How to Have Acrylic Nails on a College Budget

I love a good set of acrylic nails. I love how slender they make my hands look, I love when they’re extra long and I especially love the sound they make on literally every surface. Yeah, sorry, I’m that girl who taps her fingers on everything just to hear the sound. I’m also an anxiety driven nail-biter, so acrylics help me curve my bad habit too.

I’ve run into a few caveats with them though. One is I’m a writing major currently, and long nails and computers don’t mix. When I have long nails I think I type every single word wrong, so it takes twice as long to write up even a short email.

But the second one is the cost. I’m in college, and as much as I want to set aside time to be getting my nails filled in every two weeks, that isn’t practical or cost-efficient. I’m stuck in between craving my long nails and having a college budget and schedule that tells me there’s no way in hell. So, thanks to art school for teaching me to be creative, I found a solution!

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My beloved glue on nails. Yes, praise the amazing inventor of the glue on nails! I love these because I can get a huge set of nails for pretty cheap and I can pop them off if a project deadline I forgot about comes up. So here is what you’ll need for this quick mani session:

The rest of the list is usually personal preference/whatever you already have in your place. You’ll want full coverage nails though, not just the “tips” because those go just on the tip of your nails and are then usually covered with acrylic to keep it in place. If you use tips, then they’re more likely to pop off faster because there’s less surface area for the glue to hold it in place. The set I linked has 500 nails as well, so that is a LOT of fake nail wear! That’s two cents per fake nail, so one full manicure is 20 cents. Uh. Hell yes.

Also, getting these plain fake nails gives you the chance to paint them any way you want. I like that because I think it looks more like you went to the salon and got them done rather than you went to CVS and picked up some nails. But since we have our list, let’s get started already!

1. Go through the fake nails and find the sizes that fit your nails. You might want to go one size smaller than what you think because you are pressing these fake nails down onto your real ones and they tend to spread out a little.

2. Once you have them all, start to glue them on! I always start with the pinky nails first and then work my way in. I apply a dot of glue on my real nail and then place the fake nail down close to my cuticle and lay it flat. Then I press it down and hold it for 10 seconds. Don’t put a lot of glue on because when you go to hold the fake nail down, if you put too much glue it’ll ooze out the sides and get on your fingers and it’s just a mess. Seriously. Don’t do it.

3. After you have all the nails on, trim them to your desired length and file them to your desired shape! I like mine long, but the ones I got are seemingly extra-extra long, so I have to cut off quite a bit. Also, my favorite shape to file mine in is the coffin/ballerina shape, but the easiest shape to file from here is probably square. Have fun though, and do whatever size and shape that fits your personality and lifestyle!

4. Yay time to paint your nails! I think this part is mostly self-explanatory. My favorite colors to paint my nails are nudes. Big surprise, I know, but I think having long nails is already attention-grabbing and if I painted them a loud color, I’d look a little wild. That’s just me though, if you want to have long nails and paint them bright-ass red, then yess girl, you go!

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And there it is, my hack for having acrylic nails on a college budget! Whenever I tell people I do my nails myself they always looked shocked, and when I continue to tell them they’re fake and I glue them on, and they look even more shocked. That’s always a good feeling when you spent less than 10 dollars on your manicure!

So treat yourself (in a cheap way) and spend some alone time watching Netflix and doing your nails. You’ll be glad you did, especially with this price tag.

Good luck!

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