Tips and Tricks to Getting Your Acrylic Nails to Dry Faster




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Everyone loves a good set of manicures, but sometimes many of us don’t have the time or the patience to wait for the manicure to cure. Especially if you choose to go with acrylics, you may spend more time with your technician due to the fact that acrylic is air-dried, just like regular nail polish.

There are many tricks women have tried throughout history in order to make the acrylic dry faster, even using the UV lamp, but many of those tricks don’t really affect the time you will spend doing your nails.

To make the acrylics dry faster, the key is to increase the temperature. To speed up the process you can try to warm up the acrylic liquid by warming up the dappen dish, you should maintain the room temperature at all times in the facility and you should take care that your hands are warm as well.

Acrylics are known to react better at higher temperatures, that is why any trick involving playing with the temperature of the room, products, or hands themselves will do the work. Few of the basic tricks are explained down below, but to fully understand how acrylic sets on the nails, let’s start with the explanation of what are acrylics after all.

What Are Acrylic Nails?

When you look at its formula, acrylic is a mixture of powder and liquid monomer that is combined and formed in a small bean shape or dough. When you mix the liquid and the powder, you create a sticky mass that allows you to play around with it.

You should use a brush to pick up this dough and apply it to the nails. The biggest advantage of acrylic nails is that with it you can change the natural length and shape of your nails.

Because of these characteristics, acrylic nails are considered to be the “most fake” nails, because once you finish with the application, you can really tell that you have something on top of your nails.

They will not provide the natural look, so if that is what you’re looking for, check other techniques that use gel polish or the Shellac, for example. On the other hand, you can create the craziest nail designs with acrylics.

Here are some tips for shellac nails.

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How to Apply Acrylic Nails?

Before you start putting acrylic on the nails, you should prepare the nails and the cuticles for the treatment. It is essential not to skip this step to ensure the manicure will last for a long period.

Use a cuticle pusher to push the cuticles away from the nails, so you can utilize the working space to the maximum. After you finish with the cuticles, use a buffer to buff the surface of the nails, and to remove the natural shiness. This will help create a rough surface so the acrylics can hold onto it. 

Now you have to make a decision whether you will be using tips or not. Generally, tips are there to make the application easier, especially if you are not experienced in this type of manicure.

Make sure to choose the tips that will be the perfect fit for your nails. If you go for too big or too small tips, the nails would look strange and the final result would not be good looking.

To set the tips on the nail, apply a small amount of glue and press the tips firmly. It should sit properly before you continue with the acrylics. Also, before you apply the acrylics, make sure to shape the tips and shorten them to the desired length. 

Prepare the dappen dish or any other small bowl convenient enough for mixing the liquid and the powder, and pour your acrylic liquid into it. You would also need to have a specific brush made for the application of acrylic.

Dip the tip of the brush into the acrylic liquid and make sure to press it firmly to remove all the bubbles that may get trapped in the brush. Also, make sure to remove the excess liquid by swiping the brush over the edge of the dappen dish.

After this, dip the brush into acrylic powder in a swiping motion, thus creating a tiny ball. This ball should not be too wet or too dry, because it will make the application impossible. However, if this is the case, then just repeat the process, since acrylic that does not have the right consistency cannot be used.

Place the bean over the tip of the nails and gently spread it all over the nail bed with a brush. Make sure you are not placing the acrylic onto the cuticles. While you shape the acrylics, dip the brush into acrylic liquid when it becomes too dry. This will ease the sculpting process.

If you are not satisfied with the coverage you’ve achieved, just repeat the process and put another layer of acrylics once the existing one is completely dry. Each layer needs around 2 minutes to harden enough before you can apply a new layer.

To harden acrylics in 2 minutes, use a top coat and an activator. An activator is a product that will bond all the layers you just applied. Because acrylic does not require a lamp to cure, there must be alternative ways to do it, like using an activator.

If you skip this important step, the acrylic would never properly cure the nails, and it may start to break and peel off the nails. To prevent this, just don’t skip the steps in the process.

How to Speed up the Drying?

The biggest advantage of the acrylics is that it only requires air to solidify. Yes, you have read well – if you do leave the acrylics to dry naturally, after 10 to 15 minutes it would be cured.

This feature is very similar to regular nail polish, which also needs only air to dry and solidify on the nails. The only difference is that regular nail polish dries much faster than acrylics.

This is why some women believe that painting regular nail polish on top of acrylics will speed up the drying of the acrylics, but I will touch on this topic further in the text and explain why this wouldn’t work.

You can check whether the acrylic is cured but the sound they make when you tang it – if the sound is hollow, the acrylic has not hardened yet. If the sound is clear, it is a sign that the acrylics have hardened as it was supposed to.

To many of us waiting for up to 15 minutes for one layer to solidify is unacceptable due to the many tasks we have to finish during the day. This is why there are few ways to speed up the drying process and make it less time-consuming.

The main goal here is to increase the time for the chemical reaction between liquid and powder acrylic – two active ingredients that make the acrylic nails. To do this, you must find a way to increase the temperature, because that will eventually speed up the reaction time.

Warm up the Dappen Dish

One easy trick to increase the temperature of the products you are using is to warm up the dappen dish or the bowl you are using for the acrylic liquid. Find another bowl that is bigger than the one you are using and place one inside the other.

Pour hot water in the bigger bowl and place the smaller one inside and allow it some time for the heat to spread. Eventually, the acrylic liquid inside the smaller bowl will also increase its temperature.

Now when you combine the warm acrylic liquid with the powder, it becomes easier to manipulate, and it will dry faster on the nails. The logic behind this is the same as the logic when you are removing the nails – you wrap them in aluminum foil to generate heat to speed up the process.

Another way to warm up the dappen dish is to keep it close to the heat source before use or to leave it in direct sunlight for at least half an hour before use. 

If you have a microwave near you, a cool trick you could use is to pour some water into the dappen dish and heat it for at least 30 seconds. This will warm up the water and the dish itself.

Once the cycle is finished, just simply pour the water out and fill the dappen dish with the acrylic liquid. Disclaimer – never microwave acrylic liquid!

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Take Care of Product Storage

The place where you store the products you are using for the manicure also plays part in speeding up the process. If your storage is a rather very dark and cold place, the products will assimilate to the temperature.

Cold products are making your work harder, so make sure to keep them in a room that’s consistently warm, or near the heat source to prevent them from cooling down. If you combine this advice with the one from above, you would get a jackpot.

The best place to store the products is usually in the drawer of a desk where you are working. This is convenient for two reasons. First, you will have all the products you need at the reach of a hand, and second, this will keep the products at the same temperature as the room is.

If you are following the next advice, in combination with keeping the products in the drawer, you have made the perfect combination.

Manage Room Temperature

Surprisingly, the temperature of the room where you are doing your manicure can play a big role, just like the storage temperature does. To provide the optimal temperature for the ideal conditions to work in, make sure to take care of the next few things.

First of all, close the windows, because if you are constantly keeping the windows open, the room would cool down quickly, and it would be very hard to get the temperature up again at the same rate of speed. 

If you do have to keep the windows open for whatever reason, make sure to move the tables and working areas away from them, to ensure the cold isn’t directly affecting the nails and the products.

Heat is your best friend if you want the acrylics to dry faster, so you can try adding more heat sources in the room where you are doing your manicure. But beware that too much heat is not good.

If your tables are in a direct path of sunlight, the constant exposure to the sun can significantly reduce their shelf life, and you will have to replace them more often. An easy trick to check if the products are in too much heat is to check if you are hot – if the answer is yes, then it is too hot for the products as well.

Hands Temperature

Believe it or not, the most important factor, if you want your acrylics to dry faster, is to have warm hands! Everything I already mentioned makes sense, but the curing process is actually happening on your hands, so if they are cold, you would have issues.

Cold hands are something the majority of us have experienced at least once in our life due to the extreme cold outside, but some people have predispositions to have cold hands all the time, regardless of the weather.

This is because many circulation issues in the body are first shown as cold hands and feet. If you do suffer from a condition like that, none of the aforementioned tricks would make the acrylic dry faster.

To avoid this issue, make sure to warm up your hands before going for a new manicure, by keeping them under hot running water or by rubbing them palm to palm. This will not solve the issue in the long run, but it will help in the moment you need it the most – when you apply the acrylics.

What Is the Use of Nail Lacquer?

Because the names are very similar, many people mix these two, but nail lacquer is a product that’s different from nail polish. Nail lacquer is known to have a more durable formula when compared to regular nail polish, and also it appears thicker on the nails.

Nail lacquer, when properly applied and dried, can last for up to seven days and is supposed to be more durable and less prone to chipping and breaking. You would use nail lacquer instead of nail polish when you want to have a manicure that can endure more stress.

There is confusion here where some women think that after the acrylics are all set, you can use regular nail polish or nail lacquer to paint the nails over. This is wrong, and these two types of a product should never be mixed.

This is because the formulation of these two products is very different, and the method of application and drying is different. Although both of them are air-dried, acrylics take a longer time.

Because of this fact, some women believe that if they paint the nail lacquer on top, which is known to have a faster drying time, the whole manicure would dry faster and you would have a nice hack to use in the future.

If you try to do this, the nail lacquer may dry before the acrylics, and although the manicure might be all good to go, once you press the nails or hit them accidentally with something, there would be spots and you will see how the acrylics have shifted.

My best advice to you is to leave the nail lacquer on the side if you are going for acrylics and the opposite. There is no need to mix them and try to speed up the process of drying this way.

If you want to know more about the difference between nail polish and Lacquer you can learn about it here.

Why You Can’t Use a UV Lamp to Dry Acrylic Faster

Have you ever tried to cure acrylics under a UV lamp to speed up the process of drying? If yes, then you probably have noticed that the UV lamp didn’t contribute at all. To explain why this is happening, you need to understand the difference between the gel and the acrylic.

All gel-based products contain photoreactive substances which react with the UVA wavelengths that are emitted by UV and LED lamps. During this reaction, the gel solidifies, becomes harder, and cures on the nails.

The reason why the lamps don’t affect acrylics is that the acrylics are not photoreactive, since they are not gel-based. There are no photoreactive substances in the acrylics formula that would initiate a reaction when in touch with a lamp.

Because of this, there is no use in trying to use the lamp, it will simply not affect the acrylics. Acrylic nails are air-dried, so the best thing is to leave them to dry at their own pace or to try to speed up the process with the aforementioned tips and tricks.


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