Tips for Getting Acrylic Nails for the First Time

Jumping onto trends can be exciting and a little nerve-racking, especially when the trend involves your nails, like the acrylic nail trend. And to get enough confidence to take the plunge, accurate information is vital.

So, here’s everything you need to know before, during, and after getting acrylic nails for the first time.

Before the Appointment 

You want a beautiful manicure while still maintaining healthy natural nails. But without the right information, you would never have a seamless acrylic nail experience. So, here’s what you need to know before getting artificial nails the first time.

1. Decide if you Want Acrylic Nails?

Well, there’s never a definitive answer to getting artificial nails. It depends a lot on your personality and how you would want others to perceive you. But if you’re already reading this, it means you’re ready to take the plunge. So, should you get artificial nails?

If you want to wear nails that express your style and personality, you should get artificial nails. You’ll find a variety of styles and options, and there’ll be one that will define you better.

Sometimes, keeping natural nails might get boring and hard to maintain, even with regular or gel nail polish. After all, these will serve you for less time than acrylic nails would. If you fall into this category, then get acrylic nails.

But first, check out the health of your natural nails. Weak and thin nails may first need some healing before applying acrylics.

2. Do your Research/Homework

Ignorance has no defense. So do your research before you get acrylic nails for the first time. But research on what specifically?

We always advise potential acrylic clients to research the different fake nail options. You’ll find dip nails, gel acrylics, and even sculptured nails.

And researching each option will give you a better understanding of the type of fake nails that suit you. You’ll also be able to get a salon whose menu suits your preferences.

3. Pick a Professional Nail Tech/Salon

If you go nail tech/salon hunting, you’ll find many salons with experienced nail techs. But not all are created equal. So, how do you pick a professional nail tech/salon?

We recommend starting with salon/nail tech reviews. After you’ve narrowed down your choices, dig into the reviews. Check both the five-star ratings and the one/two-star ratings.

If there were any complaints, how were they solved? You want a salon that solves issues promptly and efficiently.

After checking reviews, you can call the salon after checking reviews and ask a few questions. Remember to question their hygiene practices.

After all, you don’t want to get natural nail infections during your first time getting fake nails. Does the salon use an autoclave machine to sterilize nail clippers, files, and other equipment?

Finally, ask others for advice. You’ll get recommendations about the best nail techs or salons.

4. Make an Appointment

You should also know when to make an appointment. We recommend calling the nail salon/tech you choose before going to the salon.

This way, you can agree on a time that will work best for you. Otherwise, walking in might be disappointing as you may have to wait in line.

5. Prepare Nails for an Acrylic Appointment?

Unfortunately, you can do all we’ve mentioned above and still have a horrific first-time fake nail experience. But how? Poor nail preparation. Your natural nails are the foundation for good acrylic work.

So, if you’ve got brittle and weak natural nails, you better nurse them back to health before your acrylic appointment. If you need more clarification about the length, ask the nail tech when making your appointment.

We also recommend that you start using a nail strengthener before your appointment. That way, you’ll be sure you have strong natural nails to handle acrylics.

During the Appointment 

Now, you understand what you should know before the appointment. How about during the actual acrylic and gel nail application?

6. Best Patient if you Walked in without Making an Appointment

It’s best always to make an appointment. After all, you don’t want a rushed first acrylic appointment.

But life happens. And you can find yourself in a nail salon without an appointment. So what should you do in such a case? Exercise patience! Please resist the urge to pressurize the nail tech about when it will be your turn.

Otherwise, you’ll give the nail tech the impression that you are in a rush. And you may end up being squeezed in and rushed.

You must also be patient regarding the wait time as your nails get done. Be aware that you’ll have to wait at least one hour from nail prep to acrylic application.

Then, you’ll also need to sit through some minutes of drying time under the UV lamp, especially if you get gel polish. So, plan to stay in the salon for at least one and a half hours for the entire process.

7. Understand the Different Types and Shapes, and Designs

Plenty of fake nail shapes, types, and designs are on the market today. Even with research before the appointment, you may still need to answer all questions.

So, during your appointment, ensure you understand the different types and designs of fake nails. You’ll then be able to decide whether to get dip powder nails, acrylics, or even gel nails.

And your nail tech is the best source of this information. Some nail salons will even have fake nail magazines to enlighten you more.

Always discuss with the nail technician the look you’d like to achieve on shapes and designs. For instance, almond designs would be best if you intend to have your fingers and nails look long and slender. And for that classy yet simple look, you can go for oval shapes.

8. What’s the Cost of a Full Set and Fill-ins and Tips

Most people want to know the costs of getting and maintaining fake nails. How much is a full set? Fill-ins?

The truth is the cost of fake nails depends largely on the type of nails selected, the location of the salon, and the shapes and designs you select.

If, for instance, you decide to get intricate nail art and design, you’ll pay more. In other instances, the type of nail polish you select may also affect the cost for a full set and fill-ins.

Visiting a high-end nail salon will also mean paying higher prices. So, the cost all boils down to the factors above. And to avoid disappointments, we always recommend asking about costs during the appointment. That way, you’ll get a beautiful manicure within your budget.

We still recognize the need to give a rough cost estimate. You can expect to pay between $40-$80 for a new set of acrylics in a reputable salon. And since fill-ins are cheaper, expect to pay 60 percent of the price you paid for the new set of acrylics.

9. What Product does the Nail Salon Use

Remember to consider the importance of good quality products at a nail salon. We always advise clientele to check the type of products the nail salon uses, especially acrylic nails.

You’ll find that acrylic nails are a mixture of powder and liquid monomers. There are two types of liquid acrylic monomers used by nail salons globally– Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA) and Methyl Methacrylate (MMA).

Unfortunately, using MMA-based acrylic nails can damage your nails over time. It’s better to use EMA-based acrylic nails.

So always ask the nail technicians about the ingredients used in the acrylic nail tips they’ll apply on you. It might be a red flag if you notice hesitation, vagueness, or unlabeled containers. And you had best booked an appointment in another nail salon.

Also, be on the lookout to ensure the nail technician applies the base and top coats.

10. What Acrylic Size and Length should you Apply

As a first-timer, you’ve probably seen some nail sizes and lengths that prompted you to join the fake nails bandwagon. And most newbies will relay this to the nail technicians.

While this is commendable, we recommend getting a shorter fake nail design as a newbie. This will give you some time to adjust. Then as you get used to acrylics, you can fill them with more acrylic powder to become longer.

For the shape, we recommend going for oval nails. It’s classy and mirrors the curve of the cuticle, making it ideal for all natural nail and finger types.

11.The Process of Painting Acrylic Nails

Let’s move on to the process of painting acrylic nails. Your manicurist will apply the acrylic powder and liquid monomer mixture to your nails. And they’ll use a nail brush to ensure they get it right.

The technician will then shape the acrylic nail according to your preferences. Then finally, paint the nails with the base coat, gel nail polish, or the polish you choose, and top coat.

Depending on the type of polish you get, the manicurist will then allow some time for the nails to dry under UV light.

12. How Long does it Take to Get Acrylic Nails for the First Time?

A kind reminder-be patient during your acrylic nail appointment. Ideally, the first appointment should take about one to one and a half hours. It will include the time for prep, acrylic sculpting, nail polish application, and drying.

However, this time could vary depending on the nail technicians’ expertise or the intricacy of the nail art and design.

After the Appointment 

Now you are set with your new acrylic nails and ready to flaunt them to the world. But first, there are things you should know after your appointment.

13. Fingers can Hurt After Getting Acrylic Nails

After you get acrylics, it can feel uncomfortable at first. There’s that tightening sensation as the acrylics dry and firm up to the nail bed. And it can cause soreness, discomfort, and pain to some extent.

However, this shouldn’t be a great point of concern. Time passes, and the feeling will go away in about 24 hours. If the pain persists beyond 24 hours, you’d better return to the salon.

The technician will try a tension-relieving technique. For instance, they may suggest shortening the nail length or changing the tip sizes.

Sometimes, the technician will find that the nail bed is damaged. In such instances, they’ll recommend the complete removal of the manicure.

So, after the appointment, be ready for a little discomfort, and don’t hesitate to go back to the salon if the discomfort persists.

14. Getting Used to Wearing Acrylic Nails

Immediately after your manicure, everyday things may feel weird. Even simple daily tasks such as showering! You may start to regret why you got these ‘weird nails’ in the first place.

But relax; acrylic nails take time to get used to. You’ll need to re-learn how to handle most tasks with the nails on to ensure you don’t ruin them.

And if you want to adjust faster, start with shorter nails, then work your way to longer ones as you become more confident in them.

15. How Long do Acrylics Last?

You’ve probably heard that acrylic nails need ongoing maintenance. Failure to which you’ll be dealing with broken, popped, and generally unhealthy nails. But how long do acrylics last?

Well, expect your acrylics to last for six to eight weeks. Beyond this, nails tend to become weaker, and they’ll break easily. But you must faithfully commit to regular refills for them to last this long.

16. How Frequently do you Need Refills, and How Much do they Cost

So, how frequently do you need refills? It depends on how fast your natural nail underneath the acrylic grows. For most people, the natural nail growth will become noticeable between two to three weeks.

You should go for a fill-in to avoid a raggedy look during this time. The manicurist will also check the overall nail health. And if there are any fungal infections, they’ll recommend the best treatment regimen.

For the cost, you’ll find most manicurists charging 60% of the price for a full set. So, the price range will vary between $20-$40.

Pro-Tip: Always ask your manicurist whether they have any refill offers. Some salons will charge customers who had their full sets done in the same salon less.

17. Acrylics can Ruin your Nails

Ideally, acrylics shouldn’t ruin your natural nail. But if you neglect proper maintenance and hygiene practices, they’ll ruin your natural nail underneath.

For instance, moisture can seep underneath your nails if you fail to adhere to regular refills, leading to fungal infections. And to avoid this, you must follow proper acrylic nail maintenance tips.

18. Acrylic Nail Maintenance Tips

But what are these proper acrylic nail maintenance tips?

When faced with this question, we always emphasize; your acrylics are not TOOLS. So, refrain from using them as such. As a first-time acrylic client, you may be tempted to open cans, lift heavy things, or even type using your nails, especially if you have long nails.

But this can easily cause breakage or chipping of the gel nails. Worse still, it can lead to separated acrylic nails. And trust me, the pain of a separated acrylic nail is not something you want to go through. So, treat your acrylic nails gently.

You should also avoid overexposing your nails to water. Overexposure to water can cause loosened acrylic nail glue. And the result? Acrylic nails may fall off., Or worse still, moisture may seep underneath the nail causing fungal infections.

Additionally, ensure your hands rarely come into contact with harsh chemicals and detergents. So, the best solution is to ensure you wear gloves whenever you are handling water and chemicals.

Another important tip is to invest in quality cuticle oil to keep your nails clean and moisturized. And in case of any nail damage, visit your nail tech. No matter the amount of temptation to DIY your damaged nails, do not yield.

19. Acrylic Nails Removal

You’ll eventually need to remove the acrylics. And we recommend visiting an experienced nail tech as the safest way to accomplish this task.

Using a nail clipper, the nail tech will probably start by cutting your acrylics close to your nails. They’ll then use a nail buffer to remove the top polish layer. Next, they’ll treat your nails to acetone for about five to seven minutes.

Then, they’ll remove the polish. A second soak will be conducted if it doesn’t come out completely. After all the polish is gone, the nail tech will massage cuticle oil, and the process will be done!

20. How to Ask for Acrylic Nails

Asking for acrylic nails at the salon is easy. After you’ve done your research and identified the perfect salon for you, call or visit the salon physically.

Ensure you inform the nail tech that this is your first time getting acrylic nails. This is important as it will help the technician to give you advice and guide you accordingly.

If you’ve got some reference photos, showing the technician is important. They’ll advise on whether that’s achievable with the state of your natural nails. And whether it’s recommended for a first-timer.

Lastly, ask for the best time to visit the salon for acrylic nails.

Questions to Ask When Getting Acrylic Nails

When getting acrylic nails the first time, you’ll need to ask the nail tech some questions. But which are the important questions that you should prioritize?

You’ve probably gotten some inspo from Pinterest or friends on the types of nails you want. But it’s always important to ask the salon about their options. Dip nails, acrylics, standard polish, shellac?

Ask for what’s available and get to know the advantages and limitations of each. This way, you can make an informed choice on the type of nails you get.

Another important question is about the type of products the salon uses. After all, you don’t want a salon that uses products that’ll be breaking your nails within no time. Questions on how long you expect to spend in the salon are also important.

This will ensure you can schedule enough time for the appointment. Consequently, you’ll avoid scenarios where you have a rushed nail appointment.

Do Acrylic Nails Feel Weird at First?

Like any artificial addition to your body, acrylic nails will initially feel weird. Not to mention the soreness and discomfort within the first twenty-four hours.

They’ll feel weird because you aren’t used to them. And it might be hard going about simple tasks. But eventually, you get over this feeling and handle having acrylics like a boss.


Getting acrylic nails for the first time can make the difference between becoming a die-hard acrylic fan and a hater for life. And because you want to avoid becoming a hater, get the right information.

That way, you’ll enhance your hands’ beauty while expressing your style and personality.

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