What Is Acrylic Primer For Nails? How To Use It Accurately?

Do you want a long-lasting and durable acrylic nail extension? If yes, you must equip your DIY nail kit with acrylic nail primer.

Now you might be thinking what is acrylic primer for nails and why is it so important in the longevity of your nail extensions.

Acrylic nail primer serves as the foundation for your manicure and helps provide strong adhesion to your nail enhancements. It works by preparing your natural nails by removing any oils or residue, creating a clean canvas for the subsequent application of acrylics.

By promoting better bonding, acrylic primer helps prevent lifting, chipping, and peeling and allows your manicure to stay intact for an extended period.

As a nail artist, I had the privilege of interacting with leading experts in the field over the years and I can confidently share insights that will help you navigate nail enhancements.

Rest assured, the information I’m sharing about nail primer is backed by industry professionals and their years of knowledge in the nail care domain as well as my own experience over the years as a nail technician.

So read the post to learn more deeply about the importance of acrylic nail primer and its correct usage. Moreover, I’ll tell you why it is different from the base coat and dehydrator. 

Nail Primer Vs Base Coat

Both nail primer and base coat contribute to nail adhesion but they are designed for different purposes. 

Nail primer is primarily used for strong artificial nail enhancements. While the use of a base coat is necessary in the preparatory step, before applying regular nail polish.

Nail Primer:

A nail primer is a product that is usually used in professional nail salons or by experienced nail technicians. 

Its prefatory function is to prepare the natural nail plate for the application of artificial enhancements, such as acrylic or gel nails. 

The primer helps improve sticking between the natural nail and the artificial product and makes sure that the enhancements stay in place for longer. 

Nail primers often contain bonding agents that help create a strong bond between the nail and the artificial material.

Base Coat:

On the other hand, a base coat is a product used in regular nail polish applications. 

It is applied directly to the natural nail before the colored nail polish. 

Base coats help create a smooth surface on the nail, filling in ridges and imperfections, and providing an even surface for the polish.

It can also act as a protective barrier between the nail and the nail polish. 

They can help prevent staining and discoloration on the natural nail caused by pigmented nail polishes.

Certain base coats contain ingredients that stimulate nail health, such as vitamins, minerals, or proteins. 

They may help strengthen and nourish the nails and prevent their breakage. 

What Is Nail Primer Vs Dehydrator 

Both acrylic nail primer and dehydrator are products that are formulated to assist in the preparation of natural nails before applying acrylic or gel nails. 

While they serve similar purposes, there are slight differences between the two.

Nail primer is usually in liquid form and comprises chemicals such as methacrylic acid or acid-based solutions. 

These substances etch the surface of the nail plate to create tiny pores that allow the acrylic to bond more effectively. 

It is applied sparingly to the natural nail after it has been properly prepped and dehydrated.

On the other hand, dehydrators are alcohol-based solutions that evaporate quickly. 

They, just like primers, extract moisture and oils and help enhance adhesion and prevent acrylic nail lifting or peeling of the nail enhancements.

Is Primer Necessary For Acrylic Nails?

Using a primer is not absolutely necessary for acrylic nails, but it is highly recommended for the best results. 

With so many benefits discussed above, you should not skip this vital step while doing acrylic nails. 

How To Use Nail Primer Accurately? Step By Step

Knowing how to apply acrylic nail primer the right way is important for the proper adhesion and longevity of acrylic nails. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use acrylic nail primer accurately:

Step 1: Prepare Your Natural Nails

Get rid of any existing nail polish and push back the cuticles carefully and 

gently with the help of a cuticle pusher. 

Also, trim and shape the nails to a length of your choice. File the surface of the nails lightly to put off any shine.

Now, clean the nails thoroughly to remove all kinds of dust, oils, or junk. 

You can employ a nail polish remover or a gentle nail cleanser for this purpose. 

Be sure the nails are fully dry before proceeding.

Step 2: Apply Dehydrator (optional)

I prefer to apply a dehydrator or nail prep solution before applying the primer. 

This helps in further removing any oils or moisture from the nails leading to improved adhesion. 

You may skip this step but I will recommend you try it once and you’ll witness noticeable results.

Step 3: Shake The Acrylic Nail Primer 

Before applying the primer, shake the bottle well so that the contents are mixed very well. 

This works for activating the ingredients and provides enhanced performance.

Step 4: Apply a Thin Layer Of Primer

With the help of a small brush or an applicator, apply a thin layer of acrylic nail primer onto the natural nail plate. 

It is advised to begin from the cuticle area and brush it towards the free edge of the nail, and cover the entire nail surface evenly. 

Be careful and don’t apply the primer on the cuticles or skin, as it can cause irritation or a burning sensation.

Step 5: Let The Acrylic Nail Primer Dry 

Finally, permit the primer to air dry. This usually takes a few seconds to a minute, depending on the specific primer you’re using. 

Avoid blowing on the nails to speed up the drying process because this act can introduce moisture and compromise the adhesion.

Once the primer is completely dry, you can proceed to apply the acrylic nails

Follow the instructions for the specific acrylic system you are using, whether it’s liquid and powder or a brush-on system.

Nail primer contains strong chemicals, and some people are allergic to it. So make sure you’re safe from its usage. Moreover, avoid your eyes and skin from contacting it directly. 

Best Nail Primer For Acrylic Manicure

If you’re willing to get a primer that is worth buying, I would recommend the following. Well, I’m mentioning them only because I’ve used them and their performance is satisfactory for me. 

You can get them on Amazon or their official sites as well as from nearby stores. 

Nail PrimerKey FeaturesPrice Range
Young Nails ProteinPromotes adhesion and is one of the best nail primers to prevent lifting$10 – $15
CND ScrubFreshCleanses and dehydrates the nail surface$15 – $20
OPI Bond AidAcid-free formula for better adhesion$12 – $18
Mia Secret XtrabondPromotes bonding and reduces lifting$8 – $12
IBD DehydrateRemoves excess moisture for better adhesion$10 – $15

Alternatives Of Nail Primer

If you’re looking for alternatives and asking, “What can I use instead of nail primer,” there are a few options you can consider. 

  • Rubbing Alcohol: 

Isopropyl rubbing alcohol can be used as a temporary alternative to acrylic nail primer. It helps clean the nail surface and pulls oil residues and debris that could affect the adhesion of the acrylic. 

However, it may not provide the same level of adhesion as a dedicated primer.

  • Nail Bonder: 

A nail bonder is another option you can try. It is designed to enhance sticking and improve the longevity of nail enhancements. 

Apply the bonder to the natural nail before applying the acrylic applications. 

Can I Use Base Coat As Primer For Acrylic Nails?

Yes, you can; although base coats are usually developed for nail polish adherence and to prevent staining of the natural nails, they can also be used as a primer to prepare nails for putting on acrylic nails. 


When should I use acrylic primer?

The acrylic primer should be used as a preparatory step before applying acrylic nails. Use it when you want to enhance the bond and durability of acrylic nails, especially on problematic or oily nail surfaces.

Is gel and acrylic primer the same?

No, gel and acrylic primer are not the same. Gel primer is particularly created for gel nail enhancements, while acrylic primer is formulated to enhance the adhesion of acrylic products. Each type of primer is composed to work optimally with its respective nail system.

Is acrylic primer nail glue?

No, acrylic primer is not the same as nail glue. Both perform different purposes. Acrylic primer is used for strong and long-lasting acrylic nails, while nail glue is an adhesive used to bind artificial nails to the natural nail or to repair broken nails.

Can I apply acrylic without primer?

While it is possible to apply acrylic without using a primer, it is normally not recommended. Acrylic primer helps create a stronger interaction between the natural nail and the artificial nails, which leads to better adhesion and stable nails. 

What can I use as a primer for acrylic nails?

It is best to use a specialized acrylic primer synthesized precisely for acrylic nail enhancements. These primers are prepared to deliver the optimal adhesion and bonding for acrylic products. Using alternative substances as a primer may not provide the same level of results and may compromise your manicure lifespan.

Why do you need primer for acrylic nails?

Primer is essential for acrylic nails because it facilitates promising sticking and enhances the attraction between natural and synthetic nails. The primer prepares the nail surface by removing contaminants and helps prevent lifting, chipping, and premature detachment of the acrylic nails. 

Final Words 

So what is acrylic primer for nails? Well, in conclusion, I would like to mention that understanding the significance of acrylic primer for nails is crucial for achieving long-lasting and flawless nail art. 

Acrylic primer acts as a compound that cleans your nails and makes them ready and well-prepared for wearing those fake nails, reducing the risk of pinching or chipping.

When selecting an acrylic primer, I advise you to consider some factors such as compatibility with specific nail systems, ease of application, and the overall performance of the product. 

Additionally, customer reviews and recommendations can be valuable resources for finding the most reliable and effective acrylic primers on the market.

Best Wishes!

Marissa Arnold

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