Do You Need UV Light For Acrylic Nails?

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Let’s talk about creating gorgeous nails! Which do you prefer to use, acrylics or gels? Yes, these two are different from each other but they can both produce gorgeous nails that you can be proud of. 

Most of the time, when we go to the salon, we don’t bother about the things needed to make our nails look wonderful. However, when you decide to do things on your own at home, you need to figure out what tools are needed to perform the task. 

With that, you might ask, “Do you need UV light for acrylic nails?” The answer is no, you don’t need UV light for acrylic nails at all. UV light is needed only for gel nails. Acrylic nails will dry up and harden on their own.

Let’s talk more about the drying process of acrylic nails below.


How Do Acrylic Nails Dry?

Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are made by mixing the acrylic powder with a monomer. From the time the two ingredients touch each other, the process of drying starts.

However, it takes time for the acrylic to dry! So your nail technician (or you) has ample time to shape the acrylic nails and create designs out of them. 

When the two parts of acrylic nails are mixed, they start a chemical reaction. The end product is a hard acrylic substance. The only thing you need to dry them is air and time. 

If you try using a UV lamp on acrylic nails and you will be disappointed to see that it won’t affect the drying time of this kind of fake nail.

UV light simply doesn’t make the acrylic nails hard. 

Knowing that UV light doesn’t speed up the process, you should really avoid using it because you’d just expose your fingers to UV radiation unnecessarily. 

Remember, acrylic nails don’t need UV light. Only gel nails do. 

How Long Does it Take For Acrylic Nails to Dry Without UV Light?

If acrylic nails dry on their own, how long will it take? Do you have to stay still and do nothing for a long period of time? 

Well, the average time that it takes for the acrylic to completely dry and harden is about 10-15 minutes.

You actually need that time to shape the acrylic or create designs out of it. 

After the 15-minute mark, the acrylic nails will fully harden. You can check if the acrylic nails are fully hardened by tapping onto them. Use your acrylic brush when doing this.

If the acrylic nails are not yet fully dried, your brush is likely to stick to it. 15 minutes is the average time and could also take longer… or shorter.

This will depend on the products you use and the number of products you mix. 

How To Speed Up The Drying Time Of Acrylic Nails 

One of the reasons why people think they need to use UV light for their acrylic nails is because they want to speed up the drying time.

However, UV light and acrylic nails don’t work that way. They are different technologies.

The only way you can speed up the drying time of the acrylic nails is when you increase the temperature. You can do that by heating up the powder or the liquid component. Or both! 

The ideal temperature for the acrylic nails is at 75°F, which is about normal room temp. When it is colder, the drying time for the acrylic nails would be slower and it will take more time to harden. 

Increasing the temperature to speed up the process can be done either by increasing the room temperature or the acrylic product temperature. 

Warming up the components of acrylic nails can be done. You simply need a bowl filled with hot water. Then you place the dappen dish in it. 

The acrylic powder can be heated up by simply placing it directly under a lightbulb or lamp. 

Alternatively, increasing room temperature will also help to set the mixture faster. You can also heat up your hands or nails to make them dry quicker. 

Do You Need UV Light For Acrylic Nails?

No, you do not need a UV light to harden acrylic nails. At least you don’t need UV exposure the vast majority of times you do acrylic nails.

But there is a time when you’ll need UV light, even with acrylic nails.

When Do You Need a UV Light for Acrylic Nails?

The only time that you’ll ever need to use UV light for acrylic nails is if you are using a gel polish with it. The UV light won’t affect the acrylic nails but it is required to harden the gel. 

You can apply gel polish and cure them through UV light over the acrylic nails. Just make sure that the acrylic nails are already dry and hardened before you apply the gel nail polish. 

Why Are Acrylic Nails Not Hardening?

If you find that acrylic nails are not hardening, don’t be tempted to use the UV lamp. It won’t do you any good.

The most common reason for acrylic nails not hardening properly is due to the amount of liquid monomer and acrylic powder that you use. 

In order for the chemical reaction to produce a hardened product, you should mix the proper amount of each ingredient. If your acrylics don’t harden, the first thing you should always check is the proportion of liquid and powder that you used. 

It can take practice to get the proportions right. As you do it more often, you’d be able to tell if your beads are too dry or too wet. 

Final Thoughts

The UV lamp is a common site in most nail salons. That’s because most salons will offer either acrylic nails or gel nails. 

Acrylic nails do not need UV light to harden. Only gel nails will require UV light for them to be cured. The acrylic naturally hardens on its own after about 15 minutes. 

If you want to speed up the process of drying or hardening, the only way to do it is to increase the temperature. You can heat up the components, the room, or your hands. 

In some cases, the acrylic nails fail to harden. That doesn’t mean UV should be used. It just means that the proportion between the two components is not ideal. The only time you should use a UV light on your acrylic nails is when you are placing gel polish on top of them.

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).