Can You Swim With Acrylic Nails? Can You Swim With Acrylic Nails?

Swimming With Acrylic Nails 101: Everything You Need to Know

You can swim with acrylic nails. However, you need to be a lot more extra careful . Apply a protective topcoat and check your acrylic nail length to prevent issues such as lifting or cracking or both.

I am a swimmer who loves swimming. I swim 3 times a week. One day, I decided to get acrylic nails for a summer pool party that I was invited to. The party went well. Nothing changed with my acrylic nails. They were as intact as before. So, if you are wondering if you too can go swimming with acrylic nails.

The answer is simple; You can swim with acrylic nails. However, you need to be a lot more extra careful . Apply a protective topcoat and check your acrylic nail length to prevent issues such as lifting or cracking or both.

Today, I will show you how to protect your acrylic nails from chlorine water and salty water. I will also give you tips on how to maintain your acrylics after swimming in a heated pool. After swimming professionally for 3 years, I am exited to share with you my experience on swimming with acrylic nails. But first, here are the reasons why swimming might weaken your acrylic nails.

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Reasons Why Swimming Weakens Acrylic Nails

Swimming is fun. But, it has consequences for acrylics that you may not be aware of. In this brief guide, I explore in details the key reasons why swimming can compromise the strength and appearance of your acrylic nails.

1) Chlorine Exposure

Chlorine exposure can weaken your acrylic nails significantly. For example; when you swim in chlorinated pools, the chemicals react with the acrylic material, causing it to deteriorate over time. Chlorine being a strong disinfectant is designed to kill bacteria and microorganisms, and it can have a corrosive effect on your nails acrylic nails( Source).

In some cases, chlorine exposure can even cause your acrylic nails to lift from the natural nail bed. To minimize the impact of chlorine on your acrylic nails, consider wearing protective gloves ( I recommend DarkFin Webbed Power Swimming Gloves ) while swimming and rinse and dry your hands and nails thoroughly after swimming.

2) Lack of a Protective Coating

A lot of acrylic lovers underestimate the power of a protective coating when it comes to swimming. Without a proper topcoat, acrylic nails will become more vulnerable to the harsh effects of pool water, particularly chlorine and other water chemicals.

Personally, I have experienced my acrylic nails lose their natural flexibility when I exposed to water without a topcoat. The increased rigidity made them easier to break or crack, as they lacked the protective barrier that a proper coating provides. I learnt my lesson. Now, I wear Mia Secret UV Finish Gel whenever I go swimming.

In a nutshell, you should always apply the protective coating on your acrylic nails as away to shield against the detrimental effects of swimming. Without it, your acrylic nails are left exposed to the water elements, making them more susceptible to weakening and damage during and after your swim.

3) Soaking in Water for Longer Time

Just like chlorine, hanging out in the water for too long can totally mess with your acrylic nails. It’s all about that porous nature they’ve got. When your acrylics soak up water during a swim session, they start to puff up, and that makes them way more prone to getting wrecked. They might even start to curve, twist, or, worst-case scenario, pop right off your natural nails.

If you’re planning a pool day with acrylics, remember that staying in the water for hours could be bad for your nails. To keep them looking fab, try to limit your time in the pool, and don’t forget those stylish protective gloves to help your acrylics stay strong and maintain their cool appearance.

4) Nail Lifting

Always make sure to check if your acrylic nails have lifted or curved before taking a plunge in the pool. Having a lifted acrylic nail can spell trouble when swimming. Some folks dive in without inspecting their nails, and when they hit the water, that lifted nail can pop right out. It’s a bit like a hidden surprise waiting to happen.

The blame often falls on swimming, but in reality, it’s the lifted nail that’s the culprit. When water gets between the natural nail and the acrylic overlay, it can weaken the bond. As you swim, the pressure and moisture can exacerbate the situation, leading to the nail’s complete detachment. It’s not the pool’s fault; it’s all about the condition of the acrylic nails.

Apart from the inconvenience of losing a nail while swimming, there’s also the risk of waterborne bacteria entering the gap and causing infections. To avoid these issues, regularly inspect your acrylic nails, especially before swimming, and seek professional maintenance to ensure a secure bond.

5) Friction and Impact

Friction and impact can be surprising culprits in weakening acrylic nails while swimming. Consider this: as you move through the water, your acrylic nails can come into contact with various surfaces. For instance, when you touch the pool wall or bottom, the abrasive nature of these surfaces can lead to chipping, cracking, or even the complete loss of an acrylic nail.

Does it stop there? No, it does not. Imagine a playful splash or an accidental collision with another swimmer. The extended length and firmness of acrylic nails can inadvertently cause accidents. A simple brush against someone or something can lead to discomfort or even minor injuries.

Next, the buoyancy of acrylic nails will impact your swimming performance. Acrylics may create extra drag in the water, making your strokes less efficient and your swim less enjoyable. To stop these incidents from happening, keep your acrylic nails at a manageable length and be mindful of your movements while in the pool.

6) Too Much Sun Exposure Can Weaken Acrylic Nails

Too much sun exposure , especially sun basking has an effect on acrylic nails. I would really like you to understand the underlying mechanisms behind this phenomenon because it is crucial. First, acrylic nails are constructed from a combination of acrylic powder and liquid monomer, which are inherently sensitive to UV radiation.

Second, UV rays can cause the acrylic material to degrade over time. This degradation is primarily due to the photopolymerization process, wherein the UV radiation initiates a chemical reaction within the acrylic composition, leading to a gradual weakening of its structural integrity. As a result, acrylic nails become brittle, weak , discolour or all the above.

Furthermore, excessive sun exposure can affect the adhesive bond between the acrylic overlay and the natural nail. The UV radiation can weaken this bond, potentially leading to acrylic nails lifting, cracking, or detaching from the natural nail bed. Therefore, it is advisable to protect acrylic nails from prolonged UV exposure, either by using sunscreen on your hands or wearing protective gloves when spending extended periods in the sun to preserve their strength and appearance.

Can You Swim With Acrylic Nails? What Happens When Water Gets Under Acrylic Nails?

Water getting trapped beneath acrylic nails can create a conducive environment for the development of fingernail fungus, also known as onychomycosis. Fingernail fungus is an infection that can affect both the natural nails and the acrylics. This can happen when moisture becomes trapped between the acrylic and natural nails( Source:

Fungal infections thrive in warm, moist conditions, and the space between the acrylic and natural nail offers just that. Look out foe symptoms such as nail discoloration, thickening, and brittleness( all the above can occur at once in some cases). If you leave your nail untreated, the condition may become even uncomfortable or worse. To be safe, maintain acrylic nails properly, ensure there are no gaps between your acrylics and your natural nail.

Above all, Keep your acrylic nails always dry especially after activities involving water exposure. I have an article on why acrylic nails may pop up( Check it here)

Does Chlorine Ruin Acrylic Nails?

Minor, brief exposure to chlorine, such as small dips or quick contact, typically won’t cause immediate damage to acrylic nails. However, extended periods spent in a chlorinated swimming pool can indeed harm your nails.

The reason behind this is quiet simple – the harsh chemical properties of chlorine. Acrylic nails are porous and can absorb water when submerged. Chlorine, as a strong disinfectant in pools, reacts with the acrylic material over time. This chemical interaction weakens the structural integrity of acrylic nails, making them more susceptible to damage( I am talking chipping, cracking, and brittleness).

Prolonged exposure to chlorine can also lead to acrylic nails lifting or separating from the natural nail bed. This space is where water and bacteria enters and causes infections or further weakening of the nails.

How to Protect Your Acrylics From Chlorine Exposure?

Alright, so you’ve got those fabulous acrylic nails, and you’re itching for a refreshing swim in a chlorinated pool? No problem, Let’s talk about how to keep those acrylics looking fly, even in the chlorine-infused waters.

  • Protective Coating: First things first, always start with a good protective coating. A high-quality topcoat or nail sealant can be your BFF when it comes to guarding your acrylics. Apply a couple of layers before hitting the pool, and you’ve got yourself an extra shield against chlorine.
  • Short and Sweet: Consider keeping your acrylics at a moderate length. Long, extravagant nails might look amazing, but they’re more prone to chipping, breaking, or lifting in chlorinated water. Opt for a shorter, stylish look to minimize the risks.
  • Gloves On: Rock those stylish swim gloves! Seriously, they’re my go-to game-changer. When you’re swimming, these gloves not only protect your acrylics but also give you a fabulously retro vibe. It’s a win-win.
  • Quick Rinse and Moisturize: Right after your swim, don’t forget to give your hands and nails a quick rinse in freshwater and apply a moisturizer. This helps remove any lingering chlorine that might be hanging on and causing trouble for your acrylics.
  • Dry with Care: Gentle pat-drying is the way to go. Vigorous towel drying can lead to friction, which is a no-no for acrylics. Be gentle, and your nails will thank you later.
  • Post-Swim TLC: Once you’re out of the water and all dried up, treat your acrylics to some post-swim love. A nourishing cuticle oil or moisturizing nail serum can help maintain their strength and flexibility. My favorite is Morovan Glitter Powder Cuticle Oil , It has jojoba oil that I love
  • Regular Maintenance: Lastly, don’t skip those regular maintenance appointments with your nail tech. It is your job to keep an eye on your acrylics, fix any issues, and keep them looking fresh. You can also go for a refill if you got your acrylics popped up. Here is the full cost of acrylic nails.

Remember, acrylic nails and chlorine can be pals if you take the right steps. You should never give up swimming just because you got acrylic nails on. Have a blast in the pool, and keep those acrylics looking absolutely fabulous all summer long!

Swimming in a Beach: Does Salt Water Break Down Acrylic Nails?

While saltwater is generally gentler on acrylic nails compared to chlorinated water, it can still weaken them over time. Saltwater can be dehydrating, and prolonged exposure may lead to acrylic nails becoming more brittle, making them susceptible to chipping, cracking, or breaking.

To keep your acrylic nails in top shape when swimming in salty water, it’s a good idea to follow similar precautions as you would with chlorinated water. This includes applying a protective topcoat, rinsing your hands and nails with freshwater after swimming, and moisturizing to prevent excessive dryness.

Heated Pools: Will Acrylic Nails Fall Off in a Heated Pool?

Heated pools can definitely mess with your acrylic nails. Whether they fall off or not really depends on a few things. Acrylics are porous, and when they’re exposed to hot water for a while, they can get all soft and bendy. Now, if your acrylics are already a bit weakened or lifting at the edges, a heated pool can make things worse.

It might weaken the bond between your natural nails and the acrylic overlay, which could eventually lead to them popping off. But if your acrylics are in good shape and firmly attached, they might not just fall off because of the hot water.

What about Gel Nails? Will Swimming Affect Gel Nails?

You might wonder if gel nails are better for swimming than acrylic nails. Well, just like acrylics, gel nails can also get affected by chlorine. Chlorine exposure in pools can potentially weaken both gel and acrylic nails over time due to its harsh chemical properties.

Gel nails are flexible and typically adhere well to your natural nails, but chlorine can still pose a challenge. Prolonged exposure to chlorinated water can lead to the weakening of the gel’s structure, making it more prone to chipping, peeling, or lifting. Moreover, chlorine can cause the gel polish to lose its shine and vibrancy.

To protect your gel nails while swimming, consider using a water-resistant topcoat or sealant before hitting the pool (I vouch for Makartt Gel Top Coat, No Wipe Top Coat). After swimming, rinse your hands and nails with freshwater to remove chlorine residue, and moisturize your nails and cuticles to prevent excessive dryness. Additionally, wearing protective gloves can be a smart move to minimize direct contact between your gel nails and pool water.

Ultimately, while gel nails can hold up better than acrylics in water, it’s essential to take precautions to maintain their strength and appearance when swimming in chlorinated pools.

How Can I Protect My Acrylic Nails While Swimming?

Protection Method Description
Apply a Topcoat Use a protective topcoat or nail sealant before swimming.
Wear Swim Gloves Stylish swim gloves can shield your acrylics from water.
Rinse with Freshwater After swimming, rinse your hands and nails with freshwater to remove chlorine or salt residue.
Moisturize Nail & Cuticles Keep your acrylics hydrated by applying nail and cuticle oil or moisturizer.
Regular Maintenance Schedule regular appointments with your nail technician for acrylic nail upkeep.
Opt for Moderate Length Consider keeping your acrylic nails at a moderate length to minimize risks of damage.

What Nails Are Best for Swimmers?

1) Gel Nails (I recommend JODSONE Gel Nail Polish Kit with U V Light 32 Colors Gel Polish Nail Kit Soak Off Gel Nail Set Manicure Tools Nail Gel Kit Gifts for Women)

For us ladies, gel nails are often seen as the top choice when it comes to swimming. They’re way more flexible and durable than acrylic nails, which means fewer chances of those annoying chips or breaks when you’re splashing around in a chlorinated or saltwater pool. Gel nails also have this fantastic grip on your natural nails, making them less likely to lift or pop off.

Now, speaking from my own experience, I once moved to a new place where it seemed like everyone was all about acrylics and not really into gel nails. It was a bit of an adjustment, but I’d prefer gel nails over acrylics for swim day.

2) Acrylic Nails, My Favorite is Saviland Acrylic Nail Kit with Drill – 3 Colors Acrylic Powder and Liquid Set 

Despite their reputation for occasionally cracking or popping up, acrylic nails still make a good choice for your swim day. One of their primary advantages that they have is their versatility. I’d choose acrylics only if I want to sand out of the crowd during a poop party or summer vibes. You can actually customize them to your preferred length, shape, design to showcase your personality and details while still enjoying a day at the poolside.

When properly maintained, acrylic nails can retain their integrity even after swimming. Despite having some draw backs, acrylic nails offer a durable and stylish solution for your swim day. With a few precautions, such as using a topcoat and applying cuticle oil, you can keep them looking fabulous while you make a splash in the pool. Here is an article explaining how long it takes to do acrylic nails.

3)  Dip Nails, I recommend Modelones 20 Colors Dip Powder Nail Kit

While they may not be the most robust option, dip nails are more resilient than regular nail polish. Dip powdered nails can withstand the impact of swimming, resisting chipping and fading caused by prolonged water exposure. With proper care and maintenance, your dip nails can maintain their fresh appearance throughout your swim day.

If you are also looking for an easy to apply alternative, dip nails are relatively easy to apply, making them a convenient choice for those who want a quick and fuss-free manicure before hitting the pool. They dry instantly, so you can jump into the water without worrying about smudging or waiting for them to set.

My Experience with Acrylic Nails

I swim three days a week for about two hours each session, and I’ve never had a single issue with my acrylic nails. It’s been all fun. All I did was have a chat with my nail artist about my swimming habits. I needed something durable that wouldn’t pop up or crack in the water. They did my acrylics, added a topcoat for extra protection, and I was good to go.

For the most part, my swimming sessions with acrylic nails have been smooth sailing. I’d dive in, enjoy my swim, and come out of the water with my nails still looking fabulous. But, I do have this one little incident to share. There was this time when I accidentally hit my acrylic toenails onto the swimming pool walls. Thankfully, they didn’t pop up, but it did hurt a bit. So, a word to the wise: take a good look at your nail length before your swimming adventures.


I’ve also found it helpful to get a refill before a big swimming day, just to be extra sure everything’s in place. I’ve seen celebrities, like Regan Smith, rock acrylics too. So, if they can handle the pressure of the spotlight and their active lives, you can totally trust acrylics to hold up during your swim sessions. So, go ahead and dive right in – you’ll be just fine with those acrylics!