Acrylic nails—they have long been the star of the show in the nail salon, and today is no different.
Long heralded as the standard overlay material for nail tips and natural nails, acrylic is more affordable than other overlays like silk wraps and gels. It is also very attractive, producing a smooth, shiny finish. And—perhaps most importantly—it is very durable.
As the triple crown of nail products, acrylic nails are one of the most popular nail services manicurists offer. So it’s always worth the effort to ensure you have your finger(nail) on the pulse of the newest products and trends in the acrylic nails market.
Why is Acrylic Recognized as One of the Best Materials to Use on Nails?
Acrylic is a combination of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer which, when combined, produces a flexible substance that completely covers the nail bed and nail tip. A special brush is first dipped into the liquid monomer and then into the powder polymer, which produces a ball of moldable acrylic. The brush is then used to apply, form, and brush the acrylic over the nail. The product cures to a hard finish in just a few minutes.
Acrylic is the ideal canvas for applying nail color and is resistant to cracks, splits, and breaks.
While acrylic is often applied over natural nails to create a smooth, attractive appearance and to protect them from breaking and splitting, many nail technicians use acrylics as an overlay for nail tips (extensions).
After the artificial nail is applied to the nail bed and is sculpted to the desired length and shape, the acrylic is applied, which creates a hard, protective layer.
Pros and Cons of Acrylic Nails
As a nail technician, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each product and material you work with so you can confidently present your clients with their options.
Benefits of Acrylic Nails
Long-lasting: Touch-ups are generally only required every two to three weeks due to the natural growth of the nail.
Affordable: Acrylic nails remain the most inexpensive nail overlay.
Popularity: Because acrylic nails have been a popular overlay since the 1970s, they have a devoted clientele that provides nail salons with plenty of repeat business.
Flexibility: Acrylic nails provide a smooth surface on which to polish or apply nail art.
Cons of Acrylic Nails
Quality: Acrylics can produce beautiful results when applied correctly. When applied incorrectly, however, they can look unnatural, bulky, and even downright unattractive.
Odor: One of the most common complaints against acrylic nails is the odor associated with them. Nail technicians should ensure acrylic nails are done in a well-ventilated area. There are also a number of low-odor/odorless acrylics on the market.
Strength: The same attribute that makes acrylic nails so popular is also a drawback. Because they are durable, they are also inflexible, which can result in damage to the natural nail if caught on something.
Prone to fungus growth: Fungus growth on the natural nail may result if the acrylic lifts from the natural nail and water enters the space. Fungal infections spread easily and can threaten the health of the natural nails. Encourage your clients to check for signs of fungal growth and to have their nails removed immediately if this happens.
Acrylic Nail Removal
Removing acrylic nails can damage nails and leave them brittle and weak. Therefore, the goal of acrylic nail removal is to do so without causing more damage to the natural nail. Proper acrylic nail removal involves the following steps:
1) Soak the client’s nails in a bowl of acetone for between 20 to 30 minutes. Check on the nails periodically to ensure the acrylic is loosening.
2) Cut the nail tips to reduce the amount of acrylic that must be removed.
3) Apply petroleum jelly or a similar skin protectant to the client’s fingers, up to the knuckle and behind the fingernail.
4) Using a coarse fie, gently break down the surface of the acrylic.
5) Using an orangewood stick, gently scrape off the loosened acrylic. Soak for an additional 10 or 15 minutes in the acetone and repeat the scraping process, if necessary, until all of the acrylic is removed.
6) Soak the client’s nails in a bowl of warm water. Add a few drops of oil into the water to moisten the dry skin and cuticles caused by the acetone.
7) Manicure the nails as usual, taking care to use a good cuticle oil and nail strengthener. Encourage your client to return for manicures every two to three weeks until the nails become stronger and less prone to splitting and breaking.
Advanced Training for Nail Technicians in Acrylic Nails
An initial nail technician program leading to state license will include in-depth study in acrylic nails. However, acrylic is a flexible medium that allows nail technicians like you to get really creative. As a result, there is an array of advanced courses in acrylic nails that will allow you to perfect the acrylic nail technique and learn about the latest trends and the newest products in acrylics.
Look for advanced courses in Acrylic Extreme Shapes, Acrylic Jewelry Making, and Mini Acrylic Sculpting, each of which offers professional sculpting and decorating techniques in acrylics for the practicing nail technician.