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Do You Need A UV Light For Acrylic Nails? [Is UV Essential?]

When it comes to Acrylic Nails, a common question that gets asked is whether or not you need a UV lamp in order to cure them. It’s a fair question, especially considering that it’s essential for gel nails. But is it a requirement for acrylics? Here is what you need to know.

So, do you need a UV light for acrylic nails? You do not need a UV light to dry acrylic nails. Instead, the polymer and monomer will chemically react when mixed together, and naturally, harden when exposed to air. It takes about 10-15 minutes for Acrylics to dry.

Acrylic is very different to gel and as such, the process invovled with setting and curing does differ between the two.

With acrylics, you’re relying on a chemical reaction. This is what makes them hard.

With gel, it’s quite the opposite. Without a UV lamp, the gel will not harden and will remain in a sticky state. Not ideal.

Nevertheless, let us now take a closer look at some of those other questions you may have regarding Acrylics and their relation to UV lights.

Can Acrylic Nails Dry Without UV Light?

Acrylic nails not only can dry without UV light, but it is recommended that they be left to dry naturally.

It is in fact, only air that acrylics need to cure and to harden, as intended.

If you were to attempt to use a UV light on wet Acrylics; then chances are that it would not end as you might have hoped.

Besides, UV light would simply not react with the polymer and monomer in the same way, so it would not actually lead to any fastening of the curing process.

It would actually be kind of pointless.

Here’s a good way to remember it:

  • Acrylics – Natural Drying
  • Gel – UV Drying.

How Long Does It Take Acrylic Nails To Dry?

Assuming that the products have been applied correctly and evening, it should take between 10-15 minutes for Acrylic nails to dry. That is, naturally.

It is after 15 minutes, that the acrylic will be fully hardened, and it is after this time that you should inspect your nails and check that this is the case.

To do this, you can gently tap the surface of several nails (where the acrylic has been applied and dried), with the end of your Acrylic brush.

Listen to the sound; you are looking for a tapping sound. This indicates the acrylic is sufficiently hard.

Otherwise, you will likely find that your acrylic brush actually sticks to the nail.

Of course, this will ruin the application and it may even need redoing!

How Can I Get My Acrylic Nails To Dry Faster?

The best way to get your acrylic nails to dry faster is by increasing the chemical reaction of the polymer and the monomer. To do this, you will need to increase the temperature of the liquid and powder that you use.

Ideally, acrylic works best when it is used in an environment around 74°F – 75°F.

Any change to this, will impact the curing time expected; the colder it is, the slower the curing process will be and vice versa!

There are generally three ways to do this:

Storage Temperature of Products

The warmer your products, the faster that they will work and cure.

So, you could either keep your products in a warmer room, or you could look to warm them up through, by placing the dappen dish in a bowl of hot water.

Or, you could always place the powder under a light.

Both work.

Temperature Of The Room

Altering the general temperature of the room, through radiators and heat sources, or reducing drafts and closing windows is another approach to keep the products warmer and more likely to set quicker!

Temperature Of The Hands

Lastly, consider the temperature of the hands and nails the acrylics are being applied to.

Are they too cold?

Remember, the curing process actually happens on the nail itself. So, the warmer they are the faster the reaction can take place, and the quicker they will dry!

Why Are My Acrylic Nails Not Hardening?

The main reason why acrylic nails are not hardening is due to the wrong proportions of liquid and powder.

The result, is that the polymerization; the process of hardening, cannot take place as expected.

Polymerization is essentially where the chemicals in the mixture combine with one another, and produce bigger molecules.

As the small molecules combine, they form a stronger, larger structure.

It is when all of the molecules combine that your acrylics will be completely hardened. This is the end of the curing process and should be achieved within 10-15 minutes since it all started.

So, if you do not get the right proportions of liquid and powder – the polymerization process will not take place (either att all or at an insufficient rate).

The result are nails that do not harden. Even in time.

So, if your nails are not hardening in the expected time, chances are you got your proportions wrong and you will need to start over.

This is why it is so essential you use the same brands of products, along with follow instructions, store them properly etc.

You want to do all in your power to ensure the polymerization process can proceed, as intended!

How Do I Know If My Beads Are Too Wet?

Getting the right consistency and ratio of liquid and powder will give you the right bead. But what are the signs that the ratio is off and is in fact too wet?

Well, first and foremost you will need to inspect a bead.

Place a bead onto a tip.

A bead with the correct consistency will slowly run downward after about 15 seconds. It will never flatten on the surface of the tip, nor will it be surrounded in any liquid.

So instead, if you observe running in around 5 seconds, the beads flatten, or there is the presence of liquid – your beads are too wet for a proper application.

Remember, an ideal bead should retain its shape and consistency; not runny but is also somewhat moveable at the same time.

Equally, it should not be too dry that you can observe undissolved powder either.

Ultimately, you are looking for a bead that is the shape of a soft ball.

Then, you are good to go.


You do not need a UV light for acrylics.

But, you still do need the right supplies, approach, patience and commitment.

Doing acrylics can be a complicated process, or it can be a lot easier.

Knowing how to do acrylics, the right way, will make all the difference.

That’s why I documented the entire step by step process and made it available in a downloadable eBook for a great price. You can get your copy here.