How to Apply False Nails at Home (The Right Way!)

What you will need

Acrylic Nail Kit
square tip paint brush
fluffy paint brush
cuticle oil or vitamin E oil
cuticle stick
nail polish
electric nail file
buffing block
paper towels
a good hand cream

Get beautiful nails at home!
Get beautiful nails at home!

The Step By Step Process

1.       Purchase your supplies When trying to achieve a salon look at home you are going to need more than just the basic acrylic nail kit that you find in the nail isle at Wal-Mart.  When looking for your acrylic nail kit you have a couple options, first you can go to a general store such as Wal-Mart or Walgreens and buy the basic kit.  Don’t bother with the super duper kit; it won’t have everything you need anyway.  Just get the kit with a buffing block if you don’t already have one, the acrylic powder, nail tips, nail glue and a small brush.  Your other option is to go to a beauty supply store like Sally Beauty and buy just the items you need.  Usually they have the nails out so that you can size yourself right there and buy only the nail tips that will fit you and the acrylic powder.  A beauty supply store will also have professional nail brushes for you.  If you don’t have a beauty supply store nearby don’t fret, just head over to the arts and crafts isle and find a soft square tipped paint brush.  You don’t want it to be too fluffy though, get one with a little firmness to it; it will help you shape the nail later on.  You are also going to want to get a good buffing block and an electric nail file kit.  You can get them just about anywhere for under $10.  Yes you could do your nails with the little cardboard square that came with your kit, but trust me, you don’t want to.  You will get about halfway through the first hand and wish you had an electric nail file.  Get the one with the change-able heads not the one that just files flat back and fourth.  Don’t forget to pick up some cuticle or vitamin E oil.  You will need that for cuticle care, and yes I do mean need.  And last but not least, a roll of paper towel to help to protect your work space

2.       Choose the right size nail tip for each nail
OK, so you got everything you need, time to get started.  First thing is, you need to find which false nail tip fits which nail if you haven’t already.  Lay them out in front of your work space (which you should have covered with paper towel or something to catch any mess you might make) so that they visually match up with your right and left hand.  When sizing your nail you want the edges to come to the edge of your natural nail but NOT OVER IT.  You do not want the false nail to be hanging over the edge of your natural nail.  If you need to go ahead and file the edges down so that they fit properly.

3.       Remove any polish
Alright; you got all of that fitting out of the way, now for the fun stuff. ;)  Remove your nail polish and if you aren’t wearing any just swipe some nail polish remover over the nails to remove any oils.  Make sure that if you are wearing nail polish that you do remove it well.  Get every last bit, use a q-tip if you need to.  This is important to keep your nails healthy and fungus free!

4.       Soak hands and push back cuticles.
Now bust out that cuticle or vitamin E oil and slather it on your cuticles.  Let it sit for a while then soak your hands in warm water for about 5 minutes to get the cuticles nice and soft.  Once your cuticles are soft use the cuticle pusher to push back GENTLY your cuticles and remove any excess.  BE CAREFUL.  You do not want to tear or damage your cuticle.  You could cause an infection which could even mean losing your nail!  Be easy and gentle with the cuticle pusher and it will move, be patient.  It’s better to do it the right way than to have gorgeous nails and red inflamed infected cuticles.

5.       File and buff nails to prepare them.
Once you have pushed back and removed the excess cuticles swipe a little more nail polish remover over the nails to prep them and remove any remaining cuticle oil.  Now start buffing your nail with the rough side of the buffing block.  Be gentle but firm, you want to rough the nail bed up just enough that the false nail will adhere to the natural nail and stay on.

6.       Use nail glue to adhere false nail tips to real nail tips
At this point you may want to work on only one hand at a time and go on to the next hand once your first is completed.  You should start applying the nails to your dominant hand first.  This will be easier since when you get to your non dominant hand you will have your false nails on your dominant hand but it shouldn’t affect you as much as it would the other way around.  So if you are right handed, start by putting the nail tips on your right hand first, finish that hand and then go back and do your left hand.  Vice versa if you are a south paw.

You only need a small amount of glue to get the nail tip on, but make sure you use enough that there are no bubbles left under your false nail tip.  If you end up gluing your finger to the underside of your nail, it’s ok, it won’t affect your nails and you can use the cuticle pushing stick to push the finger tip back until it releases.  Put a small dot of glue on the underside of the false nail tip wait a moment for it to become tacky and then apply it to the tip of your natural nail.  The sides should line up.  Now clip the nail tips down to the desired length.

7.       File the seam.
Once you have all the tips glued on to your dominant hand you want to file the seam of the nail tip to the natural nail.  Again you will need to be careful; you don’t want to file too far and into the natural nail.  The purpose of this step is to make it look less like you have tips on so you just need to blend the false nail tip into the natural nail.  This is where the cone filing head of the electric file comes in handy.  You can even use your fluffy paint brush to dab a little of the acetone (the nail liquid in your kit) to the seam to help blend it in.  Once it is well blended you may move on.  Keep patience, this is one of those steps that will make your nails look either salon pretty or DIY disaster.

8.       Apply acrylic or UV gel to the nail
Yay, now for the really fun part.  You’re excited right?!  Now take your square tip firm to semi firm paint brush and tab it in the acrylic liquid (acetone) and then dab it ever so lightly on the edge of the container or on your paper towel, you don’t want it to be too watery.  You can always ad more liquid but it is a pain to remove the watery acrylic.  Next dab the very tip of the brush into the acrylic powder and form a small line or ball at the tip of the brush.  You DO NOT need to coat the brush with acrylic powder.  This is a common mistake of the DIY manicure and will make your nails lumpy and thick.  Resist the urge!  Gently press the nail brush to the nail beginning where the false nail meets the natural nail and gently pull the acrylic powder forward toward the tip.  Then go back and pat the seam gently pushing the acrylic back toward the rear of the nail.  If you need more acrylic get more but be stingy with both the powder and the liquid.  If you find that you have enough powder on the nail but it is getting lumpy or is too thick, then dip your firm brush in the liquid and brush the nail from base to tip until you get the desired result, removing any excess acrylic that may come off the tip of the nail.  Once you have the nail how you want it, tap the end of the nail with your brush to help smooth out the nail tip and then move on to the next nail. Repeat for all nails on dominant hand and then move on to gluing tips on your other hand and repeat steps five through eight.

9.       Buff smooth.
Here is another point when that electric nail file will come in handy.  You now need to buff and file your nails to the desired shape.  Use the largest tip for filing the ends of the nails, the little cone for getting the acrylic that got under the nails and the cylinder for filing the tops of the nails smooth.  Then take out your buffing block and buff it to a nice smooth finish.  If you think the electric file is just too much for you, you can follow the steps on the buffing block instead, skipping the last one.

10.       Color
Yay!  You’re almost done!!  Apply your nail color or a clear coat on top of your newly lengthened nails.   If you have one of those special UV lights for nails (You can get them at beauty supply stores) go ahead and put your polished nails under the light for 5-10 minutes.  If you are going to be changing your polish and doing your nails regularly at home, you might want to consider investing in one of these lights.  It makes your nails and your nail polish stronger and more chip resistant.

11.       Take care of your cuticles.
Here is the hidden step that no one ever really tells you.  One day you will want to remove your false nails for whatever reason.  In order to keep your real nails in an at least semi-healthy state, you need to take care of your cuticles.  Whether you did your nails yourself or you went out and gotcha nails did, take care of your cuticles.  Once a week or so push back your cuticles, and put some vitamin E oil on daily before you go to bed.  Keep your nails moisturized with a good hand cream not an overall body cream.  Hand cream is specifically designed for your hands which have different needs than the rest of your body.

12.       Remove your nails
DO NOT PICK YOUR NAILS OFF!  If I find out you are picking your false nails off I will come find you and give you a swift thunk to the forehead!  Don’t try me.  Tearing or picking at your false nails will ruin your natural nail, no matter how well you take care of them.  The best way to take off false nails is to use a nail remover.  Yes buy the nail remover not just a jar or bottle of acetone nail polish remover.  No it is not the same thing and your nails will thank you.  Removing false nails can be a long tedious process so allot a reasonable amount of time for it.  You will need to soak each nail in the remover and use the scrubbers to scrub the nail off of your natural nail.  Once you get all of the acrylic off, moisturize your nail with some vitamin E oil and use a good nail repair polish if you need it.  Keep your nails moisturized with oil and a good hand cream.

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Comments 2 comments

Danielle Green 5 years ago

Hi Im learning how to do acrylics and I find I am doing well for my first 1-2 times but It still goes lumpy! :O

Am I wetting the brush too much?

Dani x


sophie smith 5 years ago

i bought a full kit a few weeks ago and watched my auntie do my nails, then i attempted to do my mams aand they went really lumpy whereas mine are smooth, i copied every step that my auntie did so im really confused, i tried buffing them and it made them look like a foggy colour, what can i do to save them?

Sophie x

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