Acrylic nails have been around for a long time. Whether you’ve seen them on your favorite celebrities, or you’ve tried them on yourself.
Acrylic nails are great for adding length or changing the shape of your nails. They are made from a mix of powder polymer and liquid monomer that are bonded onto your natural nails. Unlike gel nails, they don’t need a UV lamp to cure.
They’re great for adding colorful and creative nail art designs due to their length and strength. But as fun as they may look, acrylic nails also have their drawbacks.
Why are acrylic nails damaging?
Depending on the quality and technique your acrylic nails were applied, there are certain dangers these talons can do to your natural nails. Here are a few of them:
Acrylic nails harden stiffer compared to your natural nails. Since they are molded onto your nails, when you accidentally bump or knock your acrylics, there’s a chance your natural nails could also lift from their nailbeds.
Since acrylic nails don’t bend the same way your natural nails do, little accidents could lead to extreme nail tears, depending on the strength of your nail.
Weakens Natural Nails
Since acrylic nails contain harsh chemicals, they dry out your nails’ natural oils making them dry and weak.
Also, depending on the skill of the nail technician, they could file your nail beds incorrectly leaving thin and brittle nail beds. You would know if your nailbeds are damaged if they hurt to the touch and can easily bend.
Contains Harsh Chemicals
Another red flag to look out for is if the acrylic nails contain Methyl methacrylate (MMA). MMA is a liquid monomer that could cause nail damage, contact dermatitis, allergies, or infection.
MMA used to be a common ingredient in acrylic nails in the ’70s, but because of numerous health complaints, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared to ban its use from beauty products.
Although it is still banned, there are non-standard nail salons that still use MMA in their acrylics since they are cheaper, compared to the safer ingredient, Ethyl methacrylate (EMA).
You would know if your acrylics contain MMA by their strong odor and their hard and non-flexible surface. Another indication is that the service is offered at a low or discounted price.
Increases Risk of Infection
If the nail beds are not properly cleaned before the acrylic nails are applied, bacteria could grow in between and cause infection.
Also, if your nails split, this exposes a gap in between the nail and nail bed, making it the perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to grow.
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Is there an alternative to acrylic nails
Now that you know about the risks associated with acrylic nails, the question is, can you put on fake nails without acrylic?
Acrylic nails may be the most traditional form of nail extensions, but with innovations in the beauty industry, there are now better and safer alternatives available.
What’s a healthier alternative to acrylic nails?
If you still want to have long pretty nails but are now skeptical of getting acrylics, don’t worry there is a better alternative to acrylic nails:
Gel Nail Extensions
Gel nails are more forgiving compared to acrylic nails. They’re pre-shaped and made entirely out of gel that is cured under a UV lamp, so they’re easy to apply, and don’t require any nail glue.
They’re designed for long wear because of their durability. They’re also lightweight, don’t contain harsh chemicals, and don’t require heavy filing, so your natural nails can grow longer and stronger once you remove the extensions.
Gel nails can last for up to three to four weeks. So when removing them, you only need to soak your nails in acetone, compared to acrylic nails where your nail technician will have to drill, soak, and file them.
Polygel nails are a combination of acrylic nails and gel nails. They have the durability of acrylics and the elasticity of gel nails.
They’re made from a mixture of acrylic powder and clear gel, so they’re stronger, more flexible, and more customizable. Polygel nails also don’t release harmful chemicals into the air when mixing, compared to acrylic nails.
They’re also lighter than acrylic nails and traditional hard gels, so they still feel like your natural nails. Polygel nails can also last between three to four weeks and can be filled in once your nails grow out.
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What is the least damaging artificial nail?
Just like acrylic nails, any artificial nail method can pose risks to your natural nails. But with several methods available, which is a less damaging alternative to acrylic nails?
The following methods may be more difficult to find in nail salons nowadays, but they used to be popular before acrylic nails came into the scene.
But if you find the right nail salon that specializes in these techniques, you’ll fall in love with how non-damaging they are to your nails.
Fiberglass nails are a lesser-known method of nail extension. It involves adding fiberglass, a thin cloth-like material onto your nails. Resin glue is used to harden the fabric, making it easy to shape with an emery board or nail drill. Once hardened, your nail technician can then add acrylic powder or gel nail polish over the nail.
Fiberglass nails don’t last as long as acrylic or gel nails do, but they look very natural and can be used for lengthening and strengthening weak nails or for repairing chipped nails.
Silk Wrap Nails
Silk wrap nails used to be popular back in the ’80s before acrylics became all the rage. But the good news is, silk wrap nails are slowly making a comeback, and for good reasons.
They are similar to fiberglass nails, the only difference is, they use different fabrics. Silk wrap nails use silk to add strength to weak and brittle nails.
Fiberglass nails may be stronger than silk wrap nails, but silk wrap appears to have a more natural look.
Silk wrap nails can also add a bit of length to your nails but not as much compared to acrylic nails. The downside is, silk wrap nails can easily be dissolved in water, so they’re not very durable.
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The DIY alternative to acrylic nails
Although there are at-home kits available for gel and polygel nails, it is still advisable to get them in a professional nail salon to avoid any damage to your nails.
But if you’re on a budget or don’t have the time to pop into a nail salon, there is an alternative to acrylic nails at home, and don’t worry, this doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that can damage your nails.
If you grew up in the ’90s, chances are, you’ve seen press-on nails or have tried them on yourself. They used to have a limited number of nail shapes and nail designs.
But now, they have evolved to have more shapes, lengths, and designs, that’s why they’re still popular.
Press-on nails are made from acrylic resins that can easily be applied to the nails using nail glue. Depending on the quality you use, they could closely resemble acrylic nails that you can get from nail salons.
Press-on nails can last up to two weeks, with proper application and care. What’s even greater, is if they’re durable, you can reuse the nails for another occasion. So if you only want to wear them for a party or a special occasion, you can get the ones with adhesives at the back for easy application and removal.
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Acrylic nails may be the trusted and proven nail extensions in the industry, but it’s also worth considering that there are risks involved if they’re not applied or removed correctly.
That’s why it’s always a good choice to go to a reputable nail salon to get your nails done.
But if you’ve been a long-time acrylic nail user, it’s also good to know that there are other nail extension techniques available that are worth trying.