How To Deal With Long Nails, According To Pros

Experts answer all the questions you’ve ever wondered about lengthy manicures.

How to deal with long nails, according to pros.
Getty Images/ Delmaine Donson

Long nails are a divisive beauty topic, but lately, you can’t deny the allure of the sleek, coffin-shaped tips on your Instagram feed (and worn by celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Cardi B). But if you have never had extreme lengths like that, you may have wondered: How do you deal with long nails?

You can extend your tips in a myriad of ways, from wearing long acrylic nails to press-ons or by simply growing your natural ones out. Regardless of your method, one truth remains: Long nails are a commitment in every sense of the word. Nail artist Sarah Nguyen promises that you’ll get used to the length — it just takes time. “The same way you learn to drive a car or another new skill, it’s literally the same thing with long nails — you just find a way to make doing things easier,” she tells Bustle.

Financially, things can get expensive (usually starting at $100 for a professional treatment) if you decide that your lengthy manicures are actually canvases for intricate art — in this case, plan on spending at least three hours for removal (for acrylics or extensions) and nail art at a salon. Your mani could also be of the stick-on variety, which would come as no surprise: The pandemic has transformed the press-on nail market into a vast and affordable way to DIY your tips at home. And these come in short and lengthy manicures that cling directly onto your regular nails (and can be removed just as easily).

Whether you’re rocking stiletto-shaped acrylics or press-on extensions, there are some basic nuances you’ll have to get acclimated to while doing various lifestyle activities, including household chores and your beauty routine. For tips on how to function with long nails, Nguyen and Elissa Schell, nail artist and owner of Nails by Elissa, give Bustle a full rundown.

How Do You Do Chores With Long Nails?

Nguyen says the questions she’s most frequently asked are about the benign tasks in life (including how to go to the bathroom — which is just the same as everyone else, she says). When cooking or cleaning, it helps to wear something to protect your tips. “I wear nitrile gloves when cooking and rubber gloves for cleaning,” she tells Bustle. That’s particularly important for preserving 3D nail art like jewels on your mani.

How Do You Take Contacts Out With Long Nails?

It can feel like a horror movie when a long nail comes close to your eye — hence why the pros commonly get asked about dealing with contact lenses. Here’s the deal: “Clients who wear contacts say they’ve gotten used to taking them out by using the pads of their fingers rather than the tips,” says Schell.

How Do You Type With Long Nails?

Wearing extra-long nails for the first time can make it suddenly feel weird to type — on both a phone and a keyboard. This definitely takes getting used to, but there’s a tactic the pros swear by. “I generally use the balls of my fingertips rather than my actual nails to type,” says Schell, who notes this tends to work better (as opposed to using the tips of your nails when you’ve got short lengths, she says). So rely on your finger pads when texting. Added perk? You may hear that satisfying clickity-clacking sound when your nails touch your phone screen or keyboard, which is a popular form of ASMR.

Can You Use Long Nails As Tools?

Although your long nails seem like they could come in handy for slicing or cutting things open as makeshift scissors, this is not advised. “They’re not tools, they’re jewels!” says Nguyen. Schell also stresses this point: “Please don’t use them to open or peel things.” Instead, she advises learning little hacks like using a butter knife or the end of a spoon to open a soda can — it’ll keep your nails healthy and your mani intact.

Can You Wear Delicate Clothing?

Sometimes your nails can dictate what you decide to wear on a given day. “I definitely avoid wearing lace, silk, knit, and other delicate fabrics as you can snag them [with long nails],” says Nguyen. But once you’re acclimated to the length, this can change. “If you’re used to having length, then it becomes second nature,” she says. Either way, you’ll have to be careful when there’s a risk of snagging — so Nguyen recommends adding an extra few minutes into your schedule for the process.

How To Keep Your Long Nails Healthy

This is the case with a regular manicure, but the same rule applies: Keep your nails healthy, and you’ll be better able to maneuver the world with super-long tips. “Water and chemicals can cause dryness, chipping, and lifting [of your manicures],” says Nguyen. Maintain your nail beds by applying a cuticle oil every day and investing in rubber gloves for cleaning dishes and your home. Other than that, practice patience, and you’ll soon grow to love the long nail life.