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Many people like the look of long fingernails, but not everyone can grow long fingernails on their own. When nails are weak or brittle, acrylic nail tips can be attached to the natural nail to create the illusion of longer natural fingernails. Acrylic is a durable plastic that can be formed and molded into different shapes, and the acrylic used for nail tips comes in a couple of different forms.
Acrylic nail tips, or fake nail tips, are applied by professionals at nail salons or at home. When they are applied by professionals, the acrylic used is a combination of a liquid and powder resin. These substances are mixed together to form a paste and after a nail tip has been glued to the natural nail, the paste is applied on top. The nail technician then smooths the paste and forms it into the most natural looking nail possible. As the acrylic dries, the powder and liquid react by hardening. By the time the resin is completely dry, the tips are strong and durable.
At one time, the acrylic resin used for nail tips was of the same substance as false teeth. This type is no longer used, however, because many people were found to be allergic to it. Technology has advanced such that several different types of acrylic are now available. After the acrylic nail tips have dried, the nail technician uses a file and buffer to shape the nails even more, and eventually nail polish will be applied with either a regular nail polish brush or an airbrush. Airbrushing is often used to create the look of French tips or to apply a design.
For those who do not wish to spend the money on a professional tip application, there are also home versions of the acrylic nail tips. Applying the powder and liquid resin mix requires skill, but can still be performed at home. However, most just purchase glue-on nails. These differ from the tips in that they cover the entire nail and are often pre-polished. A strong glue is used to permanently adhere the fake nail to the natural nail, and several sizes come in the kits so that the appropriate size can be used for each person's nail.
Acrylic nail tips must be filled in as the natural nail grows. A new set of tips needn't be applied every time, but every two to three weeks, more of the resin mix will need to be applied to fill in the gaps that will show near the cuticle. At this time, most also get a fresh coat of polish.