Buying Acrylic Nail Supplies
Consider an acrylic nail kit. If this is your first time doing your own acrylic nails, you may want to start with a kit. Kits contain everything you need to get started and come with detailed instructions to help you achieve the look you want.
Decide to buy the supplies separately. For greater control over the appearance of your acrylics, you may want to buy the supplies separately. This way you’ll also be prepared when it’s time to reapply acrylic after your nails grow out. Go to a beauty supply store and buy the following supplies:
- Acrylic nail tips and nail tip glue. The tips are usually quite long, which allows you to trim and file them down to the shape and size you want.
- Acrylic nail clippers and files. Regular clippers and files aren’t as effective on acrylic nails.
- Acrylic liquid and acrylic powder. These substances are mixed together to create acrylic nails.
- Acrylic bowl and acrylic brush. You need these supplies to mix up the acrylic and apply it.
Getting Your Nails Ready
Remove old nail polish. Acrylic should be applied to clean nails, so remove your old polish before getting started. Use acetone-based nail polish remover to take it off. If you have old acrylic nails or gels to remove, soak them in pure acetone to remove them.
Trim your nails. To provide a good base for the acrylic, use a nail scissors or nail clippers to trim your natural nails to a short, even, manageable length. Use a nail file to even them out.
File the surface of your nails. Use a soft nail file to make the surface of your nails slightly rougher and less shiny. This provides a better surface for the acrylic to stick to.
Push Back Your Cuticles. You want the acrylic to be adhered to your natural nails, not your skin. Push back your cuticles or trim them to keep them out of the way while you give yourself a manicure.
Use a metal or wooden cuticle pusher to push back your cuticles. If you don’t have a cuticle pusher, a wooden popsicle stick can be substituted
- It’s easier to push back cuticles when they’re soft and wet, rather than dry. Soak your fingers in warm water for a few minutes before using the cuticle pusher.
Use the nail primer. This removes the remaining moisture and oils from your nails to get them ready for the acrylic. If oil remains on your nails, the acrylic won’t stick.
- Use a cotton ball to carefully rub the surface of your nails with the primer.
- Nail primer is made with an methacrylic acid, which can burn. Be careful not to use too much or get it on your skin.
Applying the Acrylic
Apply the tips. Find the right size tips for your nail. If the tip doesn’t fit your nail perfectly, file it down to size. Place a dab of glue on the tip and apply it to your natural nail so that the bottom edge of the acrylic tip is centered halfway down the surface of your nail. Hold it in place for five seconds to allow the glue to dry.
- If you accidentally apply the nail tip crooked, soak it in water for a few minutes to remove it, they dry your nail and reapply the nail tip.
- Make sure the glue doesn’t flow onto your skin.
Get the acrylic materials ready. Pour the liquid acrylic into the acrylic dish, and pour some powder into a separate dish. Acrylic is a strong chemical that produces fumes that can be toxic, so make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area.
Load the acrylic brush with acrylic. Dip the brush into the acrylic dish to moisten the end with acrylic. Brush it against the side of the bowl to remove excess liquid. Run the brush through the acrylic powder so that a small, moist ball collects on the end of the brush.
- You may have to practice a few times to achieve the correct ratio of liquid to powdered acrylic. The small ball of acrylic mixture should be moist and spreadable, but not too wet.
- Have paper towels handy in case you need to brush off extra moisture.
Apply the acrylic mixture to your nails. Start at the “smile line,” the bottom edge of the acrylic tip. Flatten the acrylic ball over the line and brush it up to the tip. Spread it quickly and smoothly so that the transition between your natural nail and the acrylic tip is smooth. Repeat with all ten nails.
- If you apply the acrylic correctly, there should be a gentle curve, rather than a harsh line, where the acrylic tip meets your natural nail. You may need to use more than one ball of acrylic per nail to achieve this.
- Don’t apply the acrylic to your cuticle. It should start a few millimeters above your cuticle so that it adheres to your nail, not your skin.
Let the acrylic dry. It should only take about ten minutes before the acrylic is completely set. Test it by tapping the surface of your nail with the handle of your acrylic brush. If it makes a clicking sound, it’s ready for the next step.
Finishing the Nails
Shape the tips. Now that the acrylic has set, you can use the acrylic nail clippers and a course nail file to shape the tips and trim them to the length you want. Use a buffer to buff the surface of the nails.
Paint your nails. You can use a coat of clear polish or choose to paint them with colored nail polish. Apply the polish to the entire nail to create a smooth, even surface.
Maintain your acrylic nails. After about two weeks, your nails will grow out. Choose to either reapply acrylic or remove the acrylic from your nails.