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Acrylics are old-school glamor, but they have their pluses. Gels are shinier, harder and tend to look more natural, so lots of manicure lovers are switching their tips. Going from one to the other doesn’t have to be a hassle and can be done in the same day if your nail tech knows her stuff.
Your fingernails aren’t alive the way your skin is, but they can weaken and dry out when they have acrylics on top. Not because they can’t breathe -- the chemicals in acrylics are a bit harsh and they can dry your nails. Nails grow about 1/8-inch every month, which is why you need to get any nail enhancements filled. There’s no way to re-strengthen dry nails, but eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated and taking biotin supplements can help keep your nails in tip-top shape.
Acrylic nails are generally done with a two-step process, which is called a polymer. Your nail artist dips a brush into liquid plastic and then into acrylic powder. Together, they dry into a hard, thin plastic. They bond and dry quickly, so it takes a bit of skill to get them to go on smoothly. Removing acrylic nails carefully by a combination of soaking and filing can make it easier on your nails to switch right to acrylics.
Gel nails take longer to put on. Sometimes a white tip is applied with nail glue, but some nail artists use pink gel and white gel to make a permanent French manicure. Gel nails are also available in colors. For colored gel nails, your salon tech brushes on a base coat followed by two coats of gel color. She applies a top coat for extra strength and shine, curing your nails under ultra-violet lights for three to five minutes between each step. Gel nails are a little drying, but simply applying them – even right after acrylics -- shouldn’t hurt your natural nails.
Tips and Hints
Giving your nails a rest between acrylics and gels is a good idea, but if the acrylics were removed carefully with no damage to your natural nail, there’s no reason you can’t switch it up in the same day. If you want to wait for a whole new nail to grow out, you will need to wait between four and six months before applying the gel nails. Keep your nails moist with cuticle creams and wear them short, filed straight across with slightly rounded corners.