10 Reasons Why Acrylic Nails Lift & How to Fix & Prevent

Reasons Why Acrylic Nails Lift & How to Fix & Prevent
Reasons Why Acrylic Nails Lift & How to Fix & Prevent

Acrylic Nails are probably the most durable and long-lasting nail products on the market. Once applied correctly they can last around 6-8 weeks without lifting.

But this doesn’t mean that acrylic nails are not susceptible to lifting or peeling prematurely.

That’s why in this article, I am going to go through the different things that can cause acrylic nails to lift, how to prevent lifting from occurring and how to save them if lifting does occur.

The main reason why acrylic nails tend to lift are:

  1. Cuticles were not prepped correctly
  2. Natural Nails were not filed & cleaned properly
  3. Nail Primers & Dehydrators were not used
  4. A Top Coat was not applied.
  5. Natural Nails were too short & weak
  6. Nail Tips (if used) were not glued on correctly
  7. An incorrect powder to liquid ratio was used
  8. Acrylic Nails were exposed to stress & harsh environment
  9. Need a Fill-in
  10. Acrylic Nails were too long

Related article – How Long Does Acrylic Nails Last & Tips to Make It Last Longer.

1- Cuticles Were Not Prepped Correctly

One of the most important things that you need to ensure is done when applying any nail product, from acrylic nails to gel nails is the correct preparation of your cuticles.

To prep your cuticles you or your nail tech need to use a cuticle pusher to push back your cuticles.

Prepping the cuticles does two things:

  1. Allows the acrylic mixture to bond directly to your plate instead of on your cuticles. If the acrylic nail rests on your cuticles it won’t adhere well which can lead to lifting.
  2. Increases the surface area for the acrylic nails to adhere to – this allows the acrylic nails to have a larger base to hold onto.

You can click here to read my tips on How to Correctly Push Back Your Cuticles.

2- Natural Nails Were Not Filed or Clean Properly

Once your cuticles have been prepped the next step is the filing and then cleaning of your nails. If this is not done properly your acrylic nails will not bond well to the nail plate.


  1. Removes any leftover dead cuticle skin on the nails
  2. Takes off the oily shiny layer on the nail plate – which prevents the acrylic mixture from adhering to the nails.
  3. Roughens up the surface of your nails – this allows the acrylic mixture to bond and grip better on the nail plate.

Related Article – How Acrylic Ruin Your Nails & Tips to Prevent Damages

How to File and Clean Your Nails to Prevent Lifting

  1. First prep your cuticles.
  2. And then use a medium grit nail file and buff your nails
  3. Ensure you focus on filing the back of the nails to remove any dead cuticle skin
  4. Finally, wipe your nails with a cotton pad soaked with either rubbing alcohol or acetone.

I recommend using a 180 grit nail file to prep your nails for acrylic application, Click here to see the current price for a 100/180 grit nail file on Amazon.

Video of How to Prep Your Nails To Prevent Lifting

3- Nail Primers & Dehydrators Were Not Used

Once your nails are cleaned and filed, a dehydrator is applied and then a coat of nail primer is used.

Both Primers and Dehydrators are essential to prevent lifting which is why it is essential that they are used during acrylic application.

Dehydrators work by removing any moisture and oil from the nails. Whilst nail primers work by either; acting like glue or by etching the surface of your nail plate to allow the acrylic mixture to bond better to your nails.

Related article – Best Nail Primers and Dehydrators.

4- A Top Coat Was Not Used

Top Coats are a clear polish that is applied over your acrylic nails. They serve to add an extra layer of protection over your acrylic nails.

A layer of top coat protects the acrylic nails from getting into contact with too much moisture and other chemicals like detergent which can slowly wear away at them causing the acrylic nails to lift.

Related Article – Why You Need to Use a Top Coat with Acrylic Nails

Bonus Tip

1- Use a UV Gel Top Coat – I highly recommend using a UV-cured gel top coat. Since they are the most durable, and long-lasting and thus will offer your acrylic nails the most protection.

2- Apply a layer of Top Coat every week – this is very easy to do and you can do this at home. Just apply a coat of the top coat on your acrylic nails and then cure it for 30-45 seconds.

I recommend using the Mia Secret Gel Top Coat, they are affordable and will do a very good job at protecting your acrylic nails. Click here to see the price for one on Amazon.

You will also need a UV Led Lamp to cure the top coat, click here to see a high quality yet affordable one on Amazon.

Related Article- 3 Ways to Apply Acrylic Nails at Home- Step by Step W/Video

5- Natural Nails Were too Short & Weak

If your natural nails are too short and weak then the acrylic mixture won’t have enough surface area to hold onto. Thus making the acrylic nails prone to lifting.

So if your nails are too short and very weak, I recommend letting them heal and grow out before applying any serious nail products to them.

You can click here to read my 7 Tips to Quickly Heal Damaged Nails After Acrylic Or Gel.

And if you want a healthier and safer manicure you can click here to read my recommended 5 Healthiest & Safest Manicures that Won’t Damage Your Nails

6- Nail Tips if Used Were Not Glued on Correctly

When making acrylic extensions you can use either nail forms or you can nail tips. Both of them can work but acrylic nails made using nail forms tend to be more durable and less prone to lifting.

This is because nail tips are attached to your nails using nail glue and if your nail tech doesn’t glue the tip on correctly it can lead to lifting.

So if your acrylic nails are prone to lifting, check to see if your acrylic nails were made using nail tips, and maybe you can switch to a nail tech that uses forms.

I have an entire article where I compare Nail Forms Vs Nail Tips, click here to read it.

7- Incorrect Liquid to Powder Ratio Was Used

If too much or too little liquid monomer is used when making the acrylic beads it can lead to very poor quality acrylic nails, which can lead to lifting.

Getting the right ratio right usually takes experience which is why you should stick with experienced nail techs or if you are DIYing it do lots of practice. Citation.

You can check out the Video Below to See How to Make Great Acrylic Beads

Related Article – Acrylic Nails turn Yellow or Brown: Causes & How to Fix

8- Acrylic Nails Were Exposed to a lot of Strain

Acrylic nails that were exposed to a lot of strain, stress and a tough environment can be prone to lifting – even if they were applied perfectly.

Tips on How to care Your Acrylic Nails

  1. Do not use your acrylic nails as a tool – so avoid using them for typing, or to open and lift things.
  2. Wear gloves when handling harsh chemicals – like strong detergent, paint removers, or gardening chemicals.
  3. Avoid exposing your acrylic nails to a lot of heat which can affect them if nail tips were used to make them – so avoid extra hot water or steam.

Related Article – Acrylic Overlays: Cost, How to DIY, How Long will they Last

9- Need a Fill-in

Your acrylic nails will need a fill-in every 2-3 weeks to cover the gap at the back of your nails at the cuticle area. This is caused by your natural nails growing out.

A fill-in is the application of the acrylic mixture to cover the gap. This helps not only to cover the exposed gap but to make the acrylic nails stronger and keep it from lifting.

Now you can either go to your nail tech to have them filled-in or your can DIY it at home. I have an entire where I outline 5 ways to DIY Fill-ins at Home, click here to read it.

Related Article:

How Much is an Acrylic Fill & How Long Does it Take

When to Remove Acrylic Nails & When to Get it Filled

10- Acrylic Nails Were too Long

If your acrylic nails are too long they tend to be exposed to more strain which can weaken them over time and lead to lifting.

So if your acrylic nails are prone to lifting and you usually get them extra long then next consider having them shorter next time.

If you want short acrylic nails click here to learn more about Acrylic Overlay Nails: Everything You Need to Know

How to Fix Acrylic Nails that are Lifting

1- Check With Your Nail Tech

The first that you should do is check with your nail tech, they would advise if your acrylic nails can be fixed.

They usually would do an infill to try to keep the acrylic nails grounded.

2- Use Nail Glue

If your acrylic nails were made using nail tips then there is a chance you use some nail glue to stop them from lifting.

Try to apply some of the glue under the area that is lifting.

3- Use Acrylic Mixture.

If you have clear acrylic powder and acrylic liquid. Then you can use some of it to make a small bead and try to apply it under the area that is lifting.

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Liquid to Powder Ratio – Nail Mag