Acrylic nails can really make your manicure pop—that is, until one of them decides to lift. When your acrylic separates from your natural nail, it can create a gap that can trap water, germs, and a host of other nasties. Not only are lifted nails an annoyance when trying to type, text, or perform other typical activities; they may be a bit of a health risk.
If your nails lift, your first thought may be to head back to the salon. While policies can vary, most nail technicians will fix a lifted nail free or at a low cost. But if you're short on time and trying to avoid an impulse pedicure purchase, it's often just easier to stay home. Join us as we dig into the "why" behind lifted acrylics, and what the safest and easiest thing to do is if your artificial nails separate.
Why Do Fake Nails Lift, Anyway?
If you've ever felt like you're at fault for lifted acrylics for being a little too rough with your hands, you may be wrong. Most of the time, the reason behind a lifted acrylic nail has everything to do with application, and nothing to do with your decision to scrub some dishes without gloves on.
Licensed nail tech Michelle Pratt states that artificial nails can lift for several reasons, which are connected to technician errors in "prepping, application, or filing." While it may be difficult for a home manicure enthusiast to determine exactly which of these mistakes caused their manicure to deteriorate, some of the most common issues and symptoms can include:
- Failure to remove oils from your natural nail, which can result in a lift near the cuticle
- Nail separates on the nail plate, because the acrylics are too long for your natural nail
- Improper filing or shaping technique, causing the sides of the nails to lift
Not every case of lifting is caused by an inexperienced or rushed nail tech. Some people's natural nail growth patterns can disrupt acrylics. In other cases, acrylics can be lifted or damaged during everyday activities.
However, your best bet for avoiding lifts in the future is to choose an experienced nail technician with careful technique, and obtain regular maintenance and fills at the salon.
How to Fix a Lifted Acrylic Nail at Home
Is it possible to fix lifted acrylics at home? Certainly. Using nail glue from the drugstore or a beauty supply store, you can simply reattach the acrylic to your natural nail at the point of separation. However, it's crucial to first dip your entire finger in rubbing alcohol, to remove natural oils and bacteria that may have developed in the gap created by the lift. Allow the alcohol to air dry before fixing the lift.
While you may be able to fix minor lifts safely at home if you are careful to sanitize with alcohol first, more severe cases may required the assistance of a professional at your salon. If your fingers or cuticles have any signs of infection, such as redness or swelling, it's wise to consult a professional before attempting to fix it yourself.
In other cases, severe lifts or damage may require a complete replacement of the acrylic. After severely damaging an artificial nail, certified nail technician Suzie Moskal suggests total replacement to err on the side of safety.
Are Lifted Acrylic Nails Dangerous?
Regardless of whether you decide to head back to the salon for fixing your lifted nails, one thing is absolutely certain—you probably shouldn't wait a period of weeks or even days to resolve the lifting issue. Lifted acrylics can hold bacteria against your natural nail, resulting in "paronychia", or a nail infection. The first signs of a bacterial or fungal infection include red swelling around the nail. If you don't treat your symptoms in consultation with a medical Doctor, the U.S. Library of Medicine reports that you could suffer:
- A high fever
- Red streaks on your skin
- Joint or muscle pain
While it's critical to get medical help if you believe you have a nail infection from a lifted acrylic, it's especially crucial to get seen if you're suffering any of the symptoms of a systemic infection. While lifted nails aren't inherently a health risk, not pursuing treatment appropriately could put you at some serious risk.
Do Lifted Acrylics Require a Salon Visit?
Resolving minor lifts doesn't always require a salon visit. With attention to sanitary practices and infection risks, you can easily reattach your acrylic with nail glue. However, it's always wise to err on the side of caution. By obtaining nail services from a licensed and qualified tech, you can avoid the risks of lifting. It's also wise to immediately consult a professional if you've experienced severe damage to an artificial nail or believe you're experiencing symptoms of infection.