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Do You Need Primer For Acrylic Nails? [Is It Essential?]

There are a lot of supplies required for Acrylics. So much so that we naturally will question whether they are all necessary; especially if we run out of product! But what about primer? Can you do acrylics without it? This is what you should know.

So, do you need primer for acrylic nails? It is best and advised to use a primer when doing acrylic nails. Primer acts to properly dehydrate and prepare the nail ahead of application, ensuring you get the best adhesion. This will result in longer-lasting acrylics, and limit any potential early lifting.

Let us now take a closer look at exactly what primer does, how to work with it, if it is in fact possible to work without and how you would do so.

Lastly, we will be looking at what makes a good primer.

So, if you are serious about acrylic nails, be sure to keep on reading to get all the information you need!

What Does Acrylic Nail Primer Do?

Nail primer serves to dehydrate the nail, removing all the natural oils and therefore preparing the surface prior to any nail enhancement and application.

It is best used before the application of Acrylics or Gel, although it is also useful to use before a traditional manicure.

The clue is in the title really, it ‘primes’ the nail.

And it serves an important purpose; it helps to ensure that your artificial nails or manicure lasts longer.

How Do You Use A Nail Primer?

Using a nail primer is simple, it’s simply applying a relatively small amount of thin, clear liquid.

Primers will come with a small applicator brush.

So, all you need to do is take the brush out, wipe off any excess (as you do not want to put too much primer on).

You then just need to swipe the brush down the middle of the nail, and it should naturally spread itself out.

For larger nails you may need to brush on the side, but for the average size nails only one brush is usually required down the middle.

Nail primer will actually look like it has disappeared once it has been correctly applied, and you are then reading to proceed with your artificial nails or manicure.

Can You Apply Acrylic Nails Without Primer?

You can apply acrylic nails without using a primer, but you will not be guaranteed successful adhesion. Therefore, it comes strongly advised to apply primer ahead of any application.

In reality, not using a primer does appear to work for some people, but it is very dependent on the person and the products used.

There are plenty of anecdotes and stories from technicians that give us evidence of this.

Some either decided not to use a primer, or forgot to apply one during the application process altogether.

In either case, such stories provide us with mixed messages.

On one hand, you have technicians who report no issues with adhesion and lifting.

And then there are the others who noticed instant problems.

The truth is, and the long answer to the question, is it all depends.

It depends on the products used, the nails being worked on, skin type, how the person uses their hands with acrylics on, and ultimately how dehydrated of oils the nails were, to begin with.

Nevertheless, its fair to say that primer is definitely preferred and will produce better results, if used correctly.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Acrylic Primer?

If you do not have Acrylic primer, then it is possible to prepare the nail with acetone/nail polish remover and a file.

By using these tools, you would be looking to remove all of the oils ahead of applying the acrylic.

Consider that the results will be variable, and some lifting is inevitable at some point.

Nevertheless, this workaround may work for some people, but not so much for others.

If you can, get a high-quality primer. It’s just generally better that way.

Especially if you want your acrylics to last any decent amount of time!

What Is The Best Primer For Acrylic Nails?

There are various different products on the market that finding the best primer for you, may be different to that of the next person.

It also depends on your budget, preferences and also your confidence, and expertise.

For instance, there are actually two different types of primer available:

  1. Acid Primer – Contains an acid that is very damaging to the skin – so you need to be very careful with it and use it in safe amounts. Otherwise, you can get skin blistering and the natural nail can even lift from the nail bed altogether.
  2. Non-Acid Primer – is a lot more beginner-friendly, working just like a double-sided sticky tape to aid adhesion. Although, it can still cause allergic reactions on the skin when used inappropriately.

For me, my go-to and recommended primer every time is the Modelones Professional Natural Nail Prep Dehydrate & Bond Primer set.

You can get this for an excellent price over at Amazon.

It provides fantastic results and very strong adhesion, is cost-effective and very easy to work with.

Before we finish up, let us just run through a few quick recommendations when it comes to working with primer.

Recommendations When Working With Primer

The following are important factors to consider if you are looking for strong adhesion from your nail enhancement products:

  • Do not mix brands; its best to work with products of the same brand to ensure they are compatible. Not all polymers are compatible with all monomers, for instance.
  • Use high-quality professional brands; That has a lot of positive reviews and is known and reputable in the industry.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and remember to work with the precise amount required.
  • Thoroughly prepare the nail plate before applying primer; by pushing back the cuticle, removing shine with a 240 grit buffer, removing all dust from the nail plate, cleaning the nail plate with a suitable prep product.
  • Get your liquid to powder ratio exactly right – too wet or too dry will cause lifting.
  • Ensure a clean application; with no product touching the skin. Or else lifting is to be expected.


It is certainly best to use a high quality primer before any acrylic nail application.

Sure you could always chance it. You may even be one of the lucky few who seem to get away with it.

By why risk it?

If you are going to the effort of getting your acrylics done, then it makes sense to me to do all you can to ensure they last the 2-4 weeks you initially had hoped for.

While primer serves to dehydrate the nail and the oils, and there are technically ways of replicating this result, primer exists for a reason.

It is used by salons too. Don’t you think they would continue to use it if it was not worth it? Especially considering the added cost involved.

So, get yourself some primer ahead of your application.

You’ll be pleased you did. Believe me.