Ultra-long nails are super trendy right now, and for good reason. It’s an undeniably glamorous look and has the ability to instantly transform your mood, making every day feel a little bit more special. However, there are inevitably some downsides (beauty is pain, as they say). Certain everyday tasks can become difficult or near impossible — like taking out contacts, for instance. Optometrist Dr. Margaret Moore tells GLAM that while it’s definitely easier and safer to skip contacts while wearing long nails, it’s not out of the question.
“It IS possible to keep your nails longer and still successfully wear contact lenses, but you have to be extra careful,” she says. Ahead, Dr. Moore shares how to take out contacts with long nails as well as some of her best tips and tricks.
Tips for handling contacts with long nails
Before we get to how to take out contacts with long nails, Dr. Moore suggests taking a few precautions. First, check to make sure that you have no sharp edges on your nails. “If you’ve broken a nail, file it so it is not sharp or jagged,” she suggests. Consider removing any makeup you may have on before taking out your contacts, as Dr. Moore says that makeup residue can stick to your lenses and cause irritation throughout the day.
It should go without saying that it’s also important to thoroughly wash your hands before handling contact lenses — and don’t forget about washing under your fingernails.
Now you’re ready to begin. No matter if you have long nails or not, Dr. Moore says you should always try to touch only the contact lens or the white part of the eye, not the tissue overlying the iris and pupil, aka the cornea. Scratching this area, she says, can not only be painful but cause a serious infection.
How to put in contacts with long nails
“Normally, you place the contact lens on the very tip of your index finger, but when your nails are long, you want to instead turn your fingers to the side, so that your nails point toward the middle of your face and your fingers are parallel to the floor,” Dr. Moore says. “Kind of like making a peace sign with your palm towards yourself, but turn it 90 degrees to the side.”
She continues: “You’ll use these two peace sign fingers to hold your eyelids open on the same eye (for example, hold the right lids open with the right hand), and position the lens on the side of your index finger on the other hand. When holding the lids open, you want to hold them where the lashes meet the lids for the best possible control.”
“Bring the lens in toward your eye and either apply the lens straight-on or look up and then apply the lens. You may want to gently tap down on the lens so that it makes proper contact with the eye. Then, look in different directions a few times (up and down, left and right), and blink very slowly – this will center and smooth the lens out on the surface of the eye.”
How to take out contacts with long nails
To remove your contact lenses, you’ll want to once again turn your fingers of your hand so that they’re parallel to the floor, with your fingers pointing towards the middle of your face. “You’ll use this hand to pin your eyelids open on the same side (i.e., right hand for the right eye),” Dr. Moore says. “Use the index finger on the other hand, also positioned sideways, to touch the lens and drag it downward. I’d recommend continuing to drag it down until it comes out, but there may be a few different ways to do this. Again, be very careful not to touch your nail to the cornea.”
Of course, if your eyes ever feel red or irritated, or you don’t feel like you can safely handle your lenses with long nails, skip the contacts that day. While it’s definitely possible to navigate contact lenses and long nails, Dr. Moore suggests keeping nails on the shorter side if you regularly wear them. It’s simply not worth the hassle — and potential dangers — no matter how stunning your nail look may be.
You might also like: 5 Healthy Makeup Habits For Contact Lens Wearers