Acrylic nails, also known as press-on nails, or fake nails, were first invented in the 1970s. The original versions were nothing more than pieces of plastic shaped like fingernails. They didn't look natural and provided no benefit to the natural nails. Today's acrylic nails are much stronger, look realistic and provide great benefits, as well as beauty, to the person who wears them.
The term acrylic is a shortened version of methacrylate, a combination of a monomer liquid with a polymer powder. The polymer powder found in fake nails is polyethylmethylmethacrylate, or PMMA. This chemical is what gives the nails its strength and durability. The chemical units of the monomer liquid react when mixed with the chemicals in the polymer powder to form long fibers that dry and harden to resemble a natural fingernail.
At every nail salon, sculptured nails are applied using the same basic process of cleansing, priming, mixing, sculpting and finishing. This process is used to prevent the possibility of developing an infection under your acrylic nails. It also ensures that your nail plate isn't damaged during the application process.
Cleaning the nail bed is the most important step in the acrylic nail application. During the process of applying fake nails, there is a possibility of developing tears in the cuticle. Bacteria can enter into the blood stream, resulting in a fungal infection. The nail bed is cleaned with an isopropyl alcohol,which dissolves oil and grease and kills bacteria.
Priming the nails is done to help the acrylic adhere to the nail bed. The most common type of primer is methacrylic acid, which dissolves a thin layer of the natural nail. This makes the nail bed rough and anchors the acrylic deep into the nail.
The acrylic resin is mixed directly before the application. Once mixed, the manicurist must work quickly, before the acrylic hardens. Once the acrylic resin hardens, it is unusable, as it can't take the shape of the natural nail.
Sculpting the nail involves placing a nail shaped form over the fingertip, which holds the acrylic resin in place. The nail forms are made from either a thin metallic foil or plastic. They are attached to the nail bed and sculpted with a file to the desired shape. The premixed resin is then applied to the nail form and allowed to harden. After hardening, the nail form is removed.
Finishing the acrylic nails involves filing and manicuring the dried resin. It is polished with the clients desired color, then painted with a clear coat. As the natural nail grows, the client must get the acrylic nails filled with more resin.