Investigate the pros and cons before committing to acrylic nails

While they look good, fake nails are a lot of work


Tricia Drumm, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

A month ago, I used to hate having short nails. In a text, I told my friend I would “start my new year right” by getting acrylic nails. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that meant having a few more problems than I started with. There’s more than appearance to consider when contemplating trying acrylic nails.

My decision to get acrylic nails was last minute. I had two reasons for wanting fake nails: I wanted to try something new and wanted to stop biting my nails. If I bit off the acrylic nail, my nails wouldn’t look too hot and I’d have to get them fixed. Getting them fixed costs money and, unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees.

The idea sounded flawless at the time. It wasn’t until I was trying to get my debit card out of my wallet to pay for the nails that I’d realized I hadn’t thought the decision through.

To start, there are positive aspects of having fake nails. My fingernails have never been longer than my fingertips, so it was an exciting change. Not only do they look gorgeous, but my co-workers said mine looked natural compared to their thick acrylic nails.

However, acrylic itself is anything but natural. Essentially, a wet brush is dipped into a powder and evenly applied to both the natural nail and the shaped fake nail, therefore creating the acrylic. That’s the simplest explanation without talking about monomers, polymers and other science-y stuff.

If the process is so simple, then what’s the harm? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, whenever technicians file away at the natural nail to get that necessary rough feeling, it actually thins and weakens the nail. My co-worker told me how her nails were still healing even though she’d tried acrylics over a year ago.

Here’s an even better question: did the acrylic nails stop me from biting my nails? The short answer is yes. I achieved my goal in that respect, but that’s about it.

You never realize how often you use your fingertips until one day, you can’t. Ever tried picking up change from the floor? Not as easy as it sounds. I used to type on my phone and computer with my fingertips, but I’ve had to resort to using the palm or sides of my fingers. You just have to get used to it, but it’s definitely not the most comfortable.

Near the end of January, I somehow broke about half of my thumbnail off, exposing part of my thumbnail. Even though it’s only been a month, it feels like forever since I’ve felt my fingertips.

Considering all the dangers of acrylic nails I just preached, what did I do mid-January? I got my nails filled, which damages my natural nails even more. In fact, I suppose I wasn’t ready to give them up.

Even though they’re impractical, harmful to my natural nails and they make my fingertips close to impossible to use, I love the way they look and I haven’t bitten off my fingernails since I had them done. I’d rather spend $20 to get them filled than continue my nervous habits.

In the end, make sure to explore your other nail methods. If all else fails, acrylics might be worth a shot.

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