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How To Repaint Acrylic Nails [Step By Step Guide]

No matter how much you love your acrylic nails, there’s always a chance that you’ll need to change up the color. It could be anything, from a date night that favors a smoldering red instead of your current office-ready neutral to a less intense color for a friend’s watercolor wedding. Whatever the case is, knowing the right way to repaint your acrylic nails can be a nail-saver, if not a lifesaver. But how do you do so? 

The key to repainting is to follow the steps properly and to the letter. Base coats, top coats, and acetone-free polish remover are all vital to painting over acrylics safely. 

But, if you follow the instructions, it’s an easy change to make!

How To Repaint Your Acrylic Nails (Step by Step)

Start by removing the old polish with an acetone-free polish remover. Then, clean and dry your nails carefully. Lastly, apply base coat, color coat, and finish with a top coat.

I do want to reiterate: before you get started, you should be sure to follow these instructions to the letter. 

Ad-libbing here could result in damage to your acrylic nails. 

If nothing else, the color and finish won’t be up to par, and you’ll need another trip to the salon.

Thankfully, repainting your acrylics isn’t a difficult process. 

In fact, it’s quite like repainting your own natural nails. 


The first thing to do is make sure that you have everything that you need on hand before you get started. 

You’ll need acetone-free nail polish remover (a requirement; preferably, you’d use acrylic-friendly polish remover), cotton balls, or whatever you use when removing polish, baby wipes, or damp cloths, along with your favorite top-, bottom-, and color-coat. 

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Good light is important, as well, since you want to be able to see properly. 

Make sure that you’re working on a clean surface, and put something down so that it stays that way!

Remove The Color

To start the process, you have to remove the color that is currently on your nails. 

Leaving it on and painting over it can cause issues, so it’s best not to attempt it. 

It often doesn’t even look good since the first color can bleed through the second if the former is darker. 

But any color runs the risk of changing the final look of the new polish if you don’t remove it first. 

Removing it is simple: you use cotton balls (or an equivalent product) with the acetone-free nail polish remover, just as you would any other nail polish. 

Be careful, and be sure that you remove every bit of the nail polish from one nail before moving to the next.

Clean Your Nails

Once the polish is gone, you need to clean your acrylics. 

This will give you a better start to your next look. 

Baby wipes or something similar are excellent choices because they’re effective, pre-prepared, and gentle. 

However, some damp cloths with a small bit of baby shampoo or another gentle soap can do the trick, as well. 

Don’t be too vigorous, but do be sure that you get them clean.

Apply Base Coat

Next, apply your favorite case coat. 

Choose one based on its use with acrylics and not one that facilitates growth. 

It won’t do you any real good here since you’re applying to acrylic nails, not your own. 

Apply Color Coat

Afterward, follow up with your color coat. Again, choose a polish that works well with acrylics. 

Apply Top Coat

When that’s done, you can finish with your favorite top coat.

That will seal in the finish and keep your new nails protected.

And, as soon as that’s dry, you’re done!

Dos and Don’ts of Repainting Acrylic Nails

There are many do’s and don’t’s for repainting nails. While they might not be perfect for everyone, they’re good to keep in mind. They can help you with the process, with the look, or with a little insider information, you might not have otherwise.

Do follow our instructions! I can’t restate this enough. 

You don’t want a bad result!

Following the directions means that you won’t have to shrug and hope for the best later on.

Do Not Use Acetone

Don’t use anything containing acetone! An acetone soak is what is used to remove acrylic nails, both at home and at the salon. 

You don’t want to weaken your acrylics while you’re putting on a new color, so make sure that you don’t come into contact with acetone. 

The nail polish remover you use should be acetone-free.

Use Acrylic Nail Products

Do try to find a nail polish remover specifically for use on acrylic nails. 

It’s out there and, when it comes to repainting nails, it’s something you shouldn’t be without! 

If you keep a bottle of it, you’ll never have to wonder about whether or not you can redo your nail color at home. 

The assurances it comes with can be worth the extra cost.

Be Gentle

Don’t be too hard on your nails. While you’re going to be doing a lot of scrubbing and cleaning, you should be working gently. 

If you’re too harsh on your acrylics, you can damage them or, even worse, rip one-off. 

And you can damage your own nails if you do that! Less is more when it comes to elbow grease and your acrylics.

Work With Coverage

Do try to repaint with a polish that has more coverage than the one before it. 

While this isn’t a requirement and certainly won’t be a good idea for every occasion, choosing a darker or more vibrant color for your new polish can help to disguise any missed polish or stained areas from your last color. 

If your acrylics are stained, this can be a good way to cover it up.

Don’t Skip Base or Top Coat

Don’t skip the base and top coats! These help the polish adhere properly to your acrylic nails and give you a beautiful, just-back-from-the-salon glossy look on your newly-colored nails. 

You don’t have to spring for the kind that produces growth, however.

Consider Lighter/Neutral

Do disguise flaws by going lighter or neutral.

Yes, this contradicts an earlier tip.

But, if you can remove your polish without leaving any behind and there’s no staining, neutral and lighter colors hide application flaws more easily than darker or more vibrant colors do.

Can I Change My Acrylic Nail Color

It’s possible to change your acrylic color. It’s also fairly easy to do. Although, whether or not you should depend on the age of the acrylics and if you are due a new set.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, changing the color of your acrylic nails is not only doable, it’s also pretty straightforward. 

If you don’t mind taking a bit of time out of your day and are willing to be careful about what you’re doing, you can repaint your acrylic nails so that they’re whatever color that you want them to be!

This is something so easy that even newbies can manage it themselves, making it a great way to change up the look of your nails without any real risk. 

It’s simple, can be done at home, and any mistakes made can be covered up with a darker polish, if need be. 

So, if you’re tired of your nails being one color, don’t just be frustrated. Grab your supplies and get to work!

However, there are some times you might not want to do it. 

For one, if you’re reaching the end of your acrylic’s natural lifespan, it might just be better to go and get a new set. 

You’ll be replacing them soon enough, and you’re more likely to accidentally pull one off as it gets closer to the end of their run. 

Either tough it out or get them redone a little sooner.

You should also wait until you have the time to do everything properly. 

If you only have an hour for lunch, you don’t have enough time to repaint your acrylics and go back to the office. 

This is a “leisurely Saturday” kind of a thing.

Can You Put Nail Polish Over Acrylic?

Absolutely! Any kind of nail polish can work with acrylics.

Do you have a favorite polish that you’re hoping to use but aren’t sure if you can put them on your acrylic nails? 

Here’s the good news: you can! 

Acrylics are a strong, sturdy option when it comes to fake nails. 

That means that they’re not too delicate to handle basically any kind of nail polish that you can throw (or carefully apply) at them. 

They’re not squeamish, and they’re not temperamental. 

Whether it’s a designer color you paid an arm and a leg for, or the prettiest option you dug out of the bargain bin at a discount store, you can apply it to acrylics.

But, just like with natural nails, what paint you choose can impact the quality of the results. 

While you can make cheap paint look good on acrylic nails, it’s easier to make high-quality paint look great. 

If you’re hoping for an impactful change, get a polish that you can trust to keep its color and quality after it’s been applied. 

Cheaper polishes are often thinner and require numerous coats.


Speaking of coats, don’t forget yours! 

Your top coat and base coat that is. 

When it comes to looks, the latter is very important. 

It can give the high-shine, fresh-from-the-salon look to any old color, even the cheap ones. 

Don’t skimp here!

So there you have it.

Repainting acrylic nails made easy.