What Do You Need For Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails are nails that are placed over your original nails. They are usually used as fashion accessories. Acrylic nails are loved because there are so many color and design options to choose from. To save money, people want to do their own acrylic nails at home. In this article, we'll discuss the things you'll need for acrylic nails.

To do your own acrylic nails at home, you'll need the following things:

  • Acid-Free Nail Primer
  • Acrylic Nail Brush
  • Acrylic Liquid
  • Acrylic Powder
  • Cuticle Pusher
  • Dappen Dish
  • Lint Free Wipes
  • Nail File/Buffing Block
  • Nail Prep/Dehydrator
  • Top Coat

Some things are optional, including:

  • Cuticle Oil
  • Manicure Brush 
  • Nail Glue
  • Nail Tips
  • Pinching Tool
  • Pure Acetone

It may seem like a lot of materials, but having all of them on hand so that you can apply acrylic nails at home can save you money in the long run. For more details on how to use each tool and steps for using them to apply acrylic nails, keep reading.

Close-up of woman's hands after manicure treatment, What Do You Need For Acrylic Nails?

Tools and Materials

Blue pink nail Polish on long nails on a colored background.

The following tools and materials are must-haves for doing your own acrylic nails at home. Having these materials on hand will give you the supplies needed to apply multiple sets of acrylic nails for only the up-front costs. Some materials can be bought as a set or purchased individually, but all of these materials should be used if you want the best-looking acrylic nails when finished. They can be purchased at any beauty supply store or on Amazon.

Acid-Free Nail Primer

Acid-free nail primer is used to prepare the nail surface. It works by creating a barrier between your natural nail and acrylic nail so that the acrylic nail will stick better and last longer. It also keeps your natural nail from getting damaged when acrylics are removed. 

To use an acid-free nail primer, apply a small amount to the middle of your nail and spread it along the edges. If you use too much, the nail will not dry completely, and the surface won't be adequately prepared. The nail surface should have a matte finish after the primer has dried.

Acrylic Nail Brush

An acrylic nail brush is a brush that is used to apply the product to the nail. These brushes have a pointed and exact end to ensure that the product can be spread to all parts of the nail, including near the cuticles and edges. The bristles on the brush should be straight and close together to work correctly. A brush that is too bushy is hard to control and will spread the product all over the place.

Click here to see this acrylic nail brush on Amazon.

Acrylic Liquid

Sometimes called a liquid monomer, the acrylic liquid is a liquid that is mixed with acrylic powder and applied to your nails with an acrylic nail brush. The liquid helps the acrylic powder stick to your nail bed. In addition to helping acrylic nails stick longer, acrylic liquid also helps prevent the color from chipping and gives your nails a polished finish. 

Acrylic Powder

Acrylic powder is mixed with acrylic liquid and painted onto your nails with the acrylic brush. The powder and liquid should be mixed in small amounts to form little blobs, applied to the brush for painting. If you use plain acrylic powder, you can paint over it with whatever nail polish you like. But you can also purchase acrylic powder in different colors. Some even have glitter in them.

Cuticle Pusher

A cuticle pusher is a small metal or plastic tool that is used to push back your cuticle. The cuticle is the skin that is near the bottom of your nail. Not only does pushing your cuticle back help your nails to grow stronger, but it also allows you to be able to clean the surface of the nail under the cuticle so that manicure products can be applied evenly and consistently.

Dappen Dish

A dappen dish is a small glass that is used for mixing substances. In applying acrylic nails, a dappen dish is used to mix the acrylic liquid and acrylic powder. It can also be used to hold small amounts of other manicure products, such as nail primer. Dip your acrylic brush into the dish to get the right amount of substance needed for each nail.

Check out this dappen dish on Amazon.

Lint Free Wipes

Lint-free wipes dipped in nail polish remover are used to remove any old nail polish on your nails before applying acrylics. Wipe the entire nail to make sure that any old nail polish or dirt is removed. Lint-free wipes will not leave behind lint or other residues, which could affect how well the acrylic products stick to your nails.

Nail File/Buffing Block

Nail files are used to file down, even out, and shape the edge of your nail. They can be used to shape the edges of both your natural nails and acrylic nails. A nail buffing block is used to polish your nail's surface so that it is even consistent. Buffing blocks can also be used to make your natural nails shinier.

Nail Prep/Dehydrator 

A nail prep also called a nail dehydrator, is applied before nail primer. It is used to cleanse the nail and remove oil and grease. If nails have too much oil or grease on them, the nail primer won't adhere to your nail, which might affect your acrylic nails' overall look or cause them not to last as long.

Top Coat

The topcoat is applied to the nails last. The purpose of a topcoat is to seal the acrylic and keep color from chipping. Topcoats can also give the nails a matte or shiny finish. There are two main kinds of top coats: air-dry and gel. Gel top coats are shinier than air-dry ones and often last longer. 

Optional Materials

The following tools are not required but can be used under certain circumstances or if you want a particular look.

  • Cuticle oil- used to moisturize and soften your nails and cuticles.
  • Manicure brush- used to remove dirt from the nails and around cuticles.
  • Nail glue- used to apply nail tips, help acrylics stick better or apply decorative accents.
  • Nail tips- used to make nails longer or give them a particular shape before applying acrylics.
  • Pinching tool- used to give nails a more natural, curved shape.
  • Pure acetone- used to remove primer, polish, and topcoat from nails.

This acrylic kit has everything you need. Click here to see it on Amazon.

How to Apply Acrylic Nails at Home


  1. Use a lint-free cloth dipped in acetone to remove any old nail polish.
  2. Trim, file, and buff your natural nails.
  3. Push your cuticles back.
  4. Use nail prep/nail dehydrator.
  5. Apply nail primer and let it dry.

Apply Acrylics 

  1. If you are using nail tips, glue them to your nail so that the bottom edge is centered about halfway down. Cut them to your desired length.
  2. Mix the acrylic liquid and powder.
  3. Load the brush with the liquid and powder mix.
  4. Apply the acrylic mixture to your nails.
  5. Let the acrylic dry.

Watch this video to learn how to apply acrylics.

Finish the Nails

  1. Use a coarse nail file to file and shape the tips. 
  2. Paint your nails and apply a topcoat.

See More: How To Change Acrylic Nail Color [5 Steps]

Do You Need A Lamp To Do Acrylic Nails?

UV lamp at nail gel salon

Acrylic nails do not require a lamp to dry. They can be air-dried, but a lamp can speed up the drying process. Two kinds of lamps are commonly used for nails: LED lamps and UV lamps. If you use a lamp to dry your nails, place your hand under the lamp, turn it on, and let your nails try for 1 minute under an LED light and 2 minutes under a UV light. Gel nails do require a UV lamp to dry correctly.

What Lasts Longer: Acrylic Or Gel?

With proper maintenance, acrylic nails can last up to two months. Because nails don't stop growing, you will need to fill in acrylics every couple of weeks if you don't want gaps to show. Even with proper maintenance, gel nails usually only last about 2 to 3 weeks. 

See More: How Often Should You Get A New Set Of Acrylic Nails?

Do Acrylics Ruin Your Nails?

According to Mayo Clinic, artificial nails like acrylics shouldn't harm your nails as long as they are healthy. But when nails grow and a gap between the acrylic and natural nail forms, nails can become infected due to bacteria or fungi that can live and grow in the gap. That's another good reason why properly maintaining your acrylic nails is important. 


Close-up of woman's hands after manicure treatment, What Do You Need For Acrylic Nails?

We hope this article gave you the information you needed about the materials required to apply acrylic nails at home. While the materials may seem expensive upfront, you'll save money in the long run because you won't have to go to a salon regularly to maintain your nails. Soon you'll be on your way to creating beautiful acrylic nails. Thanks for reading!

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