Why Do Fake Nails Hurt?

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Fake nails can make your nails look gorgeous and posh. However, one big thing that could turn you off from using fake nails is if it hurts to wear them! Most people don’t feel pain while using fake nails. However, there are some who experience notable pain. 

Many who experience it wonder why do fake nails hurt? Is it from the glue?

There are many reasons why you could feel pain when using fake nails. One of them is due to the glue itself. It could also be due to a reaction to the glue. There are several scenarios to explain that.

We’ll provide you with the details and recommendations below.


Why Do Fake Nails Hurt?

We are pretty sure that you want your nails to make you look fabulous. That is why you opted to use fake nails, whether they’re acrylics, fiberglass nails, press-ons, etc.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should suffer in pain just for beauty!

The first thing that you need to figure out is if your nails are really hurting from the glue or if there could be something else going on.

If it is really the glue that is causing the pain, then you might be having irritation and pain due to the glue. Here are a few reasons why that happens. 

Expired Glue

Nail Glue

Just how long have you had that bottle of nail glue in the back of the cabinet?

Whenever you attach your fake nail at home, make sure that your nail glue is still good.

Don’t risk using expired glues, because the chemical components might have changed and degraded. This could cause irritation to your nail bed and that could lead to pain. 

Wrong Kind Of Glue

Aside from using an expired product, you could also be using the wrong kind of glue for your fake nails.

There are glues  specifically made for use on your nails. Don’t try to substitute it for anything else because you’d risk irritating your fingers.

Multi-purpose glues like Superglue and Krazy glue are a bad idea for your nails. Even if you find that it doesn’t cause pain, it’s really not made for use on the body. 

Stick to appropriate nail glues!

If you’re really in a bind, you can use lash glue, but it will likely only last a night or two.

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Reaction To The Cyanoacrylate

The main component of nail glue is ethyl cyanoacrylate. This is a much safer version of cyanoacrylate, which is used in glues like Superglue.

However, you could still react negatively to it.

When the glue sets, it could produce heat. That heat reaction could be the cause of irritation. 

It is possible that you have sensitive fingernails. This may be why it hurts when even nail glue is applied. Nail glues contain chemicals that some people are sensitive to, even if they’re technically safe for use on the body.

If this is the case for you, could try other nail glue brands, but you may find that all of them bother you, as most all nail glues use ethyl cyanoacrylate. 

Why Do Acrylic Nails Hurt?

If you’ve got a set of acrylic nails and they’re starting to hurt, give them a sniff. If they smell weird, maybe like cheese or dirt, then you’ve probably got a fungal infection under your acrylic nail.

This happens with acrylics more than other types of nails because acrylics can be worn for months before they’re fully changed. If water and bacteria get between the natural nail and the acrylic nail tip, it can fester in there and multiply until you’ve got an infestation.

This doesn’t often happen with other fake nail types like press-ons because they don’t last as long as acrylics do.

Other Reasons Why Your Fake Nails Hurt

Aside from the nail glue itself, there are also other reasons why your nail is hurting when you have fake nails.

It is important not to automatically conclude that your fake nails are hurting just because of the glue. Other factors such as those listed below could be the culprit too:

Too Much Filing Of Natural Nails

To make the bond or glue stick to the natural nail and fake nail, you or the technician may file down your nails. If you’re not yet used to using your electric nail file, then you could overdo it.

That will make the nail bed more sensitive — especially when you apply the nail glue. 

Too Much Pressure When Applying Fake Nails

As per instructions for most press-on nails and acrylics, you need to press down on the fake nail in order to securely attach it to your natural nail.

However, you might have used too much pressure on your nails. Even professional nail technicians occasionally make a mistake in doing this.

That extra pressure can cause discomfort. 

If you are doing this on your own, you can control just how much pressure to use and stop when it becomes too painful. On the other hand, if the nail technician is doing it for you, don’t be afraid to talk to them and let them know that they are using too much pressure and it hurts. 

You’re Not Using The Right Nail Tips For Your Nails

Sometimes you need to find the right acrylic or press-on nail for your nail. For example, if your nail bed is flat, try to find a nail tip that works with flat nail beds.

You won’t have to press down as hard if the nail tip is approximately the same curve as your nail.

You’re New To Using Fake Nails

If you haven’t used fake nails before, the sensation can feel pretty weird. The feeling of having regular nail polish or gel nails is quite from having fake nails.

You might be feeling discomfort because it feels that the fake nails are heavier. You’ll eventually get used to it and the discomfort would eventually go away after a day or two. 

Pushing Or Cutting Cuticles

Cuticle Oil

Before fake nails are applied, the cuticles are first pushed to get them out of the way. Cuticle pushing is good practice.

Some could also trim or cut them. That could lead to the pain that you are feeling. Usually, that pain would last for about a day then you’d feel more comfortable afterward.

We don’t recommend cutting your cuticles, though we’re aware that it is a common practice even for many professionals.

Using a cuticle oil  before and after having fake nails should help strengthen and replenish the cuticles. 

Due To Infection

Another cause of pain when wearing fake nails is infection. When using fake nails, you have to properly prepare your nail.

Make sure the tools you use are sanitized or else you could infect your nails. This is especially true when cutting the cuticles.

Sometimes, it could get wounded and due to unsanitized tools, bacteria can infect the open wound. This could lead to pain and if not immediately remedied, it could worsen. 

If there is a separation between the fake nail and the natural nail, water can get between, and become a breeding ground for bacteria. As we mentioned, nail fungus from acrylic nails is pretty common, unfortunately.

If they smell bad, you likely have a fungal infection.

Due to Injury

Occasionally we all hit our hands on things, and sometimes bang or break nails. This can lead to significant pain if you break your nail underneath your fake nail. Be careful!

Final Thoughts

Fake nails are a great way to improve your appearance. However, some people may encounter problems with fake nails, including pain. Stick to actual nail glues, and don’t risk bad outcomes and damage to the nail with random other glues.

Furthermore, there are other reasons you could feel pain while wearing fake nails. It is possible that the nails were filled too much, too much pressure was used, you’re simply not used to wearing fake nails, your cuticles hurt due to pushing or trimming, you have an infection, or you otherwise damaged the nail.

Hopefully it’s just the glue! 

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).