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How To Do Acrylic Nails At Home Step by Step [THE Guide]

As a nail technician and enthusiast, I always get a lot of compliments on my acrylic nails and my hands in general; I am always sure to look after them and ensure they are looking at their best.

One such way that I go about this, is by applying acrylic nails at home.

Whilst I could just stay on at the Salon after my shift, I find that after a long hard day there’s nothing better than to just get into my pajamas and enjoy the process of applying my new nails.

I had a thought; if you’re not a nail technician, how would you even know or go about applying acrylics at home?

So if you are wondering how you can do your acrylic at home, and the exact steps to do so, then I would like to explain how and suggest you read on.

I’ve been doing my own nails ever since I can remember.

I know there are some of you reading who feel that you cannot possibly do your nails (let alone to the standard and with the designs, you get at the Salon) but even we professionals started in your very position.

We were all beginners like you at some point. With nails, it’s quite simple: practice makes perfect.

In this article what I am going to show you is not only going to be so much more convenient and cost-effective than going into a Salon regularly but will save you a lot of time and effort in the process.

I know some of you like to go into a Salon and feel like you’re being pampered and that’s fine, there’s always a place and a time for that!

However, if you feel like you just don’t want to go, you want to save some money, or that you just don’t want to see anybody, then we are going to outline the step by step process right here for you today.

And if you want to truly master the process, then my course is for you! It’s available for the price of a cup of coffee, by the way.

Otherwise, stick around, and we will walk through the proper acrylic application techniques and the best way to prepare, apply, and style your new acrylic nail tips.

If you wanted to check out the best acrylic nail kits that are ideal for the following tutorial, then click here.

How To Do Your Acrylic Nails at Home 

I’m going to make this as basic and as easy to follow as possible.

I will be showing you everything from proper nail prep for acrylic application to actually applying the acrylic.

And then, onto different variations on how you can apply the acrylic from a three Bead method to a one Bead method.

So if you’re a beginner with your nails, this will be the perfect resource for you.

So without further ado let’s get started:

Equipment & Supplies Required

The following equipment and supplies are required and are very effective for the steps in this guide.

All items can be purchased on Amazon.

If you click on each item below, it will take you to the recommended product available on Amazon:

  1. Cuticle Pusher
  2. Acrylic Nail Tips
  3. Glass Nail File
  4. PH Bond (Dehydrator) and Primer
  5. Acrylic Nail Brush
  6. Topcoat

Step One: Nail Prep

The first thing you will need to do for basic acrylic application is to prep.

Remember, you always want to be sure that you prep correctly because if you don’t do this right your nails are going to have lifting and you’re going to have problems.

With prepping, you first want to sanitize your hands and make sure they’re nice and clean.

Then you’re going to use a Cuticle Pusher and push back your Cuticles. I personally love and recommend the Born Pretty Manicure Set.

Next, you are going to want to go ahead and remove the shine on the nail and you can do that with a sanding ban on low-speed.

You want to lightly tap the nail so that you’re not pushing into the nail you’re not putting any pressure on it. You just want to take off the shine.

So after this, you are going to want to repeat this process on the rest of your nails.

Step Two: Choose Your Tips

In the next step, you’re going to get started with tip application.

I want to give you a few pointers on correct sizing for the tips; you don’t want to buy your tips too small and you don’t want to have to push down or it will not be fitting right.

If your tips are too big,  they are going to pop up if you try to glue them down.

Similarly, if your tips go past the nail on the sidewalls, it is going to cause irritation and not look very good.

Essentially, your tips will not look that great if they lift.

So it’s important when choosing your tips that you get the proper size, you want them to fit nicely when you place them down on your nail.

(These tips from Amazon are great because they come in ten different sizes and are relatively inexpensive.

Plus, you can always shape them if you wanted a more rounded tip.)

Step Three: Tip Application

You don’t want to have to put too much pressure on them for them to fit.

You want to look at the side and make sure it’s not going over the edge of the nail and when you’re applying it you don’t want to completely cover the nail because then you’re not going to have a good foundation or ratio of acrylic to your nail plate (and it can pop off).

You want to place the tip as far down as possible but still have enough room for it to be secure.

Remember, you don’t want to put too much pressure when placing your tip on each nail because then you’ll get a tip that’s facing down and it’s going to be curving too much.

Instead, you just want to lightly place it on there.

Now, you’re going to go ahead and repeat this process to the rest of your nails.

Step Four: Shape the Tips

In this tutorial, we are showing you how to create a Tapered Square:

how to do acrylic nails at home step by step

For this, I like to pre-shape my nails before my acrylic application.

This way it just goes smoother and I can get a good idea of how the nail is going to look when it’s finished.

For this design, you first need to file in the sides and repeat that process on the rest of the nails.

So once you are done shaping the nail to roughly how you want, you can then move on to using a sanding band.

This will help you to lightly take the ledge off of the tip and make this smooth.

The reason for doing this is because you want a smooth foundation to apply the acrylic on. It also helps and prevents breaking and lifting.

So, with the same sanding band you will then need to buff the tip and make it a little rougher.

Step Five: Use a PH Bond (Dehydrator)

Next, you are going to use a pH Bond also known as a dehydrator and you’re going to apply it to the nail plate.

What this does is dehydrates the nail and removes any excess oils. This is because you want a really dry nail plate for the acrylic application so you don’t get lifting.

Step Six: Apply Primer

Now you’re going to apply Primer. Primer is essential for acrylic application and it is going to create a perfect foundation for your acrylic to adhere to your nail and this will also prevent lifting.

Without your Primer your nails are just going to pop right off.

The best PH Bond and Primer duo kit that we use and recommend is the Mia Secret ProfessionalThis way you can buy both at the same time and save a few extra $.

Wet Bead, Dry Bead, or Medium Bead?

The next stage involves the difference between a Wet Bead, a Dry Bead, and a Medium Bead with a perfect Monomer to powder ratio.

This is essentially how much is applied to your Nail Brush Bead.

So let’s start with a Wet Bead.

When you pick up a Bead you dip your brush in your Monomer and you want to push it down and get rid of all the bubbles.

This is called burping your brush and what this does is prevent bubbles in your acrylic when you apply it.

So then you wipe off the excess Monomer and all your liquid is going to be at the top of the brush. You want to turn that and dip it into your powder.

This is what a Wet Bead looks like:

Applying the right amount to brush

A Wet Bead is going to spread and what these are primarily used for is around the Cuticle area when you want it to really sync with your natural nail.

Now I’m going to show you a Dry Bead

Now with a Dry Bead, you see it’s harder to get the Bead off of the brush and that’s not what you want to use.

If you ever see your Bead doing this go ahead and wipe it off on your towel and start over.

Best amount for brush

You are in control of your acrylic application so if it’s not looking the way you want it to just wipe it off and start over.

Now I’m going to show you a Medium Bead and its perfect liquid to powder ratio and you can see how it has a definite border around the Bead and this is perfect for building your acrylic foundation.

Now that you know the differences between the Beads let’s put it into practice. I’m going to be showing you a three Bead application.

Three Bead Application:

This area right here is going to be called Zone 1

Bead application

This Area is Zone 2:

zone 2 of cuticles

Your Cuticle area is Zone 3:

zone 3 of cuticles

So your first Bead is going to go into Zone 1 and you’re going to pick up your Bead and you’re going to place it.

You’re going to use the body of your brush to push it down and shape it where you want it and then you’re going to fan the top of the Bead up towards the nail bed.

The reason for doing this is you want a flush smooth application of acrylic; it cuts down on filing and it’s less work at the end of applying your acrylic.

So now we’re going to pick up another Bead and we’re going to place it. I always like to angle my finger down because gravity is your friend and you don’t want it to play against you.

So by angling my finger down gravity is slowly pulling that Bead down towards the free edge.

So again you are going to use the body of your brush and you are going to pull that Bead down.

Now it’s time for your third and last Bead. With this one you want to pick up a little less powder than the other two because you want to have more control.

Its best to wait for that to pulverize and you want to place it just enough away from the Cuticle area so you can angle your brush in there and flatten it and pull it away.

Again, use the body of your brush to push that acrylic down into your second Bead and once you get the hang of this you’ll be able to do this really quickly.

So now that I’ve shown you this three Bead application process I’m going to go ahead and show you a one Bead application.

One Bead Application:

You first want to fill your brush with Monomer and you’re going to pick up a pretty good-sized Bead to look glossy.

You’re then going to place it at the top a little ways away from the Cuticle.

Now you’re going to go in with the tip of your brush and you’re going to lightly feather it up into the top area, making sure not to get any of the product on your skin.

Then you’re going to use the body of the brush to drag that all the way down and by doing a smooth application of acrylic it cuts down on your filing which makes life easier.

So when I’m doing an acrylic application, I prefer the one Bead method, just because it’s faster and I can get to my art sooner.

So once you’re done placing the Bead you allow it to dry. A good way to determine if your acrylic is dry and ready for filing is if you just tap it. If you can hear the clicking sound the nail is dry.

Step Seven: Finish Filing/Shaping

Then you’re going to go in and file and shape.

If you file your natural nail into a slope this is ideal for proper retention of the acrylic – you’re going to have less lifting and hopefully no lifting at all.

Step Eight: Design

Now that you’ve applied your acrylics you can either:

  • Topcoat to ensure your manicure is sealed in to enhance their look and feel. This also extends the wear. (Recommended),
  • Or you can start straight away with your polishes and your art. (not recommended)

Topcoat is the perfect foundation for your nails whether you want to elaborate on this or you just like them how they are.

I hope you enjoyed this how-to and step-by-step tutorial.

And if you did want to learn more about applying acrylics, the process, and becoming an expert -> checkout my course by clicking here.  

3 thoughts on “How To Do Acrylic Nails At Home Step by Step [THE Guide]”

  1. Can you make a list of everything needed? I am a first timer with doing my own acrylics and don’t know everything I need to get. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Hello Brittany. I have updated the post to include all the bits you need to get. Just refer to the “Equipment & Supplies Required” section. Each item is the recommended product in each category that I personally use. All the best with your Acrylics!

  3. hi, thanks for the post! Do you happen to have any video tutorials detailing the steps you’ve described? Can’t wait to try this at home!

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