What You Need to Know About Acrylic and Gel Nails

Somewhere, right now, there are whispers and murmurs being exchanged about a particular technique. Anecdotes, positive encouragement, and stern warnings are all given to new seekers of acrylic or gel manicures.

They’re so, so pretty, fairly low maintenance, and did we mention how pretty they are? Some wearers express their undying love and devotion to the style, while others are on Team Burn Me Once and I’m Done. Why all the confusion? Horror stories of a tortuous, damaging process contrast with those of matches made in mani heaven.

To help allay your doubts or fears, nail care whiz Suzie of Nail Career Education breaks it down about whether your nails are guaranteed to break down. Partnering with scientist and beauty industry consultant Doug Schoon, the pair sum it up with a no. It’s not that simple though.

You’ve been to the nail salon and seen techs routinely ripping nails off of their clients. You cringe but tune out sounds of “Ow!” and “Geez!”. Maybe you or your friends have put your nails and nail beds through a few stints of rehab or physical therapy. Cuts, breaks, and stabs were all part of the scene.

What Doug and Suzie explain is that properly applied, properly maintained, AND properly removed artificial nails won’t damage your natural ones. So how can you tell what’s proper? For one, pretty shouldn’t hurt.

One of the biggest problems stems from removal. Quick pick-and-flicks harshly done by salon technicians are not the correct way. As mentioned by Doug, plucking and prying can damage the nail, leading to splits, flaking, and weakening of the plate.

Listen to Suzie’s personal method in the vid for a safe way to remove gels and acrylics. Nothing about it is lightning fast. But nothing about it will leave you in agony either. Another problem area is the initial application. Tales shared online speak of infections, torn nails, and inflamed nail beds.

Nails shouldn’t be filed but buffed to prepare them for your fake set. If your tech pulls out a drill or starts filing, run. Filing weakens the nail plate, damaging it and possibly the skin under it. For gel sets, layers should be applied to the nails and curing them under the UV light shouldn’t make your fingers feel like they’re on fire.

To maintain your nails, clean them regularly with a nail brush. As your nails grow, you‘ll need to get fill-ins every couple of weeks or so. Fill-ins will close the gap between the cuticle and new nail growth. Missing those could lead to breakage or worse – infection.

Much of the responsibility lies with your tech for using gentle hands on your precious ones, but do your part too. If you are a DIYer, take notes on Suzie’s tips for careful removal. If you take the time do you your own soak, warming the bottle of acetone remover in hot running water first will give it a boost.

So what’s your relationship with acrylic and gel nail sets? Are you a lover, hater, or newbie? Tell us in the comments!