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. Your clients should only be worrying 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 pretty obsolete. That means that in this day and age, with new products on the market and new approaches to acrylic nail application, there is simply no need. 

Myth: You Need to Let Nails Breathe

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: 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. 

Nails Get Nutrients From the Inside

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, like 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. 

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.

Myth: Acrylic Damages Natural Nails

The truth: It is key to file the nails properly in preparation for acrylic application. 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, the only potentially damaging thing about acrylic nails is a rough removal. As long as you are using high-quality products to apply the acrylic nail, your client’s nails should not be damaged or “need a break” to strengthen or regrow. 

Myth: Acrylics Make Nails Soft

The truth: 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. Actually, the moisture and oils our bodies produce naturally pass from the nail bed to the nail plate—which makes the nails strong and hard. When there is product on the nail, 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 is something that isn’t an issue if your client is keeping their nails polished or their acrylics filled. 

Myth: Acrylic Nails Get Moldy

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,” and 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

If 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, it creates an oxygen-free environment where pseudomonas bacteria thrives. 

To treat this issue, the nail tech must remove the enhancement, trim, clean, and disinfect the nail in order to kill the bacteria. If it is a bad case, the nail tech should always recommend the client to go to a doctor to be treated with antibiotics or an antifungal cream—whichever the doctor recommends. If a nail is badly infected, direct the client to professional supervision before doing anything to try to solve the problem. 

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 weigh in on their risk for 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 or wash their hands regularly, they are more prone. If your client is struggling with this, suggest to them wearing gloves while working or always have a hand towel handy to dry their hands with often. 

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 have a negative effect on you and the health of your body. 

Now that we’ve figured out that acrylics aren’t the villains, let’s root out the culprits to 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, and yet they are commonly left on 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 is a reflection of their efforts to stay hygienic. Remind them that hand sanitizer should never be used in place of handwashing, rather as a Plan B when handwashing 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, and this results 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 them with care.

In Conclusion

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 prepping 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. 


  1. Ask the NMC | Schoon Scientific
  2. How to strengthen nails: 13 tips and tricks | Medical News Today 
  3. Green Nail Syndrome | American Osteopathic College of Dermatology