Sometimes, what nature gave you just isn’t enough; if you want longer, sturdier nails then acrylic extensions or overlays might give you that extra oomph.
There’s a whole pick’n’mix range of artificial nail treatments available. Basic acrylic tips are pre-formed shapes, which are picked to match your nail shape and glued over your existing nails. First, your natural nail has to be roughened to give the adhesive a better grip. Then, the nail is stuck on and filed down to create a smooth join. Finally, acrylic filler is used to coat the join and the entire nail. To remove the nails you soak them in acetone for about an hour.
UV Gel Nails can give a more natural look than acrylics and are simpler to apply. Your nails are cleaned to strip off those pesky natural oils from the surface and then the gel nails are placed on top. You then pop your fingers under a UV light to harden the gels up. It’s a quick and effective way of adding length and strength or repairing broken nails. In fact, a little too effective - the main drawback of gels is that it takes an awful lot of soaking and filing to get the blighters off again - each round of soaking and filing takes about 20 minutes and you may need to have it done several times.
Nail wraps are a way of reinforcing your nails rather than adding any length. They can also be used to scaffold weakening acrylic extensions. There are four different types of nail wrap: paper, fibreglass, silk and linen. Silk and fibreglass are the most popular because they only add a thin layer but are very sturdy. If you’re in a real SOS situation, linen wraps are the strongest and will provide your failing nail with the most support. Paper isn’t really used to wrap the whole nail, it’s just a temporary (but cheap) method of patching and repairing breaks and splits.
Sculptured nails are made of a powder and a liquid, which are mixed together to make a paste and then painted onto your nails. Having this protective acrylic shell on your natural nails means that they are less likely to break. Sculptured nails are also more flexible than other artificial nails and there’s no need to routinely remove them - you can keep filling them in at the root for as long as your nails stay healthy.
It’s worth bearing in mind, that having artificial nails can starve your natural nails of oxygen and the chemicals used can weaken the nails underneath. If you choose to go extra-long, you’ll also have to re-learn to do a few things like using a keyboard or telephone. Top tip: a pencil with an eraser on the end could be your new best friend.