Are Acrylic Nails Safe? The Lowdown

You've seen them on Instagram, in the salon window, even on your best friend's fingers - those perfect acrylic nails that seem to last forever. But are they really safe? In this article, we'll break down the pros and cons of getting acrylic nails so you can decide for yourself whether or not they're worth it. Hold onto your cuticles - here comes the lowdown!

Are Acrylic Nails Safe? The Lowdown

What Are Acrylic Nails?

Let's start with a basic definition - what exactly are acrylic nails? Essentially, these are artificial extensions that get glued onto your natural nail bed using a special kind of adhesive. From there, they can be shaped and painted just like regular fingernails.

Fun fact: did you know that acrylics were first invented back in the 1950s by a dentist named Frederick Slack? He wanted to create a false nail that could help his patients avoid biting their real ones.

How Are They Applied?

Applying acrylics isn't something you want to try at home unless you're already an experienced manicurist (and even then...proceed with caution). Instead, most people go to a professional nail salon where someone who is trained in working with this material will do it for them.

Here's how the process typically goes:

1) Your natural nails will be cleaned and trimmed. 2) A primer or bonding agent may be applied which helps ensure better adhesion. 3) The technician will mix together two different substances - liquid monomer and powder polymer - until they form what looks like paste. 4) This mixture is then applied over each finger individually before being molded into shape using special tools. 5) Finally, once everything has hardened enough, another layer of protective coating might be put on top for extra durability.

Pro-tip: if at any point during this application process something doesn't feel right or looks questionable, it's always okay to speak up and ask the technician what's going on.

The Pros of Getting Acrylic Nails

Okay, now that we know how acrylics work...why might someone want to get them in the first place?


One major selling point is definitely how long these fake nails can last you. Depending on your lifestyle (i.e. whether or not you do a lot of heavy manual labor with your hands), they could stay looking good for anywhere between two and four weeks. That sure beats having to repaint chipped nail polish every other day!


Another big pro when it comes to acrylics is just the sheer number of options available in terms of color, shape, and design. It's easy enough to spice things up for a special occasion - say, by getting glitter or French tips added - but more subdued looks work too if that's what you prefer.

And because these fake nails aren't "alive" like real ones are (obviously), they won't be as affected by changes in temperature or humidity as actual keratin would be. This means that there are really no limits when it comes to innovation!

The Cons of Getting Acrylic Nails

Alas, despite all their benefits...acrylic nails still come with some drawbacks attached as well.

Irritation / Allergies

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns has to do with skin irritation caused by prolonged exposure both during application and while wearing them over time. For example: if the liquid monomer smells particularly strong during application or isn't handled correctly (like if an oversized amount gets spilled somewhere), this could lead to headaches or nausea.

As far as allergies go: while somewhat rare overall, there have still been multiple reports linking certain components within acrylic products - especially methacrylate compounds - with contact dermatitis or other sensitivities in individuals who came into contact with them too much.

Damage to Natural Nails

Beyond any straightforward irritation, another downside of acrylics is that they can lead to dry and brittle natural nails over time. Specifically: when the fake nail gets removed (either by a technician or naturally on its own), this could easily take off part or all of the underlying real one with it. This result isn't always avoidable either, no matter how careful someone is about upkeep.

Sources not included as per instructions. Sources not included as per instructions. Look at that fancy terminology!

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