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How to Do Acrylic Nails at Home: DIY Acrylic Manicure Guide

Acrylic nails are a great option for anyone who’s looking for a long-lasting, professional-looking manicure. They can be expensive to have applied professionally, though, so many people decide to go the DIY route and do their own acrylic nails at home. Here’s your guide to giving yourself an acrylic manicure. 

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What Are Acrylic Nails? 

Acrylic nails are made with a combination of synthetic nail tips, powder (polymer), and a liquid (monomer) laid over the natural nail. The average professional set runs between $30 and $50. 

Acrylic Manicure Pros and Cons

Before you decide to do your own acrylic nails at home, it’s important to consider the pros and cons. Acrylic nails are extremely durable, and they can last a long time if you take care of them properly. They’re fairly affordable to do on your own at home. 

On the other hand, acrylics sometimes look less natural than gel nails or natural nails. They can also hurt the nail bed and cuticles if you aren’t careful since they’re so rigid and inflexible. As long as you’re careful, though, DIY acrylic nails will last a long time and will give you the look of a professional manicure. 

How to Do an Acrylic Manicure at Home

  1. Prep your nails. 

You need to start out with properly prepped natural nails before you move on to applying acrylics. This will ensure your nails have a clean surface to stick to, which will make them last longer overall. We suggest cleaning your nails with soap, water, and isopropyl alcohol. After cleaning your nails, you should push back and trim your cuticles as well. This will help your acrylic nails bond with your entire nail bed and last as long as possible. Then, make sure to buff your nails so the acrylic nails will have a rougher surface to stick to. 

It’s incredibly important that you prep and cleanse your nails and cuticles before applying acrylic nails. If you don’t, you run the risk of the acrylic nails popping off or not adhering properly.



  1. Choose your acrylic nail sizes. 

Most DIY acrylic nail kits come with several different nail sizes so you can choose the acrylic nails that best fit your natural nails. You can also buy the tips separately, but beginners should start out with a kit for the best results. The free edge of your natural nail should fit right under the acrylic nail tips. If you can’t find the perfect size for each nail, you can gently file the acrylic nails to fit. 


  1. Apply the acrylic nails with nail glue. 

Once you’ve properly sized your nail tips, it’s time to apply them to your natural nails. Use just a dot or two of nail glue to either your natural nails or your acrylic nail tips. Then, gently press down on each nail for a few seconds to ensure a tight bond. Repeat this process until you’ve applied all 10 nails. 


  1. Cut and file the acrylic tips as needed. 

Now that you’ve applied the acrylic nail tips, you can cut and shape them to your liking. Make sure to be gentle when filing— you don’t want to loosen the bond with your natural nail. 


  1. Prepare your acrylic materials. 

Before you start preparing the acrylic solution and powder, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area. These chemicals can be harsh and overwhelming, even if you aren’t a beginner. 

First, pour your liquid monomer into a small glass dish or container. Then, pour the acrylic powder into a separate dish or container.  


  1. Apply the acrylic solution to your nails. 

Start by dipping an acrylic nail brush into the liquid monomer. Then, dip the brush into the acrylic powder to create a small bead of acrylic. Pat the brush on a paper towel or on the side of the dish to remove any excess liquid. 

Once you have the solution on your brush, apply the acrylic bead to your nail near the cuticle, or at the start of the natural nail bed. Use the brush to pull the bead down the nail to the free edge of the acrylic tip. Then, you can use the nail brush to shape the acrylic and make sure it covers your entire nail. This is also your chance to smooth out any bumps or ridges. Repeat this process until you’ve covered each nail. 

Wait at least 10 minutes for the nails to dry before moving on to the next step. You can either let them air dry or place them under a fan. 

  1. File and shape the acrylic nails. 

Once your acrylic nails are dry, file them to suit your preferences. Pay special attention to the edge of the nails, as they’re typically a little uneven after the acrylic application. 


  1. Paint your nails if needed. 

Some acrylic powders are already colored to look like nail polish, but some require you to add your own nail polish for a finished look. Make sure to choose an acrylic-friendly nail polish. 


  1. Finish with a topcoat. 

If you want your DIY acrylic nails to last as long as possible, you need to finish them off with an acrylic-friendly topcoat. This will provide a strong seal that will keep your nails shiny and chip-free. 


Try Smitten Tips Gel Nail Polish Strips!


Smitten Tips gel nail polish strips make it easy to get the perfect at-home manicure in minutes. Made with real nail polish, our nail strips feature a semi-cure formulation for better fit and durability that lasts up to 14 days!


Key Features


  • Semi-Cured. Our semi-cured formulation provides superior durability and a better fit. Get the salon look without all the chemicals.
  • Length? Yes! Our nail strips are designed to beautifully elongate your hands.
  • Small Batch. Small batch production ensures the highest level of quality.
  • Size Options. Our products come with 12 size options so you can get the best fit every time.
  • Multiple Applications. Each set comes with 30 strips for up to 2 applications.
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