What You Should Know About The Dangers Of Wearing Acrylic Nails

Acrylic NailsIf you don’t have the patience to grow out your nails naturally, acrylic nails will give you long, well-proportioned nails quickly. But could these beautiful nails come at a price to your health? In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes artificial nails a popular beauty accessory, and what things you should watch out for when using them.

Why Are Acrylic Nails So Popular?

You may have heard the terms ‘fake nails’ or ‘nail extensions’ before. These terms refer to artificial coverings that fit over your natural fingernails. Since they’re made of plastic, they often look a lot more perfect than our own, God-given nails.

Many women use fake nails for two reasons:

  1. to fix imperfections and give the appearance of a perfectly formed nail
  2. to choose a nail design that would be difficult or impossible to make with traditional nail polish

Types of Fake Nails

Artificial nails can be categorized into two types: tips or forms.


Nail tips come in many styles, and fit on the end of your nails. They’re held in place with nail glue. After you glue the nail tips on, you would use a file to form them to the contour of your own fingers. Many women use these to do their own nails for weddings or special occasions. You could also use them for daily wear, too.

One of the most popular varieties on Amazon is this giant bag of 500 Natural French T4ips.


Nail forms fit over the nail, allowing you to apply acrylic and mold a new artificial nail over top of your own. Once the acrylic hardens, you pop the form off. This video shows how to use these nail forms.

Other Types Of Nail Enhancements

Besides tips and forms, other techniques like silk wraps, gel preparations, or a ‘UV Top Coat‘ will also enhance the appearance of your nails. These methods are beyond the scope of this article.

How Artificial Nails Can Damage Your Body

While fake nails can make your fingers look good, if you’re not careful during the application or wear periods, you could get a nasty surprise.

Can Fake Nails Catch Fire?

The polymers used to make some types of acrylic nails may be flammable and could catch fire. Experts warn to keep acrylic nails away from potentially hot items like hair dryers, hair straighteners, or curling irons.

Tests show that it takes only a 1.1 seconds for acrylic nails to catch on fire if held over an open flame. Natural nails, however, took much longer to catch on fire than the artificial ones.

Toxic Substances Abound

There’s a reason why the staff at professional nail salons have the fans running full blast all the time. Fumes from the application of artificial nails can cause a host of health problems. These issues include:

When applying artificial nails at home, use strong fans and open a nearby window to improve air circulation.

Also, the adhesive used in applying acrylic nails often contains dangerous substances like formaldehyde, which is known to cause cancer.

Many types of acrylic nails may contain toluene, a chemical that some think could cause negative health effects. While this hasn’t been proven, a conclusive answer isn’t yet available.

The Biggest Problem? Infection In the Nail Bed

The glues used to bond an artificial nail with the top of your real nail produces a bond much stronger than that between your nail and your finger’s nail bed.

If you get your acrylic nail caught on something and it yanks up, guess what is tearing? It won’t be your artificial nail from your nail, it’ll be your real nail from your nail bed! Ouch!

When a tear occurs, the gap opened up between your nail and nail bed creates the perfect, moist environment for bacteria to grow.

You could end up with one nasty infection that’s hard to treat.

In the late 1990s, nurses were allowed to wear fake nails while caring for newborn infants. Some of these nurses had an infection under their nail bed from the fake nails. This infection transferred to the baby, resulting in the death of several newborn infants.


While in many cases acrylic nails are safe to apply and wear, you should know the risks surrounding their use.

Acrylic nails, the adhesive used to bond them to your own nails, and the resins used to create designs all contain harmful substances – but in small amounts.

Testing has shown that in most cases the amounts of these chemicals isn’t dangerous to your health.

Physical trauma to the nail bed could cause an infection that may require a doctor to cut your nail and drain the puss inside.

If you decided to wear acrylic nails, guard against getting them caught on anything! You definitely don’t want someone drilling into your nail to cure an infection you could have prevented!