I just use regular old clear nail polish to protect them as they grow out. Doing so was what initially allowed me to grow them and keep them at playing length. Ping pong balls trimmed and glued underneath the nail work, depending on how you feel about the glue. I use the kind of super glue that is used to close wounds, although I haven't for quite a while. Fake nails have too many drawbacks. It's worth the work, husbanding your own nails to playing length. Others' experiences vary, but my nails seem to have gotten stronger over time. I had a heck of a time getting them to and keeping them at playing length at first until I started using the nail polish. Nowadays, I go without polishing them for long periods.
Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. -W.C. Fields