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Acrylic Nails: The Beginner’s Guide To Insta-Worthy Extensions

Life may not be perfect, but your nails can be. Especially when you have discovered our all-you-need-to-know-guide on acrylic nails. After all, this is no ordinary manicure we are talking about here. With the right guidance, acrylic nail extensions can be your cheat code for unlocking the nails of your dreams without any chipping, breakage or aftereffects. Sounds too good to be true? It needn’t be. Follow along with our easy guide on all things acrylic:

Acrylic nails

What are acrylic nails?

No spoiler alert needed here: acrylic nails are made from an acrylic form of plastic. They are also called liquid-and-powder nails due to the way they are made. Throw together a liquid acrylic monomer with a solid acrylic powder and you’ll arrive at a semi-solid shape. This is then sculpted into the shape of the natural nail. 

The liquid-and-powder formula can be poured directly on the natural nail or on a nail tip—an easy shortcut for extending the length of the nail. Available in a pre-set range of sizes, these nail tips serve as the base for any design that you and your nail artist can dream of. 

Acrylic nails can also be created with the use of a nail form—adhesive extensions used to extend the size of the nails. For those in the quest of a custom nail shape, these forms can offer up a shape that is unique to you. 

Which is better: Gel or acrylic nails?

It is, of course, impossible for any conversation around acrylic nails to not be followed up by a hot debate on gel nails. So, what is the buzz around gel nail polish? A gel polish manicure is done with the use of a liquid resin, similar in texture to a soft gel that serves as an overlay on the natural nail. This texture must be cured or hardened under a UV or LED light for a solid, nail-like finish. 

Between acrylic versus gel nails, which manicure has got the upperhand? The answer needs to be guided by what you are looking for from your manicure. Need natural-looking nails? Gel nails are able to closely mimic the texture and shape of your natural nails. Running short on time? Acrylic fingernails do not necessitate a session with the UV light as they can dry off naturally by air. 

Gel or acrylic nails: Which last longer?

Shape, color and consistency are important factors to be considered when deciding your next manicure. But the debate ultimately boils down to one pertinent question: which style will last longer and require fewer follow-ups to the salon? In the quest for longevity, it helps to consider the average speed of how quickly your nail grows out. With newer formulas hitting the nail aisle, acrylic iterations are known to be more durable and stronger. 

Proper maintenance and upkeep can also dictate how long your manicure lasts—whether gel or acrylic. This includes keeping your cuticles moisturized with nail oil, opting for regular touch-ups every 2-3 weeks and resisting the urge to fix a broken nail yourself. 

What is the most attractive acrylic nail shape?

Nail trends come and nail trends go. But finding the right nail shape for your hands can take your manicure from 0 to 100 in two ticks. If you find short nails easier to maintain, look for oval or square-shaped acrylics that can work with smaller lengths. When you are ready to level up, look at almond acrylic designs for a wide base that tapers into a peak. Looking to go bold or go home? Stiletto and coffin nails come with razor-sharp pointed tips that bring all of the drama. 

How to do acrylic nails: Step-by-step guide for beginners

Perhaps you are feeling brave enough to take the plunge with DIY acrylic nails. Or maybe you’d just like a better understanding of what your nail tech is doing. Either way, the only rule to be followed for acrylic nails is that they are done in a clean, sterilized environment. Once you have ticked off this crucial prerequisite, here is what will follow:

  • Creating acrylic nail extensions starts with choosing a nail form or tips that fit the shape of your nail, as needed. 
  • As Meghan Trainor once crooned: it’s all about that base. Clean off any old nail polish from previous mani sessions, trim nails as desired and buff them gently with a nail file.
  • Next, reach for a wooden cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles. This ensures that the extensions are attached to your natural nails and not the skin. 
  • All set? Reach for a quick round of an acid-free nail primer to ensure that there aren’t any residual oils lingering on your nails.
  • Now, it is time for the main act. Pour some liquid primer in a dish and the powder separately. Dip the acrylic brush in both and then take it to the bottom of your nail where the smile line appears. Spread it evenly over the nail taking care not to touch the cuticle. 
  • Allow your handiwork to naturally air-dry for the next ten minutes and then reach for your go-to nail colors to create your own masterpiece. 


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How to remove acrylic nails at home

The first rule on how to take off acrylic nails at home? It is preferable to get it done by a qualified nail technician to minimize damage to your nail bed. If you are running short on time and don’t have the time to pop by the salon, follow this guide for safely removing nail extensions at home:

  • Run a nail buffer over the top of the acrylic extensions to take off the top coat and make it easier to soften the nails.
  • Next, dip your nails into a bowl of acetone for five minutes. When done, gently push the acrylic downwards on your nails with the cuticles as your starting line.
  • If needed, dip your nails in acetone again until the acrylics are completely soaked off and ready to be pushed off. 
  • When done, treat your nails to some TLC by massaging in cuticle oil for healthier nails without any leftover damage.


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Do acrylic nails ruin your natural nails?

Short answer: no. While acrylic extensions can’t cause significant damage to your natural nails, improper application and removal techniques can. If you notice any sign of discoloration, yellowing or redness, it is important to get your nails treated by a medical professional before you apply any form of acrylic or gel polish. Scheduling regular breaks after every three months can also ensure that your nails get some time to heal and breathe. 

What is trending in acrylic nails?

Now that you are all caught up, it is time for the fun part: finding the acrylic nail design of your dreams. Ahead, we share all the trending designs, patterns and colors to bookmark for your next salon visit:

Coffin nails

You have the stiletto nails with the pointed tips. You have the almond nails with the rounded edges. Somewhere between these two extremes is where coffin nails thrive. Long but not too long, pointed but not enough to stab someone. Douse them in the hues of a bloody Mary and you have a winner. 


…but make it 2024. The answer comes in the form of this Huda Kattan-loved manicure. Featuring pearlescent hues and seashell textures, bookmark this design if you have been craving some vitamin sea. 


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Highlighter hues

There are endless ways to invite summer into your nail kit—and none of them are subtle. After all, why blend in with the wallflowers when you can stand out with bold pops of neon and fuchsia?

Metallic magic

On the hunt for short acrylic nail designs? We gotchu. Allow glitter specks to flit across your nails or give the conventional French manicure a sparkly update—there’s no going wrong with this timeless design. 


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Coquette nails

Cottagecore, who? This season, coquette-core is assuming the frontstage. And if your last Bridgerton marathon is fresh on your mind, you will have a hard time saying no to flirty bows, feminine hues and all the bells and whistles. 


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What are the best places to get acrylic nails near me in Dubai?

Ready to get started? Take your pick from our shortlist of the best nail salons in Dubai for extensions, creative designs and more. The hunt for the finest acrylic nails in Dubai ends here. 

SO Art + Beauty

“If I can’t get my nails done at SO Art + Beauty, I pretty much won’t get them done at all.” When you hear these words from beauty mogul Huda Kattan, you know you have found a winner. Whether you are looking to douse your talons in glitter, graphic characters or retro swirls—if you can dream it, these talented nail experts can bring it to life. 

SO Art + Beauty

SO Art + Beauty

For appointments, visit SO Art + Beauty – Uptown Tower – Dubai, +9714 820 8888 


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If you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit Atlantis The Palm, we just found you a new one: this Instagram-worthy nail salon. Starting from AED 380, Nailology offers a wide range of extensions and overlays. Nourished with hand cream and finished off with glossy polish, expect compliments wherever you go. 



For appointments, visit Nailology – Atlantis The Palm Hotel – Dubai, +9714 426 1031 


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We Nails

Illuminated Ferris Wheel displays, neon signs and graffiti—it is impossible to step into We Nails without feeling your creative senses perk up. You’ll want to take this inspiration to your nails where AED 378 can fetch you a full set of acrylic nails. The menu also offers an expansive range of refill and removal options. 

We Nails

For appointments, visit We Nails – Trident Grand Residence – Jumeirah Beach Residence – Dubai, +9715 050 77501 


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