In case you were wondering, this is what my nails look like in their natural state. Well, this is almost their natural state, because I have fiberglass nail wraps on them.
I typically use All Season Professional Fiberglass Nail Wraps, which are basically a 12 foot roll of fiberglass fabric, with adhesive on one side, that you can cut to your preferred size and shape. Unless you are wrapping a set every day this roll will last you a long time. I prefer the roll of fiberglass over the pre-cut version because it gives me control over the size and shape of the fiberglass. In the past I used the pre-cut fiberglass but always felt compelled to cover the entire nail since that’s the shape it’s pre-cut. However, I found that I didn’t always want a nail shape and sometimes they weren’t the correct size, so I had to cut them down anyway.
For this set I first wrapped from the middle of the nail bed up free edge of the nail (I don’t see much point in applying the fiberglass all the way down to the cuticle). Then, I applied one layer of Bondini to the wrapped area and allowed that to completely cure. (Note: This stuff is potent, so make sure you have adequate ventilation during application!) Next, I came back with 1/8″ thick strips of fiberglass and applied that only to the free edge of the nail, then applied Bondini and allowed it to cure for a couple minutes. Finally, I applied Bondini to the entire nail and, once all had cured, I buffed the nails. Having two layers of wrap gives me just a little bit of extra stability for the free edges of my nails. This will be even more important as they grow longer and the balance between the nail bed and the free edge changes. As my nails become longer and the fiberglass grows out with the nail, I’ll add more wrap; maybe every 2-3 weeks depending on how fast they seem to be growing.
Nail wraps may seem old school, but I see them as a tried and true method for giving the natural nails an extra measure of protection without the nails looking fake or enhanced. And they last a very long time since you’re gluing them down with a very strong adhesive. Rather than peeling or chipping off they usually stay on so well that, if you no longer want them on your nails, you’ll need to file or soak them off or allow them to grow out naturally with the nail. Just remember that acetone polish remover, left on the nail for too long, will begin to degrade the adhesive. Use non-acetone polish remover or work with acetone polish remover quickly and be prepared for touch-ups afterward.