Are fake nails (professionally done) a good idea?
July 22, 2013 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I used to be a nail biter but managed to break the habit a few years ago. Now my nails are actually growing and yay! They look pretty good! However, they are weak and as hell and break off. I have an important event coming up in two months where my hands will be looked at by many people. I would like to have nice looking nails, but I am getting paranoid that I am going to break a nail (or multiple) the day before or some such horror. Are fake nails a good idea?

I'm considering getting gel tips put on. From what I can see they are adhered in roughly the same way as gel polish (Shellac). I was getting Shellac manicures for a while there but some of them eventually peeled off before I got a chance to get them removed. This caused major nail trauma as you can imagine, and I'm getting concerned that if the POLISH can peel off, what does that say for the fake nails themselves? How durable are they? How long do they generally last? Part of me wants to get them sooner than later just to see how they are, how they look, how they feel, etc. so that I can judge whether they are right for my wedding day. Is that a bad idea?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: That should read "...they are weak and thin as hell..."
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:06 AM on July 22, 2013

You've hit on the correct answer: get them done now and see whether you like them. Personally, I hate fake nails because they peel off and because they make it hard to type and do other things. But ymmv.
posted by woodvine at 9:24 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gel nails are incredibly durable. A few years ago I was maintaining them for several months where looking professional really helped, so I was getting fills every couple of weeks. I normally have very weak and brittle nails - gel tips never broke or peeled on me, and I wasn't being especially delicate with them either. I made sure to find someone who worked with gels only and really knew their stuff. She wasn't part of a regular salon.

If you could do a trial run before your wedding (congrats!) I'd recommend it, just so you could judge the stuff for yourself. Sounds like you might have time to shop around for a decent nail technician, too, which really makes a difference.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 9:26 AM on July 22, 2013

Hello fellow nail biter, nom nom nom!

I had fake nails done for my wedding. They actually sanded my nails down (even thinner) and then glued them on. They did look great for the wedding and in pictures, and they lasted through the honeymoon.

You should do a trial run if you have time. I did not, and do not regret it. I kept them up for a few months after the wedding, but the novelty wore off.

I will say they did help with the biting, and I did enjoy the pampering of going to a salon.
posted by hmo at 9:31 AM on July 22, 2013

I got acrylics for my wedding and hated it so much that I peeled them off during my honeymoon. (I don't recommend doing this, either.) They're strong, to be sure, but they're so much thicker than regular nails that I felt almost like I was wearing gloves all the time. I *use* my nails and I found myself suddenly unable to, say, pick food out of my teeth or pry open cereal boxes.
posted by Andrhia at 9:32 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

You may want to check out my post about the same question - lots of good advice.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2013

If they're weak and thin then I would really, seriously not have acrylic nails put on top. Doing so requires sanding your nail beds and will make things massively worse in the long run.

Traditional non-shellac overlays would be best, IMHO. "Gel does not cause damage to the natural nail and can be used to strengthen, protect and promote growth in the natural nail."

(Traditional gel nails are a two-layer process, like this. Ignore that she has tips on the ends, it's not relevant.)

Like you, I am one of the small percentage of people who had bad adhesions and found Shellac destructive to my nail beds.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:37 AM on July 22, 2013

Have you had tried regular (non-gel) manicures? I'm a (mostly) recovered nail biter myself, and I find that a normal, professionally done manicure helps my nails quite a bit. Between the base coat, polish, and top coat, they end up putting a lot of layers on your nails, which give them some added strength. Gel manicures do too, but they're so much harder to remove and seem to take a toll on my nails.

I find that during times when I've gotten regular manicures (and/or maintained my nails in between with home manicures), my nails end up a lot stronger. I think it's partly that the polish etc. protects them from some wear and tear, and partly that it discourages me from the occasional biting and picking that I'm still sometimes prone to do.
posted by pompelmo at 9:46 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have weak and thin nails and the Gels, sculptures, etc were a NIGHTMARE to maintain!

They trashed my natural nail, and they lifted at the nail bed and caused moisture to get in and to cause bright green fungus to grow (pretty!)

I had mine relatively short and even then, they'd pop off if I hit them the wrong way. Open the car door, typing, etc. You repair them with super-glue. Ask me how many times I glued my fingers together.

I got my fills (where they peel up the nail from the bottom up where your nail has grown out and fill it in with more material) once a week, because although my nails SUCK, they grow quickly.

If you didn't like the gel/UV manicure, you will NOT enjoy the sculptured nails. It stinks-literally a chemical stink that is bad for your health, they get buffed with a sander and it hurts and is HOT. The material used stains, so unless you start out with pale pinks, if you use bright red, or deep orange, you'll have to continue to use dark colors until you soak off the sculptures, or until you take them off.

If you decide to do it, however, do it now and try them out. If you hate them though, soak them off in acetone, don't peel them off!

But nice manicure the day of your wedding, with OPI Bubble Bath will be just fine on your nails. And it will be one less thing to fuss with and fuss about.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2013

Are silk wraps still a thing? I remember it was like adhering a small patch of silk to your nail with something that looked like clear nail polish. If that substance is removable with nail polish remover, that might be a good solution that wouldn't do any more damage than a regular polish job. I never had them done myself but they should help prevent breakage. Also, if you have two months, you could try prenatal vitamins.
posted by soelo at 9:51 AM on July 22, 2013

Gel and shellac manicures are slightly different. If you didn't like the shellac, maybe try a gel manicure?

For what it's worth, it's impossible for me to keep a regular manicure looking nice for more than 24 hours before everything starts chipping and breaking. When I have a gel manicure (not tips), there's no chipping or breaking for two weeks. I am not sure how long your shellac manicure lasted before it peeled off--but I wouldn't expect anything to last longer than two weeks.
posted by inertia at 10:35 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fake nails made my poor thin nails 10x worse. What I have found that REALLY WORKS is OPI's Nail Envy. I have thin weak nails and after using this product. my nails are gorgeous and just out to the tips of my fingers. They were growing so well that I had to clip and file them down recently. I've NEVER had to do that. I was shocked.

I bought mine at Ulta but you can find it online.

It is a clear polish that you apply once a day (I am more likely to do 2-3/week). You will see a difference in just a few days. Promise.
posted by michellenoel at 11:27 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with Ruthless Bunny. Short, natural nails will still look nice if professionally manicured the day of.

Also, have you ever tried nail strengtheners? I've had excellent results with Nailtiques in the past and my nails have remained stronger even though I no longer use it.
posted by fozzie_bear at 1:26 PM on July 22, 2013

Please don't get fake nails. They look SO tacky. Seriously, have you seen any celebrities that we consider to be classy (Kate Middleton, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, *insert any woman famous for her class and beauty*) with those awful things? A nice manicure on your natural nails would look classy and beautiful, won't make you cringe when you look at photos 20 years from now, AND won't further damage your nails.
posted by gardenbex at 3:45 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm with gardenbex - so, so much.

Use OPI Nail Envy for a few weeks, get regular *natural* manicures leading up to the event, and then get another normal manicure the day of (or day before). It will look way classier.

I actually have no idea why women like fake nails (acrylic, shellac, whatever - anything other than 'polish applied to your own nail'). I don't think they look nice at all. And I am a fairly girly-girl person, FWIW.
posted by Salamander at 8:53 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think that artificial nails have the capacity to look nice when you get the french manicure BUT they destroy your natural nails underneath. Especially when you try to peel them off your nail yourself and do not soak them in remover or Coca-Cola. They also seem to destroy your nails more the longer they're left on. Nthing the idea of getting a gel manicure and not getting the acrylic nails on top of the natural nail. Really, I would go to a salon and just ask them what non-acrylic manicure they think would look best.

Also, after said-manicure wears away, I would definitely invest in some Hard as Nails type polish and using it on your nails at least once a week and being sure to take Biotin and/or a multivitamin, which will aid in strengthening and growing your natural nails and also does wonders for your hair.
posted by camylanded at 1:54 PM on July 23, 2013

I have gel nails and they look very natural. I used to get regular manicures but no matter where I went, what special base/top coats I tried, and how careful I was, I always got chips within a couple of days. I switched to gel...I get them done a little longer than my natural nails and they are all even and stay completely unchipped for 2 weeks. If you get lighter colors/French, you can stretch out the "refill" time to 3 weeks. Yes, they destroy your natural nails, no matter what the salon tells you. Personally, it's worth it to me to never see my real nails again if I get to never have to think about them looking good outside of an hour every 2 weeks.
posted by kribensa at 9:05 AM on August 2, 2013

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