rock climbing with fake nails

Rock climbing with fake nails is tough. Rock climbing is a physically challenging and mentally demanding sport that generally tests a climber’s strength, endurance, and balance along with mental control. Whether you’re a female climbing or bouldering expert, at some point, you may wish to pamper yourself with a good manicure or fake nails, just like many ladies do.

Well, climbers have been “mummy-wrapping” their fingers ever since sports tape became a thing. But can you (or should you) really do rock climbing with fake nails? Let’s talk about it.

rock climbing woman on rock wall

Ways to Participate in Rock Climbing with Fake Nails

A climber’s grip can’t just be powerful, it has to be tough enough to survive hold after hold while sustaining countless cracks and blisters along the way. Shorter nails are certainly recommended when it comes to climbing. And if fingernails are kept longer than usual, your grip may be compromised, making a fall possible. So what are some ways to work around this issue?

Use Press-On Nails

If you are going to do rock climbing with fake nails, then press-on nails are the best option. Press-on nails do not damage your real nails, and they can be removed easily with soaking. Press-on nails can be applied quickly and are not as expensive as acrylic nails. Moreover, if your acrylic nails break off during a climbing session, you could be left with a bloody nail bed. Obviously, this isn’t ideal while climbing a rock.

Press-on nails are softer and more flexible than acrylic extensions, which adds comfort to the climber. Using these kinds of nails while rock climbing is a nice option, as they can be easily removed and worn without worry. If they break while climbing, they won’t give a climber much of a financial concern.

An easy trick for these nails is to find the correct nail size for your cuticles. Anything too big or too small may hamper your climbing experience.

Length of Fake Fingernails

The first thing you need to figure out is whether you actually believe you’ll be able to rock climb with fake nails. If yes, you must take care to keep them in good shape.

Grooming your nails can be the next best option because if you hit your hand, you are less likely to have an injury. And try to keep the edges trimmed since long fake nails can easily split. If you are very meticulous about your nails, you will have to carry a manicure file along with you.

Despite any love you may have for long, fake nails, remember that dynamic moves do not go well with long fingernails. During rock climbing, you have to go through a lot to reach your desired destination. In the worst-case scenario, you can rip off your entire nail and fall. So short fingernail length is recommended if you do decide to climb with fake nails!

rock climbing chalk

Use the Right Chalk

Climbers use chalk to dry out sweat and other moisture on their hands to increase friction and improve their grip on holds. Make sure you use a brand of chalk that doesn’t contain any impurities.

The right chalk keeps your skin and nails (real or fake) healthy, protecting you from over-drying or cracking. Good climbing chalk is made from Magnesium Carbonate, which is usually available in white, and sometimes available in other colors as well.

Climbing chalk usually comes in several forms to choose from, like block, loose, or liquid. Whichever one you choose to use is a matter of preference. If you’re using the right chalk while rock climbing with fake nails, you may find moments where your grip is better than you thought it would be.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Keep a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide or alcohol while climbing. You’ll find it to be a great addition to your climbing kit! Coat your hands with either, rub them together, and you will notice that they dry in no time. Then apply chalk afterward to make it more effective.

Those who have oily skin can use this repeatedly throughout the day. Plus, if you decide to climb with fake nails, it will help your grip more.

Maintain Good Hand Hygiene

Good hand hygiene is step one if you decide to try rock climbing with fake nails. On your climbing day, start by washing your hands thoroughly, and keep your hands free from oil while climbing.

Since skin type varies from person to person, dry hands should focus on adding moisture when washing them (before climbing of course), whereas oily hands should focus on removing that oil with soaps made specifically for this purpose.

Wash your hands with hot water, which depletes oil and cleanses properly, then rinse with cold.

woman rock climbing

Moisturize Your Hands, but Not Just Before Climbing

Moisturize your hands 1-2 hours prior to climbing. If you correctly time the application of moisturizer, your skin will be hydrated and elastic by the time you begin your ascent. Even if you are all set to rock climb with fake nails, you need to moisturize your hands properly for a stronger grip. As mentioned previously, this will improve grip while reducing oils.

If you climb regularly, apply a salve before bed. This will keep your skin moist and help repair cuts. There are many climbing-specific formulas available on the market. Find one you like and consider it essential to your climbing kit.

Use a Gel Nail-Polish

Numerous female rock climbers have claimed that their gel nail-paints have generally survived rock-climbing trips. Gel polishes make nails stronger so that they toughen instead of chip. One wonderful fact about gel nail polish is that it lasts for more than a week and makes nails firm and hydrated.

But do not expect your nails to be looking “beautiful” after rock climbing, as the scrapping to get a good handhold may scratch your nails and the gel nail polish along with it.

Prepare to Bear the Noise

If you have decided to do rock climbing with fake nails, you also need to be prepared to bear the noise of nails scraping against the rock. You may feel quite irritated by the sound after some time climbing and wish you didn’t wear fake nails after all.

Remember to be respectful of those climbing around you as well. Some people are sensitive to the sound of scraping nails, so make sure you’re not irritating others!

Also, check out this list of climbing hot spots – whether you prefer bouldering, top-roping, lead climbing or just observing with your binoculars, these locations will not disappoint.

A Few Hand & Nail Care Tips for Rock Climbing with Fake Nails

Our hands and nails are the most important tools we have for climbing. And it’s crucial that we take good care of them. There are pretty much no climbers who aren’t familiar with scrapes, calluses, gashes, cracks or blisters – each one of them usually painful.

rock climbing scenic overlook

Here’re some tips and suggestions on how to take care of your hands and nails (either real or fake), and prevent injuries while climbing:  

1. Do not use nail hardeners. Though nail hardeners are used to increase the strength of brittle nails, dermatologists do not recommend them since they contain harmful chemicals that may make your nails drier.

2. A round shape breaks less easily. Square shaped and pointed nails are easier to break, as pointy edges are quicker to rip, resulting in breakage. Round or oval-shaped nails reduce the danger of a break in the middle of a climb.

3. Use gel nail polish. It gives your nails extra strength and protects them from damage.

4. Remember that rock climbing with fake nails is risky. It is neither comfortable nor the safer option, so be careful and climb with fake nails at your own risk.

5. Avoid excessive use of nail polish remover. Nail polish removers contain acetone, alcohol, and ethyl acetate, all of which are harmful to your nails.

6. Eat right! Eating a varied diet full of multivitamins and minerals keeps your fingernails and body healthy. Include plenty of nutrients in your food as they can help your nails – taking them from dry and brittle to healthy and strong.

The foods that improve your fingernail health are fruits, leafy vegetables, beans, eggs, salmon, whole grains and nuts.

7. Take supplements such as biotin for stronger nails. Biotin (aka vitamin B7) promotes healthy cell growth. Biotin-rich foods such as eggs, almonds, cheese, mushrooms, sweet potato, spinach, and cauliflower will help strengthen your fingernails.

So What’s the Consensus?

If you are willing to take a risk and climb with fake nails, at least be as safe as you can about it. The best way is to put press-on nails instead of acrylic and ensure your fake nails aren’t too long. And as always, be careful and take the proper precautions discussed in this article.

Happy climbing!

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