What You Should Know About Acrylic Nails According to a Pro

All of your burning questions are answered.

We've reached a moment where it feels like almost anything goes with nail art. Gel polish has ruled in recent years, long acrylics have never been more popular, and short simple nails are also finally coming back in style. And while there will forever be a debate as to which one is better, we know that many celebrities—Kylie Jenner and Megan Thee Stallion, to name a few—rock some killer acrylic nails. After all, it’s one of the easiest ways to get those crazy cool long claws. So, if you've not yet delved into the world of acrylic nails, what should you know beforehand? We tapped nail expert Emily Rudman, CEO and founder of Emilie Heathe, to answer all of our questions.

A guest displays graphic, Pucci-inspired nail art at Spring Studios at New York Fashion Week.

A guest displays graphic, Pucci-inspired nail art at Spring Studios at New York Fashion Week.

What are acrylic nails?

“Acrylic nails are nail extensions/nail enhancements.”

How are they applied?

“The process of getting acrylic nails involves the application of a liquid and powder mixture to the nail. This paste then hardens and adheres to the nail. Lastly, the nails get filed down to the desired shape.” Popular nail shapes include oval/almond, round, square, coffin, and stilleto.

How do you remove them?

“Acrylic nails can be removed by soaking nails in acetone. To protect your cuticles, apply some petroleum jelly around your nail beds and fingers. Next, wrap the nails with acetone-saturated cotton balls covered by aluminum foil. Allow the nails to soak for about 20 minutes. If the nails have soaked for long enough, the acrylic will easily detach itself from the nail.”

Are there different types of acrylic nails?

“There are two kinds of acrylic typically used in nail salons. They are Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA) and Methyl Methacrylate (MMA). EMA is the best option for your nails because it is easier to remove and causes less damage to the nail bed.”

What kind of styles can you do with acrylic nails?

“There are tons of different styles to try with acrylic nails. From length to shape to design, the possibilities are endless...Designs can be as simple as a French manicure or more elaborate like an embellished manicure with gemstones. However, the year’s biggest trend appears to be glazed donut nails, a combo of sheer white polish topped with a shimmering chrome.”

See here for some of our favorite fall 2022 nail colors for your next appointement.

Jordi Lippe-McGraw


Jordi Lippe-McGraw is a Contributing Editor for SI Swimsuit covering all things lifestyle from travel and beauty to entertainment and wellness. Over her nearly 15-year-long journalism career, her work has appeared in the New York Times, WSJ Magazine, Forbes, and more. Plus, she’s appeared on TV shows such as Wendy Williams, TODAY, E!, and MSNBC for her expertise. Jordi's personal passion for travel has brought her to over 50 countries on all 7 continents, including Antarctica at 5 months pregnant. She's also an avid penguin and truffle lover.