Are Acrylics Bad For Your Nails? Experts Weigh In

Regular manicures are enjoyable and all, however if you wish to develop extra-long nails that may showcase extra nail artwork and sassily click on clack in your keyboard, chances are you’ll want the assistance of a protecting enhancement or extension of some type — and acrylics are a traditional choice.

When I used to be a woman, I’d sit subsequent to my mother on the salon and watch her nail technician apply acrylics, enthralled by each dip and swipe of the comb. Naturally, I wished acrylics myself, however the answer was all the time no till I used to be nicely into highschool. And that’s as a result of my mother was apprehensive that they’d injury my nails. Was she right? Are acrylics dangerous in your nails? Read on, as a result of Bustle pinged a number of nail care specialists to search out out.

How Are Acrylics Applied?

Applying acrylic to the nail beds is an “artform,” says Los Angeles-based manicurist Chelsea King. “Using acrylic is an effective way to add length and strength to your nail,” she tells Bustle. Techniques can fluctuate, however you’ll first start with a fundamental manicure. Then, an acrylic brush will get dipped right into a monomer liquid after which instantly pressed right into a polymer powder, which creates a chemical response and, in flip, a moldable paste of kinds. That paste is utilized to your pure nail (or lengthening ideas), and dries and hardens in only a few minutes, King explains. From there, they are often filed and formed to the specified end.

How Do Acrylics Compare To Gel Nails?

Builder gels and gel polishes are common enhancements which are fairly just like acrylics: They are comparable chemically and all harden on the nails and add thickness. The completed look isn’t that totally different between the totally different enhancements both, says King. But the massive distinction is that gel requires a UV or LED curing gentle to set and harden the product whereas acrylic hardens by itself with none further devices. King says she tends to favor using laborious gels as a result of the acrylic fumes may be fairly sturdy and probably harmful in the event you’re not in a well-ventilated room.

Acrylics are additionally stronger than gels — which generally is a double-edged sword. Acrylics are much less seemingly than gels to chip and break, however after they do break, you possibly can be coping with greater than a ruined mani. If you’ve ever worn acrylics for any size of time, you could have skilled the sensation: Whether you had been cleansing the kitchen countertop or reaching for a car door deal with and hit your nail at simply the spot that it principally snaps in half, breaking your pure nail too — inflicting excruciating pain and bloody chaos. Gels, alternatively, are extra versatile (like a pure nail), and so, whereas nonetheless laborious and protecting, they bend along with your nail to soak up impacts like these, Brittney Boyce, nail artist and founding father of press-on model Nails of LA, explains.

Are Acrylics Bad For Your Nails?

Now for the second of reality: Acrylics might have a nasty status, however King says they aren’t inherently damaging in the event that they’re utilized and eliminated correctly. “Sometimes if the natural nail is filed too much during the prep process, it can make your natural nail thin and painful — or create what is called ‘rings of fire,’” she explains. When getting an acrylic fill-in, generally your nail tech might file your grown-out pure nail when submitting down the substitute nail. “So, over time, you will get ring shapes on your nail where your nail is very thin,” King says. Another common situation? The use of cheaper, probably dangerous acrylic alternate options. King notes that some salons use methyl methacrylate acrylic (MMA) versus ethyl methacrylate acrylic (EMA). The former variety, in accordance with King, is definitely a dental product and is extraordinarily laborious. And this number of acrylic makes the grotesque break described above extra seemingly.

With acrylics, there’s additionally the potential for an allergic response, says dermatologist and nail specialist Dr. Dana Stern, M.D. Specifically, she notes that an irritant contact dermatitis may occur, which is a response that happens instantly after the publicity to chemical compounds utilized in acrylics and would usually have an effect on the skin surrounding the nail or nail mattress. “Symptoms would include immediate burning or pain and subsequent inflammation, redness, and even blistering and lifting of the nail off of the nail bed,” she explains. If you’re feeling a burning sensation, she advises that you just ask your technician to instantly take away the acrylic.

Another potential response, Stern explains, is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction, which happens in somebody who has been repeatedly uncovered. “Over time, the person’s immune system learns to recognize and react to that chemical, and so the littlest drop or exposure can set the reaction into a full inflammatory cascade,” says Stern. Technicians themselves and people with eczema or who are inclined to have a compromised skin barrier are at higher danger for these kinds of reactions. Also value noting? Stern says that lengthy acrylics usually tend to harbor particles and micro organism (which is why it’s necessary to maintain them clear).

Just be sure you by no means use acrylics to hide and ignore nail abnormalities. “The nail is a window into our health, and so covering the nail hinders the potential ability to see if there is an issue going on,” says Stern. “When you see your board-certified dermatologist for an annual skin check, come polish and acrylic free.”

How Should Acrylics Be Safely Removed?

To safely take away acrylics, King says they need to first be filed down with a hand file or an electrical file till they’re very skinny after which soaked in acetone to take away the remaining product. “This shouldn’t damage the natural nail at all, the only downside is it can be a bit time-consuming,” she tells Bustle. When an electrical file is used incorrectly, Stern says it could possibly injury the nail and/or cuticle barrier — so it is best to be sure you see an expert nail technician for the elimination job.

For the soaking course of, word that MMA acrylics will develop into gummy after soaking, says King, whereas EMAs will flake off. And since acetone is such a powerful, harsh ingredient, Stern recommends defending your nails and cuticles by making use of a barrier emollient earlier than soaking.

Of course, all of the specialists say to withstand the urge to ever peel off or in any other case forcibly take away your acrylics. “If your nail tech pries off acrylics with a [plastic] nail tip — run!” King says. “That is the worst thing you can do for your nails since it is ripping off layers of your natural nail.” Stern says aggressive elimination may cause injury to the nail matrix, the half-moon a part of the nail that truly produces the nail plate. “Matrix damage will result in abnormalities observed on the nail, including surface irregularities, white patches, bumps, and grooves,” and even infections, she explains.

And keep in mind, you continue to must care in your cuticles when sporting acrylics. Stern suggests hydrating commonly with a cuticle oil or ointment. As lengthy as you observe expert-recommended finest practices, you ought to be good to get pleasure from your attractive mani.


Chelsea King, Los Angeles-based manicurist and nail artist

Brittney Boyce, movie star nail artist and founding father of Nails of LA

Dr. Dana Stern, M.D., New York-based dermatologist and nail specialist

Back to top button