When a beauty trend goes viral on social media, it's either super intriguing and makes us want to try it immediately — or we end up giving it major side-eye. Fiberglass nails fall somewhere in the middle.
The technique, which recently saw a resurgence on Instagram, isn't new — but it's also something you don't typically see on a service menu at your local salon, either. Ahead, we asked the pros to break down everything you need to know about the buzzy technique before you ditch your acrylics forever.
What are fiberglass nails?
In a world of gel extensions and acrylics, fiberglass is a less common method for adding temporary length to nails. Celebrity manicurist Gina Edwards tells us that fiberglass is a thin, cloth-like material that is usually separated into teeny-tiny strands. To secure the cloth, your nail artist will paint resin glue along the edge of the nail, apply the fiberglass, and then add another layer of glue on top. The glue hardens the fabric, which makes it easy to shape the extension with an emery board or nail drill. Once your tips are sturdy and shaped to your liking, your artist will then sweep acrylic powder or gel nail polish over the cloth. You can get a better look at the process in the video below.
What are the pros and cons?
If you're looking for a manicure that'll last up to three weeks (or more), fiberglass nails probably aren't the best option for you. Celebrity manicurist Arlene Hinckson tells us that the enhancement isn't as durable as gel extensions or acrylic powder because of the fine texture of the fabric. "This treatment is just resin and thin fabric, so it doesn't last as long as other options," she says. "Most nail enhancements last up to two weeks or more, but you may experience chipping or lifting before that since fiberglass nails are more delicate."
On the upside, if you are seeking extra length that looks as natural as humanly possible, fiberglass might be up your alley. Since the fabric used is thinner than acrylics or gel extensions, which tend to have a raised effect, the finished product looks more like you spent nine months using a nail strengthener versus a few hours in the salon.
How are they removed?
Though the application process might cause less wear and tear to your natural nail than traditional acrylics, properly removing the fiberglass cloth is key to keeping your tips in good condition. "The best way to remove fiberglass is to soak it off in acetone," Hinckson says. You can fill a bowl with the liquid and seep your nails — like you would remove acrylic powder — and buff off the melted fabric.
Are they safe?
All nail enhancements present the risk of damaging and weakening your natural nail — fiberglass included. But when done correctly, Hinckson says it's totally safe. "Unlike other methods, there is very little aggravation to the nail plate when using fiberglass since only the fabric and resin are used," she says. "But you risk weakening your nails with any enhancement."
Edwards adds that excessive water exposure can also cause your manicure to chip faster — or worse — even grow mold. "Allowing too much water to get trapped between the nail [and the fiberglass] can cause lifting and mold is definitely a possibility," she says. "Be cautious if you're spending a lot of time in water or frequently washing your hands."
Because the fiberglass technique isn't as common in salons, it's also important to do your research to find an experienced manicurist before trying it out for yourself. And while it is, admittedly, fascinating to look at, we can't say we'll be retiring our gel extensions just yet. After all, a girl needs a manicure that's gonna last through good times, bad times — and water.