How To Wash Your Hair With Fake Nails or Long Nails

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Fake nails offer a perfect manicure that does not require touch-ups for weeks. Nail extensions allow you to enjoy long, elegant nails, even if your natural nails are short. And they can last anywhere from one to three weeks without the need to redo them every few days! However, taking care of fake nails is essential to keeping them looking great.

We all have to wash our hair, but this is just one of the things that can damage fake nails, or even just long natural nails.

So, you want to know how to wash your hair with fake nails? We have some tips on how to wash your hair with long nails and fake nails, as well as tips on protecting them to keep your fake nails looking fabulous.


Fake Nails 101

Fake Nails

Before we get into it, there are different types of fake nails – there are acrylics, gels, dip powder and press-ons, each of which have a different application process, but don’t necessarily always include extensions to lengthen.

Regardless of whether or not you have extensions added, all fake nails can be subject to damage with over-exposure to water. The various types of fake nails have different water resistance (for example, acrylics are relatively water-resistant).

But too much water from activities like washing dishes and washing your hair can pose a few issues.

Does hot water damage your nails?

Now although using acetone is the fastest way to remove fake nails, soaking them in hot water is an often suggested, less damaging alternative to acetone.

So, if soaking your fingers in hot water is a commonly used method of removing fake nails, then yes, hot water definitely has the potential to damage fake nails.

Risks of Washing Your Hair with Fake Nails

Subjecting your fake nails to water for extended periods, like when you are washing dishes or taking a long shower, washing and conditioning your hair may loosen fake nails or cause them to come off.

It can also cause fake nails to lift, allowing water and bacteria to enter between the natural nail and the fake nail.

If the nail lifts, a nail fungal infection can occur when moisture collects under fake nails.

You can also get a bacterial infection in the gap that forms between the two nails, especially if the artificial nail is re-glued before it is thoroughly cleaned out.

How to Wash Your Hair With Fake Nails

Don’t worry, you can still wash your hair without wrecking your manicure or developing a nail infection. Here are a few things to help you keep your fake nails intact while washing your hair:

  1. Wait! 

Wait 2 hours after applying acrylic, powder dip, or press on nails to get them wet or wash your hair, and up to 5 hours after applying gel nails.

  1. Keep it short 

A quick in and out shower (after the initial waiting period) should not damage your nails, as long as you dry them thoroughly afterward.

  1. Don’t scrub your scalp with your nails 

Though you might like the sensation of raking your nails over your scalp, don’t do it! Not only are you more likely to scratch your scalp, but it can also damage your fake nails. Instead, use your fingertips to massage in your shampoo and conditioner.

  1. If you like long showers – Wear rubber gloves! 

If you are planning on a long shower or bath, wear rubber gloves. Soaking your nails for an extended length of time allows water to seep into the nail plate and weaken the fake nail. This can lead to the risks we discussed above.

Though it may seem a bit awkward at first, wearing rubber gloves is the easiest and most effective way to protect your fake nails while washing your hair. The rubber gloves will not only protect your fake nails from the water and detergents in your soaps and shampoos, but help prevent fungal and bacterial infections. 

  1. Be careful 

Bumping or catching your fake nails on the soap dish or nicking it on your razor may accidentally damage or dislodge a fake nail.

  1. See a nail technician right away to fix a damaged fake nail 

If despite your best efforts to be careful, you’ve reached to adjust the water temperature and accidentally jabbed a nail into the faucet or got it caught in your loofa, do not try to fix a fake nail yourself that has broken, chipped, lifted, or come off.

You will do more harm than good and likely be setting yourself up for a bacterial infection if the nail is not properly cleaned before it’s re-glued. Go to a nail technician and let them fix it for you. 

The only exception to this rule is if you are using press on nails. If you are using press-on nails, you don’t actually need to see a nail technician. Just simply run the damaged press-on nail under warm water until you are able to remove it completely. Dry your fingernail, and use a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol to remove residual adhesive from your nail bed and the press-on nail. Then you can re-apply it.

  1. Thoroughly dry your nails

If you are just jumping in and out of the shower for a quick shampoo and refresh, as long as you are not soaking your fake nails in water for an extended period of time, you can get them wet. Just make sure you dry them thoroughly afterwards.

What rubber gloves should I use?

Rubber Gloves

Rubber gloves are a must if you have fake nails and tend to multi-task in the shower by combining your hair washing with other personal upkeep, such as body scrubs, shaving and hair conditioning masks.

You don’t need to get fancy. Just a pair of standard rubber dishwashing gloves  will do the trick. If your gloves are loose on the top edge, just use a large elastic near the top to prevent water getting in over the edges.

Otherwise, any pair of rubber latex gloves  will do.

The other option would be to use rubber finger cots . Rather than covering your whole hand, like a glove, finger cots only cover the tips of your fingers.

Especially for those with fake nail extensions, individual rubber finger cots might be ideal. Rubber gloves are designed to fit normal-length fingers, so if you have fake nails with really long extensions, then you run the risk of poking holes through the fingertips or the gloves not fitting properly.

Take Away

You wanted to know how to wash your hair with fake nails or long nails – now you know! Here’s a recap:

  • Wait the recommended time after the application of fake nails before washing your hair or getting them wet.
  • A quick hair wash should not damage your nails, but why risk it? Use rubber gloves or finger cots.
  • Definitely use rubber gloves or finger cots for longer showers when you are doing more than just washing your hair.
  • If you accidentally damage your gel, acrylic or dip powder nails while washing your hair, don’t try to fix it yourself – let your nail technician do it for you.
  • If you do get your fake nails wet, dry them thoroughly.

See also:

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).