Applying acrylic nails on your own may seem intimidating, but with the right guide and enough practice, you can easily create stunning, long-lasting acrylic nails right from home.
That’s why in this article I will guide you step by step to easily make acrylic nails at home.
Now there are 3 main ways to apply acrylic nails:
- Use glue on the plastic nail tips to build the acrylic extension.
- Use paper nail forms as a temporary platform to build the extension.
- Apply it directly to your natural nails as an overlay. If you would like to know how to make an acrylic overlay, click here.
Things You Need to Do for Acrylic Nails
- Liquid monomer – this is the liquid with which you moisten your brush to collect the powder. Click here to learn more about liquid monomer.
- Powdered polymer – it is the powder that forms the acrylic nail.
- Either nail forms or nail tips – to extend the nail. Not necessary if you are doing an acrylic overlay.
- Acrylic nail brush – I highly recommend a size 8 oval shape for beginners, click here to learn more.
- Nail Bases and Dehydrators – applied before applying acrylic nails. Helps prevent lifting, click here to learn more.
- Nail file and cuticle pusher – Used to prepare nails.
- Nail file – you will need a medium and fine grit nail file
- Rubbing alcohol or acetone clean nails
If you are new to acrylic nails, I highly recommend checking out my article – 6 Beginner Tips to Make Acrylic Nails Easier to Apply.
Recommended acrylic kit
Modelones offers a very nice acrylic kit, consisting of high quality acrylic products at a decent price, making them perfect for beginners.
It comes with acrylic powder, liquid, acrylic brush, paper forms,
The only thing they don’t include is a nail primer and a dehydrator, but you can easily purchase that separately.
1- How to apply acrylic nails using plastic false nails
If you are new to applying acrylics, I recommend starting by learning how to apply acrylic nails using plastic nail tips.
The plastic nail tips are glued to your nails using nail glue and then acrylic is applied over them. Now that the tips are glued in, they tend to allow you to work with more confidence that they won’t fall out.
When I first started applying acrylic nails I found the nail tips to be easier to use, but this varies for each individual as some people find the tips harder to stick on and work with.
Step 1 – Prepare your nails
Start by washing your nails with soap and lukewarm water. This cleans your hands and nails and softens your cuticles.
Then use a cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles.
Next, use a medium-grit nail file to remove the shine from your nails. This removes the oily layer on your nails, allowing the acrylic to adhere better.
Finally, wash your nails with soap and water. Then wipe them with a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol or acetone.
Video showing how to prepare nails for acrylic application
Step 2 – Adjust the tip of the nail
Once your nails are prepared, you need to apply the tip of the nail.
First, choose the right nail tip size, make sure you choose one that is neither too wide nor too thin. If necessary, you can file the sides to get a perfect fit.
Apply a little nail glue to the edge of the nail tip, then place the nail tip on your nails. You have to act quickly before the glue dries.
Finally, use scissors to cut the tip of the nail to the desired size and shape.
Additionally, I always buff the plastic tips to remove the shine and then try to file the area where the nail tip fits the nails to give a nice smooth look.
Finally, wipe your nails with a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol or acetone.
Video showing how to adjust nail tips
Step 3 – Apply Nail Base and Dehydrator
Nail primers and dehydrators are used to prevent premature peeling. Primers work to bind the acrylic on the nails while dehydrators remove moisture and oil from the nail plate.
- First, apply a layer of dehydrator to your nails and let them dry for 10 seconds.
- Next, apply a nail base coat to your nails.
Only apply the dehydrator and primer to your nail plate and not to the plastic nail tips.
You can click here to read my recommended brands of nail primers and nail dehydrators.
Step 4 – Make the acrylic bead.
The next step in applying acrylic is making the acrylic bead. The key to making good acrylic beads is getting the liquid to powder ratio right.
- Firstly, you need to wet your acrylic nail brush with the liquid monomer,
- Then simply dip the brush into the acrylic liquid.
- Next, take the damp brush and gently press it onto the acrylic powder.
- Avoid dragging the brush over the powder,
- Just tap the brush and then pick up the powder.
- The pearl should be neither too dry nor too wet.
- You can watch the video below to see how it’s done.
Once you have made your acrylic bead, you have about 1 minute before the bead hardens.
Step 5 – Apply the acrylic pearl to the nails
Once you have your acrylic pearl, you can proceed to apply it to your nails. Take your time, gently apply and mold the acrylic onto your nails and the tip of the plastic nail.
One bead may not be enough, so you can use as many beads as needed, and I recommend beginners try using small beads to build the nail.
Plus, you probably won’t get the exact shape when applying acrylic. But that’s okay because in the next step you will shape the nails as you like.
Once you have applied the acrylic to the nails, you need to let them dry and harden for about 10 minutes.
Related Article – Dangers and Effects of Acrylic Nails – Can It Cause Cancer
Step 6 – Polish and Shape Acrylic Nails
Now, once the acrylic has been applied and cured, you need to shape the nails.
- First, take a medium-grit nail file (180 grit), then file the edges of the nails into the desired shape.
- Next, take the file and use it to buff the tops of the nails to remove any excess volume and give them a more consistent shape.
- Finally, use a high grit 400-600 nail file to buff the nail to make it very smooth.
Finally, once your acrylic nails are filed, apply any nail product like nail polish on them.
Additionally, filing is very important, you can watch the video below for a complete guide on how to apply acrylic nails.
Video showing how to apply acrylic nails with nail tips
2- How to Apply Acrylic Nails Using Nail Forms
Nail forms are where a paper structure is temporarily placed under the nails, giving you a temporary structure to build your acrylic extension on.
Nail forms require less work and are probably the most durable way to apply your acrylic nails. This is because acrylic can bond completely to natural nails.
Unlike nail tips where the tips adhere to the nails using nail glue which is more likely to lift.
But shaping the nails is also a little more difficult because the paper isn’t so attached to the nails that it can come loose if you don’t know what you’re doing. But once you get the hang of it, shapes look much better than nail tips.
How to Apply Acrylic Nails Using Nail Forms
- First, prepare your nails by pushing back your cuticles then filing them to remove the shine with a medium-grit nail file.
- Next, wipe the nails with a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol or acetone.
- Then apply a layer of dehydrator then a layer of nail primer.
- You can then place the nail form under the nails, watch the video below to see how this is done.
- Then create the bead by dipping the acrylic brush in the liquid monomer then in the powder.
- Take the bead and start building the acrylic nail.
- Once the acrylic nails have dried and hardened, remove the nail form.
- Then you can use a medium-grit nail file to shape the edges and remove any clumps on the nails.
- Finally, use a fine-grit nail file to buff your acrylic nails as gently as possible.
- Now you can apply any nail product like nail polish on your acrylic nails.
I have a video below that will guide you on how to apply acrylic nails using nail forms.
Video showing how to apply acrylic nails using nail forms
3- How to apply acrylic nails without tips or nail forms
Now, if you don’t want to lengthen your nails but still want a long-lasting manicure, you can simply apply the acrylic to natural nails.
This is called an acrylic coating and is typically used to strengthen natural nails. I have a whole article on acrylic overlay in which I will guide you on the benefits and how to DIY it, click here to read it.
Or you can also watch the video below to learn more.