Acrylic was the First and is the oldest nail system in history to create a false or known as fake nail enhancement.
In the early 1990's, Chinese woman would wear long nails as a symbol that they don't have to do manual labour unlike the commoners .
In the 1920's (true story) the Greek woman would put empty pistachio shells on there nails as a way to wear "fake" nails.
But the real magic that we know is Acrylic was invented in 1954 by an American dentist called Fred Slack. Fred broke his nail one day at work and combined two substances together to create the realist looking temporary nail. Fred and his brother Tom, worked and refined there creation, going onto patenting there technology. They opened the first nail company and called it, Patti's Nails.
There are two substances that make up acrylic, there technical names are Monomer and Polymer.
Acrylic sets to a hard fibreglass like finish that needs to be refined to desired shape and thickness. Because of this finish, it is possible to crack an acrylic nail and at times break the natural nail if serious enough.
It is most popular with guitar players as they can use it as a pick.