Why Do My Acrylic Nails Feel Sore?

December 12, 2022
Genesis Rivas
By: Genesis Rivas | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
image of hands with acrylic nails

I vividly remember the first time I got acrylic nails. I was 15 years old and my mother took me to get them done for my quinceañera. I was a novice to the acrylic life, and immediately after getting them done, I felt like a baby deer walking on its four legs for the first time — clumsy. My nails felt so sore and sensitive that regular activities like buttoning my jeans, tying my shoes and doing my hair became super uncomfortable. 

Fast forward years later and while I do enjoy acrylic nails because they last a while and can be customized, I still get that tender and sore feeling post-manicure. To find out why it happens and if there’s any way to avoid the pain, I reached out to NYC-based celebrity manicurist Gina Edwards for her advice.

What Causes Nails to Feel Sore After Getting Acrylics?

After getting acrylics, Edwards says that some people may experience a tightening sensation due to the acrylic forming a firm seal over their nails. The sensation may cause your nails to feel sore and sensitive immediately after application. “It’s something your nails may not be used to at first, but the feeling usually goes away within the first 24 hours,” she says. 

Another more serious cause of soreness, however, can be from filing your nails down too short. For this reason, be sure you do your research and go to a nail salon with skilled and professional technicians. Edwards says that if your fake nails still hurt after 24 hours, you should have them removed.

How to Prevent Nail Soreness

If you're new to acrylics, there isn’t much you can do after the fact to avoid sensitivity and soreness. But you can talk to your tech beforehand to help ensure that they’re doing what they can to minimize the potential for pain. “Tell your tech not to make the acrylic too thick,” says Edwards. 

Also, be mindful of the shape you choose. For example, Edwards says that pointy-shaped nails are more susceptible to feeling the soreness. This shape can also be more susceptible to little accidents such as knocking into things, which can increase and potentially worsen the amount of pain felt.

Is There a Similar, Yet Less Painful Alternative to Acrylics?

If this soreness is a dealbreaker for you, you can still rock long, gorgeous nails. The solution? Press-on nails. Press-ons are such an easy option that offer acrylic-like results, STAT. Not sure where to look? Both Nailboo and Olive & June have great design options. 

hand with pink nails and nail art
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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