A close up of a persons hand

How to Break the Acrylic Nail Habit and Help Your Nails Recover Beautifully

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

A close up of a persons hand


For years I, too, 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

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.

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.

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Nail and Color

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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13 replies
    • besseling jean says:

      I got it on amazon.ca I am just starting this regimen I live in Ontario I just have to find how it goes which goes first than so on

  1. Linda Carlis says:

    When I first got acrylic nails I took it a step further by learning to do my own. I bought the equipment and all the supplies. I did a great job for over 20 years but just got tired of doing it and all the dust it creates. I removed them 10 years ago and my nails are still recovering. They were always thin and weak which is why I started with the acrylics to begin with. My hair grows long and healthy but my nails, not so much.

  2. Shirley Bradham Woods says:

    I got mine on Amazon hoping It would keep me from biting my nails because they split and tear. Did not work for me. I spent almost $80. A waste of money for me….but had to try it.

  3. Jeannie says:

    Not only is it a lot of money…it’s a lot of time, too. I only wish I could get my cuticles to look good, like they do at the salon. Mine are thick and grow a lot, and they are very dry. I use oil all the time. Anyone have suggestions?

    • Michele P. says:

      Mine too. I’ve tried everything over 40 years and the only thing that works for me is A&D ointment sold in the baby section. Helps with splitting nails too.

  4. Dee says:

    I did this and loved how it toughened my nails and they looked so great all the time. However, after a while my nails became totally dried out and split, basically the way nails look after acrylics. I had to leave them free until my nails grew out. It really bummed me out caused I loved the way they looked in the beginning. Any suggestions on how to avoid that from happening again? The something happened to a couple of my friends.

    • pawandclawdesigns says:

      Oil, oil, oil. Jojoba oil is closest to skins natural sebum. You can buy empty ‘cuticle oil pens’ or polish bottles online.

      Your nails are already dead protein when they’ve grown from your body. You can’t really ‘repair’them, just protect them from damage so they can grow longer without breakage.

      This YouTube video is silly, but very helpful.


    • Mary Hunt says:

      Yes! It’s #12 on my list of 16 favorite things … in this post from last week: http://wp.me/p2Emiq-3R6. Thanks for asking … I may amend today’s post to include this important item.

  5. Yvonne Warthen says:

    After 36 years of silk wraps and then later on acrylics I got a nail fungus and I decided that it’s not worth it; it’s not worth having to go to the salon every two weeks; it’s not worth the amount of money I paid…it’s just not worth it. After the irritation of the nail fungus, I decided I’m done. I allowed the nails to grow out until they lifted and I sucked soaked the acrylic off and now have little stubby nails, but I’m free.


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