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Can You Put Gel Over Acrylic Nails? [All You Need To Know]

It’s the crossover we’ve all been waiting for: Gels and acrylics! With gel polish being insanely popular today and acrylics still being the go-to for fake nails, it’s no surprise that someone would want to match these two up. After all, they’re so good by themselves. Wouldn’t they be even better together? But it does leave some people, nail-notices and manicure-mavens alike, wondering if you can even combine the two at all.

So, can you put gel over acrylic nails? It is possible to use gel polish over acrylics. Although, the application process will be a little different, more time-consuming, and a little more challenging. For instance, you will need to prepare the acrylics with a nail file before applying the gel to ensure it adheres correctly. 

For the most part, gel and acrylics will take a little more effort.

But if you are willing and able to put in the time, or the money for somebody to do it for you, the outcomes can be worth it!

If you are considering this particular type of mani – be sure to read on.

This will give you all the information you need to ensure you get the most out of this gel-acrylic synergy!

How Long Does Gel Polish Last On Acrylic Nails?

Gel polish will last approximately two weeks, whether on acrylic nails or natural ones. You can touch-up gel polish and give it some extra time, but removing it completely will likely damage the acrylic nail.

If you know anything about gel polish and acrylic, you’re probably scratching your head at the idea of combining the two. 

That’s because there’s a bit of a discrepancy in the time that each of them lasts.

Acrylic nails can last from six weeks all the way to eight weeks, depending on how they’re cared for. 

That’s two whole months of acrylic nails! It’s one of the longer-lasting fake nail options out there, making it popular for people who don’t want to be at the salon all of the time. 

If you take care of them, and they’re applied well, you can count on weeks or months between visits.

Gel polish… not so much. 

Compared to acrylics, gel polish lasts no time at all. 

In fact, it comes in at less than a third of the acrylics lifespan: just two weeks, on average. 

That means you would have to reapply it no less than three times before you went to a salon for new nails! 

It can be a bit much, which is why gel polish over acrylics isn’t for everybody.

So, do the two different lifespans change the other? It can, but only because of the gel polish. 

With the acrylics, you’re unlikely to be able to remove the gel polish completely without damaging the acrylic nail itself. 

That means that a complete redo isn’t in the cards unless you’re ready to redo your nails at the same time.

But that doesn’t mean that the first flaw in your gel polish means it’s over! 

There are ways that you can prolong the inevitable a bit longer. 

The first is to be careful with your nails. 

Do as little damage as possible. 

The second? 

Touch-up the gel polish on occasion.

Don’t apply too thickly, but just enough to cover any flaws that might be there.

How long will it last? That depends on how good you are at covering up small imperfections, how careful you are, and the style you’re going for. 

Natural looks tend to be more forgiving. But you can guarantee at least two weeks.

How Do You Prepare Acrylic Nails For Gel Polish?

You prepare as you would for normal acrylic nails, applying and shaping them. There is one difference: you have to roughen the nail surface with a file before painting. Gel won’t stick to smooth surfaces, so you’ll need to make sure all of the shine is gone before applying.

Have you decided that gel polish is right for you and are ready to order the products to DIY the job? 

Well, you might want to be sure you’re up to the challenge first! 

It’s a bit more difficult to apply gel polish to acrylic nails rather than more traditional ones or even Shellac.

The difference isn’t much to a salon, but to someone that doesn’t have a great deal of experience, it could be the difference between a beautiful set of nails and an expensive mess.

The first step in the preparation is to apply the nail. 

You’ll do better applying the gel once they’re on your hands, but it might be easier to work one at a time. 

After, shape it. You shouldn’t leave shaping until later.

The most important step, and one that’s different than standard manicures, is buffing the surface of the nail.

For gel polish to stay on a surface, it has to be rough.

Smooth surfaces lead to the gel peeling away, leaving you with an ugly, blotchy mess on your nice acrylic nails. 

Use a fine-grit emery board or file, and carefully buff at the acrylic until the shine is gone. 

Make sure that this is done evenly; you don’t want to leave any smooth spots for the gel to pull away from. Then you can apply your gel polish.

How To Apply Gel Over Acrylic Nails

Always start clean. Begin by applying the acrylics as normal. Then, buff them until they lose all of their shine. Lastly, apply the gel polish according to the instructions it came with or the general instructions below.

The first step to any manicure is to start clean. 

Make sure that you’ve washed your hands well, that your tools and work area are spotless, and that your products are all in-date and good. 

Remove any old nail polish, and give your nails a thorough cleaning, then dry. 

Once you’ve checked on that, you can proceed to the fun part: Actually doing your nails!

Start with applying the acrylic nails. 

Trim your nails, and then buff them so that the nail can stick better. 

You can use the same buffer you’ll use later for your gel. Using a wooden cuticle pusher, push back your cuticles. 

Never cut! 

Lastly, you’ll want to apply a good primer to your nails.

Your preferred brand is fine and should work just as well as a standard acrylic manicure.

Shaping your acrylic nails is more of an art than a science, so that’s something you’ll have to play by ear. 

Once you have the right shape, you’ll apply a dot of the nail glue to the back of the acrylic, spreading it side-to-side. 

Apply it to your natural nail, being sure to get the placement right. 

It’s best not to have to redo this because it only takes about five seconds to dry. 

Don’t make a frustrating mistake; make sure you have the placement right the first time. 

Make sure no glue gets on your skin; it can cause irritation.

Next, it’s time for the sciencey part. 

You’ll want to work in an area that’s well-ventilated since the chemicals can be a bit overpowering. 

Start by pouring the liquid acrylic into a bowl, and then put some powder into a separate one. 

Saturate your brush in the liquid by submerging it until no more bubbles appear. 

Pull it out, and brush off any excess against the bowl or container. Carefully, you should run the brush through the powder until a tiny “ball” of powder is formed on the end of the brush.

This takes patience and practice! 

Apply to the smile line so that you can blur the difference between the natural nail and acrylic tip. 

Repeat around the cuticle, being careful not to touch it. 

Wipe the brush on a paper towel after every stroke. 

Repeat, let dry, then shape.

To apply the gel polish, start with roughing up the acrylic. 

Yes, you have to “ruin” all the work you just did! 

But it will be worth it, we promise. 

Use the same buffer you used on your natural nail, and be sure that all of the shine is gone and that everything is uniform.

Depending on the product, you may have to apply a base coat, which often needs the same drying time as the color coat. 

But some don’t need it or can be hurt by it, so read your instructions!

For color, use a gel polish and paint on a thin layer of the color coat. 

Don’t go too thick, but be sure to get the entire nail! 

Afterward, cure with an LED lamp for thirty seconds. Follow up with a top coat and another thirty seconds under the LED lamp.

And you’re done!

Is It Worth Getting Gel On Acrylic?

If you don’t mind redoing your acrylic nails more often, then it can be. But if you’re mostly interested in the long lifespan of acrylics, then you should choose a different option.

Is gel polish on acrylic nails worth it? That depends on how you feel about your changing up your nails. 

If you don’t mind replacing them more often than every six to eight weeks, you should be fine.

But not everyone can replace them that often. 

It could be a problem with the budget, with your time, or with an overbooked salon. 

If you’re not the type to regularly head to a salon, or you don’t have an entire nail-art arsenal at home, then this probably isn’t for you.

There are other ways to get beautiful colors for your nails.

If you’re a nail-art fiend or a frequenter of the nail salon? 

It might be worth a shot!


So there you have it.

You can put gel over acrylic.

Should you?

Well that is a decision you will need to make yourself.

But if you are unsure; ask your nail technician the next time you are in the salon.

They should be able to advise further.