A Nail Virgin’s Q&A on Acrylic Nails


A couple months ago, I decided to I wanted to pop my nail virginity and try out acrylic nails. So, for other interested nail virgins out there, here is a Q&A!

But before we start, I would like you to keep in mind that this post is regarding my experience and maybe some mentions of my personal friends’ experiences.
Also, please note that I got acrylic nails with shellac on top. More on that below.

Q: Do I need to do any prep work?
A: I didn’t do any prep work whatsoever. Though, I did clean underneath my nails, cause yah know, gross things lurk under there.

Q: Where do I go to get them done?
A: Honestly, this is a hard one to answer. There are obviously the horror stories out there because of non-certified nail technicians working at nail salons. So, I’m going to break it down to a who-would-you-rather showdown. Would you rather: much cheaper but riskier OR more expensive and reliable? In my personal experience, I was going to go to a nail technician my mother knew for sure was certified and had been doing nails for 20+ years. But, in the end, I went to the nail salon I usually went to for my pedicures. They’re reasonably priced for my student’s wallet and they always seemed busy (and busy means they should be good, right?).

Q: How much will this cost me?
A: This varies very much on where you go. Obviously the fancier the place (ie: an expensive spa), the more you’re going to pay. The cheapest you’re going to find are those nail salons that basically run on walk-ins and speedy nail servicing (cause who’s got time for full-on pampering). Add-ons like a french or shellac overlay will run you up as well.  On average, I found that 40$-50$CAN for a full set of acrylic. Refills are…err,  I think around 25$-35$CAN.

Q: How do they do put acrylic on?
A: Again, this is based off my experience, so here it goes.

  • They asked me if I wanted square with french, I said no, rounded with colour. She recommended a rounded square because it’d grow out better and to have shellac on top because it’ll last longer and because of the colour choices (versus coloured acrylic). So, I shrugged my shoulders and said go for it.
  • She cleaned off my nails with…something? Alcohol? Nail polish remover?
  • Then she took an electric buffer to it. Yikes, right? Not really. The lady I had wasn’t pushing on my nails too hard and was careful around my nail bed (damage to the nail bed basically means permanent damage to your nails)
  • Once my nails were thinned out a little by the buffer, she took a brush (like a paint brush) and dipped it into acrylic liquid before dipping it into the acrylic powder.
  • For those with short and bitten nails, they’ll add artificial nail tips before applying the acrylic mix. Unfortunately for you, I had long enough nails and didn’t want to add any length, so nail tips were not needed in my case.
  • Anyways, this almost gel-like mixture was then smoothed out onto my nails. I kept a careful eye because I didn’t want it to be too thick. But, nope, it was fine.
  • Once all done, she filed them down to the rounded square and got the shellac out.
  • A base coat, three coats of shellac, a top coat and a few minutes under a lamp completed the nail journey.
fingernails ooh aah

Natural nails VS A refill acrylic with 1 & 1/2 weeks of regrowth.

Q: How long does it all take?
A: On average, I’d say probably 30-45 minutes. This varies on your add-ons and technicians speed. Also, refills take about the same time.

Q: Any aftercare instructions?
A: Not really. You can take a nail file to it if you want. But, I would be careful for the first 48 hours, I found for both my full set and refill that they were a tiny bit more prone to minor denting. (ex: The night I got my acrylic done, I was in the shower and gripped my razor wrong. The sharp edges hit the tip of one of my nails and left two tiny lines)

Q: How long can I have acrylic nails before getting a refill?
A: 3 weeks is when your nails will look a little too weird, but many do stretch it to the 4 week mark.

Bottom is with 1 & 1/2 weeks of growth

Bottom is with 1 & 1/2 weeks of growth

Q: How do refills work?
A: Very much the same as a full set does. Buffer down the old acrylic, place new acrylic on top and smooth it out and wham bam thank you mam.

Q: Does it hurt during or after?!
A: During, no. After…well, ‘hurt’ is a bit much. I’d say it’s a little sore. The acrylic doesn’t allow your nails to bend quite like they did and that, I suppose, takes some getting used to. This soreness maybe lasts 3 days?

Q: Should I get Shellac on top?
A: Err, personally, I don’t think it’s necessary. It does look incredible the entire time, but it also does add quite a load onto your cost. Maybe try with just plain old nail polish and see how that works for you. If you aren’t a fan, than give shellac a go.

Q: What is the biggest con to acrylic nails?
A: In my opinion, picking up certain things, like money, or picking at sticky things like tape or security stickers on any kind of packaging.

Q: What is the biggest pro to acrylic nails?
A: They look absolutely awesome for 3-4 weeks. Vanity wins!

fingernails plus hands

Q: Why did you get acrylic nails?
A: To help with my dermatillomania (compulsive skin picking). It’s been said they make skin-picking harder, which they do, but it doesn’t really make that big of a difference to me.

Q: (Insert question about removal)
A: I have not gotten them removed as of yet. I will probably do a separate post when I do. Many apologizes.

And that’s all of the questions I remember asking myself. I hope this was of some help to you, despite me not being a professional on the fine arts of false nails.

Much love,
Nadine, T.M.E

ps: On my nails is Dark Dahlia by CDN Shellac.


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