Unlike other articles, we won’t start this post by telling you there’s no beauty without pain because that’s BS. Feeling beautiful should not be a painful experience.
That being said, some people experience pain when getting beautiful acrylic nails and are concerned that something serious is wrong with them. Why do your acrylic nails hurt? What can you do about it? Let’s get to the bottom of this so you can still have your me time.
Do Acrylic Nails Hurt?
We’re not here to gaslight you or tell you your discomfort is all in your head. To tell you the truth, it may be a little uncomfortable if you have sensitive nails or it’s your first time getting acrylics.
Why Do Acrylic Nails Hurt?
Most pain experienced with acrylic nails is minor, and there are numerous reasons why they might hurt. Here are seven common reasons.
1. Poor Application
Poor acrylic application can happen whether you’re trying it yourself at home or in a nail salon—applying acrylic nails is a process that requires a lot of experience. When you don’t have that experience, you make mistakes such as putting too much pressure on the nails or creating too thick of an acrylic application.
The skin under your nails is extremely sensitive, and when extra pressure is added during the manicure, the discomfort is more noticeable due to all the nerves under your nail plate. Thick acrylic nails can be painful because there's a lot of weight on your nail plate, which will be even more noticeable as you use your nails for everyday tasks.
2. Too Much Nail Filing
Filing down your natural nail is part of the acrylic process so that it looks natural when the acrylic is applied. When properly done, the filing may be uncomfortable, but it can become painful when someone inexperienced is doing it.
Excessive filing can put too much pressure on the nail and make it too thin, exposing the sensitive skin and nerves underneath.
3. Improper Cuticle Cleaning
Cleaning and trimming the cuticles is done so the acrylic can sit at the top of your nail and look natural. While this shouldn’t hurt because the cuticle is dead skin, if someone is too enthusiastic, they can start to pick at live skin, causing pain.
Also, if this isn’t done properly, the acrylic can be put on the cuticle. What happens then 😬? It separates from the nail slowly—painfully—while the cuticle grows out.
4. The Feeling of the Acrylic Sealing
Some people feel a painful tightening in their nails, especially if they’re new to acrylic nails. This happens because the acrylic settles and actively creates a firm seal over the nails. The tightening is a sign that not even bad ideas can get in: Don’t you dare use your new nails to text your ex—they’re not worth it.
5. A Natural Reaction of Your Body and Nails
Some people are unlucky enough to have a body that rejects acrylic nails 💔. This can be due to already having thin and/or sensitive nails or a possible allergic reaction to one of the products. Make sure to use high-quality products to reduce the risk, but if you’re allergic, even gold (chrome) flakes won’t change that.
6. The Use of Nail Glue
Nail glue is used to make artificial nail tips stick, which is crucial because talk about painful 😱 when a tip rips off. The glue is not meant to go on the skin; when it does, it can create irritation and a stinging or burning sensation—especially if you end up allergic to it.
7. Your Nails Are Too Long
We love long nails 💅 (check our Instagram for proof). But sometimes, nails can be too long for your lifestyle or experience. The weight from a long nail or constantly catching/hitting objects can cause daily pain.
How Long Should Acrylic Nails Hurt?
For the most part, the pain from getting a fresh acrylic manicure should only last a day or two, although this could be a little longer for those with sensitive nails.
Why Do My Acrylic Nails Hurt When I Press on Them?
Remember how your natural nails were filed down? That exposes your nail plate and the nerves underneath to the world, meaning they’ll be more reactive to pressure.
How to Get Rid of Painful Acrylic Nails
If your nails hurt much longer than two days or bring you to tears (and not in the OMG 😭 they’re beautiful way), you need to see a technician ASAP because something is wrong, and those nails need to be off now.
It’s better to see a professional in this situation because they can minimize the pain of taking your acrylics off. If you can’t see a technician, carefully follow our guide for getting rid of acrylic nails at home.
How to Prevent Pain from Acrylic Nails
Here are six ways to prevent or minimize the pain accompanying a fresh acrylic manicure.
1. Read Reviews
If you’re new to a salon or a nail technician, do your research and find reviews. This way, you can pick one with a good reputation who uses quality products.
If you’re on your own, do the same thing: Read product reviews before you buy and avoid low-quality dumpster fire products that cause problems.
2. Get a Patch Test
If you’re worried about being allergic to nail glue or something in the acrylic mixture, ask the technician to do a patch test on your skin and see how you react. If you’re on your own, perform the patch test yourself.
3. Talk to Your Technician
Confrontation 💯 sucks, and we’d all prefer to avoid drama, but speaking up when you feel pain at the salon is important because you’re paying good money for these nails. No one should feel extreme pain when they’re getting a professional manicure. The technician can and should adjust their technique for you.
4. Opt for Shorter Nails
If you have sensitive nails or an active lifestyle, go for short-tip nails. That way, you can be pain-free and still look good. While long nails allow for many creative art ideas, shorter nails can still be unforgettable in the right nail artist’s hands.
5. Dip Your Finger in Cold Water
If you can’t stand the pain anymore, try numbing your finger(s) in ice-cold water for five minutes. This will soothe irritation and make the pain disappear for a short amount of time.
6. Use Cuticle Oil
Keeping your cuticles hydrated before getting your nails done will make it easier to clean them. After the acrylic application, your nails are thirsty (not the good kind), and using cuticle oil post-manicure will help ease the irritation and dry skin.
Don’t Let Minor Pain Stop You from Looking Fabulous
Whether you want to practice while on the road to becoming a professional nail tech or you want to save some money by learning the process yourself, make sure to check out our beginner acrylic nail kit. It has everything you need to give yourself, or someone else, an acrylic manicure.
Though we can’t guarantee perfect results on the first try 😉.