Can a Normal Paintbrush Be Used for Acrylic Nails?




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Imagine you are at home, you have already removed the old set of manicures, and you have just prepared your nails for the new one when you realize you don’t have any brush for the acrylics at home. An instant reaction would be to panic, but don’t worry because there are some alternatives you could use.

You can use an artistic paintbrush or makeup brush to apply acrylics to your nails if you don’t have a regular brush designed for acrylics. Any brush, synthetic one, or one made from natural bristles can be used.

To make sure what type of brush is the best choice, stick with me while I explain the basic differences and things you should pay attention to.

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What Kind of Brush Do You Use for Acrylic Nails?

Choosing a good brush for acrylic nails can really have an enormous effect on the overall look of the nails. With acrylics, everything is about precision, so the brush itself needs to be carefully shaped to provide a good-looking manicure.

The first thing you will notice when you go shopping for a brush for acrylic nails is that there are brushes in different sizes. If you are not a professional, you should start from the smallest (size 6) and then gradually increase the size of the brush you are using.

It is not recommended to make a sudden jump, for example, to go from size 6 to size 12. This will just slow down your progress since it is important to get used to a specific size before you continue to the next one.

The most recommended brush is size 8, with a precise and pointy tip. This is what makes it very easy to work with acrylic. Another pro tip – it is always better to choose brushes that are made from natural fibers rather than the ones made from synthetic.

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Most brushes for the acrylic method are made from stable hair. Stable provides good quality fibers that make the application easier than with a synthetic brush. The biggest drawback of natural fiber brushes is that they tend to last shorter than synthetic ones.

The brush tip must be pointy, without any fibers sticking out. This is because you will achieve precise application near and around cuticles only if the brush is in a good condition. If you notice that the brush is starting to be worn out, replace it immediately.

Can Any Paintbrush Be Used for Acrylic Nails?

If you are short of any brush that’s made specifically for acrylics, a good trick that could save you the hustle is to use a regular paintbrush for the nails. To be able to choose the brush correctly, there are several things you need to know first.

Just as any other brush, the paintbrushes are numbered ranging from 0000 to 24. Generally, they are divided into three groups – large, medium, and small brushes. For acrylics, you should always choose a brush from the small group.

This is because these brushes can provide a high level of precision. The other ones are usually made for large strokes that can cover large areas, and that is not what we want to achieve.

If you are an experienced nail technician and prefer bigger brushes, you may also go for a brush from a medium group. However, if you notice that it does not provide the desired application, switch to the small ones.

These brushes are also divided into eight shape groups, but only two are applicable for acrylics. The first group comprises large and pointed brushes that are capable of covering larger areas. The second one is a group of flat and rectangular brushes that is used for detailing.

This second brush type can be used when you are applying the acrylics or paint near the cuticles or at the base of the nails because it can guarantee you more precision. 

If you go for paintbrushes, my recommendation is to choose synthetic over natural bristle brushes. This is because the synthetic will last longer, and it is able to withhold the acrylic chemical formula without breaking apart after a few uses.

Can You Use a Makeup Brush?

If you don’t have the brush that was designed specifically for the acrylic, nor do you have the paintbrush, don’t be in despair; the makeup brushes will save the day! But, there are some important differences you need to be aware of.

First of all, the makeup brushes have shorter handles, and although this may not seem like a big deal, once you start applying the acrylics, you will notice that you will have to back up from the nails more often to notice if the shape is coming outright.

Second, if you have natural bristle makeup brushes, they might be affected and eventually damaged by the monomer, which is an active ingredient of acrylic. So it is recommended to use synthetic since it is more durable.

On the other hand, experts say that natural bristle brushes hold onto more acrylic and thus are better to work with. If you don’t mind using the brush more often, my advice is to save your natural bristle brushes for makeup and use the synthetic ones for acrylics, just for the sake of avoiding any risk.

Also, make sure this doesn’t become your habit because makeup brushes are the most expensive of these three types I’ve mentioned in this article. Besides this, there is a greater risk you will damage the makeup brushes, so make sure you use them when they are already worn out and ready for a replacement.

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Can You Use the Same Brush for Gel and Acrylic Nails?

Technically you could use the same brush if you are in a rush and don’t have time to get the right one, but gel manicure requires a specific type of brush that is different from the one for acrylic.

Gel manicure brush is flatter and comes in various sizes, usually from 4 to 8, where the numbers represent the width of the brush. The end of the brush may be flat or pointy, but it is really up to your preference which shape you will choose.

Regarding that matter, the shape does not affect how the manicure will look. The result solely depends on the experience of the nail technician.

No matter which type of brush you choose, make sure that you take proper care of it during and after you finish the application of gel or acrylics. If you forget to clean your brush after use, the chemicals that are left on it can cause irreversible damage. 

Always make sure to use an acetone-soaked cotton pad to clean the brush thoroughly after use. This will prolong its life, no matter if it’s originally meant to be used for makeup or creating artwork.

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How do acrylic nails dry faster, read about it here.


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