I caved. I got acrylic tips on my nails.
I know, I know. Most of you are probably aghast right now, saying to yourself, "Kara, those are going to RUIN your nails! Why would you do that?"
I am very aware of the effects of acrylic nails on natural nails. I did a little bit of reading before I went out to get them, but once I got the idea in my head I couldn't shake it. Everyone tells me to get gel nails, but I haven't been swayed by them yet. I always end up peeling the thick layer of polish off my nails, and they end up way more damaged than they were before.
So I marched my butt into a nail salon in Northeast Minneapolis and had acrylic tips applied to my fingernails.
You see, my fingernails suck. They're bendy and chip and split and no amount of OPI Nail Envy or avocado smoothies can help them. That's why I keep them covered with press-on nails most of the time. I love my press-ons, but eventually they start to show wear or pop off unexpectedly. They have a week expiration date, and at $8 a box that can add up.
So I figured, if I get acrylics, that's about $25 at first and then $10 to $12 for a fill every two weeks or so. Seems legit. And if I hate them, I can get them removed and use press-ons to cover up the damage until they get right again. I don't mind being chained to a fill every few weeks; I really enjoy grooming rituals like that. The nail salon is a super-calming place for me to zone out and put my phone away for awhile.
I definitely don't hate my acrylics. In fact, I love them. I am borderline-obsessed with them.
I told Kathy at KCN Nails that I wanted almond-shaped nails that weren't exceptionally long; after all, I write, work retail and text a lot. Functionality was key.
First, Kathy buffed down my entire natural nail a little bit to roughen it up and help the acrylic process stick. After that, she applied acrylic tips (super-long, square pieces) to each of my fingers with a dot or two of nail glue, then clipped and filed them to my desired shape.
Once she was sure I was pleased, she blended the tips with my natural nails by using the powder and acrylic liquid formulas to sculpt them. Each is kept in its own small bowl and mixed with a brush. The acrylic liquid's fumes can be toxic, which is why Kathy wears a mask. She painted this mixture on each nail gently until no line between acrylic and natural nail was visible.
After more filing and buffing, my tips were just a little bit shorter than I would like, but I can have that fixed later on; I wanted to start small to see what I could handle. Kathy painted them with a couple coats of bright red and then sent me to the dryer.
I love my nails. They feel incredibly strong, like jewels or little bits of glass. I'm addicted to the sound they make when I click them together. They can withstand a day of typing or the menial tasks of a retail day. I can pry off sensors and tap on a keyboard without worrying.
That being said, I have no idea how to care for these babies, so I asked my friend Jane.
Me: What's the one big thing I need to know about my new acrylics?
Jane: Your nails will be thinner when you get them removed. It's inevitable, but no more damaging than getting a gel manicure removed. People always ask if they come off or break; if they're done right, they shouldn't, but if you go too long between fills it's possible.
Me: How long do you typically go between fills?
Jane: I don't like to go more than two weeks without a fill. Usually, I get one when I notice that they've grown out, but they can get loose and start to lift from your nail bed if it's been a few weeks.
Me: Why do you like acrylics so much? You've had them pretty much as long as I've known you.
Jane: I have naturally short, thin nails and would never be able to grow them as long as I'd like them. I despise painting my nails and hate chipped polish, and polish lasts for weeks on acrylics and never chips. They always look perfect!
It's true! I'm on day eight with no chips in sight as I write this.
OK, so I’m totally new at this acrylic game, but I’m sure some of you aren’t. What advice do you have for me?