Acrylic Nails? Yea or Nay

Posted on Posted in Announcements, Stories, Tips from Mark

A question came recently from a customer regarding acrylic nails. My response:

I don’t recommend acrylic nails if you can avoid them. They don’t allow the natural nail to breath underneath and eventually will turn the natural nails to mush. 

Having said that, I do use two acrylic nails these days — on my middle and ring fingers — only because after many decades of picking steel strings with natural nails those two nails thinned enough in the release area to start splitting lengthwise, back toward the wrist. Splitting across the nail is a problem only until it grows out; splitting lengthwise is a longer-term problem. It has caused me to cover up those two, but only partially.

I used store-bought artificial nails initially — KISS is a currently available product, which I use in an emergency (if I break a nail right before a concert, for instance!). But going to a salon will provide you with better looking, harder nails. If you must use acrylics, get a pro to do it at a salon. 

My suggestions:

• First, breathe shallowly while in the salon…!

• Secondly, have the nail artist cover only 50-60% of your nail, so the uncovered part (near the cuticle) can still breathe. They don’t do this normally, and it’s taken some convincing to get them to do it for me!

• Third, do not allow them to make the acrylic too thick. I have better luck with a thinner layer of acrylic over the plastic nail tip they first glue on. 

Fingernails are often the bane of a fingerpicker’s existence. In my opinion, it’s best to pick without nails if you can manage that — Juber and Emmanuel do — you just don’t have to worry about the state of your fingernails. But I prefer the tone and projection of using skin and nails in combination.

I am grateful for naturally strong nails; and I do my best to take care of them.

Mark Hanson

November, 2023

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One thought on “Acrylic Nails? Yea or Nay

  1. Hi Mark, I also use partial cover with acrylics – not more than 50% of the nail bed – the remainder is “naked” and totally natural. My advice is to find a pro who learns your preferences and does a great job. I only need to visit “my manicurist” about once a month.

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