In today’s economy getting pampered with mani/pedi’s always isn’t in the budget much less going in for your weekly fill or a new set of acrylic nails done, or gel if you prefer. That doesn’t mean you can’t spoil yourself by doing your own nails. You can learn to give yourself how to do a manicure and with a lot of time and patience you can teach yourself how to do your own acrylic nails. The first thing you HAVE to HAVE when doing your own nails is PATIENCE!! The nail tech’s make it look easy but they have a much better view of your hands from a straight on position and they know exactly what they are doing. Most of the time you are looking upside down at them so it a little strange in the beginning. When doing your own nails, you will have to become ambidextrous. It is one thing to do them with your dominant hand but quite another to use your other hand. So have patience because more than not the first few times you do them, one hand looks great while the other looks, well not as good. It took me months to get used to doing my nails with my left hand, now they frequently look better than my right. So after you get your confidence up, so to speak next you must figure out what types of products and instruments you will need. Here is a list of materials need to do a basic set of acrylic nails.
When doing your own nails you will also have to find a brand you like to work with, so ask your friends what they use, ask your nail tech what she uses, do some research on the net, whatever it takes to figure what will work best for you. You may try a few different types of powders and monomers before settling on one type. I am an OPI girl, always have been but when money is tight as it frequently is I love Sally’s Beauty Supply Store! I can get every single thing I need their for about $100.00 or less depending on store promotions. But when you pay anywhere from $15.00-$30.00 a fill 2 times sometimes 3 in a month, well that $100.00 I spent at Sally’s will last me about a year. I went from $1000.00 + a year having nails done to less than $100.00, now that’s some savings. That and it is very therapeutic. For me doing my nails is the ONE thing I do for me and no one else so I can just get into a zone when doing them and that is so relaxing for me.
Bottle of Liquid Monomer (acrylic nail liquid), nail powder, primer, nail glue, tea tree oil (for anti-fungal and bacterial prevention) sable nail brush, nail clippers, cuticle clippers, orange stick, a soft nail scrub brush, and Acetone nail polish remover works fantastic as a brush cleaner. One more thing… ALWAYS use NON-Acetone polish remover when removing polish from acrylics. Acetone eats acrylic so never use it as a nail polish remover, use it only as a brush cleaner. Plus it costs less than the stuff they will try and sell you are the beauty supply store. You will also need a box of nail tips if you plan on adding length of any kind to your own natural nails. They come in different length and sizes for different hand types so you will have to see which ones fit your nails best. Nail files of all sorts. 1 for beginning filing so you don’t tear up your own nail too much, I like 180/100 for this. One side is quite rough and it is great for after acrylic application, but we are getting ahead of ourselves and will pick files up later in this post.
Once all these items are in your possession you are ready to start. Now you can also purchase little glass containers like your nail tech usually uses, one for powder and one for liquid monomer. Also get some paper towels for cleaning off your brush in between nails. Once you have ALL your stuff in front of you first thing is to lightly rough up your own nail bed with the less course side of your file to help the acrylic adhere to your natural nails better. Fit your nails for tips if you are wearing them. Rough up the top, side and both ends of the tip and glue it to your natural nail about 1 cm above the natural nail ends. Make sure to cut your own nails as short as possible so they also adhere to the nail tip when they begin to grow out. Once you have the tips glued on, you can pick the length you wish them to be and cut them just like you would your own nails with the nail clippers. Before you begin to apply the acrylic make sure to go over the entire nail, tip and all, shape then how you want them to be once the nails are done and push up your cuticles with the orange stick. -CUTICLE SOFTENING TIP- If you have never done this before you can soften them if they are rough in warm soapy water before you beginning the nail tip process or use your finger tips to massage in cuticle oil. Take the orange stick and gently push the cuticles upward. Trim off any excess from you cuticle with the cuticle clippers. Once the cuticles are set to go and the tips are on you apply the primer first. I usually go over my nails twice with primer just to make sure I have a ton on there. Once they are dried, which they do very quickly, take your sable nail brush dip it into the monomer liquid container, getting rid of the excess, then dip into the powder and gather as much as you need to begin to build your nail from the tip of the nail working backwards towards your cuticle area. *NOTE* you will need to turn your hand and look at it as your nail tech would to help you with dispersing the acrylic evenly. Use acrylic as a building device to help add strength to your own nails. Apply acrylic until each nail is covered in acrylic and then get any excess away from your nails and fingers as you work with the pliable acrylic. Nail brushes come in many sizes, with usually a flat or round tip. They are almost always sable, the only thing is to find what type of brush works for you. I use a round tip brush but I know plenty of people who use flat tip brushes. Once again preference is up to the user. The first few times will be a mess on your non dominant hand but don’t worry, this just takes practice and a lot of it. But it will come and when starting out, don’t rush it too much. You must work quick as the liquid/powder will set up fairly fast so getting the right amount of liquid to powder is tough when starting out but you will get the hang of it the more you do it.
Once you have gotten all 10 fingers done it is time to file, file and file some more!! Now we can talk file types… This again is where I use the 180 side of my 100/180 file as it is very rough and takes off excess easily and quickly. Filing is sort of like painting where you go with the natural shape of your nail so file back and forth on the sides and top to bottom on the tops to get the most of what you need off, off. Sometimes I go side to side on them but not often. Make sure to keep with the original shape of the nail or tip if you are using one. While filing keep in mind that you are trying to recreate what you pay some one a ton of money to do, that they are trained for, so it will most likely not be perfect the first few times you do them but each time you get better and more confident doing them.
Once you are satisfied with the filing, which takes me like 2 days sometimes, you can use the buffer block to smooth out your nails. This is quite possibly the hardest part of doing your own nails because you are so close to done but not yet! You need to make sure the nails are as smooth as possible before applying polish or every little rough spot will show. Once the filing is finally over, lol, you need to rub in some more cuticle oil and take care when filing not to slice open your delicate cuticles or anywhere else around the nail. Usually use the softer 100 edge of you file when getting near cuticles to avoid cuts or splits. They split easy and it hurts when they do. Once that’s done go wash your hands use warm water, soap and a soft nail scrub brush to scrub off any excess acrylic, glue or anything else. Dry your hands well and once again go use cuticle oil on your cuticles one more time. Now comes the fun part NAIL POLISH!! This is always the best part, trying out new colours of polish. After all that is one main reason we have nails, to paint them all the colours of the rainbow and paint them in some that aren’t in there :) I always start with a top coat. Once that’s dry, I start with my colour. I always use 2 sometimes 3 coats of polish depending on how the coverage of the colour. Sometimes I have found the colour in the bottle is not the same one that shows up on my nails, I know you know what I mean :)
That is pretty much my process and all I do about every 10 days or so. Once you get to doing your own it is so much easier to deal with minor breaks, cracks or just plain polish change. Some times I even go 14 days in between fills but never more than that. Once you get more serious into your nails and want to venture out, you can purchase choice items like nail drills to help with filing the top nails and drilling out any excess acrylic from underneath your nails, fancy coloured powders to change the entire look of your nails etc. Posted throughout this article are some pictures of the items I mentioned in this post just in case you are not familiar with nail speak :) Please know this is not for everyone so I do not recommend for anyone to just go out and begin to do their own acrylic nails, I am just suggesting when money is tight there is a way to do them yourself but it takes a lot of time and patience to master such an art.
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMER: Of all the posts ever made this one is THE most critiqued and bashed upon by nails professionals. So to the professionals I say this, I do not claim to be a nail artist nor do I ever say that one should not go to a salon to get their nails done. I would always recommend going to a professional for acrylic nail application but this post was made with the sole intent of if you cannot afford to get your nails done, there is a way you can do it yourself. Though it is a bit costly to get started and very hard to master and is certainly not something I would recommend for everyone to do. I made a conscious choice to to do my own nails which is my right. So please know that this was more of a DIY if necessary and steps that can be taken to do your own acrylic nails if you are on a budget.