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Artificial toenails are the foot equivalent of false fingernails in that they are fake nails that are applied over the top of real ones. Both women and men use fake toenails for a number of reasons. His or her natural nails may be damaged, misshapen, or missing altogether. While this may not be a concern when the person has socks or shoes on, unsightly nails can be embarrassing when exposed. As toes are commonly uncovered in the warmer months, artificial toenails provide a relatively quick, easy, and even fashionable way to resolve the issue.
Like fingernails, artificial toenails are usually composed of either acrylic or gel. They can be applied at a salon but are also available in home kits that can be readily purchased at the drugstore. The nails can be colored naturally, especially if only one or two are used to supplement the person's own nails, or can be painted and decorated in the same way as fingernails. Many kits even feature nails already painted and decorated.
People adhere acrylic, artificial toenails to the nail or skin with a specially designed glue. Gel nails are usually built up using a liquid gel formula. Both types have to be periodically replaced or filled in because the natural nail underneath continues to grow and creates gaps.
Fungus can often become an issue with artificial toenails. The placement of the nail over the natural one prevents adequate circulation of air. Water can also get underneath gaps in the glue, especially after a few days, allowing mold to grow. Subsequently, acrylic nails should be changed every seven days and left on for ten at the most.
To apply the false nails, the nail technician first removes any nail polish from the natural nails. He or she then softens and pushes back the cuticles as necessary. Once the nails are clean and dry, he or she paints glue onto the natural nail and applies the artificial one by pressing it snugly against the cuticle and down onto the nail surface. The glue is allowed to dry, and then the technician files and shapes the nail before painting it. This process is the same for applying nails from home kits.
To remove artificial toenails, the nail technician trims the nail short then soaks it in a nail remover to soften it and dissolve the glue. He or she then removes the nail and any residue left from the glue. Most home nail kits do not come with a remover included, but one can be purchased at the same time as the nails. Fake toenails should never be peeled or picked off without prior softening as this can damage the natural nail.