How Often Should You Take a Break From Acrylic Nails?

How Often Should You Take a Break From Acrylic Nails?

Trick question! You don’t need to take a break at all

Your clients should only worry about taking a break from their bi-weekly fill-in acrylic pampering when they don’t have enough cash to give you a good tip. As long as your nail techs are filing the nails down properly and using the right products, taking a break from acrylic nails is unnecessary.

How often should you take a break from acrylic nails? The next time your clients ask, you can confidently shout the answer. Still, many details might surprise you about the health of your (and your client’s) nails before, during, and after acrylics. 

How Long Should You Let Your Nails Breathe Between Acrylics? 

The truth: Scientist, author, and chemist Doug Schoon, co-chair of the Nail Manufacturers Council and founder of Chemical Awareness Training Service (CATS), is a leading industry authority consultant, and he contests that all the oxygen needed by the nail comes from the bloodstream. Nothing is gained by removing artificial nails or coatings for a while. 

The fact of the matter is, nails don’t actually breathe! Nails get oxygen from your bloodstream—the air has nothing to do with it. 

How Long Should You Keep Your Acrylics On?

Your clients might have spotted some Insta-worthy acrylics (a la Kylie Jenner) and wonder how long they last. Answering this question comes with some layers-–but not as many as an onion or an ogre has. 

As you know, applying acrylics correctly takes time and dedication, but that isn’t the only factor for a long-lasting full set. If your client wants to swap out their natural nail look for something with a little bit extra, it requires some TLC on their part as well.

Acrylics are some of the most long-lasting nail enhancement options. They’re durable, stylish, and an alternative to a traditional polish manicure. Opt for a full set of acrylic nails.

Clients should come in every two to three weeks to get a fill, which accommodates the growth of their natural nails and keeps their manicure fresh. A full set should last about 4 - 6 weeks. After eight weeks, it’s time to take them off and do a new set. Recommend that your clients book their appointments in advance, so they never miss a fill and regularly get a fresh set of enhancements.

How Do You Keep Your Nails Healthy With Acrylics?

The better care you give your nails, the healthier they’ll be, and the longer acrylics will last. Preventing nail damage means giving acrylics proper attention. For example, tell your clients to wash their hands frequently and dry them well. This prevents fungus growth—no one wants their nails to look or smell like they survived a zombie apocalypse! 🧟‍♀️

But, these are just some basics. Let’s get into the details! 

Keep Your Nails Healthy: Inside and Out

Believe it or not, nails get their nutrients from inside the body.

The same nutrients that make your hair strong, your skin healthy, and your brain happy are the ones that keep your nails strong. Proper nutrition from a well-balanced diet will allow your body to gather all the nutrients and minerals to have strong, healthy nails. 

B Vitamins: Occurring naturally in foods like salmon, legumes, and eggs, biotin is a B vitamin that contributes to the health of your hair, skin, and nails by maintaining the health of the nervous system. 

Hydration: When a person doesn’t get enough fluids, their nails can become brittle. Brittle nails are fragile nails—meaning they can crack, peel, or break easier. So here’s another reminder to put a sticky note on your monitor reminding you to hydrate throughout your work day!

Iron: We know oxygen is needed for healthy nails, and it’s sourced from the blood internally. And without iron, oxygen is not adequately carried to your cells. Your body sources iron from beef, chicken, fish, and eggs, as well as plant foods like leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans.

Taking any of these vitamins as an over-the-counter supplement is a great option, or simply incorporating more of the foods from above into their daily diet. 

If your client comes in wondering about ways to strengthen their nails, remind them that beauty always starts from the inside.

Does Acrylic Damage Natural Nails? 

A good set of acrylics done by an experienced technician shouldn’t damage the nail, but if you don’t prepare correctly, they definitely can. Keep up maintenance every two to three weeks and follow proper aftercare instructions. The removal process is vital, so make sure you are gentle and thorough.

Filing nails to prep them for acrylic application is essential. Your client’s nails need to be filed down so that the moisture and oil are stripped from the top layer, allowing the acrylic to stick and not result in premature lifting. 

But you don’t want to file their nail down too much, as that can cause thin, damaged nails and result in the acrylics being more prone to cracks and breaks. So, no—acrylics don’t damage the natural nail, but improper, overzealous filing does.

As long as acrylics are applied correctly, rough removal is the only potentially damaging thing about acrylic nails. As long as you use high-quality products to apply the acrylic nail, your client’s nails should not be damaged or “need a break” to strengthen or regrow. 

Do Acrylics Make Natural Nails Soft?

Your client’s nails may feel soft or flexible after removing hard gel polishes or acrylic sets, but this isn’t due to the product itself. The moisture and oils our bodies produce naturally pass from the nail bed to the nail plate—making the nails strong and hard. When the nail is covered in product, that moisturizing rate is slowed down to about 10%–15% of what it would be without.

This moisture naturally increases and spreads to the nail bed and nail plate once the barrier (aka product) is removed in as little as 12 hours. But, this isn’t an issue if your client is keeping their nails polished or their acrylics filled. 

How To Avoid Fungus With Acrylics

The truth: Mold rarely appears on nails. If there is mold, it will look brown or black, definitely not green. If you see green, it is likely a bacteria (versus a fungus). This bacteria is called “pseudomonas.” It can happen to anyone’s nails—whether they have nail enhancements or not. All it takes is for water to sneak in underneath the nail and compromise that delicate skin. 

Bacteria Growth

Suppose a nail tech uses tools that weren’t properly disinfected and perhaps had bacteria on them, and it gets onto the natural nail plate before applying the acrylics. In that case, it creates an oxygen-free environment where pseudomonas bacteria thrive, making the nails a living petri dish. 🧫 

To treat this issue, the nail tech must remove the enhancement, trim, clean, and disinfect the nail in order to kill the bacteria. 

If its a bad case, the nail tech should always recommend the client visit a doctor to be treated with antibiotics or an antifungal cream—whichever the doctor recommends. 

Risk Factors

When a nail becomes abnormally lifted or detached from the nail bed, that waterproof seal between the nail and the skin is lost. The area can then easily collect dirt and debris and is a prime entry point for bacteria. 

What your client does for a living can impact their risk of developing this infection. Gardeners, janitors, cooks, dishwashers, homemakers, health care personnel, bartenders—people who often work with their hands in damp or wet environments or repeatedly immersed in water are most susceptible.

If your client’s job requires their hands to often get wet, they’re especially at risk. If your client struggles with this, suggest wearing gloves while working or always have a hand towel handy for frequent drying

What Nails Really Need a Break From

Beauty is pain sometimes, yes. Think: waxing, bleaching, high heels … but nothing you do in the name of beauty and pampering should negatively affect you and your body's health. 

Now that we’ve figured out that acrylics aren’t the villains, let’s root out the culprits causing weak, damaged nails. This way, you can advise your nail clients to make better choices and take more preventative care for the sake and health of their nails. 

Cleaning Products

If you should “take a break” from anything, it’s cleaning your bathroom with bleach and harsh chemicals without protecting your precious skin and nails! Rubber gloves are key when using harsh cleansers, yet they are commonly left by the wayside. 

Harsh chemicals not only get absorbed through your skin and seep into the bloodstream, but they cause brittle nails, flaking, peeling, not to mention color chipping! 

Hand Sanitizer

Considering the current state of the world and the global health pandemic, hand sanitizer is being used more than ever before. If you see clients coming in with weak nails, chances are good it reflects their efforts to stay hygienic. Remind them that hand sanitizer should never be used in place of handwashing, but rather as a Plan B when hand washing simply isn’t an option. 

Lack of Protein

Restrictive diets can result in the body lacking calcium and protein—key factors that influence nail health among the rest of the body’s well-being. Vegetarians and vegans often struggle with not getting enough protein, resulting in nails that are brittle and prone to breakage. 

Being Used as a Tool

Soda can tabs, beer bottles, scratching off size stickers on the bottom of your heels—your nails are not a can opener or a scraper. Remind your clients to stop treating them as such! Of course, they will come in with breakage and chips if they are not handling their nails with care.

How to Care for Damaged Nails After Acrylics

We all love our full sets and how they instantly elevate our looks. Whether your client likes them long or short, coffin-shaped or oval, blue or neon green, the beauty of acrylics is the personality they bring. 

When it comes time to take them off, clients might be left with damaged natural nails. This can occur due to a variety of factors that, while avoidable, sometimes happen. When they do, you can be prepared to offer your clients tips on repairing their nails.

Nails aren’t exactly interrogation-proof. When put under pressure, they crack. That’s why it’s important to keep up on nail health before enhancements and to put lots of care into the application process. 

When applying acrylic, remember that you’re taking the health of your clients’ natural nails into your hands. Adhering to proper protocol and taking your time is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the natural nail.

Damaged nails can result from poor application or subpar nail health before enhancements. However tragic it may seem, there are solutions. If a client comes to you with damaged nails, here are some tricks of the trade from the best in the industry. 

Temporarily Use Regular or Gel Polish

Acrylic nails are stiffer than your average gel manicure, which can be a welcome break for damaged nails. Recommend that a client with damaged nails opts for a gel manicure instead of their usual full set to give themselves time to recuperate.

If the client is willing to take a break from acrylics and gels, switching to regular polish while the nails heal is even better. Clear nail polish allows clients and their technicians to observe the nail growth process, which can be especially beneficial. 


If you removed a set from a client’s nails and revealed damage beneath, you might have immediately thought of treatments. There are various easy treatment options for damaged, dry nails that can restore them to better health. 

Of the DIY variety, you have a handy remedy in your kitchen already (or at your nearest grocery store). Olive oil can work wonders for restoring hydration to nails. 💦 Cuticle oils also go a long way to rehydrate nails. You can apply these options on every client during every nail prep session. They’re sure to appreciate the extra attention to detail and care.

Key Takeaways

Your nail clients shouldn’t need to take a break from their acrylic nails. If there is an infection, that is a different story and must be properly addressed by a physician before moving forward with their routine manicures. 

As long as you’re practicing good salon hygiene, using high-quality acrylic powder, and properly preparing their nails without going overboard on the filing, the only break your clients should be taking is when they sit back, relax, and let you work your magic in beautifying them whenever they need. 

Ready to learn more about the world of nail art and maintenance? Check out the VBP blog for all sorts of tricks and tidbits for veterans and newbies.