Acrylic nails are one of the most popular forms of nail extension available. And for good reason, since they are very durable and almost every nail salon knows how to apply them.
But did you know that over time they can potentially ruin your nails? Yes, acrylic nails can damage your nails if you don’t take certain precautions.
That’s why in this article I am going share with you how acrylic nails damage your nails & more importantly how to prevent that and keep your nails safe and healthy.
How Acrylic Nails Damage Nails & How to Prevent
Acrylic Nails by themselves haven’t been shown to damage your nails instead the issues usually arise from:
- When acrylic nails are not removed correctly
- Using too much of harsh acid-based nail primers
- Aggressive filing to prep nails before application
- Use of acrylic products that contain MMA
- Not giving your nails time to recover in between manicures.
- Higher risks of getting a nail infection.
If you are DIYing your acrylic nails then these simple tips can help prevent nail damage. Or if you are getting them done in Salon you can use this article to ask for certain things to be done and even walk with your own products. A good nail tech will listen to you.
If your nails are already damaged from acrylic you need to check out my article where I share 7 Tips to Help Heal Nails After Acrylic Nails.
I highly recommend you read my article The Dangers & Effects of Acrylic Nails – Can it Cause Cancer
1- Not Being Removed Correctly
Most of the damage to your nails from most nail products comes during the removal process. This is especially true for the removal of acrylic nails since they require a lot of filing and acetone.
Soaking your nails in acetone for too long and improperly filing off acrylic can severely damage your nails. This is because:
1- Acetone is extremely harsh on your nails, it damages them by dehydrating the nail plate. And if the cuticles are consistently soaked in acetone for too long it can even affect the nail matrix which is the part responsible for nail growth.
2- Filing during removal especially when done aggressively and incorrectly can ruin your nails. This is because it removes a layer of your nail plate, leading to your nails becoming thinner and weaker.
Tip 1- Safely Remove Acrylic Without Damaging Your Nails
The best and safest way to remove your acrylic nails without ruining your natural nails is by using a combination of both filing and acetone.
Some nail techs only use one way either filing off or soaking off. But by using a combination, you prevent filing off the nail plate and the need to soak your nails in acetone for too long.
- First, you use a nail file to remove the top layer of acrylic.
- And then use acetone to soak off the rest of the acrylic.
Also when using acetone I recommend applying it by soaking a cotton pad with it and then putting the pad directly on your acrylic nails and then wrapping it with foil. This keeps the acetone from going on your cuticles.
You can see how it’s done in the video below.
Video of How to Safely Remove Acrylic Nails
2- Use of Strong Acid Based Nail Primers
Acid-Based Primers are the primers that tend to work the best which is why nail techs love to use them. But they are very harsh on your nails and they are the ones that cause the most damages
They work by creating microscopic holes on your nail plates which allow the acrylic the grip onto the nail allowing them last longer but these etchings are also bad for the health of your nails.
Tip 2- Use Non-Acid Based Primers
I recommend using a non-acid primer these don’t contain any strong acid and are much safer for your nails and still work to prevent lifting.
Or you can click here to learn more about nail primers.
3- Too Much Filing Was Done Before Acrylic Application
One of the main reasons your nails tend to feel sore after getting acrylic is that they were filed too much or the wrong grit of nail file was used.
Part of preparing your nails for acrylic involves filing. This helps to roughen up your nails and remove the sheen which allows the acrylic to hold on better to your nails.
But too much filing will make your nails thin, brittle, and very weak.
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Tip 3- Avoid Over Filing & Use a Medium Grit Nail Filer
They are 2 things you need to do when filing your nails for acrylic application
1- Use a medium grit nail file – this will help to remove the sheen from your nails whilst not over-filing your nails.
I recommend a 180 grit when prepping your nails. A low grit such as a 100 or a 80 grit will damage your nails and is usually used to remove acrylic product, not for nail prep.
2- Focus on just removing the sheen from the nails – lightly file your nails to just remove the glossy sheen. You do not need to buff too much especially if you are nails are already damaged.
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4- Using Acrylic Products with MMA
MMA stands for Methyl Methacrylate and is found in some acrylic products, especially the liquid monomer.
Acrylic Products that contain MMA can be:
- Damaging to your nails – MMA products tend to make your acrylic nails very rigid with a strong bond to your nails. This means any and all impact to the acrylic nails can be transferred to the natural nails which can lead to them breaking.
- Very harsh on your skin such as increasing the chances of you developing an allergic reaction to the acrylic
- Cause other health concerns such as dizziness and nausea which is why you need to avoid using them, they are actually banned in some countries. Citation.
MMA is usually found in very cheap and low-quality acrylic products.
Related Article – Allergic Reaction to Acrylic Nails- How to Spot & Treat
Tip 4- Avoid MMA Acrylic Products
You can avoid MMA acrylic nail products by;
- Sticking with reputable and registered nail salons
- Reading labels, especially on the liquid monomer, and check for MMA- Monomers should contain EMA which is safer to use
- If the monomer has an intense fruity odor it could contain MMA which has a very intense odor.
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5- Not giving your nails time to recover in between manicures.
If you constantly get acrylic nails without taking a break your nails can get damaged. This is due to how frequently they are being filed and exposed to strong chemicals.
Tip 5- Give Nails time to Recover after Acrylic Removal
I recommend resting your nails for 2-3 weeks after getting an acrylic manicure 2 times in a row or if you have had them on for more than 6 weeks.
This allows your nails to grow naturally without the weight from the acrylic and allows you to give some TLC to them directly by applying cuticle oil.
Related Article: Acrylic Nails- How Long to Wear & When to take a Break
6- Higher Risks of Nail Infections
Acrylic nails will put you at a higher risk of developing a nail infection which can greatly weaken your nails and slow down growth.
Acrylic Nails can lead to infections by:
- Using products and tools that are unsanitary
- Lifting – which can allow water to get trapped under the acrylic nails and be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.
Tip 6- Use Sanitary Tools & Avoid Lifting
To decrease the risk of getting a nail infection you need to:
1- Ensure that all tools such as cuticle pushers, and acrylic brushes are sanitized correctly.
Ask your nail tech questions, go to reputable salons, and if you are DIYing it ensure you use rubbing alcohol to clean your tools before and after using.
2- Avoid Lifting: I have an entire article where I share tips on How to Prevent Lifting click here to read it.
I highly recommend applying a good cuticle oil to your cuticles as often as possible even with acrylic nails on you can apply the oil. Click here to read about which cuticle oil I recommend using for the best results
Cuticle oil will help promote stronger nails and fight off nail infections, click here to read the benefits of cuticle oil.
Can Acrylic Permanently Ruin or Damage Your Nails
Acrylic nails won’t permanently ruin your natural nails, your nails will recover even if they are severely damaged.
You will need to give them time and care and your nails will bounce back.
You can learn how to heal damaged nails by clicking here.
Related Article – Acrylic Toenails & Pedicures -Is it Safe, Cost, Pros & Cons