Acrylic Liquid Substitute: How To Use Acrylic Powder Without Acrylic Liquid

Acrylics are some of the most durable artificial nails available. You can rock just about any nail art or choose the length and shape of nails you desire.

Many people apply acrylics at home. It’s a straightforward process that takes under 45 minutes if everything goes to plan. 

In this article, we want to tackle one of the most common queries among acrylic nail DIYers – what do you do if you run out of acrylic fluid? What are your options? 

Read on to find out. 

How to Use Acrylic Powder without Acrylic Liquid

There are several substitutes for acrylic liquid. The following are some of the most popular monomer alternatives;

  1. Dip powder activator
  2. Rubbing alcohol
  3. Nail glue
  4. Acrylic gel
  5. Hydrogen peroxide

What is Acrylic Liquid?

An acrylic liquid is a monomer for acrylic nails. It’s a clear, odorless liquid that performs two main functions. 

  1. It polymerizes when mixed with acrylic powder, forming a hard, durable resin that binds. 
  2. It binds acrylic paint pigments and glitter, giving your nails beautiful colors and shades. However, this is optional, as clear acrylic nails have no paint pigments. 

Besides hardening acrylics and adding color, acrylic liquid is a fundamental ingredient in nail wraps and tips that enables long, voluminous nails. 

What’s in Acrylic Liquid?

Acrylic liquid is a specialized chemical compound containing ethyl methacrylate monomer, which helps form the nail’s structure. When mixed with acrylic powder, this combination creates a plastic-like material that can be applied as an artificial nail extension. This mixture is then painted on top of your existing nails and cured through UV or LED light. 

Acrylic liquid comprises ethyl methacrylate, acrylic monomers, catalysts, and inhibitors. 

Monomers are the primary ingredient, explaining why acrylic liquid is also known as a monomer. They link together, forming polymers that give acrylic nails their strength and durability.

Ethyl methacrylate is a solvent for the monomers. It evaporates in seconds, especially under heat, facilitating a convenient curing process. 

Catalysts and inhibitors accelerate or slow down the polymerization process. For example, adding a catalyst accelerates the curing process while increasing the inhibitory ratio slows down the process. 

What’s Acrylic Liquid Used For?

Acrylic nail liquid is primarily used to apply acrylic nails and fake nails. You mix it with white or transparent acrylic powders to form a putty-like substance that you can shape into whichever nail style you desire. 

Once the acrylic mixture has been applied to the nail, it forms an exceptionally strong artificial nail that lasts for a long period of time.

Is Acrylic Liquid the Same as Activator?

No. Acrylic liquid and activator are two different substances. Nonetheless, both are vital in acrylic nail application.

The liquid is mixed with acrylic powder to form a sticky substance molded into artificial nails. An activator is added to the mixture to harden it.

Top 7 Acrylic Liquid (Monomer) Alternatives for Acrylic Nails

You now understand the importance of acrylic liquid when applying acrylic nails. It’s invaluable. 

Therefore, you must use a substitute with the same benefits if you cannot find acrylic liquid or run out of the liquid.

Fortunately, there are several acrylic liquid substitutes to consider. 

1. Dip Powder Activator

Have you ever heard of dip powder activator? If you wear fake nails often, chances are you’ve come across this product but don’t quite know what it is. 

Dip powder activator is a liquid adhesive that reacts with acrylic powder when exposed to air. It’s used to prime and activate the nails before applying a top coat. 

It creates a strong bond between the Base and dipping powder, resulting in superior adhesion and long-lasting manicure or pedicure. It also helps protect your nails from damage by reinforcing them against any potential chipping or peeling. 

Unlike traditional acrylic liquids, dip powder activators allow you to make precise layers of colors on your nails without worrying about runs or other imperfections.

Dip powder activator comes in a gel formula for effortless application and dries quickly without UV light. Also, it is available in many colors to match your style and skin tone.

Unfortunately, acrylic dipping powder activator is a lot pricier than acrylic liquid. Also, the small dip powder activator brush may not accommodate an acrylic brush.

2. Polyester Resin

Given the high cost of dip powder activators, most DIYers and even nail salons often turn to polyester resin as an acrylic liquid substitute. 

Its biggest advantage is price. Polyester resin is among the most cost-effective options on this list. Also, its lower viscosity makes it easier to mix with other products, and you don’t need to thin it as much. 

The compound is available in two varieties; slow drying and fast drying. Slow-drying options are harder and thus better suited to heavy projects like woodworking. So, we recommend fast-drying resin.

3. Acrylic Gel

Acrylic gel is a slightly different option. It’s traditionally used on gel nails that are slightly shinier than acrylic nails. But, it’s typically mixed with a gel powder polymer before it’s applied to the nail.

While it’s an excellent alternative to acrylic liquid, it’s a lot thicker and glossier and requires UV light to dry completely. The good news is that the thicker layer offers better protection against elements. Gel nails are also more resistant to chipping.

Acrylic gel is less toxic and easier to remove than other artificial nails. So, it’s a great choice if you have allergies.

4. Nail Glue

Nearly everyone who does their nails at home has nail glue on hand. It has the same ingredients found in the base coat of dip nails. Therefore, you won’t have problems getting the acrylic powder to stick.

Nail glue is used because it dries quickly. This is an advantage in home mani-pedi because most people are in a hurry to finish up. 

The only drawback of nail glues is that they offer few options, notably colorless and white shades.

Moreover, while they are primarily designed to serve as an acrylic liquid, they don’t offer the best consistency and are frustrating to work with.

5. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol isn’t the best acrylic liquid substitute. But it’s affordable, easy to use, and readily available in the home.

 Rubbing alcohol is available over the counter in most pharmacies. It’s non-toxic and will work until you are ready to replace your acrylic nails. 

The main downside of rubbing alcohol is that it forms lumpier acrylic nails. As a result, your nails may not be as fabulous as you desire. Also, it only lasts for a week at best.

6. Hydrogen Peroxide

Next, hydrogen peroxide is also an option of last resort. It’s cheaper and more readily available than the other acrylic monomer alternatives. Also, hydrogen peroxide is a well-known antiseptic that protects wounds and shields against bacteria. 

You may also benefit from hydrogen peroxide’s bleaching properties when struggling to get rid of past nail color.

Unfortunately, it lasts only a short period, ideally a week or less. Beyond that, the acrylic nails become loose and are easily damaged. 

Hydrogen peroxide often leaves the natural nail dryer. So, you must apply lots of cuticle oil or moisturizer to keep your nails healthy.

7. Press-on Nails

If all else fails, you can always fall back on press-on nails. Press-on nails are the easiest to apply artificial nails. 

There’s no drying time or smudging, and the process is much less frustrating than painting your nails. So, you’re often done in under 15 minutes or less if you’re a pro.

Also, press-on nails are cost-effective and reusable. They cost $8 to $25, and you can wear them for a few days, store them, then rock them again a few weeks later.

The only problem with press-on-nails is that they fall off too often – sometimes for no reason – which is infuriating and often embarrassing. Therefore, you will likely lose a few over the week.

What to Avoid

Unfortunately, you cannot use anything you find as an acrylic liquid substitute. 

For instance, avoid the following products;

  • Water: Water has many applications in nail art, but acrylic liquid substitution isn’t one of them. Why? Because water doesn’t harden when it dries. Instead, it stays soft and pliable. In addition, many chemicals can penetrate water to reach and damage your natural nails.
  • Acetone nail polish remover: Acetone nail polish remover is a strong solvent for removing acrylic nails. Unfortunately, it leaves the nails dry and brittle, making it a poor monomer substitute. Also, it irritates the skin.

How to Use Acrylic Powder without Acrylic Liquid Monomer

You may want to know whether you can use acrylic powder without acrylic liquid or an acrylic liquid substitute. 

The answer is – yes. However, it does not produce the stunning results you get when you mix the powder and liquid. 

The following is a quick guide to using acrylic powder without acrylic liquid.


  • Acrylic powder
  • Nail primer
  • Nail polish remover
  • Clear nail polish
  • Nail brush

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Prep the natural nails: Clean, trim, and shape the nails to the desired shape. Then use nail polish remover to clear any blemishes.
  2. Prime the nails: Primer helps acrylic powder stick to the nail. Apply a thin, even coat using a nail brush.
  3. Create acrylic nails: Dip the nail brush into the powder and apply a thin, even layer to your nails. Repeat until you achieve the desired thickness.
  4. Finish up: Seal the powder with clear nail polish for extra durability and to prevent chipping.

Can you make Acrylic Monomer at Home?

Yes, you can make acrylic monomers at home. One option is to use regular nail polish instead of standard monomers. The only challenge is consistency.

Regular nail polish doesn’t offer the consistency of an acrylic liquid. Therefore, your nails may dry unevenly. So, a different solution is a water-based polymer.

How to make Homemade Acrylic Liquid for Nails

Making your own acrylic liquid monomer is relatively easy. The following is a step-by-step guide to get you there;


  • Empty nail polish bottle
  • Rubbing alcohol (70%)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Acrylic powder
  • Spatula
  • Glass jar with lid

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Mix equal portions of acrylic powder and rubbing alcohol in a mixing bowl.
  2. Stir the mixture vigorously until it transforms into a thick, consistent paste.
  3. Pour the thick paste into a glass jar, tighten the lid, and wait for 24 hours.
  4. Your acrylic liquid is finally ready.
  5. Store the liquid in empty nail polish bottles for convenience.

Substitute for Acrylic Liquid FAQs

Can you do Acrylic Nails with just Powder?

Yes, you can do your nails with just acrylic powder. However, you need the powder, nail primer, and clear nail polish. Start by prepping the nails, including cleaning and shaping them. Then apply a thin primer layer, add a layer of powder, and seal the powder with clear nail polish.

Can you Use Water with Acrylic Powder?

No, water isn’t a good substitute for acrylic liquid. Though practical in many nail art applications, it discolors the natural nail. Moreover, water is easily permeable. Chemicals would easily attack your natural nail plate and nail bed. Also, water makes the nails weak and prone to chipping.

Can I Use Alcohol as a Monomer?

Yes, alcohol is an excellent monomer substitute. Indeed, it’s better than regular acrylic liquid as it mixes with paint better. However, there’s a big drawback to alcohol monomer – it dries too quickly. Therefore, you must work very fast to achieve an even, consistent finish.

What do you need to Activate Acrylic Powder?

You need acrylic liquid to activate acrylic powder. When you mix the powder and liquid, you get a gel-like substance that dries to a hard material, beautifying your nails while protecting your fingers. However, you can use various substitutes, such as dip powder activator, if you run out of acrylic liquid.


A monomer substitute is the best solution if you run out of acrylic liquid. Fortunately, several acrylic liquid alternatives are available, including dip powder activator, polyester resin, and acrylic gel. Even nail glue works.

Alternatively, you can apply acrylic powder without acrylic liquid. In that case, prime the surface, apply the powder, and seal it with nail polish.

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