I Tried Acrylic Nails And This Is What Happened

by Stephanie Montes

Even as a beauty editor, I keep my nails completely bare. The only reason I ever get nail art—or any kind of manicure—is for work. Recently my favorite nail product has been the Formula X prescription set, which is basically a series of clear color-correcting polishes that make your natural nails look pretty in a very understated way. So you get the point, I'm a nail minimalist.

The Real Reason I Keep Them Bare

Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of a freshly painted nails. It's not that I don't like pampering myself with a manicure, the problem is that they never last for me. I’ve had regular polish chip and peel in a matter of hours, a single hour is my record time—and yes, I’ve tried every brand. Gel is no different; The so-called everlasting nail treatment only lasts between four and seven days. Trust me, if I could get a manicure to last two weeks, I'd have biweekly appointments on lock but the upkeep on my high-maintenance nails just isn’t worth it for me.

I have long admired the ladylike acrylic nails that Kylie Jenner and Rihanna are known for but as with every other nail trend, I'd written it off as an impossibility for me. I mean, I can’t even paint my nails. Enter acrylic nails. The last time I wore a full set of acrylics was at my high school prom—and yes, they were French tipped—but my taste level has arguably improved since then so I decided to give them another go. This time, though, I would opt for an on-trend nude.

The Process

I pop into the Bellacures nail salon in Larchmont and begin my transformation. The process takes me back to my high school days. The glue, the plastic nail tips, the electric buffers, the smell: It’s the valley in 2008 all over again. Getting into a set acrylic nails hasn’t changed a bit, but I am pleasantly surprised by the improved shape. They taper at the tips, which looks more natural, and they aren’t puffy at the cuticles. I have them painted in a taupe-brown shade—at this point, I’m basically copying Kylie, but a simple nude is about all I can fathom.

With everything finished they feel weird. Acrylics are heavier than polish and longer than my real nails, so it feels very foreign. I immediately lose all coordination and look about as refined as a dog struggling to adjust to wearing boots.

On a high from how good they look, I walk out of the salon with a pep in my step—until I get to my car and fumble with my keys so badly that I drop them. My mobility has clearly taken a hit but worst of all, I feel too afraid to touch anything. The feeling eventually fades, but then I am faced with new challenges.

What People Don't Tell You

As much as I love the acrylics now, there are some things I just can’t get used to, like opening any kind of jar, lid or bottle, which is a serious problem being the beauty product junkie that I am. Scratching an itch or picking up bobby pins, coins and my credit card off any surface is next to impossible. Dressing myself is getting easier, but buttoning my jeans and getting into dresses with tiny zippers are still a major problem. Applying eye makeup with my fingers has gotten borderline dangerous, especially in the inner corners—and while in the back of a car.

I’ve resorted to typing with a single index finger and it’s killing me.

Perhaps the biggest problem of all is that I cannot text an actual sentence to save my life. In a particularly cruel twist my phone’s auto correct feature has been acting up so I’ve resorted to typing with a single index finger and it’s killing me. But before I put you off the entire prospect, let me say this. Even with losing almost all dexterity, I’m hooked. It’s been three weeks and besides some minor growth, my manicure still looks flawless. For a girl who was addicted to plain Jane nails, I sure adapted quickly. I’ve already booked my next appointment and while I’m sure one day I’ll have bare nails again, I can’t foresee that happening anytime in the near future.

What do you think of acrylic nails? Let us know in the comments below.