What Kind of Acrylic Nails Are Safe?

Acrylic nails may be the best solution for a chronic nail biter.

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In your quest to get Kim Kardashian fingernails, you may consider acrylics. Many women are unsure, however, whether these "fake nail" products are safe. Some women insist acrylic nails lead to infection, while others claim they've used the products for years without any negative consequences. Truth be told, true acrylic nails are safe when using certain products under the right conditions, according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Learning the difference between an actual acrylic nail and other artificial nail types is the key healthy nails.

Real Acrylics

Acrylic nails are only one variety of artificial nail. Tips, gel nails, wrap nails and press-on nails are among the other types of artificial nail. Artificial nail tips are glued to your nail bed with a strong adhesive. Acrylic nails, however, are made when acrylic powder and a chemical liquid are combined. The mixture is molded onto the nail and hardens when it dries. In some cases, artificial nail tips are glued to the nail bed and, then, the acrylic mixture is applied over the tip.

Potential for Infection

After a few weeks, acrylic nails begin to break down and the adhesives weakens. Air pockets develop in these weakened areas between your real nail and the acrylic. If moisture forms in the pockets, fungal infections will develop. Wait one to two weeks after getting a full set of acrylic nails and have the air pockets "filled." Avoid fungal infections by having a professional manicurist remove damaged acrylics and repair others.

Professional Application

Acrylic nails, when applied by a professional manicurist in a well-ventilated area, are perfectly safe. In fact, if you struggle with brittle nails, a regular set of acrylic nails will protect your natural nails. Applying acrylics or other artificial nails yourself, when you have no experience, can lead to infection. Adhering nail tips, for instance, without allowing any air pockets is very difficult for the inexperienced manicurist.

The Bottom Line

With the exception of true acrylic nails, properly applied, many types of artificial nails open the door to infection. Adhering press-on nails with a strong liquid glue or tape means creating the perfect environment for a fungal infection, especially once the nail gets wet. Err on the side of safety and head to a qualified manicurist for a set of acrylic nails. In addition, make sure the salon is well-ventilated so you don't inhale the combined dust and chemicals. Most importantly, have your acrylics refilled regularly.

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