Tips for Your Tips: 3 Rules for Getting Nail Enhancements

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Nail enhancements - photo of acrylic nails

I’ll admit it: I’m obsessed with my nails. They’re my favorite accessory, as well as my pride and joy, and I enjoy taking care of them.

But, there are many girls out there who don’t feel the same, whether they want long natural nails but can’t grow them out, or just don’t share my passion for the DIY manicure.

Fortunately, this is where nail enhancements come in handy!

Acrylic and gel nails have gotten a bad rep in the past from natural nail fans, but when done properly, false nails can totally transform your look without harming your natural nails. Keep these three tips in mind, and you won’t go wrong!

1. Do a Test Run with DIY Falsies

Nailene So Natural false nails

If you’re like me, you probably cringe at the thought of gluing on some cheap plastic nails from a drugstore, but fake nail companies have come a long way in the past few years! Today, there are sizes and styles available for every nail shape, and the best part is: they’re inexpensive.

For a great natural-looking false nail, I recommend Nailene So Natural nails. They are a great french style that you can even paint over.

Once you have your false nails, follow the instructions carefully and always shape the nails to fit you perfectly. These nails are only made to wear for a few days at a time, but they will let you get a feel for what a full set of artificial nails will feel like.

2. Do Your Research

There is a false belief that the acrylic and gel used in nail enhancements somehow harms your natural nails. In reality, this is not true. The damage actually comes from unskilled nail technicians using drills to file your nails down. This results in severely damaged nails that take months to grow out (if you’re lucky). If the technician drills too far they could damage your nail bed, and those damages could be permanent.

To avoid this, here are three things you need to do:

  • First, you should only allow a licensed technician to touch your nails. If they are licensed, you can bet their license will be proudly displayed. If you don’t see a license, leave!
  • Next, make sure they are not using any type of drill on your nails! Did you know the most common drill used in nail salons is a Dremmel? They are sold in hardware stores and are used on wood! Yikes! A good technician should lightly buff the surface of your nail with nail buffer at the most.
  • Finally, your should be able to clearly communicate your expectations to your technician. Would you go to a hairstylist who styled everyone’s hair the same? Doubt it. Your technician should find out what your lifestyle is like and what purpose you want your enhancements to serve. Not every customer should be treated the same, and if you technician isn’t willing (or able) to discuss your needs, go somewhere else.

Finally, I hate to say it, but when it comes to gel and acrylic nails, many times you get what you pay for.

Good, healthy nail enhancements are not going to be cheap, and if you find a salon willing to do them for much lower than other salons in your area, chances are they are using cost-cutting measures that could harm your nails.

3. Take Them Off the Right Way

Acrylic nail removal

Even once you’ve had your nail enhancements done, there is still a danger you could harm your nails by removing them the wrong way. Here are some tips on proper nail enhancement removal:

First off, you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT bite, pick, pry or pluck your enhancements off your natural nails.

The two are bonded together. If you try to remove them this way, you will do some serious damage to your natural nails.

Fortunately, many nail salons will either offer free nail removal if you get your nails done there, or will charge a small fee to remove the nails. (My salon even throws in a free manicure!)

If you’ve never removed your own nail enhancements before, I highly recommend allowing the trained technician to show you how.

They will soak your nails in a solution of pure acetone, and will then wipe away all the remaining gel or acrylic. Once you learn how, this process is super easy to safely do at home!

Your Thoughts?

As you now know, nail enhancements can finally give you the nails you’ve always wanted, without (if you follow my tips) damaging or harming your natural nails.

So, what are YOUR thoughts on nail enhancements? Are you rocking artificial nails or do you prefer to go all-natural? What are your experiences with enhancements? Got any tips for other CF readers? Make sure to leave them in a comment.

17 thoughts on “Tips for Your Tips: 3 Rules for Getting Nail Enhancements”

  1. Great post! I will be sure to check out a salon that does not use drills in the future. I’ve been wanting to get my nails done but every time I get acrylic, they hurt.

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  2. Wow. I’ve gotten acrylics a few times (for proms and such), and never thought to look for a license. I went to the only nail place in my small town and just assumed it was legit. Reading through this, I will NEVER be going back. She drilled the sh*t out of my nails before applying the acrylics and I just thought that was how it was done. Thanks for this eye-opening post.

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  3. If you don’t mind me asking, where do you get your nails done. I noticed you go to UNCW and I’m in Wilmington for the summer I! I have been looking for a nail salon and wondering what places are good and what the price ranges are.

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  4. A hint about drug store nails. If you look at your nails from your fingertips and your nails are rather flat (like mine) you will more than likely have problems with artificial nails, esp drug store brands. Most of the brands are curved and more than likely it will pop off! I have had acrylic nails and couldn’t keep them on my nails because of it!

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  5. I tried acrylics once and I really didn’t like them. I actually ripped them off (and lost a few of my real nails)!

    I think I’d like to try gel nails though.

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  6. I have had my nails done once and i loved them.. but by the time i took them off I had to rip them off bc soaking didn’t work. I am now regrowing my naturally strong nails since removal took off at leat 7 layers of my natural nail. the next time i get my nails done i will ask for a removal from the salon. Thankyou for this post it really gives me hope that i can have fake nails and my natural nails without damaging them.

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  7. This is a really great overview of what to expect from fake nails, so thank you! I have never done a harsher treatment than the average salon mani/pedi to my nails, but I have always been curioius about acrylics. This is a perfect source for someone curious like me!

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  8. My nails are pretty strong and not bad looking naturally, so I usually don’t go the fake nail way. I have tried drugstore nails though a few times, just for fun. I really liked the way they looked and they weren’t really hard to apply. I think I will just stick to fake nails at a salon for special occasions though.

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  9. I am also one of those people who went to a small place in town who didn’t even think of looking for a license! I paid about $40 to get nails put on, (and since it was my first time getting them I didn’t know what to expect) and she drilled my nails and even nicked the side of my thumb and ignoring me when I told her that hurt. They charged $10 to take them off, and offered to paint them but it would cost more, so I walked out of there with digustingly rigid nails that didn’t grow back for three months (got and removed them in May, finally normal again in August).

    After reading this, I do want to give it another shot now that I know there are better salons out there…but it’s not really a necessity since I don’t have any more proms to go to! (Looks like I’ll have to wait until me or my friends get married some day to get dolled up again!) Thanks for the information! I’m never going to a cheap place ever again!

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  10. I will stick with the natural look I’m not a fan of fake nails i did it maybe three times I rather have my short nails in said going through pain

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  11. My nails are fairly long and healthy, but I experiment with designs and polish pretty often, & I like the way they look on the fake nails, as opposed to my natural nails (lol, weird, I know). Anyways…I’m too afraid to get tips or acrylics or any of that… so I usually buy the KISS french tips & polish over them to my liking.

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  12. Thank you for these great tips! It’s good to know that, if done right, it won’t hurt your nails- most other sites I’ve looked at insist that they will do some damage.
    I have 2 local cosmetology colleges, and they offer nail services at a 40-50% discount over salon prices, and they are monitored by licensed nail tech instructors. Would it be safe for me to get my nails done there? (I’m quite frugal, and don’t like to spend excess money when I don’t have to.)

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  13. In this area, it is very hard to find a nail salon that speaks the same language— English as their first language. The barrier is very bad. I’ve been getting acrylic with gel polish. (I’ve been watching Suzie- Nail Career Education- on YouTube on how to do and remove nail enhancements. No one here seems to do the same. It’s very frustrating. And there is no list on google of licensed nail technicians. Or at least no way I’ve found to search it that would result in a list of sorts. Any ideas?

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  14. Hello .
    Thank you for your article regarding keeping my natural nail healthy with acrylics. I have been a long time fan if acrylics and had them for many years . I have had my acrylic nails done by hundreds of nail techs and no matter what , my natural nail has always got damaged and so many times I would take them off and wait for months for my natural nails to grow out and not be like paper thin. I will say that prob 8 out of 10 nail techs used drills and when they would change my nail tip , would just use a card to go under the nail and take it off or use the clipper , but never have me soak it off , so I will try and remember all your healthy tips ! At the moment I have short ugly nails because I decided once again to take tips off and grow out my natural nail. They finally feel healthy but as soon as they start growing they break ! So if I find a nail tech that doesn’t drill and does the proper way , my natural nails won’t damage ? Also , do you suggest anything else ? Dip, gel , ect ect ?

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