Something you may not know is that I have a qualification in Acrylic Nails. Unfortunately the most this qualification has done for me is gotten me countless free manicures from the comfort of my own sofa - salon life wasn't for me. But one thing I hear time and time again is that acrylics are "worse for your nails than gels". This is an urban myth. In fact if you go to a good salon which uses products made in Europe or the USA, a lot of the chemicals in Acrylics and Gels cross-over. Asian companies sell much harsher chemicals which is 1. why they have to wear masks in asian salons 2. why your nails get damaged 3. why they last so much longer 4.why it's cheaper.
So rule 1: Make sure the salon you go to uses products made in Europe or the USA, and not in China, Korea etc. It's worth the extra money, I promise!
Your acrylics should last a month before they will need to be infilled or removed. These are the top reasons your nails will be damaged from acrylics:
1. You don't get them infilled when they grow out. The extra weight on the ends of your nails if not evenly covered will start to slowly weigh your nail off the actual nail bed. So it's super important to get your infills as soon as they grow out more than a few cms! For most people this will be 4+ weeks. For nail biters it will be less, 2-3 weeks because the constant stimulation to your nails from chewing on them means they grow quicker than others.
2. You pick them off. Don't be tempted!! Even if they're lifting, book back in to the salon and if it hasn't been a fair amount of time they should fix them for free. Picking acrylics off rips off layers of your nail making them brittle and weak. Make sure you go to a salon to get them properly soaked and filed off!
3. You don't use cuticle oil. Good salons should tell you to use cuticle oil every day - keep it by your bedside table or with your makeup! It's inexpensive and you can buy it at Boots. Acrylic is made in a way which your nail can still 'breathe' so to speak, so if you rub cuticle oil into your nail bed it will soak through the acrylic and get to your natural nail. Not only will it give your acrylics a bit of flexibility and help them last much longer, it will help you natural nail underneath stay really healthy, strong and grow quickly.
4. Your salon uses electric files. Your nail is made up of 10 layers. If you file away too much they will weaken immediately. I always trust a hand file more. Again, European salons are better for this even if it does take that little bit longer.
So there you have it. Acrylics and gels both have different benefits but if your only reason for paying more for a set of gels is that they 'damage your nails less', you're wrong. It's no the acrylics damaging your nails, it's your aftercare or the salon techniques!