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How to Do Your Own Acrylic Nails to Save Money

How to Do Your Own Acrylic Nails to Save Money

Maybe you’ve mastered doing your own gel manicure or dip powder set. Or maybe you love that look of long, acrylic nails and want to try your hand at doing them yourself. Whatever the reason, DIY acrylic nails could be a great next project, especially if you are looking for something with long wear and lots of shine.

If you don’t have time to head to the salon, or if you’re simply looking for ways to cut back on your beauty spending, follow these steps to create your DIY acrylic nails right.

Take note, though: the nail application process might look simple when you’re watching a trained nail technician. It will, however, take time and patience to learn how to do it yourself at home. But you can definitely master the process with practice and patience. 

DIY Acrylic Nails: a Step-By-Step Guide

These days, we’re all about DIY beauty, whether it’s caring for your skin, at-home styling your hair, or tending to your nails. We want long-lasting results that take less time (and less money) in the salon.

The most important part of at-home acrylic nail application? Having the right supplies to do the job well. Here is a list of supplies you will need, and a step-by-step tutorial for DIY acrylic nails.  

Step 1: Gather Supplies 

  • Nail file & buffing block 
  • Electric nail drill (e-file, for removal)
  • Acid-free nail primer 
  • Dish or small bowl 
  • Acrylic nail brush 
  • Acrylic powder 
  • Base coat and top coat
  • Acrylic liquid
  • Nail tips (optional) 
  • Nail glue (optional) 
  • Pure acetone  
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Step 2: Prep the Nails 

Before you start, you will need to master prepping the nail! 

  1. Gently push the cuticle back with your cuticle pusher, ensuring no cuticle remains on the nail bed, as the acrylic will not stick to it.
  2. Use a buffing block to remove all shine to the nail by softly swiping left and right over the entire nail bed.
  3. Remove dust either with your manicure brush, or wipe over with some acetone on a lint-free pad.

Step 3: Apply a Nail Tip (Optional) 

At this stage, you can apply nail tips if you’re using them to get that long nail extension look a la Dua Lipa and other celebrities. If you’re not, then skip to the next section. 

  1. Get out your nail tips and size them to your fingers. Keep them in order so you do not get them mixed up and have to fumble for them when you have nail glue on.
  2. Once you have all your nails all set, start with a pinky on the hand of your choice, and add a small dab of glue in the nail tip.
  3. Line the tip up onto your natural nail where indicated by the nail tip sheet. It should be just at the tip, no lower than the skin on the side of your finger.
  4. Press down firmly, count to three slowly, then continue on each nail.
  5. Trim to size with nail clippers or nail cutters, these are 100% easier.
  6. File down the nail tip to the shape you would like (e.g., almond, square, coffin – curved edges with a squared-off tip, etc.) and don’t file upwards from the underside of the tip or you may cause it to pop off. You can also support the top of the nail while filing to prevent the tip from popping off.
  7. Ensure no dust remains from the filing of the tip. Apply nail prep/dehydrator to the entire nail bed; this should quickly dry by air, leaving the nail a slightly white/matte finish.
  8. Apply acid-free nail primer to the entire nail bed.

Step 4: Apply the Acrylic 

  1. Pour your acrylic liquid into your dish or small bowl.
  2. Dip the acrylic brush into the dish.
  3. Swipe the brush on the edge of the dish once to get the excess liquid off.
  4. Dip the brush tip into the acrylic powder and stroke the brush through the powder towards you until you create a ball of acrylic (if the ball is too wet or dry, start again; it should be glossy and smooth).
  5. Press the brush (with acrylic powder ball on) to a lint-free pad to drain the excess liquid off.
  6. Apply the ball of acrylic to the top of the nail (near the cuticle) and bring the bead down to the very tip. Tilt the nail down as you are doing this, as it will prevent the acrylic from flooding the cuticles.
  7. Sculpt the acrylic by pressing the brush flat to your nail and gently moving the acrylic to smooth out bumps and to spread it out evenly. Remember to keep your brush clean by dipping it into the acrylic liquid while doing this.
  8. If you need more acrylic to cover the entire nail, repeat steps 2-7 until you’re satisfied with the coverage of the nail.
  9. Wait a little over two minutes for the acrylic to dry. It should make a ‘ting’ sound when you tap it; when it’s not dry it will sound hollow.
  10. File the entire nail until it is smooth on the top and around the edges and to make the shape more defined.
  11. Now you need to add a top coat to seal in the acrylic. Apply an air-dry top coat nail polish (with the color of your choice) to your entire nail and leave to dry for about two minutes. 
  12. Finish off the look by moisturizing your hands with your favorite lotion or oil.

How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home 

Now that you know how to apply acrylic nails yourself, it’s also a good idea to learn how to remove them yourself. Remember, under no circumstances whatsoever should you just pull your acrylic nails off. Instead, use an elecric nail drill (also known as an e-file) to remove the top layer of shine and top coat. Next, wrap a pure acetone-soaked cotton pad over and around each nail and wrap with foil. 

Let your nails soak for 10 to 15 minutes, remove the foil and cotton, and use a cuticle pusher to gently remove the loosened acrylic. And you’re done!

You can enjoy your new DIY acrylic nails for about four to six weeks with a little maintenance — be proud that you did it all yourself. Keep in mind, though, it may take a few tries to get this process perfected. With some practice, you’ll soon be applying acrylic nails at home like a pro, and saving money while you’re at it.

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About The Author

Wanda Lopez

Wanda Lopez a blogger at heart and shares her insight on all things food, recipes, home décor, travel and more at She’s a passionate content editor and contributor for household brands such as Kraft, Publix, Ford, Best Buy and more--all while balancing work, motherhood and all things in between. An educator and avid photographer, she is in love with design, food and the outdoors.

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