Can You Go Swimming with Acrylic Nails? Understanding Water’s Effects on Nail Enhancements

Swimming with acrylic nails is a concern for many who enjoy having long, stylish nails but also love spending time in the water.

If you find yourself questioning whether or not you can merge the two, rest assured, it is entirely feasible to take a dip with your acrylics intact.

The key is to approach this with caution and the proper preparation to ensure that your nails remain undamaged.

Acrylic nails are durable and can stand up to various daily activities, but prolonged exposure to water, like when swimming, requires some consideration and care.

When planning to swim with acrylic nails, being aware of the potential risks and how to mitigate them is crucial.

Water can weaken the adhesive bond between your natural nail and the acrylic, so it’s important to minimize the time your nails are submerged.

Moreover, maintaining your nails after swimming is just as important as the precautions you take before entering the water.

After-pool maintenance, like drying your nails thoroughly and applying a protective topcoat, can help in preserving the integrity of your acrylics.

Key Takeaways

  • Acrylic nails can be worn while swimming if precautions are taken.
  • It’s important to minimize water exposure and dry nails thoroughly after swimming.
  • Regular maintenance is crucial to protect the acrylic from damage.

Understanding Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are a popular and durable form of artificial nails, favored for their longevity and versatility in design.

If you’re considering them for swimming or any other activity, understanding their makeup, how they’re applied, and their pros and cons is vital.


Acrylic nails are crafted from a mixture of a polymer powder and a liquid monomer. When combined, they form a hard protective layer that is sculpted over your natural nails.

They are stronger than regular nail polish and can be adorned with a variety of decorative elements.

Typical Components of Acrylic Nails:

  • Polymer Powder: Provides the bulk of the acrylic nail.
  • Liquid Monomer: Acts to bond and harden the powder.

Application Process

The application of acrylic nails is a multi-step process that requires precision.

First, your natural nails are cleaned and shaped. Then, the nail technician applies the acrylic mixture and molds it to the desired shape.

After hardening, the nails are filed and polished with gel nail polish or regular nail polish, depending on your preference.

  1. Preparation: Clean and shape natural nails.
  2. Adhesion: Apply acrylic mixture to nails.
  3. Molding: Sculpt the mixture into shape.
  4. Curing: Allow the acrylic to harden.
  5. Finishing: File, shape, and apply nail polish.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits of acrylic nails include their strength, which can help protect your natural nails and prevent breakages. They offer a smooth surface for applying nail art and last longer than gel nails or nail strengthener alone.

However, there are drawbacks, as acrylic nails require regular maintenance to mitigate lifting and infections, and the removal process can be damaging to your natural nails if not done correctly.


  • Durability
  • Nail protection
  • Long-lasting wear
  • Versatile design options


  • Risk of nail lifting
  • Possible infections if not maintained
  • Potential damage during removal process

Precautions When Swimming with Acrylic Nails

A hand with acrylic nails reaching into a pool, caution sign nearby

When deciding to swim with acrylic nails, it’s crucial to take certain precautions before, during, and after swimming to maintain the integrity of your nails and prevent damage.

Before Swimming

  • To protect your acrylic nails from the potential harmful effects of chlorine or saltwater, begin by applying a protective coating.
  • Utilizing a waterproof and long-lasting topcoat can seal the acrylic and guard against water damage.
  • Another beneficial step is massaging cuticle oil into the nail beds to reinforce hydration.

During Swimming

While in the water, it’s important to avoid rough surfaces, as these can cause scratches or chips.

If you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool, consider the impact of chlorine exposure—wearing gloves designed for swimming can offer an extra layer of protection for your nails.

After Swimming

  • After exiting the water, thoroughly dry your nails and hands. This helps prevent any water from weakening the glue or causing lifting.
  • Application of moisturizer can restore hydration to your skin and nails post-swim.
  • Additionally, reapplying nail oil will help keep your nails flexible and prevent brittleness.
TaskPurposeProduct Used
Apply topcoatSeals and protects acrylicWaterproof Topcoat
Use cuticle oilKeeps nails hydrated and reinforcedCuticle Oil
Wear glovesProtects nails from chlorine and rough surfacesSwimming Gloves
Dry hands after swimPrevents glue weakening and liftingSoft Towel
MoisturizeRestores hydration to skin and nailsMoisturizer

Potential Risks and How to Mitigate Them

A person with acrylic nails standing at the edge of a pool, contemplating whether to go swimming. A sign nearby lists potential risks and safety precautions

When it comes to swimming with acrylic nails, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks such as chlorine exposure, saltwater effects, and damage from physical activities.

Knowing how to protect your acrylic nails can help you prevent them from becoming brittle, cracked, or lifting.

Chlorine Exposure

Chlorine, commonly found in swimming pools, can weaken acrylic nails, making them more susceptible to damage. To mitigate these effects:

  • Before Swimming:
    • Apply a water-resistant topcoat to your nails to create a protective barrier.
    • Consider wearing swimming gloves to limit direct exposure.
  • After Swimming:
    • Rinse your hands with clean water immediately.
    • Moisturize your nails and cuticles to replenish lost hydration.

Saltwater Effects

Swimming in the ocean exposes your nails to salt, which can dehydrate and weaken them. To protect against saltwater:

  • Before Swimming:
    • Use a nail-hardening solution to fortify your acrylics.
    • Opt for a UV-protective topcoat since sunlight can exacerbate the effects of saltwater.
  • After Swimming:
    • Wash your hands thoroughly to remove any salt residue.
    • Apply a nourishing cream to keep your nails flexible.

Damage from Physical Activities

Physical activities in the water, like diving or playing water polo, can lead to nail lifting or cracking. To prevent this:

  • Precautionary Measures:
    • Keep your nails at a manageable length to reduce leverage and strain.
    • Avoid vigorous activities that can lead to direct impacts on your nails.
  • Post-Activity Care:
    • Inspect your nails for any signs of lifting or damage.
    • If necessary, visit a nail technician to repair any issues promptly to avoid infection.

Maintenance Tips for Acrylic Nails

Maintaining your acrylic nails is essential to ensure they look great and last longer. Proper care minimizes damage and maximizes the beauty of your nails.

Regular Upkeep

To keep your acrylic nails in the best condition, practice regular maintenance.

Use cuticle oil daily to keep the area around your nails moisturized and healthy.

Apply the cuticle oil to the base of your nails and gently massage it in.

Regular filing is also necessary to maintain the shape and prevent lifting.

  • Daily: Apply cuticle oil.
  • Weekly: File your nails and check for any lifting or gaps.

Protecting the Nails

When it comes to protecting your acrylic nails, prevention is key.

Before swimming or engaging in activities involving water, apply a water-resistant topcoat to seal the nails and prevent water ingress.

Thin layers of polish are less likely to chip, so opt for multiple thin coats rather than a few thick ones.

  • Before Exposure to Water: Apply a water-resistant topcoat.
  • When Applying Polish: Use thin layers.

Repairing Acrylic Nails

In case of chips or lifting, have nail glue on hand to perform quick fixes.

For larger repairs, use a protective topcoat or sealant to bind the acrylic nail back to your natural nail until you can get a professional fix.

If your acrylics are damaged by acetone or other chemicals, a base coat can act as a barrier for future applications.

Alternatives to Swimming with Acrylic Nails

A clear pool with acrylic nails floating on the surface, surrounded by colorful towels and sunscreen bottles

If you’re concerned about the durability of your acrylic nails in water or are seeking less risk of damage while swimming, consider alternatives that are water-friendly and robust.

Gel Manicures

Gel nails provide a long-lasting alternative to acrylic nails that are more resistant to lifting or falling off in water.

A gel manicure applies gel nail polish which is hardened under UV light, creating a durable layer less likely to be affected by chlorine or saltwater. It’s important to apply a transparent top coat for added protection.

Natural Nails with Protective Polish

You can also swim with your natural nails by using a protective layer of regular nail polish. Reinforcing your nails with a transparent top coat can provide a barrier against water and chemicals.

Make sure to reapply the top coat every few days to maintain the protective layer.

Temporary Nail Covers

For those preferring an occasional swim without long-term alterations to your nails:

  • Temporary nail covers or adhesive nail wraps can offer a temporary and waterproof design for your outing.
  • These covers adhere directly to your natural or acrylic nails, providing protection without the commitment of a full manicure.

Daily Activities and Acrylic Nails

Maintaining your acrylic nails during daily activities is crucial to their longevity and appearance. Understanding how regular tasks can affect your acrylics will help you keep them in top condition.

Bathing and Showering

When you bathe or shower, water exposure can potentially lead to your acrylic nails lifting if they are not properly sealed.

It’s important to keep the nail adhesion strong by avoiding prolonged soaking. After bathing or showering, ensure to thoroughly dry your nails to maintain their integrity.

  • Take shorter showers to reduce the risk
  • Gently pat nails dry immediately after water exposure

Daily Chores

Daily chores might put your acrylic nails at risk of popping off if you’re not cautious.

While engaging in household tasks, be mindful of how you utilize your acrylic nails to prevent accidental snagging or bumping.

  1. Wear gloves while doing dishes or cleaning
  2. Handle objects with care to avoid nail damage

Handling Chemicals

Chemicals often found in cleaning products can weaken the adhesion of your acrylic nails and cause damage.

It’s advised to use gloves when handling chemicals to protect both your nails and the skin on your hands.

CleaningWear gloves
SwimmingLimit time, dry thoroughly
  • Always use protection for your hands and nails when cleaning
  • If at the poolside, minimize immersion and chlorine exposure
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