Types of Artificial Nails

Sculptured Nails

In this process, acrylic, gel or fiberglass is applied to your nails, and the material is lengthened and sculpted over metal or foil. Or, a plastic nail tip can be applied with glue, and then gel, fiberglass, silk or acrylic can be laid over the entire nail. As the natural nail grows out, your manicurist will fill in the base and file down the artificial tip. Eventually, you will end up with just the overlay on your natural nail.

Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are the strongest and last the longest of all the nail overlays. But, if it's not done well, these nails can look thick and very artificial. Find a manicurist who is an expert at applying acrylic nails, and you can get a very thin, natural-looking nail. They usually need to be filled in every two to three weeks as your nails grow, but depending on how hard you are on your nails, you may need to see the manicurist sooner to avoid nail loosening, which can lead to mildew if water gets trapped underneath. And, if a professional removes them properly, the acrylic nails should cause little weakening to the nail plate. One factor that might make you choose acrylic: It is the most commonly-used artificial nail; if you travel a great deal, it will be easier for you to find a place to repair or fill in your manicure.

Silk, Linen and Fiber Wraps

Wraps are pieces of silk, linen or fiberglass that have been cut to the desired shape and glued to the nail plate. This adds strength, and sometimes length, to the nail. Though done on natural nails, wraps are most commonly used to strengthen tips. Silk is the most natural-looking wrap and provides a lot of flexibility, but it is often too delicate for those with an active lifestyle. Linen is stronger, but it is not transparent and appears quite thick. Fiberglass is the best of both worlds, since it provides the natural look of silk and the strength of linen.

Gel Nails

Once, these nails were made of dental porcelain gel-powder. Now, manicurists use a Mylar form to sculpt your nail, and then cure, or set, it under an ultraviolet light. Because of this process, gel nails may need to be filled in less often than acrylic nails, though fill-ins are still necessary, and a professional must remove the tips.

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