Your Guide to Acrylic Nails

Your Guide to Acrylic Nails

Are you looking for a way to give yourself a salon-quality manicure? Acrylic nails may be the perfect solution. From vibrant colors to intricate designs, acrylic nails allow you to express your creative side and add a touch of glamour to any outfit. In this guide, we'll explain everything you need to know about acrylic nails, including the tools and products you'll need, the best techniques for applying them, and the different styles and trends you can try. So let's get started!

So you want to get acrylic nails from the salon? I gotchu.

As someone who's on her 3rd year of acrylic stiletto nails (also called 'tips') I guess you can say I know a thing or two about the trials of these oh-so-beautiful attachments. Being without them gives me vertigo - I'm not sure I could properly function without them at this point!


Your Guide to Acrylic Nails: Classic Black Cat Claws

(The author's nails - always going for the classic black.)

In all honesty, there's really nothing more attractive than a set of nicely manicured nails that are dangerous, look a little creepy (my favorite colors: black, bronze, and skin toned) and plays upon the overall femme fatale aesthetic of mystery and mystique. 

Both Vampira and Lily Munster sported such nails. Need I say more?

Your Guide to Acrylic Nails: Lily Munster and Morticia Addams

Vampira and  The Munsters

So if you're a beginner to the world of nails, here is my handy guide (with my preferred goth aesthetics, of course). 


Before You Go to the Salon

Tips for acrylic nail extensions: Black tips on stiletto nails

You must be dedicated - this isn't a short-term relationship. Be aware of how much time you're going to be spending in the nail salon with your technician - you guys are gonna get close. Also, if you break a nail... it's gonna hurt like hell (and probably bleed a lot, too).

Regardless if you keep the tips or not, the process of sanding and roughening the top layer wears down the thickness of your actual nails and will make them prone to breaking once the acrylics have been removed. You'll have to live with this realization (or just never go without acrylics!) - it'll take a while for your nails to grow back strong again.

Additionally, you're going to have to adjust to daily life - depending on nail length - to accommodate your newfound acrylic handicap. Expect that you won't be able to button small buttons, type in your PIN number at the grocery store or pick up change off the floor.

If you can forego all this, then let's move on!


Do Your Homework

Your Guide to Acrylic Nails: Chevron Design on Stiletto tips

Instagram: Black Stiletto

You must have a budget. Tips aren't cheap and will require endless maintenance from day one. Expect to spend around $50-$100 a month, depending on if you get fill-ins, a new set, if you opt for gel manicures and if you get a design. 

This might be obvious but do your homework. I am saying this by experience so trust me on this one. I initially went to a nail salon that had dirt cheap prices but bad reviews on Yelp. I ignored everyone's gripes and horror stories and continued to go because I was saving money, dammit!

Because of their cheap prices they had more customers, thus always a long queue of people waiting to get a fill-in or a new set. This sort of fast-paced activity didn't allow the nail technicians to focus and do a great job - the result was often sloppy.

I found my nails cracking under the slightest pressure and soon realized the tips weren't sealed tightly enough. 

Your Guide to Acrylic Nails: Gothic Nail Art


You know what 'loose sealed' tips means? Mildew. Green growing mildew. (Yes, it's as gross as it sounds.)

I decided to change salons and go to one where the prices were only a bit higher and the flow of customers was less-so. It turns out I am actually saving money and stress because I can go longer without a fill-in and don't have to worry about them breaking when performing daily tasks.

Oh yeah, and the mildew cleanup under my acrylics was not cheap, either. In fact, it was a 2 hour process and hurt like hell.  


At the Salon

Your Guide to Acrylic Nails: Different Nail Extension Shapes


Once you've picked your perfect salon, figure out what shape of nails you want,  and what length. I always get the 'stiletto' shape, though the 'coffin' looks wonderful and the 'squoval' is a super-80s look (if that's what you're going for).

It's probably best to gather some of your favorite Instagram pictures to show the technician for length and style ( a quick search for #stilettonails #witchtips should bring up some cool results).

Your Guide to Acrylic Nails: Creepy Gothic Nail Art with Bats & Graveyard Scene


If you freeball the length while you're at the table they will probably end up a bit shorter than you intended after filing - so be sure to have some images ready for reference instead. 

The process is fairly straightforward after that and will probably take up an hour of your time (or a bit more). Remember to tip - if you're happy with the work done then let your technician know!


After the Salon

Your Guide to Acrylic Nails: High Shine Metallic Nail Art with Galaxy Design

Rose Shock

This might not work for everyone, but I try to go to the salon for a fill-in (the process of filling in the bottom area of your nail that has grown out) every 2 weeks. I get a new set every 2 months (unless they are looking pretty healthy then I'll go for 9 weeks). I told you this requires a lot of dedication! 

Purchase some nail glue for those instances when your nail might crack. It works temporarily and will give you a cushion of a day or two before you schedule your appointment at the salon, but it won't be a permanent solution (plus it's really messy and can get on your manicure).

Think about taking B vitamins to keep your actual nails healthy (or as healthy as you can) so they won't crack so easily.  But most of all - have fun! They are now a part of you and an extension of your body. Take lots of pictures!


What designs and shapes do you like the best? Comment below!


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About the Author

Andi Harriman