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Here is your ultimate guide on getting extra strong acrylic fingernails for fingerstyle guitar.

I'll be sharing with you the method that fingerstyle guitarist Sungha Jung uses to create and shape his acrylic nails.

You can use this procedure on all your fingernails, or just the ones that break more often.

Before applying acrylic to your nails, you'll want to make sure you already have a fairly long fingernail.

Also, be aware that the products that you will be applying to your fingernail will wear out the natural fingernail underneath. If you start using acrylic nails and then decide to switch back to natural nails, your fingernails will be weaker until they grow out and properly moisturize.

How Acrylic Nails Work

The method for creating your own acrylic nails for fingerstyle guitar involves mixing a liquid (called a monomer) and a powder together, and then applying this to the surface of your nail. Mixing the liquid and the powder together creates a process called polymerization.

This is a chemical reaction where the monomer (liquid) molecules combine with the polymer (powder) molecules to form long chains.

Once you have combined the liquid monomer and acrylic powder, you can apply the solution to your fingernail nail to form a hard, sculpted nail.

Sungha Jung uses a clear or transparent polymer which matches the color of his natural fingernails. 

How To Prepare Your Nails for Acrylic Fingernails

First, you'll want to make sure you already have a fairly long fingernail. Remember that the products that you will be applying to your fingernail will wear out the natural nail after using this process. If you are going to be using acrylic nails, ensure you're well-prepared for the process. 

First, apply a cleaner to the nail using a brush, such as Gelish pH Bond. The cleaner is necessary to ensure the glue will hold firmly to your nails. This product removes the oils and dries out the nail. It also sets the proper pH for optimal acrylic nail adherence. 

Next, you will apply the primer, which acts like a glue. You can use Harmony Pro Bond Acid Free Nail Primer. This will act like a double sided tape, helping the acrylic adhere to your nail more firmly. Along with the cleaning step that you did previously, this step is very important as it will create a strong adhesive bond between your natural nails and acrylics.

Now, your nails are ready to receive the acrylic mix.

How To Create Acrylic Fingernails

You must mix the acrylic powder with the liquid and then apply the polymer to the surface of your nail using a brush. 

Start by pouring the nail sculpting liquid, such as Harmony ProHesion nail sculpting liquid, into a small container. Dip the tip of your sculpting brush into the container to cover the brush in the liquid.

Then, dip the brush into the powder, such as Harmony Color Select True Clear. This powder will make sure the nail is the same colour as your natural nails for seamless blending. 

Begin to apply the mixture to your nails, making sure to keep the material nice and thin at the nail bed and thicker on the edge of the nail. Keeping your nails thicker at the edges not only makes your nails appear more natural but provides strength. Shape your nails quickly before the mixture dries in order to ensure the acrylic layer is smooth. 

How To Shape Your Acrylic Nails for Fingerstyle Guitar

Afterward, you will need to file your nails to the correct shape. You can pick a nail file of your preference and use my procedure for shaping your natural fingernails. You’ll want to make sure the point which your nail comes in contact with the string is smooth and straight.

I detail my full nail filing method in my online course, Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now!

You may also have received some glue or powder on your skin during the process. To clean this off, simply moisten a cotton ball with acetone and rub it gently around the affected area. This will remove the excess material without causing any damage to your new acrylic nail.

Finally, hydrate your cuticles with some oil to create some vitality. This will minimize the risk of dryness or irritation of the skin around your new acrylic nail. 

How Long Do Acrylic Nails Last? 

Acrylic nails, when properly cared for, can last anywhere from two to three weeks. However, it's vital to note that acrylic nails require touch-ups or 'fills' every two weeks as your natural nails grow. During this process, any lifted acrylic is filed off and replaced.

Maintaining the quality of your acrylics includes sanitizing your gear. Always remember to replace the resin brush after a month of use, and clear your nail clippers, files, and acrylic materials after each procedure.

Are Acrylic Nails Safe?

For most people, yes, acrylic nails are safe. However, there is a chance of an allergic reaction to the acrylic after prolonged use.

Acrylates, known for causing allergic reactions, have long caused contact dermatitis, a sort of skin allergy. It mostly happens with people who handle artificial nails a lot, like beauticians or people doing their own artificial nails at home. 

But there is the case of a 40-year-old flamenco guitarist who used artificial nails and started seeing bumps and separation (onycholysis) on his nails. He figured out that his fake nails made his problems worse, but when he stopped using all the products, his fingernails became better.

Doctors did some tests, which showed the man was sensitive to congress of materials, including one called 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate or 2-HEMA, among others. The man was diagnosed with an occupational skin allergy caused by his use of artificial nails.

What is surprising is that this is the first time a professional flamenco guitarist is being reported on having a skin allergy caused by artificial nails. So, it is very rare, but if you have problems using artificial nails as a guitarist, do not hesitate to see a specialist in order to get proper treatment.