Acrylic Nails: What You Need to Know Before Your Salon Visit

Written by Sierra Hamilton | Reviewed by Linda Simko Last Updated: March 16, 2024

When you leave the salon, you feel great, but you also feel a pang of regret that you did not get acrylic nails. You’ve always wanted them, but you’ve never jumped into the deep end of the salon pool.

Your first time getting artificial nails can be intimidating. The first time I had mine done was at my senior prom, and I knew nothing about them. How long should they be? How should they be removed? Where to go to get them done and how to find a reputable salon?

Luckily for you, after many, many sessions I can now answer all of those questions so that your next visit to the salon is a breeze. And hopefully, it’ll help prevent you from making some of the mistakes I did — like my first disastrous removal of acrylics.

What Are Acrylic Nails and How Are They Applied?

First of all, you probably want to know,”what are acrylic nails?” They are the most popular artificial nail on the market, and millions of women wear them regularly. The nails give women the durability and length they might not otherwise have with their natural nails.

In order to achieve the look, your manicurist will trim, file, and buff your natural nails a little bit so that the acrylic sticks. After your nails are prepped, the manicurist will find tips, apply them, and cut them to your desired length. Then comes the acrylic powder.

First, a brush is dipped into liquid monomer. The wet brush is then put into acrylic nail powder. After the powder is on the brush, your manicurist will apply it to your nail and smooth it with the liquid monomer. When the mixture dries, your nails will be filed, buffed, and ready for polish.

The entire process takes about an hour and is reasonably priced. On average, acrylics cost around $35. They should be filled (basically, a touch-up) about every two weeks, and that usually costs approximately $15.

How to Choose Salon for Manicure

Ordinarily, when telling you how to find a particular business, I’d suggest you find a trusted national chain first. Unfortunately, nail salons are the one business that has very few national chains. That means you are going to have to be pro-active about finding a salon that has a good reputation all on your own. This is very important. You do not want to go to a mediocre salon to have your acrylic nails applied.

My biggest piece of advice when looking for a salon is to ask your friends and colleagues. These are the people whom you trust. They will tell you which salons are terrible in your town.

It’s vital because if you go to one of the awful salons, your nails will be a hot mess. As someone who has gone to a salon I was warned about, I can assure you this is the one time you will want recommendations. You do not want to leave a salon looking like you played the 100 layers game.

Short acrylic nails: perfect for newbies

Short acrylic nails are a great idea for those new to fake nails.

Before you go to the salon, it’s crucial that you know what you want. For instance, if it is your first time getting acrylic nails, you may want to start off with short nails.

Short acrylic nails are by far the easiest nails to work with. This is especially true if you work in a profession where you use your fingers a lot, like typing constantly. Trying to type with really long nails, like coffin nails, can be difficult until you get used to them.

Another thing about short acrylics is that you will actually be able to pick up change if you drop it on the ground. You may be laughing, but it’s true. When you have long acrylic nails, and you drop change on the ground, it’s no longer your change. Just keep walking if it happens. With short acrylics, however, you’ll be able to get your fifty cents back.

Coffin acrylic nails: do you dare?

Coffin acrylic nails are dramatic.

So, you’re a risk-taker, and you’ve decided to get coffin nails right away. Coffin nails, also known as ballerina nails, are trendy right now. The nails get their name from their shape – they look like coffins or ballerina shoes. These nails are long and squared off at the tip.

If you are a lover of long nails, even if you are a newbie to acrylics, you will absolutely love coffin nails. While I find it much easier to type with short acrylic nails, people say that typing with the coffin nails is simple if you type with the tips, not your finger pads.

The upside to coffin nails is that the design options are endless. You can put a ton of jewels on them or have elaborate designs — whatever you want.

Ultimately, the length of your nails will depend on your lifestyle. The good news is, you can always remove them if you are unhappy with the length.

How to take off acrylic nails

As mentioned above, the first time I had acrylic nails put on, I had no idea how to remove them. Instead of asking someone, I put the nails in my mouth individually and chomped down on them like a savage. It was not good. My teeth hurt and my nails hurt.

The proper way to remove acrylic nails does not involve teeth or savagery. Instead, you can either go to the salon and have them removed, or follow these steps:

  1. Clip the nails as short as possible.
  2. Fill up a bowl with acetone and another bowl with warm water. Place the bowl of acetone into the bowl of warm water to warm the acetone up.
  3. Slather a generous amount of Vaseline on your cuticles to protect them.
  4. Put your fingers into the bowl of acetone and keep them there for 40 minutes.
  5. When the acrylic is soft, pull the nails off with tweezers. If they don’t come off easily, continue soaking until they’ve loosened.

That’s it. The only thing that sucks about removing the nails is that it takes a lot of time, but you can do it while watching a movie or television.

Whatever you decide to do, whether it is going to the salon or removing them yourself, do not just rip them off your nails! You will damage your natural nail, and if you even for a second thought about going my route, you will hurt your teeth. Believe me, the time you save is not worth a visit to the dentist.

You’re Ready for Your Salon Visit!

That’s it. That is everything you need to know before you dive into the acrylic nails pool. Acrylic nails are really a lot of fun. Once you find a terrific salon and figure which style works for you, you’ll love them.

Although it may take a couple of days to adjust to your new nails, they are pretty fantastic. Plus, they make your hands look fabulous. Who knows, maybe a talent agent will notice you and your pretty nails and offer you a job as a hand model? It could happen.

Featured Image: CC by 2.0, by starsandspirals, via Wikimedia


  • Sierra Hamilton

    Hi, I'm Sierra Hamilton, the founder and main author of My journey began as a salon enthusiast, and over time, I came to recognize the challenges many face when comparing services and prices across different salons. Tired of the opaque pricing in the beauty world, I was inspired to launch My mission is simple: to offer a platform where visitors can access accurate and up-to-date price listings for a myriad of beauty services, streamlining the decision-making process. I'm deeply committed to ensuring everyone can make informed and confident choices about where to indulge in their next beauty treatment.

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