Why Won’t My Acrylic Nails Stay On?

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Learn why your acrylic nails won’t stay on and how to fix it.

Acrylic nails are something I’ve been interested in for a while now, but it’s something that I’ve recently been learning myself, and a common question I always asked in the beginning was; why won’t my acrylic nails stay on?

The quick answer is; there isn’t just one reason why your acrylic nails stay on, but it is more than likely something you can change. 

If you’ve considered doing your own acrylic nails, check out my acrylic nails at home beginners guide.

In this post, I’m going to be giving a few reasons as to why your acrylic nails won’t stay on and how you can change to make sure they stay on longer. 

Here is why your acrylic nails won’t stay on and how you can change to make sure they stay on longer.

Preparing the nail

One of the reasons your acrylic nails won’t stay on is that your natural nail hasn’t been prepared enough. Natural nails have a lot of natural oil on them, which makes them very smooth. This means that it is harder for the acrylic to grip on to the nail with is why your acrylic nail will lift after a short amount of time.

For the acrylic nail to last as long as possible, it is essential that you prep your natural nail properly before applying the acrylic nail. 

How to prep your natural nail:

  1. Buff your nail

    File the tips of you nail to the length and shape you would like and then buff over the nail bed.

    Buffing the nail will remove the shiny layer of your nail so that you get a matte feel to it, the nail should look like it has a layer of dust on top of it.

    Do not buff your nail too much as it can remove layers of your nails and cause you to damage your natural nails. All you need to do is buff the nail gently for a couple of seconds, once you see the nail change texture, you can stop.

  2. Dehydrate the nail

    Many people skip this stage as they think it’s unnecessary or damages the nail, but it is an essential step.

    Apply a dehydrator to your nails to remove any access dust or oils after buffing your nails. Use one to two coats on each nail. If you skip this step, this could be one of the main reasons your acrylic nails won’t stay. 

  3. Prime the nail

    After dehydrating the nail, apply one coat of primer to your nails. This adds a protective layer on top of your natural nails to stop it from getting damaged. It also makings bonding the acrylic to the nail easier as it acts as glue would work.

The quality of your products

The products you use can play a big part in why your acrylic nails won’t stay on. When it comes to the products, no matter if it’s a primer or an acrylic powder, it is important to use good quality brands. 

Sometimes, choosing the cheaper option seems like a better idea, especially if you are just starting; however, the products’ quality may not be high. Although they may seem expensive initially, it would be cheaper in the long run as you’ll be able to cut out the whole process of buying so many different brands to find one that works.

Age of the products

Another thing to check is how old your products are. If you’ve had your products for a while, and every time you use them, your nails always lift, it may be to do with your products’ age. Over time the quality of the products lessens, which means you’ll end up getting a poorer quality of the finished nail. 

To avoid this, you should update your products every 6 to 12 months, depending on how much you use them. If you do your acrylic nails on more of a regular basis, it’ll be easier to see when the quality of the products is lessening, but if you haven’t used them in a while, it may be best to start again with a fresh set. 


Another reason why your acrylic nails won’t stay on may be down to the contamination of products. When you are doing your acrylic nails, it’s easy for things to get into them; for example, dust can get into your acrylic powder. 

Also, if you use products from different brands, the chemicals they use may differ, and the cross-contamination of the chemicals can cause your nails to lift as they may not work together. 

To avoid this, just keep in mind that things can get into your products, so keep them closed as much as possible. If possible, try to use products from the same brand or range to help minimize the risk of your nails lifting. 


The techniques you use can be why your acrylic nails won’t stay on as the way you blend the acrylic nail to your natural nail can cause this. If when you apply the acrylic powder and monomer to your nail, it leaks on to your cuticle or into the edges of your nails; it may cause your nails to lift quicker. 

When the acrylic powder dries on to your cuticle or around the edges, it lifts a lot quicker and breaks off because of your finger’s movement. If small parts break off around your nail, it will cause the rest of the nail to lift because your natural nail’s attachment has gone. 

A good way of ensuring this doesn’t happen is to do two separate beads. The first bead covers the tip and the middle of the nail, and blend it out to a nice thin layer. 

With the second bead, apply it to the middle of the nail, where the first bead finishes, and blend it out towards your nail and your cuticle’s edge. Stop just before the edge of your nail, so it doesn’t touch, but still looks fully covered.


I know it may not be easy to find the reason as to why your acrylic nails won’t stay on, but I hope this has helped to narrow down the causes. 

It may seem like there are so many reasons in this post, but they are all things that are easy to change or work on. 

So, I hope you have found your answer, which has helped you keep your acrylic nails on for longer. 

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