How To Fill Acrylic Nails [Gel And Acrylic Powder]

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Keeping your acrylic nails looking their best means getting a fill-in periodically. Whether you get your nails filled every two weeks or once a month, it’s definitely something that you consider for budgeting; after all, it is personal maintenance. But why not just fill in your nails yourself? If you are tired of going to the salon every few weeks for an acrylic nail fill-in and are looking to start doing this yourself, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve compiled the steps to fill your acrylic nails quickly and safely.

Here are the steps to fill in your nails using powder and gel:

Using acrylic powder-

  1. Remove previous nail polish
  2. Wash your hands
  3. Apply nail primer
  4. Set up your acrylic
  5. Apply the acrylic to your nails
  6. File the acrylic nails
  7. Polish the acrylic nail

Using gel polish-

  1. File the old nail down
  2. Buff the nail
  3. Wash your hands
  4. Apply nail primer
  5. Cure the primer
  6. Apply gel nail polish
  7. Dry the nails

When you get a new set of acrylic nails, you want them to last as long as possible. To do so, you will need to do perform excellent prep work on your natural nails and apply the acrylic nails using the best techniques. Continue reading to learn more about these techniques.

Two women showing their acrylic fingernails, How To Fill Acrylic Nails [Gel And Acrylic Powder]

Steps To Fill Acrylic Nails

Using Acrylic Powder

Things you’ll need:

  • Fingernail clippers
  • Acrylic liquid monomer
  • Acrylic nail tips
  • Nail file
  • A bowl
  • Nail dehydrator
  • Nail glue
  • Applicator brush
  • Nail primer
  • Acrylic powder

1. Remove previous nail polish

Before you can fill in your acrylic nails, you’ll need to remove the previous nail polish coats. To do this, take a non-acetone nail polish remover and apply it to a cotton swab and rub it on each nail. Rub the cotton swab down each nail starting at the base. Be sure that all of it is removed, as it can affect the bond of the new acrylic coat.

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2. Wash your hands

Use antibacterial soap to wash your hands and nails and remove any traces of polish, remover, and natural body oils. Use a dry towel or a cotton ball to thoroughly dry your nails before proceeding further. Remember, you want your nail bed to be as dry as possible before applying the fill. Dryness is also important to keep the nails from getting infected after the acrylic is applied.

3. Apply nail primer

Next, apply a coat of primer to your nails. To do this, dip your applicator brush into the primer and swipe a small drop over the area where the natural part of your nail shows. Once the primer has dried, add one or two additional coats. It’s important to apply the primer to the nail beforehand so that the new coats of polish will have a solid bond.

Buy nail primer on Amazon.

4. Set up your acrylic

Grab a small bowl and pour about 1/4 cup of acrylic liquid into it. Take another bowl and pour the same amount of acrylic powder into it. Next, grab your applicator brush and dip it into the acrylic liquid. Then, dip the brush into the acrylic powder about three to four times until it turns into a paste.

Buy an acrylic powder set on Amazon.

5. Apply the acrylic to your nails

Take the small ball of paste and apply it to your thumb first, right below your cuticle. Next, gently dab the brush downward, spreading the paste across your natural nail and onto the acrylic nail. Be careful when performing this step, as you will want to spread the paste evenly across your nail. Be sure to re-apply the paste as needed to cover the entire nail bed.

Use the nail brush to fill in the sides of the nail until they are completely covered with the paste. Take a cuticle stick and then gently scrape off any mixture that has gone above your cuticle on the sides of your nail bed. Be careful of applying too much of the acrylic mixture, as you don’t want it to peel off once it dries. If you cannot remove the mixture from your nail’s sides, you can use a polish remover to dissolve it and wipe it away.

Buy a nail brush on Amazon.

6. File the acrylic nails

Now it’s time to shape the nails. Take your nail file or a buffer and run it over the acrylic layer you have just applied. You’ll want to make sure that it is flush with the rest of the acrylic tip.

7. Polish the acrylic nails

Grab your nail polish and apply anywhere from one to three coats. Be sure to let each coat dry before applying the next coat, which can take anywhere from 25 to 30 minutes if you don’t have a drye). If you have a UV light dryer, your nails can be dry in as little as 10 to 15 minutes.

Buy a nail dryer on Amazon.

Using Gel Polish

1. File the old nail down

Start by filing down the top layer of your nails. This top layer of gel should come off fairly easily, and a 150-grit nail file can get the job done in no time.

2. Buff the nail

Buff the gel nail so that it is flush with the rest of the nail. Next, take a fine-grit buffer or nail file and run it over the gel nail right at the top where it touches your natural nail. Make sure that the area where it meets the nail is smooth and that there is no bump.

Buy a nail buffer on Amazon.

3. Wash your hands

Next, wash your hands with antibacterial soap and then dry them with a lint-free cloth. Afterward, take a cotton swab and dip it in rubbing alcohol. Apply the alcohol to your nails to get rid of any remaining oils or dust. This will help to create the ideal surface for the new coat of gel.

4. Apply nail primer

Next, grab your nail brush and apply primer to each nail. Make sure not to over-apply the primer, as it can cause the gel to peel off prematurely. Be sure not to place the primer on top of the cuticle but in the center of the nail bed where the gel meets the natural nail. Be sure to spread it across the entire nail bed.

5. Cure the primer

After you have applied the primer to your nails, let them sit under a UV light for about one minute for it to cure. If you don’t have a UV light, you will need to give the primer about 30 minutes to cure before applying a second coat.

6. Apply gel nail polish

Once the primer has cured completely, apply your first coat of gel nail polish. Use your applicator brush to glide it over the dried gel and allow it to dry before applying additional coats. You’ll want to make sure that you apply the nail polish thinly so that it will not peel off prematurely.

You’ll know that each coat is dry when the surface is no longer tacky or sticky. Use your cuticle stick or a cotton swab with nail polish remover to remove any nail polish from the edges of your nail or your cuticle. Apply anywhere from one to three coats.

Buy gel nail polish on Amazon.

7. Dry the nails

`An acrylic nail polish gel drying under UV light

After you have applied your final coat of gel nail polish, allowyour nails to dry under a UV light or air-dry them for about 30 minutes.

Can You Just Keep Filling Acrylic Nails?

While it is possible to get fill-ins for several weeks, at some point, you will need to take them off and have them re-applied. This is because your natural nails will eventually outgrow them, causing the acrylic to slide further and further down the nail. At some point, the acrylic layer will be shorter than the nail bed, making a fill-in unnecessary. Your nail technician can help you determine when your nails are due for a new application.

How Do You Know If You Need A Fill Or A New Set?

Acrylic nails can be filled in several times before the tips will need a complete replacement. You will know that the tips are due for a replacement when the fill-in area takes up the majority of the nail bed, and the acrylic tips are barely hanging on the edge of the nail. At this point, the acrylic tips may fall off themselves, or they may break off while performing everyday tasks.

Also, if you develop any nail infections or are starting to feel pain beneath your acrylic nails, it may be time to remove them and give your natural nails a little TLC. Ideally, a refill will only need to be done about every couple of weeks or so, you can go a long time without getting a new set, months even.

Is A Fill Cheaper Than A Full Set?

Yes. A fill-in is typically cheaper than a full set. The normal price range for a fill-in is anywhere from $15 to $20. In comparison, a full set can cost anywhere from $25 to $50. The reason is that a fill-in process is fairly straightforward and a lot quicker than applying a new set.

Do Acrylics Ruin Your Nails?

Acrylic nails don’t necessarily ruin your nails, but keeping them on for long periods of time without allowing your nails time to recover can be damaging. While natural nails don’t need to breathe per se, they can become severely dry and damaged from repeated acrylic nail application. When removing acrylic nails, it’s important to use a non-acetone remover, as this can contribute to the drying of the natural nail.

Another thing that can damage the nail is the repeated buffing and filing needed during the application process. This can not only seriously damage your nails, but it can leave them parched, brittle, and thin. So to say, to keep your nails in the best shape possible, is it best to take a break between acrylic nail applications. This will give your natural nail beds time to recover and rebuild keratin and oil.

Below are a few ways to keep your natural nails strong while you’re giving them a break from acrylic nails.

Provide Hydration

Keeping your hands and nails hydrated is particularly important when your nails are damaged or have become weakened from acrylic nail application. Try to find lotions that have jojoba, avocado, or almond oil and to provide your nails with a bit of vitamin E and extra nourishment to keep them healthy.

Trim your nails

After you remove acrylic nails, your natural nails may be brittle and thin. It’s best to trim them as soon as possible to prevent them from tearing are breaking off while you perform everyday tasks. Try to keep them at a manageable length while they grow stronger. And it’s always a good idea to keep a fingernail file or clipper candy during this time.

Use nail strengthener

Applying a nail strengthener is also a good way to help restore your nails. Nail strengtheners can protect your nails from everyday wear and tear and should be applied no more than once or twice a month.

Wrapping Things Up

Doing your own fill-in can be a fun project to take on when you have some free time on the weekend or during the weeknight after work. Have fun with your nails, and don’t be afraid to try new colors and styles.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other nail guides:

Why Do My Acrylic Nails Keep Lifting?

How To Change Acrylic Nail Color [5 Steps]

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