How to Do Acrylic Nails: A Step-By-Step Guide


Your Complete Guide to At-Home Acrylic Nails 

Interested in trying acrylic nails but not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place. This handy guide will walk you through the entire process of putting on acrylic nails, step-by-step, from beginning to end. Acrylics are a great way to boost your confidence, express yourself, and try something new and experimental with your look. 

When you get started with a new beauty product, it’s essential to get a primer or Bonder  (pun intended) on its ingredients, varieties, and the best way to use it. Acrylic nails are no exception to this rule. When you’re looking to be your own nail technician and do at-home acrylic applications, you’re essentially learning a new art form. This article will get you up to speed on everything you need to know to do at-home acrylic nail application well.

Why Choose Acrylics? 

Among the other options like gel and dip nails, acrylics stand out because of their ability to last long and the many customization options that they offer. Acrylics can be applied at home, giving you a fun and creative activity that provides a major confidence boost. In addition, acrylic nails often last longer than dipped and gel alternatives because of the durability of the material they are made from. If you’re looking for a great way to personalize your nails that will keep them looking great for weeks, acrylic nails are a perfect option.

What are Acrylic Nails Made Of? 

Acrylic nails are a combination of tips that adhere to your natural nails with a mixture of acrylic powder and liquid. This combination looks great and lends a seamless look to your fingertips, leaving no unwelcome gaps between your cuticles and nails. The tips are applied first, with the acrylic powder and liquid mixture spread over the tips.

Acrylic product extends the length of your natural nails and can even give them a more symmetrical or defined shape. This means there’s plenty of potential for louder, bolder styles with acrylics. The combination of a pair of unique tips with an eye-catching color or design can complete your look and level up any outfit.

How to Get Started With Acrylic Nails 

The first step when getting ready to apply acrylic nails is to make sure your natural nails are trimmed.  When you trim your nails, symmetry is as important as ever. Make sure you clip each nail to the same length. Remember that the nail tips will make your nails look longer, meaning you don’t need to worry about trimming your natural nails too short. 

After you’ve trimmed your nails, give them some attention with a file or buffer. You’ll be using glue to stick the tips to each nail, and glue will work better if your nails are filed or buffed. If your nails are too moist, smooth, or oily, the glue won’t work as well. The combination of filing or buffing and the use of a good primer (we’ll talk more about that in a minute) will ensure that your acrylic tips are easy to apply and that they stick well.

After you file or buff your nails, it’s time to examine your cuticles. The cuticle is the extension of skin that reaches over onto the surface of your fingernail. It’s important to push your cuticles back before you apply acrylic. Pushing back your cuticles makes room for the acrylic and tip allowing them blend seamlessly with your natural nails. Your goal here is to apply the acrylic right past your cuticles rather than on top of them. The cuticles should be gently pushed back far enough to make room for the acrylic to create the desired look.

Finally, it’s time to apply dehydrator and primer. Dehydrator will dry up any excess moisture or oil on your fingernails and the bonder will help the acrylic stick to your nails. This moisture is typically good for your skin, but it doesn’t help when you’re trying to apply acrylic products. Proper use of primer/bonder will give your nails a matte look and eliminate the shine they normally have. Primer, along with filing or buffing your nails, is essential before you put tips on. 

As you’ve now learned, tips stick to your fingers, thanks to glue. This glue is spread on the back of each tip as opposed to being spread on your nails. Spreading the glue on the acrylic tips instead of on your nails ensures that the tips will be as easy to apply to your nails as possible. A little bit of the glue goes a long way, so just add a little to the sides of each acrylic tip with a cotton swab, and you’re good to go.

Each tip needs a few seconds of gentle pressure to stick to your nails. This little bit of pressure lets the glue attach the tips to your nails, where they should stay nice and firmly held and give you no problems.

Using the Acrylic Mixture 

For the next step, you’ll need to make sure you have a good brush. The brush will be used to mix the liquid monomer  with the acrylic polymer to make the mixture that you’ll spread on each nail. A high-quality brush helps you easily and evenly spread the acrylic mixture. When you use the brush, the goal is to make gentle strokes in the same direction on your nails. If you make strokes from side to side or up and down, you risk unevenly spreading the acrylic mixture or creating clumps. Nice, slow brushstrokes from the bottom of each nail to the tip are the way to go. 

To make the acrylic mixture, set your liquid in one dish and your powder in a separate one. You’ll be mixing powder and liquid to create a combination that’s easy to spread and will hold its shape well. This acrylic mixture will rest on the tip of your brush thanks to its stickiness, and it’s best to spread it little bits at a time. 

Keep the powder and liquid separate throughout the application process, mixing the two only when you’re about to apply the mixture to your nails. Between brushstrokes, you’ll want to clean your brush to make it easier to mix again. 

Acrylic powder

Now comes the best part – Acrylic nail products can either be clear or colored, and it’s the main ingredient  to your acrylic nails that really makes them stand out. With this part of the process, get as creative as you want. The way you show off your personality with your nails is entirely up to you, and there are endless options. You can even combine colors and create beautiful designs. Your nails are your canvas, and you’re free to do whatever you want with them.

If you opt for a solid color acrylic, you can experiment with painting your nails different colors or alternating colors with each nail. Combining colors makes acrylics an adventure and makes for a fantastic at-home art project that you can proudly wear. You can combine darker, moodier colors to make an artistic gradient, make an eye-popping striped pattern out of brighter hues, or anything in between.

When you want to try creative designs on your acrylic nails, using brushes of different sizes plays a major role. You can start a design out with a solid color base or blend colors to create a gradient. The base of your paint job can typically be completed with a broader brush, but you’ll want a finer one once you start working on details.

As you’ve now learned, there’s infinite creative freedom when it comes to doing your own acrylic nails, so feel free to get experimental. You can find ample inspiration online for color combinations, designs, and patterns that you can try at home. It may be a good idea not to go from zero to a hundred with your first foray into acrylic designs, though! Try something simpler first and work your way towards the more elaborate and complex designs.


Acrylic nails are an art form, a form of personal expression, and a great way to level up your look and your confidence. Putting them on yourself takes some patience and effort, but it’s a great time and a great skill to learn. You end the process with a wearable work of art to be proud of and enjoy for weeks.



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