Paying for professional acrylic nails is expensive. If you want to save money, or you simply can’t get to the salon, we have some great news for you. After all, it is never a bad time to learn a new skill. In this article, we are discussing how you can make and maintain your acrylic nails on your own.

Of course, doing your own acrylic nails is not easy, and it will take some practice. In applying nail polish, you have to consider things like chipping, polish warping, and smudging. However, there is more to acrylic nails than just the polishing process.

Acrylic nails are sturdy and long-lasting, but, they can cause serious damage to your nails if not looked after properly. Learning how to do your nails like a professional takes practice, patience, and time. Do not worry, though, because we are going to lay out everything you need to know in this article.

Buying An Acrylic Kit

Having a good acrylic kit can make or break the outcome of your nails.

In doing your own acrylic nails, the first thing you want to do is buy a good kit. Especially if you’ve never done your own acrylic nails before, your best bet is to start with an all-inclusive kit. An all-inclusive acrylic nail kit comes with everything you need to get the job done.

If you are interested in more nail tips, check out our article on How To Maintain Optimal Healthy Nails.

When shopping for acrylic kits, make sure to avoid tips made with MMA (also known as methyl methacrylate). It is tough and will not bend, but it is ultimately terrible for your nail beds. Instead, look for kits with acrylic tips made with EMA (ethyl methacrylate), which is a safer alternative.

Prepare Your Nails For Acrylics

Before we jump into applying acrylic nails, you want to make sure your nails are in the best shape as possible. We’ve come up with the most essential ways to prepare your natural nails for the acrylic process.

Cleaning: Nail Polish Remover

It is super important to start the process the same way the professionals do. Before you work on your nails, make sure they are nice and clean. Nail polish remover has essential nutrients to help strengthen your nails.

Additionally, nail polish remover moisturizes your cuticles, so you can use it even when you don’t have any nail polish on. Use a cotton ball to absorb the nail polish, and then use it on each nail to get rid of any excess oil or dirt. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water afterward.

Use A Buffer

A nail buffer usually comes with four different sides: buffer, filer, a smoother, and a shiner. Use the buffer side right after you file your nail down to your desired shape. Using a nail buffer gets rid of any flaky or uneven bumps from the nail.

After you use the buffer side, you are can turn to the smooth side. Use this side over the top of your nail to remove any minor imperfections. Then, you can use the shiner side to give your nails a salon style finish. You also want to have your nails cut fairly short so you can shape them later. However, you don’t want your nails to be too short, as you will eventually shape them to work with acrylic application.


While it is natural to want to snip off visible cuticles, they actually protect nails from bacteria and keep them feeling soft. Thus, you should avoid cutting them, and approach them gently. You can prepare your cuticles with cuticle remover, which acts similarly to an exfoliating treatment.

The cuticle remover will help dissolve dead skin and soften the entire cuticle area. After you have applied the cuticle remover, push your cuticles back gently with a cuticle stick. The best part is, you can also use these sticks to clean under your nails. It is also important to use cuticle oil to moisturize the cuticle in the process.

Shape Your Acrylic Nails

Shaping your acrylic nails can be fun, but it can also be frustrating. As we will discuss, sizing and applying acrylics coincide with choosing a nail shape that works for you.

Sizing & Applying Acrylics

When it comes to doing your own acrylic nails, you need to go through your acrylic nail kit and choose the acrylic tip that best fits your nail size. It is important to clip your acrylics first to get a clean edge. If you cannot find a perfect fit, use a nail file to gently file them into the a width that acrylic tips will work with. Once you select a tip, you can apply the acrylic. While you want your nails to be short, it is good to have a little bit of nail that you can shape and file to fit the acrylic nail and shape you desire.

After you have selected your sizes, apply a small dot of acrylic nail glue to the top of your nail. The bottom edge of the acrylic nail should be centered about one-third of the way down. This way, as your real nails grow, the acrylic nail will remain sturdy. Apply pressure to the nail for five to ten seconds to ensure it is completely secure. Then, use this same process on each of your ten nails until all nails have adequate acrylics.

Choosing Nail Shape

Choosing the shape of your acrylics is an important decision. That is, you need to decide on a acrylic nail shape that will best fit your nail and style. You can choose between square, rounded, oval, almond, stiletto or coffin. We are going to talk about how you can achieve each one below:


This shape is created by filing the sides straight. After you have straightened the sides, turn the file perpendicular (towards the tip) and file a straight edge across the top. This is for more practical nail shapes, and it is a good choice for anyone who spends a lot of their time on a keyboard. The square shape is rather easy to maintain, and it is one of the most common shapes for hands and toes.


The round nail is achieved in the same way as a square nail. There is an exception, though; you must round the natural nail out to an angle. Doing so will create a curve for the round nail. This shape is ideal for people with narrow nail beds, or even those who just want to elongate their fingers. This is a great choice if you want a simple and neat looking manicure.


To create the oval look, try to file the sides of the nail completely straight. The top of the nail appears softer in creating rounded edges towards the end. The oval shape is another option for those who wish to make their fingers appear longer and more slender–after all, having tips is mostly about adding extra length to your natural nail.


The almond shape is made by keeping a wide base and then rounding out your nail edges towards the top of your finger. The best way to ensure correct application is to look and see if the narrowest part of your nail is perfectly aligned with the center of your nail. Of course, this is not the most practical shape. If you work with your hands, you may break a nail, but it can still work to elongate your fingers.


The stiletto shape is best for people with naturally long nails. First, file the sides of your nail so that it is completely straight. Then, file the nail up and over from the sidewall to the center on both sides. It is a unique shape, and it draws a lot of attention. So, if you want to have more focus on your hands, this shape is for you.


The coffin shape is dramatic and very popular in acrylic nails. This shape can be created by filing the edges of your nail towards the center, and then following suit by filing off the tips. This is not the best shape for if you are looking for an everyday, natural look; but it is an especially great nail shape for special events. If you have weaker nails, you may want to avoid coffin because it might lead to a big nail break. However, they are definitely the most creative looking shape.

Finishing Your Acrylic Nails

Once you have figured out your acrylic shape, application, and prepared your nails for polish–you are almost done. We think you’ll find the last part of this process is typically the most fun.

Use A Base Coat

When you begin to apply polish, using a base coat before any other layers is especially important. A base coat prepares the surface of your nails by smoothing them out.

A base coat ensures that your nail polish goes on smoothly, and additionally, protects your nail from any color-staining.

A good base coat bonds your nail polish with your nail to prevent chipping. Thus, you should apply a thin layer and allow it to dry for a bit before applying first coat of color.

Apply Color Coat

Choosing which color you want is one of the best parts of acrylic nails. When applying the first coat of color, be sure to get the brush all the way down to the cuticle and into the corners of your nail. Make sure to focus on coverage and keep the first layer thin. After application, allow for this coat to dry for five minutes before going in with another coat.

After your first coat, you want to do a second layer. A second layer helps in the overall appearance of your nails, and additionally, captures the vibrance of the nail color you picked. So, be sure to apply a second layer of the nail polish you picked out. Certain nail polishes and color options–such as pastel–may require more than just two coats. Still, just follow the same pattern and allow the nail to dry for five minutes between each coat. After you are satisfied with the color and you are completely done coating, let your nails sit for about 15 minutes. It can be helpful to set a timer on your phone to be sure your nails are fully drying.

Apply Top Coat

After 15 minutes have passed and your nails are dry, you want to apply a top coat. Applying a top coat protects your nail polish from chipping. Adding a top coat also works to add shine to your acrylics. Try not to skip this step, as it keeps your nail color in tact for a while and adds an extra finishing touch. After all, you just worked so hard on your nails. So, make sure to do a clean and thin layer of this polish; it does make a big difference.

Finish Up Your Nails

Once you have finished doing your own acrylic nails, tidy up any minor mistakes you may have made. To do so, take a cotton swab and soak it in nail polish remover. Then, carefully go around the edge of your nail. If you don’t have a steady hand, ask someone else to help; accidentally touching your nail with the nail polish remover will cause visible smudging. Finally, allow your nails to sit still for five more minutes before showing them off to the world.

Doing your own acrylic nails is definitely hard work, but you will be surprised with how long your nails last and how good they can turn out. If you follow these steps carefully and keep practicing, people will be completely shocked when you tell them you did them yourself. Knowing how to do your own nails is a great skill in itself, and; it will save you money while keeping you looking gorgeous without having to go to a salon for maintenance. Make sure to keep on practicing and remember to not be discouraged by your first try. After all, all great things take time. We know you will do a great job if you keep up your persistence and keep practicing.

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