October 14, 2013

Giving up Acrylic Nails

I started getting acrylic nails back in November 2000 and continued for 13 years.  Acrylic nails are so easy to maintain and I never had to paint my nails as the color would stay for 2 weeks until I got the nails filled again.  

For those who have never had this process done, a nail tip is applied to your nail and then a gel like substance is placed over the tip to “fill it in.”  Then every two weeks as your nail grows out, you have to get the nail filled as the bottom of the acrylic nail has moved up because your natural nail has grown.

In order to get the acrylic tips and gel to adhere to the natural nail, the manicurist has to “sand down” the top of your nail.  The natural nail becomes thin.  I tried gel nails once and the process still involved sanding down the top of my nails.

When I decided that I couldn’t afford to have acrylic nails anymore, I knew that it would take a good 6 months or more to get my natural nails to return to their normal, healthy state.  It’s kind of like growing your hair out, at some point you want to give in and get your hair cut, but you get through the worse part of the growth process and then you are happy that you were patient.

The first month was brutal.  My nails broke off to the nubs and they flaked as they grew out.  My skin near the tip of the nail became very, very sore.  I applied a nail strengthener for the first month to help them along, however I stopped after a month because the strengthener was drying out the nail and causing more breakage.  So I have simply let my nails go totally natural – no strengthener and no polish.  I am trimming them very, very short as one of my nails continues to split and all of them are just becoming normal in thickness and health.  By the time December rolls around I am hoping that I can then allow the nails to grow out to the tips of my fingers.  They will be shorter than I ever had with acrylic nails, but they will be the perfect length for a grandma changing a lot of diapers.  Also I will then start to apply polish.

In order to protect my nails I wear gloves while cleaning or doing dishes and I also apply lotion to my hands frequently throughout the day to keep my hands and nails moisturized.

Vanity is what led to my decision to get acrylic nails.  I liked the look of pretty polished nails that I didn’t have to do myself.  When I worked in an office I was accustomed to handling a lot of papers and meeting with clients.  My hands and nails needed to look professional. 

I hung on to this luxury after I stayed home full time as I enjoyed this treat.  My nails are getting healthy and when the time comes to polish them I can do it myself and change colors often.  Before when an acrylic nail broke off, it was quite noticeable even if I polished the natural nail with the same color of polish.  Lastly I am saving $22.00 every two weeks by not having acrylic nails which brings it to a whopping savings of $572 a year.  YIKES!!!

I fell in love with pretty polished long nails, but I am finding out that I am going to love shorter nails that I take care of myself.  Everything I need to give myself a pretty home manicure can be found at the dollar stores. 

I am also giving myself pedicures.  I have only had a professional pedicure about 3 times in my life and professional pedicures are wonderful.  I am learning to give myself a home pedicure and it doesn’t involve a lot of products.  I bought a plastic dish pan to soak my feet, a pumice stone, a nail file, nail clipper and foot lotion.  All of these products can be purchased for a dollar or less at the Dollar Tree. 

Saturday nights are my nights for manicures and pedicures.  It just makes sense after a long week that I should treat myself to pretty nails and feet.   Yes I walk around the house holding my hands up waiting for my finger nails to dry and then I walk around with those separators between my toes waiting for my toe nails to dry.  The only thing missing is a terry cloth bathrobe and curlers in my hair to complete the look. 


Anonymous said...

That's funny, only needing needing a robe and curlers to finish the look! Sometimes it takes looking unattractive for a bit to become attractive! My husband is used to me walking around the house while I'm waiting for my hair color to take (pretty funny). I think natural nails are much better looking than artificial. Acrylic nails seem to always look chunky and unnatural. It's proof that you're better off without them when you have to let your nails heal from wearing them. I think you'll be pleased without them.

Rhonda said...

I needed to read this, thanks! I've never had fake nails but have been thinking about getting them. But after reading this, I don't think so. Especially the $572 a year total cost.

Marianne C said...

I am happy you are posting again. I, too, love the look of well groomed nails and toes. With a little patience, you can have well groomed nails and toes at a fraction of salon prices. I do recommend OPI nail polish. It does cost a little more, but the shine gives you a salon look and it does not chip as fast.

Marianne C.

Practical Parsimony said...

I got tips when I was preparing to go to my 25th hs class reunion. I only wanted them to last four days. They did and I fell in love. When I was preparing to take algebra in college, my last class before graduation, I knew stress would cause me to break/pop off nails. Plus, I just did not want the stress of going to have them replaced/filled. So, I gave them up on New Year's Eve of 1992.

I had had them for 3.5 years. I went from a nail biter/picker with horrid 1/4 inch nails bitten into the quick to a non-biter. The years helped me break a bad habit.

After having my nails removed, my nails had the texture of an asphalt road but thin and fragile. Now, 20 years after removing the fake nails, I have great ridges running from cuticle to tip on my thumbnails. I hate the look, but my nails are long and strong. I broke the nail biting/picking habit.

Martha said...

My nails weren't too chunky looking as my manicurist was the best by far BUT if you looked close you could tell they were fake.

@Marianne: OPI colors is what is used in salons and I plan to use them when I polish my nails again. They are expensive (around $7.00 a bottle), but I would only need 2 colors. Also, they go on sale when they are discontinuing certain colors.

@Practical Parsimony: I was a nail biter and broke the habit when a friend of mine gave me a few colors of nail polish some 20 years ago. When I went to bite my nails, I noticed the color and that made me stop myself. My thumbnails are just like yours - ridges. I put some polish on them just to see what they would look like and the ridges weren't as noticeable.

Paula said...

Thanks for the description of the artificial nail process and what it does to the nails. Now I am sure I haven't missed anything.

The health factor aside, I have enough appointments without creating unnecessary ones. That would be stressful to me, not a treat. Just having to go to the salon every few weeks to have my hair trimmed is bother enough.

When I worked in offices, I used low maintenance polish in barely there colors like pale pink or beige. It stayed presentable much longer. My nails are quite strong and would be long if I let them, but I've always kept them short--another thing that helps polish last--because I can't stand them beating against the keyboard and slowing my typing. Actually, my piano teacher caused me to start having short nails when I was a pre-teen. At the time, I thought long nails were so glamorous and she was such a nag. Now I just think they are highly impractical for anyone with work to do.