How Long Do Acrylic Nails Last? What You Need to Know
by Jasmine Gordon
Acrylic nails don’t last forever. Discover what manicurists to the stars tell their clients about artificial nail maintenance, tips for at-home care, and warning signs to watch for.
Acrylic nails are a gorgeous solution for weak, short or bitten natural nails, but they’re not permanent. Between the growth of your natural nail bed and normal wear-and-tear on your manicure, nothing good can last forever. If you’re new to acrylics or trying to take better care of your hands, it’s wise to know what to expect from your new artificially-enhanced mani.
In general, any professionally-trained and licensed manicurist will recommend that you get your nails filled every two weeks. During this routine appointment, the manicurist will apply additional acrylic to the base of your nails and reapply regular or gel polish to keep you looking fresh. While these biweekly visits can seem like a lot, it’s also a fun opportunity to remix your look with a new color or tip shape.
Can you go longer than 2 weeks without getting your acrylics retouched? Absolutely. Should you? Most likely not, but it depends. You’ll probably be fine to wait 16 days between fills, but trying to wait an entire month could be the recipe for broken nails galore. Here’s how to take care of your acrylics to maximize the length of time they look fresh, even if it’s been a week since the salon visit.
1. Make friends with your manicurist
A really great nail technician can go a long way in ensuring that your acrylics don’t crumble before your scheduled fill. Technique is everything when it comes to the strength and length of your manicure. Nail technicians who fail to remove moisture or over-file the artificial nail could be responsible for nails that break.
When you find a great manicurist whose artificial applications are beautiful and functional, be sure to get in their books for acrylic fills every other weeks. Tip them well, and enjoy the fact you’ve unlocked one of the greatest secrets of life.
Using high-quality hand lotion on your skin and cuticles won’t just keep your hands from cracking in the cold winter months. It may also allow your acrylics to last a bit longer. According to journalist Sara Tan, moisturizing the skin around your acrylics could even be a recipe for longevity.
3 . Perform daily and weekly maintenance
Keeping acrylics clean can be a bit more difficult than regular, natural nails. Beauty writer Kara Nesvig is careful to use a scrub brush to clean “gunk” out from under her long acrylics on a regular basis to prevent infection.
In some cases, manicurists also recommend that you “seal” your polish once per week with regular, salon-quality topcoat. While this usually isn’t necessary with gel polish, it can protect regular polish from cracks, chips, and other signs of wear.
What Happens if I Don’t Get Biweekly Fills?
Acrylic nails aren’t designed to last more than two weeks. Celebrity manicurist Bethany Newell believes that you could run bigger risks than a broken, too-long nail if you wait forever for a fill. Newell states that “Sometimes moisture can get under the acrylic, which can cause fungus.”
Not only is a fungal infection between your acrylics and natural nail pretty darn gross, it can also be a health risk. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may have to seek medical attention and wait for the nail to heal before reapplying acrylics.
Take Care of Your Acrylic Nails
If you decide to wear acrylics long-term, you can likely continue getting fills every two weeks to maintain your manicure. If you’re considering applying them for an event and having them professionally removed immediately afterwards, that definitely works, too! For many people, acrylics are a “sometimes” or “usually” style statement, as opposed to a lifetime commitment. Keep in mind that attempting at-home removal of acrylics yourself is rarely a good idea, since you can easily damage the underlying natural nail.
While most people are able to wait about two weeks before fills, it’s wise to know that you might not be able to make it 14 days each and every time. While you can repair minor lifts, or separation of the acrylic at home, you should definitely seek professional attention ASAP if you’ve gotten a major break or crack to prevent infection. (See How To Repair Lifted Acrylic Nails Without A Salon Visit)