I just received an email message from one of my readers that stirred up some very poignant memories for me.

Hands with manacure on white background

For years I, like Carol, was on the fake acrylic nails bandwagon. From the first time I gave that manicure option a try, I loved it. Polish lasts longer on acrylic nails; my nails were always uniform—shaped perfectly and just the right length. All I had to do was go to the nail salon every three weeks to have them maintained.

The problem is it became addictive. I couldn’t do the maintenance myself. And if I didn’t go regularly to have them done, they looked horrible. I became a slave to my local nail salon and acrylic-applying nail technician. It was not cheap.

Anyone who’s ever had acrylic nails knows that they absolutely ravage your natural nails if removed incorrectly, or worn for years without taking a break. And no wonder. Part of the process is to sand down one’s natural nails to get the stuff to stick and not “lift” before the next appointment.

It was a difficult habit to break and I’m glad I did, not only for my nail health  (Google “acrylic dangers” if you dare) but even more so for my wealth. Here’s what Carol wrote: 

DEAR MARY: About a year ago, I read your column, Six Secrets for the Perfect DIY Manicure about giving yourself a  manicure instead of paying someone else to do it.

Nail polish on white counter top

I’d had acrylic nails with twice-a-month upkeep for well over 10 years and was determined to cut this expense. I emailed you my intention to follow your plan as a commitment to myself.

A year later, I am thrilled to tell you I have successfully weaned myself off this $50-a-month expense and I want to tell you your plan works! I have a suggestion, however, to your system for those who use it upon removing acrylic nails for good.

Your nails will be thin, ugly, and short for several months. I could not have imagined using a colored nail polish which, to me, would have exaggerated their shortness (you mention your favorite is OPI Lincoln Park After Dark).

Instead, I searched for a polish very close to my skin color. I chose Revlon Gray Suede #705. I bought the recommended products and followed all your steps with the exception of using this product for color.

Fingers holding nail polish

As I looked at my nails every day, I saw just an extension of my fingers with shiny ends. It allowed me not to be embarrassed about them and I simply put it out of my mind.

To my surprise, within about three to four months, my nails looked normal again even without polish! (Although I still go through the same routine.) Especially helpful is applying the Avoplex Nail & Cuticle Replenishing Oil several times a day. It smells wonderful, feels soothing, and looks beautiful.

Thank you! I love your daily email. I have learned so much and am well on my way to a debt-free life. Carol

DEAR CAROL: I recall your initial message, and am just so proud of you for your tenacity and determination. Great job! I know that many of your fellow readers are going to be encouraged to follow you brave lead. Getting off that acrylic nail treadmill is no simple feat! That you are also not spending $600 each year on acrylic nails makes me smile. But more than that, to know you are well on your way to financial freedom is truly thrilling!


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