Beginners Guide To Applying Acrylic Nails

So you’ve had your nails done for you for years, or you’re just curious, but you’re wanting to try doing them yourself. It might look simple when your watching a trained nail technician, but it will take time and patience to learn how to do acrylics correctly and fast.

These are the products you will need:

  • Cuticle Remover
  • Cuticle Pusher
  • Buffing Block
  • Nail File
  • Nail Prep/Dehydrator
  • Acid Free Nail Primer
  • Dappen Dish
  • Acrylic Nail Brush
  • Lint Free Wipes
  • Acrylic Powder 
  • Acrylic Liquid (we recommend Medium Speed for beginners as you have a slower drying time)
  • Top Coat (either Air Dry Top Coat or Mega Gloss or Matt Top Coat)
  • Nail Tips (optional)
  • Nail Glue (optional)
  • Pure Acetone (optional)
  • Cuticle Oil (optional)
  • Pinching Tool (optional)
  • Manicure Brush (optional)

First you will need to master prepping the nail!

1) Apply Cuticle Remover to the cuticle area of your nail and using a Cuticle Pusher, push the cuticle back ensuring no cuticle is on the nail bed (as the acrylic will not stick to it) and wipe the nail clean with a tissue when finished.
2) Use a Buffing Block to remove all shine to the nail by softly swiping left and right over the entire nail bed.
3) Remove dust either with a dry tissue or Manicure Brush.
2) Use a Buffing Block to remove all shine to the nail by softly swiping left and right over the entire nail bed.
3) Remove dust either with a dry tissue or Manicure Brush.
If you are wanting to apply a nail tip: (if not, continue to Step 9)

4) Pick out the correct size nail tips that fit your nail snugly and lay them out ready.
5) Apply a small amount of Nail Glue to the nail tip where it will meet your natural nail bed.
6) Press and hold the nail tip (with nail glue on) firmly to the nail for about 10 seconds or until you can feel the tip has stuck.
7) Using Nail Tip Cutters or Nail scissors (trickier to use), cut/snip the nail tip to your desired length.
8) File down the nail tip to the shape you would like (e.g almond, square, coffin, etc) by moving the nail file back and forth on the side walls (side of the nail), and on the tip and the underside of the nail.
(If the nail tip hasn’t blended with your natural nail and you can feel a ridge; get a Lint Free Pad and apply a small amount of Pure Acetone to it. Wipe the pad side to side over the join between the nail tip and your natural nail to make the tip blend in with your nail).

9) Apply Nail Prep/Dehydrator to the entire nail bed (wait a few seconds before going onto the next step).
10) Apply Acid Free Nail Primer to the entire nail bed.

Now comes the harder part; applying the acrylic!

1) Pour your Acrylic Liquid into your Dappen Dish.
2) Dip the Acrylic Brush into the Dappen Dish and push the brush tip to the bottom of the Dappen Dish to get the air bubbles out.
3) Swipe the brush on the edge of the Dappen dish once to get the excess liquid off.
4) Dip the brush tip into the Acrylic Powder and stroke the brush through the powder towards you until you create a ball of acrylic (it should look like a tiny golf ball- if the ball is too wet or dry start again).
5) Press the brush (with acrylic powder ball on) to a lint free pad to drain the excess liquid off.
6) Apply the ball of acrylic to the top of the nail (near the cuticle) and bring the bead down to the very tip.
7) Sculpt the acrylic by pressing the brush flat to your nail and gently moving the acrylic to smooth out bumps and to spread it out evenly (remember to keep your brush clean by dipping it into the acrylic liquid while doing this).
8) If you need more acrylic to cover the entire nail, repeat steps 2-7 until your happy with the coverage of the nail.

Using a Pinching Tool: (if you don’t want to, proceed to Step 9)
After you have practiced doing acrylic for a while or are confident doing basic acrylics; you can use a Pinching Tool on the nail to make the nail longer, more slender, and to make a stronger C curve- which will make the nail stronger.

1) When the acrylic is still drying (but it doesn’t feel tacky) place the Pinching Tool on the nail like a clamp (move the tool further down the nail if it’s pinching too hard and it will pinch a little less). 
If you want it to pinch really narrow then use the bottom end of the pinching tool.

2) Leave on for about 3 minutes.
3) Tap the nail to see if it makes a ting sound (if not, leave it on a bit longer) and then remove the pinching tool by squeezing the sides apart.
Now move on to Step 10.

9) Wait a little over 2 minutes for the acrylic to dry (it should ting when you tap it- when it’s not dry it will sound hollow).
10) File the entire nail until it is smooth on the top and round the edges and to make the shape more defined. (The higher the grit count on the Nail File, the smoother the file. i.e 240/240 is smoother than a 80/80 nail file).
11) Now you need to add a top coat to seal in the acrylic. The two steps below show 2 ways of doing this:
If you DON’T have a lamp to dry your acrylics:
– Apply Air Dry Top Coat to you entire nail and leave to dry for about 2 minutes.

If you DO have a lamp:
– Apply Mega Gloss or Matt Top Coat (depending on which finish you want).
– Put your hand under the lamp and turn on.
– Leave to cure (dry) for 2 minutes under an UV lamp (or 1 minute for a LED lamp).
– When the time is up, remove your hand.

12) Finish off the look by adding a stroke of Cuticle Oil (in your chose scent) to the cuticle area of each nail. Rub in with your fingers.


Enjoy your new acrylic nails and be proud that you did it all yourself! GO YOU!

Acrylic nails will usually last 2-3 weeks then you can either remove them (see our ‘How to Remove Safely Acrylic Nails’ blog post) or infill them (see our ‘How to do infills on Acrylic Nails’ blog post).

Thanks for Reading!

 For a video showing you how to do this, follow this link: Naio YouTube Channel

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