TPDTY: Acrylics Can Be Uncomfortable

TPDTY stands for Things People Don’t Tell You. This series will feature bits of beauty wisdom that most people don’t hear until after the fact; like a ridiculous, disappointing, secret club.

AcrylicsAcrylics – Photo from

Acrylics can be uncomfortable but, skillfully applied, they aren’t.

The problem lies in cut-rate shops with employees of dubious skills doing rush jobs with low-quality product and tools. I haven’t gotten an acrylic manicure in almost five years, but it makes me sad hearing people who have bad experiences with something that is supposed to be nice and make them feel good.

Have you ever heard someone say that acrylics completely ruined their nails?

That’s not quite right.

That is their perception, and it isn’t a a crazy conclusion to draw, either. In this case? Hate the player, not the game.

Any enhancement may compromise the strength of the natural nail to a certain point, but if the nail technician takes care with their application, your nails will not be, “ruined,” post-removal. A little soft for a few days? Maybe, yes; use a strengthening top coat like this one from Sally Hansen and you’re good-to-go. Shredded, paper-thin, with visible damaged layers? NO!


For nail enhancements to properly adhere to the natural nail, the nail plate must be free of oils and debris. A good technician will (gently!) buff away the shine from your nail plate by hand with a buffing block.

Be wary of a technician using a dremel-type tool on your natural nail. Exceptionally skillful technicians may use a dremel (with a safety bit) on their clients, but a skillful technician will be happy to explain why she or he chose that tool for that service as well as the measures they are taking to keep your skin and nails safe.

Don’t be afraid to ask them to avoid using a power tool on your natural nails!

If they refuse this (reasonable!) request – leave!
Find another salon.

The liquid monomer (the liquid your technician saturates her brush with) used to activate the acrylic isn’t a friendly chemical, but it is not the culprit all on its own. Furthermore, proper gentle buffing and dehydration reduces the chance of your acrylic manicure lifting from your nail plate – which can be really unpleasant.

In addition to the potential for damage from rushed, shoddy application, the way the product was applied also cause discomfort during wear. Some shops use tips, others forms, and the best have both on hand. Neither is right or wrong.

Plastic tips can present a challenge because many shops do not keep significantly diverse stock; even if they do, taking time to size and blend that tip makes the service take longer. If the curvature of the tip does not mimic the curvature of your own nail bed, your acrylics can be uncomfortable. A good tech evaluates the curvature of your nails before applying a tip to determine if that is the proper option for you.


If proper care is taken during the application, you will enjoy not only a good acrylic manicure that doesn’t lift but minimally damaged nails thereafter.