Acrylic nails offer multiple benefits over natural nails. They are extremely durable and allow you to choose your ideal nail length and maintain that length on all 10 fingers. Additionally, acrylic nails bond with polish so your nail color will last for weeks without chipping or peeling. The downside to acrylics is that as your nails grow out, the acrylic needs to be filled in. Additionally, the acrylic will, over time, lift away from the natural nail, creating a welcome environment for bacteria and fungus. As a result, acrylic nails require regular maintenance and represent a recurring expense, but you can prolong the life of your acrylic nails between salon fills.
Select an appropriate nail length for your lifestyle. Talk with your nail technician about your daily activities, so she can help you select the best style and length for your needs. Snagging nails on clothes, bumping them during sports or heavy lifting at work, and continually tapping them against the keys on a keyboard can all result in early lifting or cracks and splits that require immediate care.
Put on rubber gloves before doing chores such as washing dishes, cleaning and gardening. The moisture and dirt that get underneath nails when performing these duties can hasten lifting and bacterial growth between the acrylic and natural nail.
Treat your nails with care. Picking at the edges of your acrylic nails or chewing them can cause damage to the acrylic and introduce moisture and bacteria into the nails.
Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and dry them thoroughly. The antibacterial soap will help reduce the risk of bacteria or fungus developing underneath the acrylic.
Swab your nails each day with an alcohol swab or a cotton ball saturated with rubbing alcohol to keep the area dry and clean. Some nail technicians also recommend applying cuticle oil to your nails -- at the cuticle and under the free edge -- each night to keep the acrylics and natural nails hydrated.
Nigel Drake is an editor with more than 12 years experiencing in print and online editing. She began her career in 1997 and has worked as an editor and/or writer with a variety of fitness- and beauty-related publications, including "Men's Fitness," "Shape, "DAYSPA" and "Massage" magazines. Nigel has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Hampshire, where she graduated magna cum laude.