Artificial Nails

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Artificial nails are used to beautify and lengthen fingernails. Take care in choosing from the varied artificial nail types for optimum wear and desired results.

Artificial nails are sculpted from materials like acrylic, fiberglass and silk to cover, lengthen and beautify the natural nail. Worn primarily by women, artificial nails are often used to cover breakages in the natural fingernail, add length, and when done correctly, promote growth of the natural fingernail.

There are three major artificial nail types for consumers to choose from: acrylic; sculptured; and wrap.

Acrylic nails are the strongest artificial nail type, but they are also the thickest. If not applied properly, acrylic nails can look thick and fake. Depending on nail growth, acrylics usually need to be tended to twice monthly to avoid loosening and breakages. Acrylics are the most widespread artificial nail in use today; therefore finding nail technicians to keep them in shape will usually not be a problem.

Sculptured nails are applied using acrylic or fiberglass gel and lengthened with foil or metal. Plastic half-nails can also be applied with glue and then secured with a gel, silk or linen. The uncovered portion of the natural nail has fiberglass or acrylic applied and is blended until it is uniform with the artificial tip. As the fingernail grows, it will have to be filled in to continue a natural appearance.


Wraps are thin pieces of fiberglass, silk or linen applied to the natural nail. They can be used to strengthen the natural nail, or elongated into a tip for a longer look. They are softer than acrylic nails and therefore less durable. Because of their softer, natural look, silk wraps are the most popular of this type, but work best as nail strengtheners rather than lengtheners.

Linen wraps are thicker, but like acrylic nails, have to be applied with care for a more natural look. Fiberglass wraps are gaining popularity for their durability and natural look - they lengthen and strengthen nails equally well.

Wraps, when applied correctly, can be used to strengthen and lengthen the natural nail. Over time, the artificial nail can be removed because of the natural nail's new strength and durability.

What Is the Best Artificial Nail Type?

Depending on your needs, each artificial nail type has its good and bad points. Acrylic nails might be best for short-term wear, no more than two months at a time. Since they cover the entire natural nail, acrylics can make nails weak. Also, if breakages or loosening occurs, be aware that water can cause mildew.

Sculptured nails can be worn longer than acrylics, but to sustain a natural appearance, they must be cared for and filled in at least once per month.

Wraps may be a good option because they beautify while allowing the natural nail room to grow. Like sculptured nails, wraps have to be tended to at least one monthly to continue their natural appearance. After the wraps grow off, the natural nail can be worn on its own.

For optimum wear and desired effects, consult your nail technician about what artificial nail type is right for you. If you're unsure of your salon's cleaning habits, purchase your own manicure set for nail safety.

Whether you want your nails lengthened, strengthened or both, your knowledge of the various artificial nail types can help you achieve your desired result.

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