Do it yourself: Apply your own acrylic nail tips (cheaply!)

July 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm Leave a comment

Here's what my nails look like (unpolished) after applying the acrylic tips.

Normally I don’t do much with my nails.  Recently I painted them a pretty green color and they started chipping the next day; being the lazy bum that I am, I left chipped polish on my nails for a week until I became fed up with them.  I tend to keep my nails short because they don’t grow out to be very strong and they get annoying.  But since I’ve been wanting to change up my look lately, I thought I’d try getting acrylic tips, which I haven’t worn since high school prom.  The turn-off?  Most prices I’ve seen run around $30 and up.  Once salon in my city prices them at $75, which I’m sure is not the ceiling cost.  On the one hand, that might not seem expensive since they stay on for weeks and they’re pretty durable, but I really don’t want to spend even $30 on my nails right now.

I might be lazy, but I’m also pretty crafty, so I decided to look for a do-it-yourself kit.  I found two comparable kits on Amazon and went with the one with the better reviews, which I was able to find at my local Walmart (yay for no shipping costs!).  Enter Nailene Acrylic Sculpture Kit.  Price: $7.97.  Heck yes.

The kit includes: instructions, 40 acrylic tips (20 natural and 20 French), clear acrylic powder, acrylic liquid, nail glue, brush, and buffer.

The instructions were very simple and easy to follow, although they were not as detailed as they could have been.  Here’s a great eHow tutorial I wish I had read before I applied my tips.

The hardest part of the process that the tutorial addresses that the instructions do not is how exactly to brush the acrylic over the nail; eHow gives a much better description of when to dip your brush in what, and where to place the acrylic ball.  Also, eHow recommends buffing your nails before and after you apply the tips, which the instructions do not mention.  Of course, if you’ve gotten yours done in a salon before you might remember some helpful details on your own, but eHow pretty much covers everything.

One tip that neither the instructions nor eHow tells you is that you can trim the nails with sharp scissors, but be sure to trim them longer than you would like in case you mess up and cut too much.  You can file them down to your desired length and shape later.  While you trim, try to work with the shape of the nail and curve the scissors around as you cut.  That way, the nail won’t warp and strain as much and you won’t have to do as much work with the file.  Also, be very careful with the sculpting brush – it is very easy for the acrylic to dry onto the brush, and you may need to have a back-up just in case.

The worst reviews this kit received on Amazon mentioned the strong chemical smell that the acrylic liquid gives off, but I don’t think there’s any way around that.  If you’ve been to a salon then you know what to expect – work in a well-ventilated area, only pour out a small amount of liquid, and keep the bottle capped at all times.  Also, don’t work with the liquid directly under your nose, and try not to breathe in the fumes too deeply.  Use common sense.

Other cons?  I think the French tips are too long, because even the part that you glue to your nail is white – not just the edge that hangs off.  I don’t think I’ll be using the French tips.  The natural tips are great, but my nails must be kind of small because I only found one set of sizes that fit.  I guess I could file down the sides of the wider ones, but without doing any extra work and taking the French tips into account, I can really only get one perfect set of tips out of this kit.  HOWEVER, I can tell that the nail glue, acrylic powder, and acrylic liquid are going to last me a long time.  The buffer will probably last for a couple more applications too, but I’ll need a new brush.  Next time I use this kit, I am going to a larger set of natural tips online, but since I won’t have to buy anything else, it will be even cheaper to do them in the future.

How difficult is the whole process?  It depends on how crafty you are.  The only part I found to be difficult was applying the acrylic to my non-dominant hand.  I messed up a couple times, but if you’re quick it wipes off easily – you will just have to file down the excess.  It also takes a while to get everything perfect, but I know that the next time I do it I’ll be a lot faster.  It’s nice that you don’t have to wait for anything to dry; the nail glue and acrylic dry almost immediately.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this kit.  Considering the fact that this was my first time applying them myself, the tips look and feel just like I had them done at a salon, and I only spent eight bucks.  Definitely worth it.

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