How to remove contact lenses with long or fake acrylic nails
Can you take out contacts with long nails?
It is possible to put in and take out contact lenses with long or fake acrylic nails. But you’ll need to put in and take out your contact lenses carefully. See an eye doctor if you scratch or injure your eye while taking out your contacts. They may also have advice on how to take out your contacts with long nails.
3 tricks to remove contacts with long nails
There are several different methods for removing contact lenses, some of which don’t work if you have long or fake nails. For example, the popular “front on" method of contact lens removal won’t work with long nails. This method requires that your nails be very short since you use your fingertips to pinch the lens off the eye.
Fortunately, there are a variety of methods that do work well for removing contacts with long nails.
1. The ceiling method
Using the middle finger of your non-dominant hand, pull your top eyelid upward. Using the middle finger of your dominant hand, pull your lower lid downward. Then, holding the index finger of your dominant hand parallel to your eye, use the finger to sweep the contact lens down toward your lower lid.
You may need to try a few times. Once the lens comes loose, keep pulling it down toward your lower lid. When you’re holding the lens against the skin of your lower lid below the eye, pinch it between your fingers.
2. The slide-to-the-side method
Using your non-dominant hand, pull your upper eyelid up. Using the middle finger of your dominant hand, pull the lower eyelid down. Look toward your nose. Hold the index finger of your dominant hand parallel to the eye.
Then use the fleshy pad of that finger to slide the lens toward the outer corner of your eye. When holding the lens against the skin at the outer corner of your eye, pinch the lens between your fingers.
3. The “no hands” method
This method for removing contacts recently became popular on TikTok. It allows you to keep your fingers and, more importantly, your long nails away from your eyes.
To use this method, pull your top eyelid up with one hand and your lower eyelid down with the other hand. Then look toward your nose and blink while gently pushing your eyelids toward each other, using your eyelids to squeeze out the contact lens.
What to keep in mind before removing contacts with long nails
If you have long or fake nails, it’s important to remove contacts carefully. You’ll follow many of the standard steps for taking out contacts. But some steps must be tweaked due to the length of your nails.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to taking out your contact lenses with long nails or acrylic nails:
Wash your hands and nails. First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Use soap and a clean nail brush or toothbrush to scrub your fingernails, making sure to clean under your nails.
Dry your hands and fingernails. After washing your hands and nails, use a clean lint-free cloth or towel to thoroughly dry them. Make sure to dry under your nails.
Take the contacts out with your chosen method. Remove your contacts using any of the three methods above for taking out contacts with long nails. If you use daily disposables, simply toss the lenses in the trash. If you use weeklies or monthlies, follow the remaining steps.
Clean your contact lenses. Wet the contact lens with a multipurpose solution, and rub the wet lens between your fingers for about 20 seconds. Do this even if you’re using a “no rub” solution as it will help to get deposits off the lens.
Rinse your contact lenses. After rubbing to get the deposits off, rinse your contact lens with fresh multipurpose solution for about 10 seconds.
Store and disinfect your contact lenses. Place the contact lens into a clean contact lens case, and cover it with more fresh multipurpose solution. Close the case and let the lenses sit for at least six hours.
How to put in contacts with long nails
Putting in contacts can be more challenging with long nails, but it is also doable if you’re careful. Follow this step-by-step guide to putting in contact lenses with long or acrylic nails:
Wash your hands and nails thoroughly. Just like you do before taking out your contacts, you need to wash your hands with soap, making sure to scrub under your nails with a brush.
Remove the contact lens from the case or package. Don’t scoop the contact lens out with your fingernail because you might rip the lens. Instead, hold your finger parallel to the case and use the pad of your finger to get the lens out.
Place the lens on your finger pad. Instead of putting the lens on the tip of your finger like you’d do if you didn’t have long nails, place it on the pad of your finger. Use the pads of your fingers rather than your nails to handle the lens.
Rinse the contact lens. Holding it between your finger pads, squirt fresh saline solution on the lens to rinse off any deposits or debris.
Make sure the lens is right side out. Hold up the contact lens and check to make sure it’s facing the right way. The edges of the lenses should be facing straight up like a cup rather than angled outwards.
Hold your eyelids open. Use the thumb and middle finger of your non-dominant hand to hold your upper and lower eyelids open so you don’t blink while inserting the contact lens.
Put the lens in your eye. Hold the contact lens on the pad of the middle finger of your dominant hand, or on the side of your finger. Hold your finger parallel to the eye to avoid poking your eye with your fingernail. Look straight ahead or upward and insert the lens into your eye.
Blink to help the lens settle. Slowly close your eyes, then blink slowly a few times to help the contact lens settle into place in your eye.
Repeat the process. Follow the same steps with the second contact lens, making sure both lenses feel comfortable and that you can see clearly.
SEE RELATED: How to clean glasses the right way
What to do if you scratch your eye with your nails
Even if you’re careful, you may accidentally scratch your eye with your fingernail while putting in or taking out your contacts. For this reason, long nails and contacts aren’t always the best combination.
If you scratch your eye with your long nail, it’s important to stop wearing your contacts immediately and switch to glasses while your eye heals. Symptoms of a scratched eye may include:
Pain in your eye
Feeling you have something in your eye (foreign body sensation)
Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
The seriousness of an eye scratch depends on many factors, including whether you scratch the white of the eye or the cornea (corneal abrasion), which can be more serious.
You should always see your eye doctor for a scratched eye to get prompt treatment and avoid vision loss. Depending on the severity of the scratch, an eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic ointment, steroid eye drops or lubricating eye drops.
Contacts and long nails FAQ
Can I take out or put in contacts with long nails or acrylics?
You can wear contact lenses if you have long or acrylic nails. But eye doctors strongly recommend keeping your nails short if you wear contacts. So if you’re set on wearing long nails long-term, you may want to consider alternatives such as glasses or laser vision surgery.
Can you take out contacts with Q-tips if you have long nails?
If you’ve been looking for information on how to remove contact lenses with Q-tips, stop. Taking out contacts with cotton swabs is dangerous because you could injure your eye. Even if you have long nails, you should use your fingers (or hands) to take out contacts.
When to see an eye doctor
It’s important to see an eye doctor if you wear contacts and have questions about caring for your contacts or need a demonstration on how to put in or take out contacts with long nails.
You should also see an eye doctor right away if you injure your eye while putting in or taking out your contacts. Your eye doctor can check your eye and give you any medication necessary to prevent an eye infection or vision loss.
How to take out contacts with long nails. Vision Direct UK. Accessed August 2022.
How do I take out my contact lenses? Opti-Free. Accessed June 2022.
Nail hygiene. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 2021.
How to put in contact lenses. American Academy of Ophthalmology. April 2018.
Ask Dr. Schauer — my contact gets stuck. Vision Source Signature Eye Care. August 2017.
Page published on Tuesday, August 30, 2022