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How to Do Your Own Acrylic Nails at Home

Do Your Research & Be Safe: Acrylic nails, whether salon or DIY, have pros and cons. While they’re strong and long-lasting, improper application or removal can damage your natural nails. Look for MMA-free kits to avoid harsh chemicals. Understand proper removal to prevent ripping or peeling. Consider using a mask and working in a well-ventilated area due to acrylic fumes.

Gather the Right Tools: Consider buying a beginner acrylic nail kit that includes everything you need. Look for EMA over MMA nail tips, as EMA is a safer alternative. If you prefer individual products, stock up on high-quality acrylic liquid monomer, powder, brush, primer, dehydrator, nail tips, glue, files, clippers, and cuticle pusher.

Master the Prep: Just like any manicure, proper nail prep is crucial. Remove all old polish, even if it’s gel (soaking is recommended to avoid damage). Gently push back cuticles with a cuticle pusher or orangewood stick (don’t cut them!). Trim your natural nails to a short length to create a stable base for the acrylic tips. Buff each nail lightly to create grip for the acrylic application.

Size and Apply Acrylic Tips: Most kits offer a variety of sizes. Find the closest match for each of your natural nails. If needed, use a nail file to gently adjust the width for a perfect fit. Apply a small dot of acrylic nail glue to each tip and press it firmly onto your natural nail, holding for 5-10 seconds. Ensure the acrylic tip covers most of your natural nail plate, with the free edge extending slightly beyond.

Shape and Prime: Once all the tips are securely glued on, use nail clippers and a file to shape them to your desired style. If there’s a visible ridge where the tip meets your nail, gently buff it out for a smooth transition. Now that the tips are shaped, apply a dehydrating nail primer to remove any moisture and a coat of nail primer for better acrylic adhesion.

Apply the Acrylic Mixture: For a smooth application, pour your acrylic liquid into a separate dish. Dip your brush into the monomer, tap off excess liquid, then dip it into the acrylic powder to create a small, slightly damp bead. Apply the bead to your nail, starting just above the cuticle and extending to the free edge. Use the brush to smooth the acrylic towards the edges and wipe it on a paper towel in between strokes to avoid clumps. Some recommend applying the acrylic in three sections: a small bead for the free edge, another for the apex (where the tip meets your natural nail), and a final bead for the cuticle area. Repeat this process on each nail, building a smooth acrylic layer. If using colored powder, apply it after the clear base coat. For a glossy finish, use a thin layer of clear acrylic as the final coat.

Let it Dry & Be Patient: Acrylic is temperature-sensitive. A cooler room temperature allows for slower drying, giving you more time to work the acrylic before it sets (around 10 minutes). If it’s too cold, use a heater to speed up drying. A gentle tap on the dry acrylic should produce a clicking sound.

Final Touches and Removal: Once dry, use a nail file to refine the edges and tip for a polished look. Remember, removal is a different process. Avoid ripping or peeling off the acrylics, which can damage your natural nails. The safest method is soaking. File off most of the acrylic bulk first, then soak your nails in acetone-filled bowls or acetone-soaked cotton pads wrapped around each finger for 10-15 minutes. The loosened acrylic can be gently pushed off with a cuticle pusher. Finish with a Russian manicure to clean cuticles, buff nails to remove scratches, and apply cuticle oil for healthy nails.

Practice Makes Perfect & Reflect: The first attempt might not be flawless, but don’t get discouraged! With practice, your skills will improve. After each application, take a moment to assess your work. Identify areas for improvement and troubleshoot any issues you encounter. This self-reflection will help you achieve better results next time.

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