How To Prep Nails For Acrylics

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Are you doing acrylic nails for the first time? Awesome! Or maybe you’ve been doing acrylic nails and they just won’t last as long as they should.

Acrylic nails aren’t just great to look at, they should last a long time. But that depends on how apply them, and on how you prep your nails. 

In this guide, we will focus on how to prep nails for acrylics. We’ll tell you about the steps in detail and give you some tips.

Let’s get started!


Importance Of Prepping Your Nails For Acrylics

Acrylic Nail set

Many people prefer acrylic nails due to their durability, design flexibility, ease of application, and the lack of a need for UV light.

No matter how you want your nails to look with acrylics on them, one important thing to note is to know how to properly prepare them. 

Acrylic nails shouldn’t just be placed on top of your existing nails, no matter what you currently have. You should prep your nail first in order to make sure your acrylics adhere properly.

You don’t want some of your acrylic nails to pop off or to be easily removed while swimming, doing the dishes, or just typing on your laptop.

You want them to be secure as possible, don’t you?

That’s why you have to prepare the blank canvas. You have to follow through with a procedure that will help ensure that it sticks. 

Not only that, but nail prep will also prevent acrylics from lifting. 

When your acrylics lift, there will be a gap between them and your natural nail bed. That could trap moisture and eventually lead to mold or bacteria growing in them. 

Bacteria and mold need moisture to thrive and they prefer warm environments. The space between your natural nails and a lifted acrylic can provide both of those things for them. Fingernail fungus is a big frustration!

Can Your Nails Handle Acrylics?

You might have heard about people damaging their natural nails because they used acrylics.

There is some truth to that.

However, the damage may not be entirely the fault of acrylic nails.

The damage could be brought about by improper application, removal of the nails could already be brittle in the first place.

It is always best to apply acrylic nails to healthy nails. If yours are brittle and weak, it would be best to first nurse them back to health. 

Strengthening the nails can be done with the use of various products in the market.

Jojoba oil is a great option for that. Just make sure to avoid formulations that may contain formaldehyde. 

Folic acid is another great option to help restore your nail strength.

How To Prep Nails For Acrylics

If your nails are healthy enough for the acrylics, then you can proceed with this step-by-step procedure:

Step 1: Wash Your Hands

The very first step to preparing your nails, no matter what kind of artificial nails you are going to use, is to clean and sanitize them. Washing them with soap and water will do the trick. 

In nail salons, they let you wash your hands first so that you don’t contaminate the tools. Although the manicure tools are usually sterilized, you don’t want your dirty hands to contaminate them. 

If they do, and you accidentally nick yourself, you could end up with an infection. This may not only be painful but it could lead to swelling and redness in the area as well. 

With that, you should make sure that the tools you use are clean. Make it a habit to clean and disinfect the tools you use every after use. 

You may choose to use disposable ones so you can just throw them out after using them. 

Step 2: Remove Old Nail Polish

Are you currently wearing nail polish? If you are, then you should remove them first. Regular lacquer is fairly easy to remove with a nail polish remover. 

If you have gels, it can be more challenging to remove them completely. You should be soaking them for a long time so that they can be fully removed without damaging or removing a layer of your natural nails. 

You should apply acrylics on freshly manicured nails unless you are just going to get an infill for nails that already have acrylics. 

See also: How to Remove Dip Powder Nails Without Acetone

Step 3: Get Your Cuticles Out Of The Way

Your acrylics shouldn’t touch your cuticles. They should only be attached to your natural nails.

To do that, you can push them back gently. Some prefer to cut them, and you can too if you are used to it.

However, most will advise you to simply push them. Cutting them could lead to nicks or tiny cuts that could lead to irritation or infection. 

When pushing back your cuticles, it is best not to soak them in cuticle remover solutions. Although that softens the cuticles, it also has an effect on the nails. 

Once the nails dry, they will contract. That could lead your acrylic nails to pop off. 

Step 4: Clip And Buff The Nails

After taking care of your cuticles, you can now focus on the nails. Clip them in your preferred length then file them afterward. 

Filing them helps prevent any snags and creates a smoother edge. You need to buff the entire nail itself to create a suitable surface for acrylic tips to grip onto in case you are using them.

Use a 180 grit nail file  to buff the nails in opposite directions.

Pull down on the sin on the sides of the nails so you can buff the sides too. This will help with the proper adhesion of your acrylic nails.

Step 5: Remove Excess Dust 

To remove the excess dust that you’ve produced during filing and buffing, you can use a brush or nail dust collector.  Washing your hands is another way to make sure you remove them.

The oils on the surface that could have been transferred while you were preparing your nails will be removed when you wash them. 

Step 6: Dehydrate The Nail

Removing excess moisture on the nails will help make sure that you avoid lifting the acrylic nails. This is done by making use of a nail dehydrator solution. 

They usually come in nail polish bottles with a brush. When using them, make sure that you only apply them to your nails.

It is best to avoid getting them on your skin or other areas surrounding your nails because some of them contain strong acids that could irritate the nails. 

There are acid-free nail dehydrator  and primers that you could purchase as well.

Although they do not contain acids, you should still only apply them to your nails because applying them to the skin doesn’t really have any benefit. 

Tips To Making Acrylic Nails Last Longer

Do you want to make your acrylic nails last longer? Oh, if only we could make it last forever! (or at least until we get tired of the design)

No matter how hard we wish, that won’t happen. Acrylic nails typically last for up to 3 weeks if you know how to take good care of them. 

To help us hit that 3-week mark, here are a few tips:

Avoid Getting Them Wet

How many times do you get your hands wet? It is inevitable as we have chores to do and due to sanitary reasons too. Some people may even be more prone to handling water because of the nature of their jobs. 

Nevertheless, water is one of the culprits why your acrylic nails don’t last. Whenever your nails are in the water, they swell up, which could eventually loosen the bond between them and your acrylics. 

Eventually, that causes your acrylics to lift. Additionally, if there is always moisture, it can get trapped between the acrylics and nails and cause an infection. 

If you can’t avoid the water, wearing gloves helps. Taking quick showers instead of soaking in a bath helps lessen water contact. 

Your Acrylic Nails Aren’t Invincible

It is true that acrylic nails are tough. However, you have to remember that they are not invincible. 

Don’t put pressure on your acrylic nails, because they can break. They may end up lifting if you do. 

So the next time you need to open up that can of sparkling water, avoid using your acrylic nails. Use the side of your finger instead. 

Do you need to press that button on the elevator? Don’t use your acrylic nails and use one of your knuckles instead. Avoiding pressure on your nails helps make them last longer.

Hydrate Your Nails

Hydrating your nails should be done whether you are wearing acrylic nails or not. Remember that hydration should come from oils and not water. 

Cuticle oils help moisturize the cuticles, nails, and skin. It helps you grow stronger and healthier nails. Healthier nails would mean they won’t easily break even if acrylics are applied to them. 

Carefully Decide On Shape And Length

Longer acrylic nails will be tougher to get used to and maintain. Although they may look really amazing, they may not be for all. 

You could try shorter nails at first then go longer as you get used to them. Also consider that wider shapes will last longer than thin shapes.

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).