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Disadvantages & Advantages of Nail Extensions

Updated April 17, 2017

Nail extensions are artificial nails placed over the natural nail, then coated with gel or nail polish. Nail extensions can either be tips or forms; tips cover only the end of the nail, while forms cover the entire surface of the nail. You can purchase nail extensions for at-home application, or opt to get them done professionally at a nail salon instead. As they are somewhat permanent, decide if nail extensions are the right choice for you.

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Advantage: Aesthetics

There's no question that nail extensions can mask almost any natural nail imperfection for a pretty, flawless look. Because nail extensions don't have the same ridges as natural nails, they don't require buffing and polishing before nail polish can be applied, resulting in a smoother and more attractive look. Nail extensions, whether form or tip, create an excellent blank canvas for creating nail art.

Disadvantage: Health Hazards

If improperly applied, or applied with unsanitary tools and adhesives, nail extensions can become infected and threaten the health of your natural nails and nail bed. You take the risk of developing a nail infection from nail extensions each time you apply them, whether professionally or at home. A fungal infection can develop between the natural nail and the artificial nail, which can go unnoticed but still transferred to other people, items you touch, and food you eat. Incorrectly or poorly applied nail extensions can also prevent natural nail growth and damage the nail bed with long-term use.

Advantage: Protection for Natural Nails

Although they can pose a health risk, nail extensions can also protect brittle nails that are prone to breaking and splitting. Broken or split nails can become infected from coming into contact with routine objects over the course of a day. If they are covered with a quality extension, applied correctly and following a sanitary procedure, the natural nail can recover without the wearer worrying about the health of her hands.

Disadvantage: Decreased Dexterity

Nail extensions have an unnatural feel that may be unpleasant for first-time wearers. As you reach for an object or surface, your nail extensions get there first, creating a strange sensation, as your fingertips are accustomed to doing the touching. You can usually get used to this, but any nail extension hampers your manual dexterity to some extent; the longer the nail extension, the more difficult it is to do everyday tasks that require no further thought with natural nails.

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About the Author

Goody Clairenstein has been a writer since 2004. She has sat on the editorial board of several non-academic journals and writes about creative writing, editing and languages. She has worked in professional publishing and news reporting in print and broadcast journalism. Her poems have appeared in "Small Craft Warnings." Clairenstein earned her Bachelor of Arts in European languages from Skidmore College.

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