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After Removing Your Acrylic Nails: A Survival Guide

Updated on July 14, 2016

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Want to remove your acrylic nails? You can do it...and natural nails can be sexy too!
Want to remove your acrylic nails? You can do it...and natural nails can be sexy too! | Source

Thinking of removing your artificial acrylic nails, but worried and wondering what to expect? Returning to natural nails will require an adjustment period, and they will need quite a bit of attention at first, but you will survive! I know because I had acrylic nails for over fifteen years, but when I retired, it just didn't make sense anymore and I removed mine.

Why Quit Acrylic Nails?

If you are in a similar situation and need some encouragement to follow though and survive the first month, think of these facts about acrylic nails:

  • The average acrylic nail treatment costs $25 - $30 (not counting the initial full set) and takes an hour of your time.
  • Most acrylic nails need a fill every two weeks.
  • Using these assumptions, you'll spend 26 hours and $650 annually keeping up your acrylic nails (another $130 if you tip $5 each visit).
  • If acrylic nails separate from the real nail, fungus can develop.
  • Toxic Hazards have been found prevalent in nail salons, the top three concerns being toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate, all three linked to both reproductive harm and cancer.

What type of nails do you have now?

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Returning to Natural Nails

Here are a few facts about fingernails:

  • Nails grow approximately .1mm per day, or 1/10th of an inch per month.
  • It can take three to six months to completely replace a nail.
  • Nails grow faster in the summer than winter.
  • Men's nails and nails on your dominant hand grow faster.
  • Health conditions can affect the appearance and growth of nails.

Knowing these facts, it makes sense to remove acrylic nails at the start of summer so that when fall rolls around, your nails have grown out to natural, healthy nails.

What to Expect After Your Acrylic Nails Are Removed

Salons will remove acrylic nails for you for a fee, however, it is possible to remove them yourself. The Lovetoknow website recommends salon removal, but provides instructions on their website. They state that the most popular home method is to soak them in an acetone solution.

If you've had acrylic nails for awhile, the portion of your nail that was beneath the acrylic will be fragile once the acrylic is removed. However, the claim that acrylic damages the natural nail is not true. The natural nail will feel more flexible for a few days due to two things: 1) the nail is missing the support of the acrylic nail and 2) a build up of oils might be on the surface of the nail plate causing it to soften. They advise using a strengthener on nails for a few days, but not forever, as strengthener can cause nails to become brittle.

Natural nails will be more fragile at first and cuticles may get ragged.
Natural nails will be more fragile at first and cuticles may get ragged. | Source
A coat of nail polish will help to keep natural nails from breaking and splitting.
A coat of nail polish will help to keep natural nails from breaking and splitting. | Source
In the beginning, use a nail clipper to trim nails, rather than using a nail file.
In the beginning, use a nail clipper to trim nails, rather than using a nail file. | Source
It's important to keep nails moisturized once acrylic is removed.
It's important to keep nails moisturized once acrylic is removed. | Source

Returning to Natural Nails Survival Guide

Here is the "After Acrylic Nails Survival Guide":

1) Take care of cuticles -The Perfect Ten website explains that the purpose of the cuticle is to prevent bacteria from getting under the skin. From day one after removal, start taking care of your cuticle. If they have become ragged or the cuticle has starting to grow over your nail, gently push back with a wood cuticle stick and remove the excess. Sally Hansen has a reasonably priced product, Instant Cuticle Remover that dissolves cuticles in 15 seconds. Removing the cuticle is also important before polishing the nail, as a polished cuticle will become brittle and make for an unsightly manicure.

2) Trim ragged nail edges - During those first few weeks when nails are breaking easily, clip them rather than filing. I found that filing shredded the edge of my nails rather than smoothing them. Until they felt sturdier, I clipped nails close to the tip of my finger, and the clipper made clean edges.

3) Use Nail strengthener - For a few weeks, apply a product to help strengthen the nail. Sally Hansen has a nail solution, Grow Nails Now, which is brushed on clean nails and cuticle, then massaged in. The solution gives nails a sheen and can be worn alone. I also like Nail Rehab by Sally Hansen. Note: Don't use strengthener forever, because it can cause nails to become brittle.

4) Polish Nails - I found that keeping my nails polished, even when they were very short, made me okay with saying bye-bye to my old acrylic nails. Also, while nails are returning to normal, polish will protect them. Use a base coat with a polish that contains fibers, such as Nail Laminates, No More Wraps that contains Kevlar "miracle fibers". Rimmel London even makes a product advertised to contain diamond particles to reinforce weak nails! If you have ridges as I did from where the acrylic was attached, a ridge filler will smooth out the nail before polishing with color. Paint two coats of polish allowing to dry in between coats and finish with one or two coats of an acrylic top coat, such as Sally Hansen No Chip polish.

5) Keep cuticle and nail plate moisturized - Keep cuticles from drying out with a cuticle oil, such as Essie's Apricot Cuticle Oil, which re-hydrates and revitalizes cuticles using cotton seed and soybean oils. Use an acetone-free polish remover and look for remover that contains additional conditioners such as aloe. Don't apply polish to cuticle.

6) Nourish your body - To keep nails healthy, the Academy of Nail Technology advises everyone to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily, and eat foods high in calcium, iron, vitamin B and potassium, such as seafood, milk products, celery and soy. Other foods to eat for healthy nails are sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, and dark, leafy veggies.

7) Don't abuse your nails - Wear gloves gardening or cleaning. Don't tighten a loose screw with your nail. Don't open a pop can with your nail. Don't poke a hole with your nail in the frozen dinner film. Don't pick at hardened paint drips on the tile with your nail. That's what tools and men are for.


Returning to Natural Nails

Once you adjust to not having acrylic nails and your natural nails become healthy, you'll be surprised how happy you are. No more panic that you popped a nail off, or racing to an appointment. You might even realize that natural nails can look sexy too. And after those first few weeks, doing things is so much easier with natural, shorter nails. It won't take long before you realize that you survived removing your acrylic nails and actually like your natural ones.

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