Updated: Feb 14
How much is a full set of acrylic nails? The simple answer: the average US price for a full set of acrylic nails in 2022 ranged from about $35 to $45. However, the price for acrylic nails can vary greatly, depending on several factors such as the nail salon, region, nail length, nail type, designs, etc.
At Posh Salon & Boutique, we’re all about educating folks on everything nail related: nail styles and services, nail care, and nail safety. As you ponder which nail style to rock next, let’s take a deep dive into acrylic nails: what they are, how much they cost, and how to properly care for them.
What Do I Get With Acrylic Nails?
Acrylic nails consist of a mixture of a liquid polymer and a powder polymer. This mixture forms a paste which is applied to the natural nail. The mixture can be applied either clear or with a colored powder. The paste is then given the desired shape and hardens into place. With acrylics, you can select whichever color(s) and nail designs or jewelry of your choice: make it fun! Opt for pink nails or for a subtle color—it’s your choice.
If you have shorter nails but dream of having longer nails, a plastic tip can be glued to each of your nails. These tips are then filed into the shape of your choice before an acrylic mixture is applied.
How Long Do Acrylic Nails Last?
Acrylic nails typically last six to eight weeks with proper care. A fill, or touch-up of your acrylic nails, helps maintain the look and longevity of acrylics. As your real nails grow underneath the acrylics, this can leave your acrylics looking a little funky. Nail growth under acrylic can also lead to breakage. Fills (also known as refills) address these issues. A fill entails removing old polish and adding new acrylic near the base of the nail.
How Often Do I Need Fills?
Depending on how fast your nails grow, you may need fills every 2 to 3 weeks. When you get a fill, you can choose a new color for your polish.
How Long Does It Take?
Acrylic nails usually take about 45 minutes to an hour to apply. As with cost, application time for acrylic nails can vary, due to add-ons such as nail art or jewelry. For acrylic nails with no add-ons, an experienced nail tech can apply acrylic nails in as little as 20 minutes. A simple rule of thumb: the more elaborate the acrylic nails, the longer it takes to apply.
Acrylic vs. Hard Gel: What’s the Difference?
Acrylic and hard gel nails are both popular types of nail extensions. Both can be sculpted and shaped, but a key difference is how they harden. Acrylic is an evaporating solvent that hardens on its own, whereas hard gel hardens under UV light. Hard gel is also softer and more flexible, while acrylic is harder. With either type, you can apply nail polish or gel polish. Ready for new nails? Come visit Posh Salon & Boutique for hard gel nails!
Acrylic vs. Natural Gel Nails
Natural gel nails are a type of gel overlay. Natural gel nails are softer while hard gel is the strongest and hardest type of gel nail. Several advantages of hard gel nails are that they’re strong, durable, and resistant to chipping. However, natural gel nails can be difficult to remove.
Acrylics Nails Cost: Factors To Consider
As the cost of acrylic nails varies widely, here are the factors that can determine their cost.
Services and costs depend on which type of salon you go to. A general rule of thumb: the fancier the salon, the greater the cost. The more salon services (think hairdressers and masseuses) and frills available (such as massage chairs, beautiful views and/ or location, beauty supplies, etc.), usually equates to higher costs.
The price for acrylic nails can vary greatly from region to region. To get an idea of the cost, search online for “salons near me” to compare prices for acrylic nails. You can also ask family and friends for recommendations.
Here is an overview of acrylic nail costs across several US cities:
New York: $30-$60
Los Angeles: $35 to $70
San Francisco: $50+
Full Set or Fill
How much is a full set of nails versus a fill? A full set of acrylics costs more than a fill, whereas a fill can be cost-effective. Fills are wonderful at extending the wear of your acrylics, as fills allow you to wear your acrylics for several more months, rather than needing a fresh set of acrylics. As with getting a full set, fills costs vary widely, ranging from $15 to $50.
Nail Length and Shape
Depending on the salon, longer nail lengths and certain nail shapes (such as stiletto and lipstick) may cost more.
A standard set of acrylic nails is typically the cheapest option. Having them polished is extra, as are any add-ons, such as nail art.
Wanting to add swirly designs and gems to your nails? Nail art is the most expensive acrylic nail option, averaging an additional $20.
In addition to the cost of service and any add-ons, be sure to tip your manicurist for a job well done. Standard tipping amounts are 15%-20%.
As much as we all wish fake nails would last forever, they will need to be removed at some point. While you can remove acrylics on your own using either acetone or hot water, improper removal can result in pain and/ or damaged nails. For safe and efficient removal, go back to the salon and have them removed by a professional nail tech. As with application, removal costs will vary.
Advantages of Acrylic Nails
Acrylic nails are a highly popular nail option, for several reasons:
Acrylics are highly durable. They are stronger than natural nails and gel nails. Plus, acrylic nails have been popular for a long time, so nail technicians are very familiar with applying and removing these kinds of nails.
Lots of Nail Design Options
Loving those intricate nail designs you see on Pinterest? Acrylic nails are perfect for nail art as they act as a “canvas.” With long acrylic nails especially, you can rock intricate patterns and designs on your nails.
Prevent Nail Biting
Acrylics are a great solution to nail-biting as they cover the entire nail and are hard to chew and bite.
Have weak, brittle nails? Acrylics act as a protective cover for your natural nails.
Love natural-looking nails? Acrylics can look natural and no fuss when painted to look like real nails.
Proper Care For Acrylic Nails
In addition to getting fills, here are several ways to extend the life of acrylic nails:
Baby Your Nails
While acrylics are known for their durability, treat your nails nicely. Don’t hang or lift heavy objects using your acrylics only. It’s ok to be a bit of a diva when you have acrylics. Babying your nails not only protects your acrylics but can save you a lot of pain, literally. Broken acrylics can make your real nails vulnerable to breakage and infection—ouch! The better you treat your nails, the better.
Limit exposure to water, cleaning solutions, and detergent, as these can cause acrylics to lift from your nail. Whenever washing dishes or performing household chores, use gloves to protect your nails.
Choose The Right Length and Shape
Choose a nail length and shape that flatters your hands and fingers. For example, oval or almond-shaped nails elongate short or thick fingers. Super-long acrylics are not for everyone, and that’s ok. If you realize your tips are too long, the salon can file them down.
Moisturize Your Hands and Use Cuticle Oil
Apply vitamin E oil to keep your hands and cuticles happy. Doing so can help prevent cracks in acrylic nails.
Certain chemicals, such as acetone, can be harsh on acrylics, and on your real nails and skin too. Also avoid heat and turpentine, which can cause acrylics to deteriorate.
Eat Healthily and Stay Hydrated
What you eat and how hydrated you affect how well your nails grow. For better nail, hair, and skin health, eat healthily and drink plenty of water.
Downsides Of Acrylic Nails
While acrylics are an extremely popular nail extension, they have several cons you should be aware of:
Acrylics emit strong fumes when applied. If you have a sensitive nose, acrylics may not be the best option for nail extensions.
Can Damage Nails
If not cared for properly, acrylics can damage your natural nails, leading to painful breaks and infections.
Possibility For Allergic Reaction
The strong chemicals used in acrylics can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.
To preserve the extensions and prevent nail lifting, acrylic nails require consistent care and maintenance.
Getting Your First Ever Acrylic Nails? What To Expect
If you’re ready to get your first set of acrylics, here’s what to expect.
Assess and Prep Your Nails
Check the health of your nails before getting extensions. If your nails are brittle and weak, wait until they are strong and healthy. To strengthen nails, you can use jojoba oil, which is all-natural and odorless. Exercise caution with traditional nail strengtheners, which may contain formaldehyde.
Research and Brainstorm
There are so many options for false nails! Research and decide which nail extension, shape, color, design, etc. you desire.
Don’t Skip The Manicure
The manicure part of your appointment is crucial. First, manicured cuticles help acrylics to stick on. Second, clean cuticles make your nail look so much neater.
Discuss Your Nail Look
Tell your nail tech which type and nail look you want. Show pictures of which nail looks you like. Tip: while you might be tempted to get extremely long extensions, it’s best to start shorter, especially if you’re new to nail extensions. As your real nails grow, you can file the extensions.
Now that you have new claws, take proper care of them to prolong their wear time. Wear gloves when cleaning and washing dishes and apply cuticle oil to prevent the nails from drying out.
FAQS About Acrylic Nails
Still, have more questions about acrylic nails? We’ve got answers!
Can I Apply Acrylic Nails On My Own?
Acrylics are best applied by a professional, especially if you’re new to fake nails. Experienced nail techs know how to properly prep and apply acrylics, ensuring not only great results but also your safety.
Can I Have Acrylics For My Toes?
Yes, you can. However, the lifespan for acrylic toenails tends to be shorter, lasting about 3-4 weeks. As with acrylic fingernails, the same care should be taken with toenail acrylics: regular fills and cleanliness.
Can I Swim With Acrylic Nails?
Yes, but know that the more exposure time to water, the likelier your acrylic nails are to lift. While swimming for an hour likely won’t hurt your nails, if you swim consistently, then acrylic nails may not be the best choice of nail extensions.
If you swim with acrylics, after swimming always thoroughly rinse your hands, dry your nails with a towel, and apply hand lotion. Ideally, have your nails filled before swimming.
What Should I Do If An Acrylic Starts To Lift?
Ouch! If an acrylic partially or completely lifts, it’s best to return to the nail salon and have your acrylics fixed. The sooner you address lifting acrylics, the better, as bacteria and dirt can settle under the fake nail and cause an infection. If you do decide to fix a lifted acrylic at home, submerge your finger into rubbing alcohol first, to kill any germs. Then apply nail glue to reattach the acrylic to your natural nail.
What Should I Do If My Nail Is Infected?
If you notice or suspect a nail infection, have the fake nail removed. Do not get any new extensions until the infection clears up. Fortunately, most acrylic nail infections clear up on their own and can be easily treated at home. Remedies include applying either vinegar, oregano oil, tea tree oil, or Listerine Mouth Wash to the infected nail. Each of these remedies contains a substance that kills and prevents the spread of nail fungus.
Can I Still Get Acrylics On Very Bitten Fingernails?
Yes. As long as the skin around your nails is not swollen or broken, you can get acrylic nails on bitten fingernails.
Can I Remove Acrylics On My Own?
Yes, but only if you’re comfortable doing so. Improper removal can result in pain and/ or damaged nails. If you choose to remove fake nails on your own, be patient! Don’t rush the process. If you don’t feel comfortable removing fake nails on your return, an experienced nail technician can safely remove your nails.
Do I Need A Break From Acrylics?
You’ve likely heard that nails need to “breathe.” This is a myth, however, as nails don’t breathe. Blood, not air, provide oxygen and nutrients to your nails. While you don’t need to skip acrylics or polish to let your nails “breathe,” it’s smart to monitor the health of your nails. If your nails show signs of peels, ridges, bumps, and keratin granulation (extreme dehydration of the nails), then you should give your nails a break from polish and acrylics.
How Long Have Acrylic Nails Been Around?
Great question! Acrylic nails were first created in 1954, but fake nails aren’t a new concept. Here’s a brief overview of the history of artificial nails.
Artificial Nails in Ancient Times
Archaeologists have unearthed Egyptian mummies sporting gilded tips and even uncovered a full gold manicure set in what was Babylonia. This manicure set dates to 3,200 BC and was apparently used as combat equipment! Now that’s a set of claws.
Famed Egyptian ruler Cleopatra wore painted fake nails made of porcelain. During China’s Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th centuries), Chinese noblewoman grew their nails extremely long and wore artificial nails. It was said the longer your nails were, the better you were treated! Why? Long nails meant you didn’t have to perform manual labor, unlike commoners.
The History of Nail Polish
The Chinese are credited with inventing the first nail polish. Noblewomen soaked their nails in a combination of beeswax, flower petals, gelatin, and egg whites. The result: a rosy-toned color. Then as now, red was a favorite nail color, and artificial nails were often decorated with designs and semi-precious stones: the forerunner of modern-day nail art.
Nail polish as we know it today was launched by Revlon in 1932. While nail care and nail polish had once been reserved for the wealthy, Revlon’s nail polishes made painted nails affordable for the masses.
The First Artificial Nails
The first acrylic nails were invented in 1954 by Fred Slack, a dentist. One day at work he broke a fingernail, and to repair it, used dental acrylics to create an artificial nail. After experimenting with several different materials, he and his brother patented a successful version and opened the company Patti’s Nails.
The powder and liquid system in use today was developed in the late 1970s by Dr. Stuart Nordstrom. Who would’ve thought that acrylic nails were born in a dentist’s office?