BEAUTY WARNING: Getting cheap imitations of false nails worn by stars like Lady Gaga, left, and Rihanna can damage natural nails. Pictures: Shizuo Kambayashi and Evan Agostini/AP

Rosie Taylor

They might look elegant and feminine, but experts are warning that wearing false nails could cause serious damage to your natural talons.

Green mould, blisters and painful rips from the nail bed have become familiar sights for technicians as the boom in demand for “falsies” leads to an increase in women getting them done cheaply – or failing to look after them properly.

Beauty and skin therapist Louise Thomas-Minns said: “I would liken it to if you were to leave a plaster on your skin for weeks, your skin becomes very soggy and open to infection. You are creating this haven for fungal and bacterial infections to grow.”

She recommends ditching acrylics and embracing your natural nails with a manicure – but added if you do opt for fakes you should have them changed every two weeks by a professional technician.

False nail lovers are also advised to steer clear of “budget” salons as they can use cheap glues containing the chemical methyl methacrylate (MMA) which could cause allergic reactions like rashes and blisters on the skin.

MMA is banned in some countries. It bonds the acrylic so strongly to the natural nail it can rip it out of the finger if caught, causing permanent damage.

Spotting if your salon is using MMA is difficult, but according to the US-based Nail Manufacturer’s Council the tell-tale sign is if your nail enhancements will not soak off in solvents designed to remove acrylics. They may also be extremely hard and difficult to file, or have an unusually strong smell.

Samuel Sweet, director of the Creative Nail Academy network, warned that the techniques used to apply MMA can also ruin natural nails. He said: “MMA is pretty ineffective and when it is dry it is too hard for the natural nail. To make it stick, poorly trained technicians really rough up the natural nail plate – sometimes using electric files. It is that process that causes the damage.”

Over-filing of natural nails, or tears caused by catching acrylics, can cause tiny gaps to appear between the natural and false layer where water can collect – a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

Alice Hart-Davis, creator of, said: “It is possible for fungal infections to develop in gaps between the nail and the acrylic nail, or in places where the natural nail has been pulled away from the nail bed. Acrylics don’t cause this sort of infection, but they can encourage it.”

But perfect, infection-free acrylics are possible – if you go to the right salon.

Thomas-Minns recommends looking for salons where technicians have beauty qualifications and additional nail training from recognised suppliers like OPI. – Daily Mail