How to Apply Acrylic Powder & Primer

If you like the look of strong, glossy, manicured fingernails, consider acrylic nails. Acrylic nails are artificial fingernail tips and acrylic resins that are applied to your fingernails, then buffed and polished to look as though they are your own nails. Acrylic nails are usually applied by a professional nail technician at a salon. However, you can apply them yourself. The do-it-yourself approach not only saves money, but is convenient and gives you more control over the finished look and length of your nails.

Remove all traces of nail polish from your fingernails.

Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Use a nail brush to scrub the top and underside of your nails. Rinse well with warm water and dry your hands thoroughly with a clean towel.

Gently push cuticles back, off of the nail surface.

Trim nails short, to just over the fingertips. File any jagged edges smooth.

Rough up the surface of your nails with one of the finer sides of the filling block. Do not press too hard or file for too long. File just enough to remove any natural shine and rough up the smooth surface of your nails. Wipe dust off your nails with a clean towel.

Apply a thin line of nail tip glue across the tip of your natural nail, then carefully lay the nail tip on top of the glue. Apply gentle pressure to hold the nail tip in place for about five seconds. Repeat for the rest of your fingernails, making sure the tips match the width of your natural nails.

Clip the acrylic tips to the length you desire using the acrylic nail clipper. File any jagged edges smooth.

Brush on primer, as you would nail polish, to the portion of your natural nails that is not covered by the an acrylic tip. Apply a thin coat and' do not over apply. Let the primer dry to a chalky white colour.

Pour a small amount of the acrylic liquid into one glass dish, and a small amount of the acrylic powder into the other. Dip the acrylic brush into the dish with the liquid, then into the dish of powder. The two will mix, forming a small ball. The ball should not be too dry or too wet.

Drop the ball off the brush onto one of your nails at the seam where the acrylic nail tip meets your natural nail, avoiding the cuticle. Use the brush to smooth the ball out quickly, but do not totally flatten it. The object is to build up a small, smooth mound onto the nail, both to disguise the seam and to strengthen and thicken your nails. Repeat for all remaining nails.

Buff and polish your acrylic nails as you would your natural nails.


Read the instructions that come with the specific acrylic products you buy, as instructions may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Applying acrylic nails takes patience and practice. If your first efforts do not turn out as well as you hope, keep trying and practicing, and you will eventually perfect your technique.

Things You'll Need

  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls
  • Hand soap
  • Nail brush
  • Clean towel
  • Cuticle tool
  • Nail trimmer
  • Nail filing block with different grit sizes on each side
  • Nail tip adhesive
  • Acrylic nail tips
  • Acrylic nail clipper
  • Acrylic primer
  • Acrylic liquid
  • 2 small glass dishes
  • Acrylic brush
  • Acrylic powder
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About the Author

Sandra Rousseau has been writing since 1990, covering such topics as home decorating, fashion, health, beauty, gardening and cooking. Her articles appear her hometown newspaper, the "Aledo Community News," and on various websites. Rousseau holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and advertising from the University of Texas at Arlington.