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Artificial Nails for Beginners

Learn the basics about artificial nails

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Artificial Nails for Beginners
Juan Silva/Photodisc/Getty Images

Are you are tired of brittle or chipped nails?  Do you want to have perfect finger tips for that special occasion? Then artificial nails could be the answer for you.  

Acrylic Nails

Acrylic is the toughest artificial nail covering.  It is constructed either on top of the natural nail or as a strengthener to nail extensions, using a combination of powdered acrylic (polymer) and a liquid (monomer.)  The nail technician dips a brush into the liquid, then the powder.  The mixture must be worked quickly because it will dry as soon as the polymer and monomer mix.  If you are not experienced in doing this your acrylic nails will look lumpy and exceptionally false.  Acrylics are not suited to a natural look; they require varnish.  Removal of acrylic nails is time-consuming; it requires that you soak your nails in acetone.  Attempting to pull them off can be painful and damaging to the nail bed.

Gel Nails

The gel nail is a ready- mixed system that is painted on.  Two types are available; one requires a UV light to set it, the other does not require light curing.  Gel nails are set with an activator spray and are far more natural looking than acrylics.  They can look good without polish, although the system is difficult to remove completely without extensive filing.

Wrap Nails

Wrap nails are made of fiberglass, silk or linen.  A section of the wrap is cut to size and placed on the nail (natural or extension), then activation is required to make the material adhere to the nail and subsequently harden; this would be in the form of a paint-on or spray chemical.  This is a far kinder system than either the acrylic or the gel because removal is much easier and it doesn't come with the overpowering odor associated with other systems.  In turn though it is a less durable artificial nail, and not for those who are clumsy or have a busy lifestyle.  To remove soak in acetone for a short while, the wrap and underlying artificial nail tip dissolve quickly.

Maintenance

Fake nails can become addictive and in turn a regular expense.  You will need to have what are known as fill-ins when the natural nail grows up.  A gap will appear at the cuticle end; this will need to be filled with whatever system of artificial covering you initially chose (systems are not interchangeable.)  Nail biters will notice a rapid growth of the underlying nail in the first few weeks after your fake nails are applied, therefore you may need to visit the nail salon more frequently to begin with.  

Leaving fake nails without regular attention can cause health problems for your nails. Water can seep in between the natural nail bed and the covering causing a green fungal infection to begin.  This is unsightly and in extreme cases painful.  If 
infection occurs, you will need to have the nails removed and start afresh with new extensions after the fungus is treated.

Pros and Cons of Fake Nails 

The main advantage of fake nails is that you instantly have beautiful hands. Robustness is another factor to consider, so acrylic is the most hard-wearing type of fake nail.  Nail color will last longer on artificial nails than it does on natural ones, so less chipping will occur.  

Points against fake nails are: your underlying natural nails will be weakened by the extensive filing that has to take place in order for the artificial tip to adhere.  This in turn could cause long-term damage to the nail bed.   Also, the simplest of tasks such as picking things up from counters and floors can be difficult because the nail tip is thicker. Fastening zippers, etc. can also be hard work if you are not used to extended finger nails.

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