What Are the Best Kind of Artificial Nails for Me?

Nychole Price
Nychole Price
Artificial fingernails.
Artificial fingernails.

Artificial nails give you the appearance of having long, beautiful and nicely shaped fingernails. They are perfect for women who tend to bite their nails, as they don't break of chip easily. There are several things to consider when choosing the type of artificial nails that are best for you.

Acrylic nails are the strongest of the fake nails. They will not chip easily and are perfect for active women, when cut to a shorter length. Acrylic nails are made of monomer, a liquid acrylic, and polymer, a powdered acrylic. This variety of artificial nail material is the least expensive but, just like with all fake nails, you must get them filled every two to three weeks, depending upon nail growth.

A woman with acrylic fingernails.
A woman with acrylic fingernails.

Gel nails are made of a gel acrylic that is hardened by ultra-violet light. The manicurist spreads the gel acrylic on your natural nail plate, then has you place your hand under an ultra-violet light, where it cures. This material isn't as durable or strong as regular acrylic and shouldn't be worn by women who are active or work with their hands. It is perfect, though, for women who want a natural look to their nails. The biggest advantage to gel nails is they don't have to be filled as often as acrylic nails.

Gel nails curing under a UV light.
Gel nails curing under a UV light.

Wrap nails are the weakest type of artificial nails, but they also have the most natural appearance to them. They contain pieces of silk, linen, fiberglass or paper that are cut to the shape the customer desires. Wrap nails are recommended for women who want a thin, smooth look to their nails.

Solar nails are just as strong and durable as acrylic nails, but they have the appearance of a French manicure. They are made of a acrylic gel but they are as tough as the basic acrylic nails. Solar nails, when trimmed to a shorter length, are perfect for women with an active lifestyle.

Solar nails are as strong and durable as acrylic nails and have the appear of French manicures.
Solar nails are as strong and durable as acrylic nails and have the appear of French manicures.

The benefits to having fake nails is that many are durable and long lasting, and all of them can be painted or styled to meet the needs of every woman. The downside to having fake nails, though, is that they can be expensive to upkeep and they may cause bacterial infections or allergic reactions in some woman. Make sure to care for your artificial nails by using a cuticle oil to prevent cracking that may be caused by the chemicals in the fake nails. Cracked cuticles can result in a fungal infection.

Types of Artificial Nails

Understanding the different upkeep requirements of artificial nails and the effects they have on your natural nails can help you choose the best option for your needs. Consider the pros and cons of these common options:

Acrylic 

Artificial nails are expensive to maintain and may cause bacterial infections.
Artificial nails are expensive to maintain and may cause bacterial infections.

Acrylic nails start as a powder that is mixed with a liquid to turn it into a gel substance that can be applied to nails. Generally, this is done by a professional nail technician. The acrylic mixture can be used to create a covering over the entire nail. The technician can also create nail tips using it. 

One of the main advantages of acrylic nails is that they are very hard once dry. This means that they can last a long time without needing to be reapplied. The acrylic substance can have a very strong smell and may produce some fumes when it is being applied, so it is important to do these nails in a well-ventilated area. 

The downside to acrylic nails is that, since they last so long, they will need upkeep as your nails grow out. You will either need to get them touched up or removed to avoid noticeable gaps from growing out between your artificial nails and your real ones. 

Gel 

Gel nails are similar to acrylics in that they are brushed on by a nail technician and allowed to dry until they form a hard shell over the nail. They are also very strong and will last a long time without breaking or chipping easily; however, this also means that they will need regular upkeep to keep them looking their best. 

Gel nails should dry quickly and do not come with the same strong odor as acrylic options. If you are sensitive to smells, this may be a better option for you. If you want something that will keep looking bright and fresh for the longest amount of time possible, gels should work well as they do not fade easily. They do tend to be a bit more expensive than other options, which is a downside to consider. 

Silk

Silk wraps for nails serve the special purpose of helping to strengthen and heal damaged nails. They are small pieces of fabric that are glued onto the nail using an adhesive that is meant to wear off within a few weeks. While they are called silk nails, they may be made out of a variety of materials. These include:

  • Paper
  • Silk
  • Fiberglass
  • Linen

How to Remove Artificial Nails

Most artificial nails are relatively easy to remove. A nail technician can assist you with the process, which involves soaking the nails in polish remover until they fall off. If you are concerned about the polish remover drying out your skin, there may be options for you to put concentrated amounts around the nail area only. 

It is important not to try to pry the nails off or remove them without following the proper process. This is likely to cause damage to your natural nails. It can also cause injury by lifting the nail underneath from the nail bed, causing pain and bleeding. This can lead to infection if the nail is still partially attached, as it leaves a space for bacteria to grow underneath.

Do Artificial Nails Ruin Your Nails

As mentioned, if you try to pry off artificial nails, it can cause damage. This can also occur if the nail is accidentally crushed, such as by being shut in a door or banged against a surface. Pay attention to any injuries that occur, and go to a doctor if you start feeling symptoms of serious infection. 

Injuries with artificial nails are usually avoidable, and most types are hard enough that breaking them is not common. Using artificial nails frequently causes water and tear to your natural nails. Over time, the natural nail will get thinner and more fragile as artificial ones are applied and touched up over and over again. 

There are ways to use artificial nails without ruining your natural nails. One of the most important things you can do is to give your natural nails a break now and then by letting them grow out between applying artificial nails. This can also be good for the skin on your fingers, as it gives it a chance to recover from being exposed to the chemicals used to apply and remove artificial nails. 

Using artificial nails every once and a while should be perfectly fine provided you have no allergies to the substances being used. You should not notice too much damage to the natural nails unless the process is done quite frequently. 

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Discussion Comments

anon1001084

I work in a kitchen and am constantly holding/pinching/grabbing and moving heavy stuff, and hard gel starts to lift off my nails in anywhere between 3-10 days, but I've heard it's better than acrylic because its nonporous (won't absorb any chemicals I put my hands in) and more flexible (it won't break when in knock them around). Is that true, or should I try switching?

anon328211

What is your choice of nail acrylic or gel if your hands are in water a lot?

manykitties2

Does anyone know if it is easy to change the color of your fake nails, or do you have to get all new ones to switch styles?

I know nail polish remover can be pretty harsh. I am just wondering if would damage acrylic or what not if you used the remover a lot.

animegal

Fake nails are great, but like the article says you have to remember to figure in maintenance costs when planning to add this to your beauty routine. I agree with @anon57379 about the acrylic being stronger. They look lovely and it usually only costs me about $20 every two to three weeks to get them touched up.

Just remember to take a break from wearing them all the time. You need to give your nails time to breathe and strengthen after having them covered for a while.

I also find it best to avoid the cheap drugstore brands as all the ones I have tried tend to fall off easily.

anon57379

It is my experience with gel and acrylic is that acrylic is stronger. I have tied up horse saddles opened cans of soda and typed without breaking.

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    • Artificial fingernails.
      Artificial fingernails.
    • A woman with acrylic fingernails.
      By: a1ex76
      A woman with acrylic fingernails.
    • Gel nails curing under a UV light.
      By: Antonio Gravante
      Gel nails curing under a UV light.
    • Solar nails are as strong and durable as acrylic nails and have the appear of French manicures.
      By: Valua Vitaly
      Solar nails are as strong and durable as acrylic nails and have the appear of French manicures.
    • Artificial nails are expensive to maintain and may cause bacterial infections.
      By: Votash
      Artificial nails are expensive to maintain and may cause bacterial infections.