Nail Care: Frequently Asked Questions About Artificial Nails

These days there are many options for nail enhancement, so it only stands to reason that there are also many questions regarding this topic!

In this comprehensive list, we compare and contrast gel nails and acrylic nails and provide information about other types of artificial nails. We also give good advice on nail care and nutrition. Read on to learn more.

artificial nails

What are gel nails?

Gel nails are currently the most popular type of nail enhancement because they so closely resemble healthy natural nails. You can get gel nails in light-cured and no-light variations. The difference is in the hardening method. Light-cured gel nails are cured using ultra-violet light (using LED or UV nail lamps). No-light versions are cured using a brushed or sprayed-on gel activator or a plain water bath.

How long do gel nails last?

If you use regular nail polish, the surface of gel nails will dull fairly quickly; however, if you use Shellac your finish will last for a couple of weeks.

How to remove gel nails?

Here are step-by-step instructions for the best removal method:

  1. Roughen the nail surface with a coarse nail file.
  2. Soak the nails in acetone for 7 minutes. You can do this by immersing your nails in a shallow glass bowl of acetone or by soaking cotton balls (torn in half) in acetone, applying these to each individual nail and covering with foil for 7 minutes.
  3. Use an orange stick to gently scrape the softened gel off each nail.
  4. Use a buffer to smooth the surface of the nail.

TIP: Always wash acetone off with warm soapy water and follow this up with moisturising lotion.

What are acrylic nails?

Acrylic nails are made of powder polymer and liquid monomer combined. They are very hard and create a solid protective covering for the health of your natural nails. Acrylic nails do not need a hardening process. Instead, they are simply hardened by air exposure. When applied, they are transparent and must be painted with nail polish.

How long do acrylic nails last?

The actual nail will last indefinitely; however, you should take care to have your acrylic nails professionally maintained by visiting your manicurist every couple of weeks. As your nails grow out, you’ll need to have the area near the cuticle filled in. Also, the acrylics should be filed down to prevent damage and tearing to the tips. Neglecting proper maintenance can result in damage to your own natural nails.

How do you take off acrylic nails?

Here are complete instructions for the best method for removing acrylic nails. Begin by assembling these items:

  • Acetone based nail polish remover
  • A high quality nail buffer
  • An orangewood stick
  • A sturdy nail clipper
  • Moisturising lotion
  • A small glass bowl
  • A clean hand towel
  • A sturdy nail file
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Olive oil

Follow these steps:

  1. Trim your nails as short as you can.
  2. Pour a small amount of acetone based nail polish remover into the glass bowl. It should be a sufficient amount to cover your nails.
  3. Buff your nails uniformly to remove all gloss and then wipe off the resulting dust.
  4. Protect your skin against the acetone based fingernail polish remover by applying petroleum jelly to the skin and cuticles around the nail.
  5. Soak your nails in the glass bowl of polish remover for 15 or 20 minutes to release the glue that is holding your acrylic nails in place.
  6. Slip the artificial nails off and wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water.
  7. Apply moisturising lotion to your hands.
  8. Examine your nails and use your buffer to smooth the surface and buff off any remaining glue.
  9. Massage olive oil into the cuticles and nail surface.
  10. Wear a pair of protective cotton gloves for half an hour or so to protect your nails and help the olive oil soak in.

TIP: Do not try to force the removal of the acrylic nails. Soak your nails until they come off easily.

What is the difference between gel nails and acrylic nails?

The ingredients contained in gel and acrylic nails are similar; however, the composition differs in such a way that gel nails can be applied as a liquid and cured to a flexible finish. Acrylic nails are applied as an inflexible, solid unit that is glued onto your natural nail surface.

Once in place, both can be treated just as you would your natural nails. You can trim and file them into any length or shape you desire, polish them, apply airbrush designs, wear French tips, and so on.

What are shellac nails?

Shellac is a combination product that is made up of both nail gel and nail polish. You can apply it directly to your nails just as you would nail polish without filing or sculpting. This product must be cured using ultra-violet light.

What are minx nails?

Minx Nails are made of a heated, flexible chemical polymer that’s applied to the nails much like a sticker. This product is mess-free, and it is considered a green alternative to other types of nail enhancement products.

What are Bio Sculpture Gel Nails?

Bio Sculpture Gel can be applied to any nail surface (i.e. gel extensions, acrylic tips or natural nails). This one-step system is actually good for your own natural fingernails. It promotes growth and strengthens the nails. Once applied, the product is cured using ultra-violet light. The end result is strong, flexible nails with an attractive high shine or glossy finish.

Read also: Nail Strengthener vs Nail Hardener vs Nail Softener

Are artificial nails safe?

Short term exposure is probably not harmful; however, it’s not smart to keep your nails covered with artificial nails on a permanent, ongoing basis. The chemicals used (formaldehyde, acetone, resins) can leach into your system through your skin. Excessive exposure to toxins can cause kidney and liver damage and even cancer.

For this reason, it’s best to use artificial nails only for special events and occasions. If you do use them regularly, be sure to give your natural fingernails a short break from time-to-time and take good care of your overall health to help your body process and rid itself of harmful chemicals.

Which vitamins are good for nails?

It’s smart to take a good multivitamin every day for overall good health; however, for special attention to nails, supplement your multivitamin with these 4 vitamins and minerals:

  1. Iron: Take a chelated supplement and/or eat plenty of green, leafy veggies, lean red meat and raw nuts.
  2. Zinc: If you have white spots in your nails, it’s a sign of zinc deficiency. Turkey, peanuts and pure dark chocolate are good sources of zinc.
  3. If your nails are dry and brittle, you may need more vitamin B12. Add crab meat, eggs and cheese to your diet to increase your B12 intake.
  4. Biotin can also help with brittle nails.

TIP: B12 and biotin are both B vitamins, which are water soluble vitamins. It’s a good idea to take a B50 supplement along with your multi-vitamin to help improve immune system function and overall good health.

How often should you get your nails filled?

You should see your manicurist or pedicurist (or use a DIY home nail care system) every two or three weeks to have your nails filled and properly maintained. As your nails grow out, there will be “blank space” at your cuticles. A good nail technician can fill this empty area in for better appearance and a longer lasting artificial nail application.

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