what do you need to do acrylic nails list

If you want to join the acrylic nails bandwagon, you’ve probably watched a YouTube video on how it’s done. But watching trained nail techs in videos do their thing may sometimes make the process seem somewhat complicated.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced nail tech or just a novice; you’re likely to share this feeling. And to solve this, we’ve simplified the process for you. Here are the things you’ll need to do acrylic nails.

Things you need to do acrylic nailsĀ 

First things first, you need to have these essential acrylic nail supplies. And we’ve outlined both the ‘must-haves’ and the optional acrylic nail supplies for you.

Must-Haves when you need to do acrylic nails

Nail Clippers

This is the one supply that needs no introduction. Whether new to acrylics or used to them, you most likely have used a nail clipper at one point. When doing acrylics, you’ll need it to cut or trim hangnails and natural nails. Sometimes, it will help in trimming cracked or broken acrylics.

But don’t just walk into a dollar store and get any nail clipper. Get a quality stainless steel nail clipper that will last longer and protect your nails from infections. We recommend this Seki Edge nail clipper.

Another important thing to consider before picking is the nail shape you want to attain. If you love squared nails, stick with a straight-edged nail clipper. But if you want a bit of a rounded nail, go for curved-edged clippers.  

Nail File & Buffing Block

Another must-have? A nail file and buffing block. For acrylics to adhere well to the natural nail, your natural nail needs to be rough and free from any oils. And what better way to achieve this than to use a nail file and buffing block?

You’ll also need a nail file and buffing block to shape, smooth, and finish your acrylic nails. When you apply acrylics, they won’t be perfect. But with the help of a nail file and buffing block, they’ll take the shape you’ve been dreaming of.

And because acrylic nails tend to be harder than gel nails, invest in a 100/180 grit nail file

Acrylic Nail Brush

No acrylic manicure would be a success without an acrylic brush. It’s the one supply that will break or make an acrylic manicure. Simply, it’s what helps apply the acrylic product.

And acrylic nail brushes will come in different shapes and sizes. So, how do you know which one to select? We always recommend considering the acrylic nail brush’s shape, size, and price.

If you’re a beginner, always use the size 8 and round-tipped brush. It’s smaller, and you’ll have more control when applying your acrylics. And as you progress, you can move on to bigger sizes and different shapes.

When it comes to price, get something within your budget. But this advice is not the license to get the cheapest acrylic nail brush.

Always remember that the more expensive the brush is, the more superior its features are likely. So, you won’t be dealing with shedding and re-purchasing brushes soon.

Cuticle Pusher

If you are going to do acrylic nails, you need a cuticle pusher. You’ve probably heard that cuticles act as a protective seal to your nails. They protect and prevent your nails from bacteria and, consequently, infections.

And you might wonder, why touch such an important part of my nail using a cuticle pusher?

You’ll need a cuticle pusher to push back the nails, allowing the acrylic product to bond entirely to your nail. Without pushing back, the surface area the acrylic product attaches to will be reduced.

And you’ll get an unsightly and short-lasting manicure. But with the cuticle pusher, your manicure will last longer.

Nail Prep/Dehydrator

A nail dehydrator will make the difference between a good and bad acrylic nail job. Acrylic nails tend to adhere better to well-cleaned nails. And this means that your nails should be free from impurities such as oils or dust.

A nail dehydrator will help you clean up your nails well. It will also help dehydrate your natural nail. So, by the time you are applying acrylics, they’ll adhere well with minimal possibility of popping off.

Acid-Free Nail Primer

Similar to a nail dehydrator, a primer dehydrates nails. Without it, acrylics could only lie on top of your natural nail. But why?

A primer will remove any remaining oils and grease on the nail plate. And this will allow the acrylics to adhere well.

You won’t have to struggle with air bubbles forming on the nail surface. This means that acrylics won’t adhere well without a primer and will soon pop off.

When shopping for a primer, we recommend you get an acid-free primer. It will be less harsh on nails reducing the likelihood of them becoming brittle and flimsy.

Dappen Dish

You want to avoid ending up with unhealthy nails after acrylics. So, sanitation should be a priority. But how do you make it a priority?

Over the years, we’ve found that getting a quality dappen dish is a lifesaver. It will hold the monomer when creating acrylic nail enhancement. So, the nail liquid will have a lower chance of contamination.

The dappen dish also promotes monomer stability helping you avoid the stress of having an unstable monomer between the acrylic manicure.

And we also love referring to a dappen dish as a sanitation essential, especially if it’s made from glass. The glass makes it easy to clean and disinfect. So you never have to worry about passing infections around.

Lint Free Wipes

Lint-free wipes also make it to our ‘must-have’ supply list. We’re pretty sure you love a neat acrylic job. But sometimes, it can get messy unintentionally.

That’s where lint-free wipes come in, as they’ll help wipe anything out. And they are lint-free. So, you won’t have to worry about small lint pieces getting stuck to the acryl.

Acrylic Powder

There’ll be no acrylic nails without acrylic powder. The acrylic powder mixes with acrylic liquid to become the moldable and spreadable end product, commonly called acrylic nails.

But what exactly is acrylic powder? Acrylic powder is simply a polymerized monomer. To polymerize the monomer, manufacturers will use a variety of different monomers.

You’ll find that most of the acrylic powder in the market today is made from ethyl methacrylate (EMA) and methyl methacrylate (MMA). And this may be confusing. 

Acrylic liquid (we recommend Medium Speed or Maximum Adhesion for beginners as you have a slower drying time)

Like acrylic powder, there can be no acrylic nails without acrylic liquid. These two must be mixed to form the malleable product that will give us acrylic nails.

When shopping for acrylic liquid, select those with EMA and not MMA. This sounds confusing. After all, we’ve just mentioned above that the acrylic powders available today have both EMA and MMA.

Well, let’s solve the confusion. You should know that MMA in powder form is not as damaging and toxic as in liquid form. That’s why the acrylic liquid you select should be free from MMA. Otherwise, you risk having weak and flimsy natural nails within no time.

Another thing you should be careful about when shopping for acrylic liquid is its drying time.

We recommend getting a medium-speed or maximum-adhesion liquid if you are a beginner. These types of liquids will usually have slower drying times. So you’ll have ample time to correct any mistakes between acrylic applications.

Cuticle Oil

We’ve often seen cuticle oil regarded as an optional product when you want to do acrylic nails. And we beg to disagree. One of the greatest secrets to healthy nails is to keep them moisturized. And cuticle oil helps you to do that.

When pushing back the cuticles using the cuticle pusher, you can easily damage the nails and the skin surrounding them.

But, if you’ve used a bit of cuticle oil as a moisturizer, you decrease the likelihood of such damage. Some cuticle oil after the manicure is also essential, which goes a long way in preventing brittle and breaking nails.

  1. Top Coat (either Air Dry, Mega Gloss, or Matte Top Coat)

And last on the list of must-haves? Acrylic top Coat. We recommend getting an air-dry, mega gloss, or matte top Coat. And here’s why you need a top coat for acrylics. 

After applying your acrylics and the nail polish you choose, you don’t leave acrylics like that. You must apply a top coat to seal the fresh nail polish.

The top Coat will also protect the polish from chipping and fading. And it’ll make your manicure look glossy.

Optional Supplies

Now, here are our optional acrylic nail supplies. It would be good if you had them, but if not, you don’t need to beat yourself up.

Nail Tips

Are you looking for a dramatic acrylic manicure? Coffin nails, perhaps? Then, you can get nail tips to help you achieve this look well. Nail tips are made from thin and flexible plastic.

So, it’s easy to adjust them to any dramatic shape or size you intend to. But if you are the type that shies away from dramatic nails, then nail tips are not a must-have.

Nail Glue

So, you’ve taken the nail-tip route. What will you use to stick the tips to your nails? Well, that’s where acrylic nail glue comes in.

It’s useful for helping the nail tip adhere to the nails themselves. Nail glue is also important in ensuring fake nails adhere to natural nails.

Pure Acetone

If you’ve done a little acrylic nail research, acetone is a great acrylic remover. Using it when applying acrylic nails can be tricky.

You’d stand the risk of dissolving your acrylics as you apply them. And you want to avoid re-applying acrylics.

But why is it an optional supply? Well, sometimes, you’ll have some remaining regular nail polish chips. And you need to remove them with a good remover such as acetone.

Also, the polish may splash on your skin as you apply it on acrylics. Acetone will help remove such splashes. You may also need to disinfect your acrylic tools; acetone is a good disinfectant.

Nail Polish remover

And if you don’t want to use a strong remover such as acetone, go for a regular nail polish remover. You’ll only need to dampen a piece of cotton ball with the remover and rub it on the nail polish you intend to remove.

Pinching Tool

Sometimes, you’ll need to fix the curvature of an acrylic nail extension. You may need to make the acrylic longer, thinner, or generally, change its shape. Or get that exquisite nail art as part of your manicure.

What would be the best tool to achieve this? Well, you’ll need a good quality pinching tool and some expertise with basic acrylics.

If you’ve not yet done your acrylic nails for long, you’ll probably not hack it. So, it’d be better to get more experience first.

Manicure Brush

And a manicure brush is the other optional supply. It’s used to remove dirt under and around the nails and cuticles.

You’ll find that after buffing or filing your nails, some nail dust may remain, and you could use the manicure brush to get rid of the same. But if you don’t have one, lint-free wipes can also work well.

Acrylic nail kit

How does a kit with all that you need to make acrylic sound? We bet it’s the savior most beginners have been waiting for to do acrylic nails at home. You could get this acrylic nail kit with all the must-have supplies.

In it, you’ll find different colors of acrylic powder and one acrylic liquid, a nail prep dehydrator, primer, nail glue, an acrylic brush, and a plastic dappen dish.

Nail Technician Supplies Toolbox

Picture this: you are a nail tech with a client who needs services at home. You get ready and leave for the client’s home. But upon arrival, you’ve forgotten a cuticle pusher, one of the essential acrylic nail supplies for acrylics. Sounds disheartening, right?

Fortunately, with a nail technician supplies toolbox, such disheartening days are ending.

A nail technician supplies toolbox will normally have all the essential tools you need to do acrylics and different types of nail polishes. And this will allow nail tech jobs to be quite seamless.

How to do acrylic nails at home step by step?

Now, we already know the supplies we need to do acrylic nails. But how can you do acrylic nails at home? Well, here is a step-by-step guide.

Nail prep

A successful acrylic application largely depends on nail prep. And because you need a clean slate to apply acrylics, the first step of nail prep is to remove any previous traces of the manicure.

Depending on the previous manicure, you could use an acetone remover or regular nail polish.

However, if you don’t have any previous manicures, you can go straight into cutting or trimming your nails. But only if it’s necessary.

You don’t need to trim further if your nails are short and the white tip is visible. But if not, then use your nail clippers and trim accordingly.

At this point, you can push back the cuticles using a cuticle pusher. Be careful not to remove the cuticles, as they are a protective layer. You’ll know you’ve pushed cuticles enough when no cuticle remains on the nail bed.

And remember to use a bit of cuticle oil to avoid hurting your nails. Then proceed to buff the surface of your nails. Buff by softly swiping left and right over the entire nail bed.

For acrylics to adhere well, your nails must be rough, and buffing will help you achieve that.

Next, apply the dehydrator to remove any traces of oil or dust from the nail plate. And follow it up with an acid-free nail primer. This way, you can ensure your nail plate is free from dirt, grease, or residue.

And your nail polish or acrylics can adhere well to the nail. You can also use a manicure brush to remove this dirt and dust. And if you are using nail tips, this is the best time to apply them.

Acrylic application

After you’ve dealt with the non-negotiable that is nail prep, you can now move on to the acrylic application.

Step 1: Acrylic bead formation

You’ll start your acrylic application by building up an acrylic bead. And how do you achieve this?

You’ll need to first pour the monomer liquid into a clean and disinfected dappen dish. You can then wet your brush by dipping it into the liquid.

Proceed to dip the same brush into acrylic powder until a bead of product builds up at the end of the brush.

Step 2: Applying the Acrylic bead

The next step is applying the acrylic bead you’ve just formed to your nail. Start at the base of your nail bed and work your product up to the nail tip.

Step 3: Shape, then dry acrylic

You’ll then proceed to sculpt the acrylic product. To do this easily, pat down the product with the brush. It will come out smoothly.

At this point, you could add more products if you see the need to do so. It all depends on how long you want your acrylic nail to get.

When you are satisfied, allow the acrylic nail to dry. And keep off any tasks during this time; it will only take a few minutes.

Step 4: File your acrylic

Now, you’ve got your acrylic nail, but you need them even and look neat. So, proceed to file it according to your desired shapes.

Step 5: Apply top-coat

The last step is to apply a base coat or nail polish if you so desire. And remember, the polish should come before the base coat.


With this guide, we’re sure you are on your way to a picture-perfect manicure. And you can get some of these supplies at a time. You can purchase quality products one by one.

And before you notice it, the supplies will have built-up a world-class nail kit for you. So, go ahead and start by purchasing the ‘must-haves’ and then proceed to the optional supplies.

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