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Applying Acrylic Nails

Category Nail Tips
Applying your own acrylic nails can save you money over going to the nail salon. If done correctly, they can be just as durable. This is a guide about applying acrylic nails.


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6 found this helpful
December 16, 2013

I hear it over and over, clients and others blaming acrylic or gel polish or some other service for damage to their nails. I'm sorry, ladies, but it's not the product doing the damage. It's people who do damage to the nails, not the product. Yes, you're putting a product that sticks to your natural nail and sometimes when that product pops off or rips off, that does do damage. Of course it does. But if it is properly put on and properly removed, and cared for in between appointments, then your natural nail should be in good shape.


So, who does the damage? One of two people or both who are caring for your nails; the client, and/or the nail tech. If you have a nail tech that goes at your nails roughly, improperly uses the e-file (electronic file, not "drill") then you will definitely, guaranteed to have damage done to your natural nail. Which, if you are having acrylic nails put on, you won't see till your nails are removed. Then you're blaming the acrylic when all the while it was your nail tech doing damage every time you came in for a fill.

Do your nails ever hurt when you get your acrylics done? Nail services should NEVER, EVER, hurt. Ever. Sure, sometimes you get nicked by a file and that's painful. But I've had clients tell me about seeing a nail tech and their fingers hurt for days afterwards. Seriously?! Then don't ever go back!

How does a client do damage to their nails? If you get a service done and then treat your nails like they're tools in between appointments then you're doing damage to your own nails. Lifting is caused by so many reasons that it's impossible to name them all. Don't use your nails as a tool, like to remove stickers from products, to pry things open, etc. Be kind to your nail extensions and you'll be much happier with your nails and you won't have all that damage that you're doing underneath your acrylics that you don't see until you have them removed. You just don't even think about all that twisting and flexing that goes on when you're being rough with your nails.

By the way, your nails do not breathe. You don't need to have your acrylics removed every month. That in and of itself causes most of the damage that is getting done to your nails. Discount salons like to always charge for full sets rather than just have you come in for fills. So, they tell you your nails need to be replaced because your nails need to breathe or whatever. Actually, it's less damaging to just leave your set on. Think about it, you get fills every 2 weeks so you're always growing your nails and always getting new product put on so in about a month or two you have fresh acrylic on your nails! Why get another full set? It's totally not necessary and not even recommended by reputable nail tech's.

You get what you pay for in this industry. If you want a reputable nail tech that is well trained and wants to do a good job and keep your natural nails healthy, then don't go to a discount salon that only cares about making money and cranking people out on a regular basis.

I am a Board Certified Nail Technician and I care about giving my best to all my clients. There's too much misinformation out there. Educate yourself which not only helps you know what to expect from your nail tech but it keeps your nails safe and healthy.


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December 21, 20130 found this helpful

Your nails are made of non-living keratin protein cells, same as your hair. Your nails do not "breathe." If you don't like having something on your nails that's fine. But they never, ever need to "breathe." That is a myth based on misinformation. If acrylic or anything else feels uncomfortable to you, that's a preference and specific to your experience. There are many sites out there that offer lots of good, sound information. Take steps to be an informed nail client and you will likely be much happier with your nail services.

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0 found this helpful
July 24, 2006

I have just trained as a nail technician and I am finding things very hard. When I have applied the acrylic it looks great but after buffing I am getting lines in the acrylic and the tip seems a bit lumpy and bumpy. Please help, I am losing heart.

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July 25, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

Hey Dawn, the first thing I would do it get a wider brush than the one you were taught with that seems to make it easier. Then take your time and make sure you've got your acrylic nice and smooth on each nail before moving on to the next. Take a little extra dip back into your liquid with your brush, wipe off the excess and go over the nail one more time to get that extra smoothness. Better to spend more time on the acrylic application than on trying to remove imperfections afterwards!! If you are finding bumps and stuff when you go to buff then you aren't getting it on smooth enough to start with. Of course then go forward with your roughest buffing and on down to smooth until it looks like glass. Don't give up it just takes practice!!!


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September 16, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

Hello Dawn, I am a nail tech of 8yrs now and your right it is hard. Over the years I have given up and started again numerous times, but after practising on my self over and over to work out the lifting problem I finally got it. Make sure you prep the nail bed as best as you can, etch out any shine on the natural nail. you then apply your tips and blend in. Then apply your primer sparingly. When you are ready to apply your acrylic make sure the ball is not too dry as this will cause lifting, however so will a very wet ball. So the secret is to dip your brush into your powder and count to 3 until all dryness disappears, if it takes too long then your ball is to dry. Apply your last ball at the cuticle in a small size so you can pat it down, then using the point of your brush, go around the cuticle edge to make sure no acrylic is touching the skin. Don't make your acrylic balls too big to start off with so really you should have the perfect nail before you even buff, otherwise you will be filing for ever. GOOD LUCK I hope this helps! Katherine

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September 18, 20070 found this helpful
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The lines you are getting is most likely due to not using the proper grit files. When using tips (I hate using them, I sculpt for the most part), use a 180 grit to reduce the sidewall, and a 240 grit to reduce the length and to blend-in the tip.When applying the acrylic, avoid "patting" the product. Instead, "press" the product with your brush, and move from side to side. Always leave a tiny free margin along the sidewalls and cuticle area of the nail, as touching product to the skin could result in lifting and possible overexposure. Never use the brush to clean up excess product from the sidewall, cuticle area or under the free edge. When applied correctly, there should be no need for any 'clean up' in the first place.

When you are done, refine the shape using a 180 grit file to remove imperfections. After that, move to a higher grit sponge file (buffer) of 220/280 grit. First, use the 220 grit and go over the entire nail. Then use the 280 grit side and repeat. If done properly, by now all lines should be gone from the nail surface. If you are going to be applying polish, then you can stop at this point. If you are going for a high-gloss shine, then continue to buff, but this time move up in grit once again to a buffer/shiner of high grits one each side. There are many different available, but they are run anywhere from 600 or so grit on one side, to 1200-3000 grit on the other side. Some have 3 grits (2 on one side, with the highest grit on the other side for finishing the nail to a high gloss). First use the lowest grit portion, and go over the entire nail. Then, move to the next higher grit (or highest, depending of the file), and repeat. When you are done, you should have some very high gloss nails which are line-free, free of any lumps and bumps, and are consistent in thickness. The proper filing technique should have been taught to you in school. If not, then seek the help of an experienced tech. There is a certain way in which you need to file, and finish nails. It is not a matter of just going over the nail surface in any old direction. Its more of a skill which needs to be perfected over time. Same goes for the acrylic application. It is a skill that takes time to master. Keep practicing, and try to learn from others. It offten helps to sit with an experienced tech who is fully trained, and skilled in her ways. Good luck.

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September 18, 20070 found this helpful

Dotty: Acrylic nails are not unhealthy. However, if the wrong type of acrylic product is used (MMA), then yes, they can be harmful. Although a lot of places like Sally's carry DIY acrylic kits, I highly advise against anyone using them for two reasons 1) Anyone applying acrylic enhancements should be thoroughly trained - this means going to school for it and completing the requirements, and getting licensed. 2) These kits are cheap junk in terms of acrylic. In order to be able to have any access to professional products, you first need to be a licensed nail tech. The companies which make the best products do NOT sell to the general public.

Fungus: Is caused by improper prep, or improper application. Acrylic does NOT cause fungus.

Gloria: Superglue does not cause fungus. I just stated the reasons fungus starts in the first place - improper prep and application are the two biggest causes. If you don't apply the acrylic correctly, then it is easy to get 'pocket lifting', a separation of the natural nail from the acrylic nail. This in turn traps moisture, and water, between the nails and creates a breeding ground for fungus. It is NOT the super glue.

Nail glue: It generally contains Ethyl Cyanoacrylate as the active ingredient. And guess what glues like Krazy glue, Super glue and others like that contain? Either Ethyl Cyanoacrylate, or just Cyanoacrylate itself. I find the 'Ethyl' containing versions to be stronger. But its the same thing. Just labeled differently. Of course, there are better glues than others. This is one of the reasons that people should NOT be doing this stuff at home! Lack of knowledge and proper training can cause many problems. Either leave it to the pros, or go to school and learn how to do it the right way. It is not as easy as you may think.

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November 11, 20070 found this helpful

Could any one tell me how to apply nail blender and what it is for? this is in my kit and have obviously never used it.

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November 27, 20070 found this helpful

How do you clean the brush when you are done? With the Acrylic Liquid? or should I buy a special brush cleaner?

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November 27, 20070 found this helpful

Hey, I have a question I have been out of nail school for about a year now and Ive been doing natural nail care. I want to start to get into acrylics, but I don't remember much from school how to apply them. Is there a tape with what products to buy so I can practice at home? Or just a video with training? Or any workshops? Thanks for any help you can provide. Newbee

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April 19, 20080 found this helpful

I have started doing my own nails and they look pretty good except the cuticle area. When it grows out a little it is sharp feeling around the edges and not smooth. What am I doing wrong? I am not interested in doing this for a living as I am retired and just like to learn things as a pastime and I rather not go to a salon if I can do them myself. AT

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June 30, 20080 found this helpful

Hi I bought some nails at our local pharmacy and I ran out of glue, can I just use super glue instead? How will i be able to get the nails off?

Editor's Note: Do not use superglue on any part of your body. Acrylic nails are difficult to remove using the correct type of glue. I would consult a nail technician or beauty supply store.

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September 10, 20080 found this helpful

I want to get acrylic nails with an airbrushed white tip can you please tell me the steps that the nail salon will do it in and how will my nails look after they remove the acrylics of my natural nails.

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April 27, 20120 found this helpful

I tried the quick dip acrylic and found I can see some of the powder still in the nail after I'm completely finished. I've also had this trouble on regular acrylics, occasionally, just not as bad. I'm not sure what to do. I own a salon and am trying to get better at the acrylic. I've done gel for a while, but for some reason I'm having trouble with this. Help?

By Amanda

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April 29, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

I think you should go to school and get certified for this. If you already have then you should go back to the school for more instruction.

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