening or doing the dishes, be sure to wear gloves to protect your nails," she insists.

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Nails After Removing Acrylics, Straight From Pros

How Do You Remove Acrylic Nails?

The best way to remove acrylic nails is by soaking them off, says Dixon."You can do this by using a nail file to remove the top layer (the top coat and sometimes the top layer of color applied)," she explains. You don't want to file too excessively, though: Dixon says you'll know you've removed enough of the top layer when your nails lack shine and look dull. "From there, soak [your nails] in about half an inch of acetone in a glass bowl or apply nail clips with 100 percent acetone and cotton," she instructs.

Regardless of the method you choose, you'll need to be patient. "I tell my clients it can take about 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how much acrylic is on the nail and how much they were dulled down," Dixon says, noting that the longer you allow them to soak, the easier they'll push off the nail so that no excessive pressure is required.

The Final Takeaway

Acrylic nails are a great option for those looking to strengthen and lengthen their nails. The L+P technique makes all nail looks more durable, so you can look forward to a longer-lasting manicure—which is ideal if you’re investing in your nail art.

The biggest thing to remember when getting acrylics is that proper removal is crucial. If you remove acrylic nails improperly, they can damage your natural nails in the long run—thus rendering the strengthening nail enhancement less beneficial overall.

Gel Nail Extensions: Everything You Need to Know Pre-Salon

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

Introduction

As an expert and enthusiast, I can provide information on a wide range of topics, including acrylic manicures. I have access to a vast amount of information and can provide insights based on that knowledge. Let's dive into the concepts mentioned in this article.

Acrylic Manicures

Acrylic manicures are a popular nail enhancement technique that involves lengthening and strengthening the natural nails using a mix of powder and liquid monomer. The process typically involves creating a moldable acrylic bead by dipping a brush into the liquid monomer and then into the acrylic powder. The bead is then placed on the nail bed and spread evenly across the length of the natural nail and the plastic tip. Once applied, the acrylic is cured and ready for polish. Acrylic manicures can be done in various shapes, such as almond, coffin, and stiletto nails, and they provide structure and longevity to the nail look.

Duration of Acrylic Manicures

The duration of acrylic manicures can vary depending on individual factors and how well they are cared for. On average, acrylic manicures can last between two to five weeks. The longevity of the manicure also depends on how hard you are on your nails. Proper application and maintenance can help extend the lifespan of acrylic manicures.

Cost of Acrylic Manicures

The cost of acrylic manicures can vary depending on factors such as the location and the skill level of the nail artist. On top of the base gel manicure rate, nail professionals typically charge around $25 for acrylics. However, the cost can be higher in major metropolitan areas, and incorporating detailed nail art may also increase the price.

Safety Considerations

When it comes to safety, it's important to ensure that acrylic manicures are applied and removed properly. Proper ventilation in the salon is crucial to minimize exposure to potentially harmful chemicals present in nail products. It's also worth noting that some individuals may have adverse reactions to the liquid monomer and powder used in acrylic manicures, so it's important to be aware of any sensitivities or allergies. Nowadays, there are less toxic options available, such as Gel X by Apres Nails, that can provide similar results.

Potential Nail Damage

Improper removal of acrylic nails can potentially damage the natural nails. It's important to soak the acrylic nails off properly or seek professional assistance for removal. Peeling or scraping off acrylics can lead to thinning and brittleness of the natural nails. It's also important to be gentle with your nails and avoid rough activities that can cause lifting or peeling of the acrylic. Wearing gloves during tasks that may damage the nails, such as gardening or doing the dishes, can help protect them.

Removing Acrylic Nails

The best way to remove acrylic nails is by soaking them off. Start by using a nail file to remove the top layer of the acrylic, including the top coat and color. Then, soak your nails in about half an inch of acetone in a glass bowl or use nail clips with 100 percent acetone and cotton. The soaking process can take around 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the amount of acrylic and how well it has been dulled down. Patience is key to ensure the acrylic easily pushes off the nail without excessive pressure .

Conclusion

Acrylic manicures are a popular choice for those looking to strengthen and lengthen their nails. They provide durability and can last for several weeks with proper care. However, it's important to consider safety precautions, proper removal techniques, and potential nail damage when opting for acrylic manicures. By following the recommended guidelines and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can enjoy the benefits of acrylic manicures while minimizing any potential risks.

I hope this information helps! Let me know if there's anything else I can assist you with.

Acrylic Nails 101: What You Need to Know Before Your First Set (2024)

FAQs

What do I need to know about getting my first acrylic nails? ›

If this is your first time getting acrylics, it's best to start at a shorter length and gradually work your way up to talon-length nails. This ensures you have time to get used to doing everyday things with them — trust us, pretty much everything feels weird in the beginning.

What do you need before applying acrylic nails? ›

After roughing the top of your nail and clipping, apply a nail primer. This will help dry the top of your nail of any natural oils so that the acrylic glue will stick better. Also make sure to round off your nails, push back the cuticles with a cuticle pusher and buff your nail bed.

What nail acrylic is good for beginners? ›

Morovan Acrylic Nails Extension Beginner Kit

It comes with three acrylic colors: white, pink, and clear. The kit also has acrylic powder, liquid, extensions, and a cute glass cup to hold all your brushes while you work. Rave Review: "Great product. Very easy to use.

How many fills before a new set? ›

You can get a fill a few times before you need a new full set. "It depends on the person, but usually, after three to four visits, you need a new set," says Rose.

What are the cons of acrylic nails? ›

One of the biggest disadvantages of acrylic nails is that they can damage your natural nails. Acrylic nails are applied with a strong adhesive, which can cause your natural nails to become weak and brittle. Additionally, the acrylic itself can be harsh on your nails, causing them to become dry and damaged.

Can you teach yourself to do acrylic nails? ›

Acrylic nails are not an easy DIY for amateurs and require some professional experience and training. Here are a few reasons why: · Dealing with Chemicals: Specialist courses are designed to help you learn how to safely use the chemicals that are needed for complex manicures, including extensions and tips.

Is it hard to learn how to do your own acrylic nails? ›

Applying DIY acrylic nails can be both easy and hard, depending on your level of experience and skill. For those who have never done it before, it may take some trial and error to get the hang of it. However, with practice and proper techniques, it can become a relatively simple process.

What's better for nails gel or acrylic? ›

If durability and dramatic length are key, acrylics are the way to go. They're tougher and can be sculpted into long, elaborate designs. However, if you crave a more natural look and prioritize nail health, then a gel manicure might be better.

What happens if you don't put primer before acrylic? ›

Not using a primer or base coat when wearing acrylic nails can increase the risk of several problems: Fungal infections: Without a base coat, moisture can become trapped between the acrylic nail and natural nail, creating a breeding ground for fungus.

What not to do when you have acrylics? ›

Knocking your nails can damage or tear off acrylics, which can be painful and drastically affect the health of your nails. Acrylic nails should not damage the natural nail, unless they are pulled off, therefore it is vital to the health of your nails not to do anything too strenuous.

Why do acrylic nails hurt at first? ›

After getting acrylics, Edwards says that some people may experience a tightening sensation due to the acrylic forming a firm seal over their nails. The sensation may cause your nails to feel sore and sensitive immediately after application.

Which nail kit is best for beginners? ›

Best for Beginners

For gel nail novices, we recommend Sally Hansen. The brand's beginner-friendly starter set clocked a perfect score for ease of use, thanks to the exceptionally simple three-step process and 30-second dry time. Once cured, our nails were hard and smooth without any tackiness.

Does it hurt to get acrylic nails for the first time? ›

In occurrence, it can cause some discomfort. It is due to your nail bed adjusting to them. It happens most often for those who are getting acrylics for the first time.

Are acrylic nails supposed to hurt at first? ›

The sensation may cause your nails to feel sore and sensitive immediately after application. “It's something your nails may not be used to at first, but the feeling usually goes away within the first 24 hours,” she says. Another more serious cause of soreness, however, can be from filing your nails down too short.

Is learning to do acrylic nails hard? ›

Acrylic nails are not an easy DIY for amateurs and require some professional experience and training. Here are a few reasons why: · Dealing with Chemicals: Specialist courses are designed to help you learn how to safely use the chemicals that are needed for complex manicures, including extensions and tips.

How long does it take to do acrylic nails as a beginner? ›

The whole process usually takes about 1.5 to 2.5 hours from start to finish. Getting a complete set of acrylic nails isn't a blink-and-you're-done kind of thing. It takes some time, but it's worth it for those fabulous nails!

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