Girl talk: Why I’m learning how to do my own acrylic nails

Why is it turning yellow? I thought to myself as I looked down at my toenail. I had gotten a pedicure about a month prior, and the polish was finally starting to chip off. 

There was definitely some discoloration on my toenail and I knew it wasn’t normal.

Over months that followed, my entire toenail started to change. It continued to change color, and the nail started to thicken.

3 months later, it looked nothing like my other toenails. 

That is when it hit me: I got a toenail fungus from my pedicure.

If your nail salon is not properly sanitizing their implements after each client, they will pass bacteria to other clients.

I started doing research thinking there would be something that I could apply to my toenail to make it heal quickly.

I was saddened when I discovered that there really isn’t much that I can do about it. Toenail fungus takes sometimes up to a year to heal with constant foot soaking in things like water and mouthwash.

I wasn’t a regular at the salon. It takes a lot of money to constantly have your nails and toes done. Plus, I was a stay at home mom and I didn’t feel the need to. There wasn’t anyone to impress. 

Once I started working at Victoria’s Secret and spending time around other people, I knew it was time to start looking more put together because my lifestyle was changing.

The girls that I work with referred me to a local salon that I actually love, but after getting my nails done a couple times, I quickly realized that I didn’t want to pay that kind of price all the time. 

It cost me about $100 per month to keep my nails done and filled.

Not to mention I was still fearful that I could get another fungus at any time.

One day in February 2024, I decided to learn how to do my own nails.

And that is where it all started. 

I decided to go to the salon to get one final full set of acrylic nails. The purpose of this trip was to be extremely observant and watch every thing that my nail tech did as well as every product that she used.

This would help when it came to ordering supplies and when I started doing my own nails. 

Step 1: The supplies

Where does one go when they want to learn a new skill? Tik Tok of course! I have found that I can learn a lot of things on tik tok and I use it as an educational platform

I started searching for all the supplies that nail techs use and all of the things that I needed to order. I got my amazon cart ready and started adding lots of things. It was easy to figure out what I needed because most of the supplies I remember seeing at the salon when I was there.

From my last visit to the nail salon, I knew I needed nail tips, acetone, nail glue, monomer, acrylic powder, nail polish, a nail drill, a uv lamp, etc. I watched a lot of videos to see what everyone was recommending the most and that is what I went with. 

I had packages arriving every single day. With all of my new supplies, I realized that I also had to have some places to store and organize it all. I had to purchase that too. 

I even got one of the nail polish swatches so that I could feel like I was more of a professional.

Step 2: Watching tutorial videos

While I was waiting for all of my supplies to arrive, I started watching every video I possibly could about how to do an acrylic fill as well as a full set. 

What I love about tik tok is that creators would go live while they were doing a full set of nails so I could see everything from start to finish. I watched hours and hours of full sets and fills for short almond nails, which is what I normally get.

I learned so much from these videos and I felt confident that I could start with a fill and start by filling in the full set that I got at the nail salon.

Step 3: My first acrylic fill.

By the time I figured out what to order and everything arrived, a couple of weeks had passed and it was time to do my very first fill. I don’t know where I got the confidence to do this, but I knew it had to be done, so I gave it a try.

My first fill was a 4/10. I like rating myself so that I can see my progress. Even though I tried really hard not to, I did somehow get a decent amount of acrylic powder on my cuticle. The acrylic powder is not supposed to touch the skin at all. 

For my very first time doing nails with absolutely no formal training, I was proud of myself! I took note of my mistakes for next time and every time I looked at my nails I felt so accomplished because I did them myself.

my first acrylic fill

Step 4: My first acrylic soak off.

I kept this red set of nails on for about 2 weeks until I was time to do my first full set. I aways hated going the salon for a soak off, but I know it has to be done.

If I’m being honest, the soak off was probably one of the hardest parts of the process. For some reason, it took me a very long time to get everything off. About an hour actually.

It is much faster at the salon, I suppose I wasn’t doing it properly. I hated having my hands sitting in acetone for long periods of time, and I’ve definitely learned my lesson with that. I have since watched more videos and learned new ways to soak the nails off properly.

My first full set

Now for the main event, it’s time to talk about my very first full set.

In the salon, I am in and out with a full set of short almond French tip nails in about an hour.

At home…it took me about two and a half hours. By the time I started my second hour and knowing that I was only halfway one, I was ready to cry. There was no going back though, because the acrylic had already been applied.

I tried very hard to make it look as nice as possible, but I quickly realized that it was harder than I thought.

Getting the nails all the same length and shape was extremely difficult for the first time. After I finished, I realized that none of them really matched the others in shape and length but it was something that only I would recognize.

I also managed to get more acrylic on the cuticle again, I spent so much time making sure it was better than the fill that I did. It was better, but still nowhere near what it was when I went to the salon.

my first full set

This set lasted a couple of weeks before I was ready to take them off. I have since done a regular gel manicure because I wanted to take a quick break from acrylics.

It has been about 3 weeks since I haven’t had acrylics and I plan on doing my second full set here soon. I have since watched more in depth training videos on how to avoid getting the acrylic on the skin, and I will be trying even harder this time.

I also found some short, pre shaped almond tips instead of the traditional long tips that they use at the salon, so that will reduce the time I spent cutting and shaping the nails. I’m excited to use them!

Final thoughts

I wrote this post because I don’t want all of my blog posts to be teaching you how to make your life better. I want to also inspire and encourage you to try new things and learn new skills.

If you told me one year ago that I would be doing my own acrylic nails myself, I wouldn’t believe you! I never thought that this is something that I could do. But with practice, I know I will get better. One day, I will be able to do a full set on myself in an hour or so with ease.

Going to nail salons can be risky. You never know who is actually following safety and sanitary protocols and you are paying lots of money each time to potentially get fungus on your nails.

It’s also not just about the fungus either. I’ve had my nails filed too hard, I’ve left with my cuticles bleeding, I’ve been cut before, and I’ve had nail techs get a little too aggressive with the nail drill. For the longest time I always had a bad experience with the salons that I went to.

Learning to do it myself will save me a lot of time while helping me learn something new!

I will update this post with all of the sets that I do so that you can see my progress!

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