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What is natural acrylic nails?

Acrylic nails have been a popular nail enhancement option for decades. Traditional acrylic nails are made from a liquid monomer and polymer powder which are mixed together to create the acrylic product that is applied over the natural nail. While regular acrylics use harsh chemicals, there are now more natural options available that provide a safer and healthier alternative while still allowing you to have long-lasting sculpted nails.

What are natural acrylic nails?

Natural acrylic nails are a type of acrylic nail enhancement that is made from less toxic ingredients than traditional acrylics. They are composed of a monomer liquid and polymer powder that excludes certain chemicals like ethyl methacrylate (EMA) and methyl methacrylate (MMA) which can cause allergic reactions and be absorbed into the body.

Instead, natural acrylics use ingredients like titanium dioxide, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), hydroxypropyl methacrylate (HPMA), and ethyl cyanoacrylate. These create a durable acrylic nail without the use of hazardous components. Natural acrylic nails aim to provide the strength and longevity of a standard acrylic manicure while being a healthier option for your nails.

Benefits of natural acrylic nails

There are several advantages to choosing a natural acrylic nail service over traditional acrylics or other nail enhancement extensions:

  • Less chemicals – Natural acrylics avoid chemical ingredients like EMA and MMA that can irritate the nails, skin, and respiratory system.
  • Strong yet flexible – The polymers used create an acrylic that is dense yet flexible to prevent cracking or breaking.
  • Durable – Natural acrylics provide the same long-lasting wear of up to 2-3 weeks when properly applied and cared for.
  • Natural looking – Powders come in clear or neutral pink and beige shades to appear seamless on the nails.
  • Quick drying – Natural acrylics usually dry within minutes to allow quick processing.
  • Reinforce the nail – The overlay helps strengthen weak, brittle nails prone to splitting and peeling.
  • Thin application – Only a thin layer is needed over the natural nail, keeping them lightweight.
  • Easy to remove – Natural acrylics can be safely soaked off without damage to the natural nail.

Types of natural acrylic nails

There are a few different types of natural acrylic options for nail enhancements:

  • Clear acrylic – A polymer liquid and clear polymer powder create a transparent, glossy acrylic overlay on the natural nails.
  • Pink and beige acrylic – Tinted acrylic powders are used to create a natural, nude-colored acrylic nail.
  • Colored acrylic – Opaque colored acrylic powders can create any nail color while overlaying and protecting the natural nail.
  • Dip acrylic – The powder polymer is applied directly to the nail and cured under UV or LED light without a liquid.
  • Acrylic overlays – Thin acrylic extensions are added only over the tip of the nail for elongating short nails.
  • Acrylic infills – Used to fill the gap between acrylic nail refills during maintenance appointments.

Natural acrylic nail process

Getting a natural acrylic manicure is very similar to a standard acrylic nail service. The steps include:

  1. Shaping the natural nails – Filing into the desired shape.
  2. Cuticle cleaning – Pushing back and trimming the cuticles.
  3. Nail dehydration – Using a dehydrator or low-grit file to remove shine and oils from the nail plate for better acrylic adhesion.
  4. Priming – Applying a nail primer to further help acrylic properly bond to the natural nails.
  5. Application – Brushing on the liquid monomer and then dipping the brush into the polymer powder and placing it on the nail. The mixture is shaped as needed before setting.
  6. Filing/shaping – Shaping and smoothing the acrylic extensions into the desired look.
  7. Finishing – Using a buffing block to refine the surface.
  8. Hydrating – Massaging cuticle oil into the nail and cuticles.

This process takes approximately 1-2 hours for a full set. Maintenance appointments every 2-3 weeks take less time since it involves just an infill process of patching regions where the acrylic has grown out from the nail.

How to maintain natural acrylic nails

Caring properly for natural acrylics is important for keeping them in good condition between visits:

  • Use jojoba, vitamin E or acrylic-safe cuticle oils daily to moisturize the nails and cuticles.
  • Wear gloves during housework and handwashing to reduce excess moisture.
  • File down any snags in the acrylic gently to avoid cracking and breaking.
  • Avoid using the nails as tools to pry, scrape or pick things.
  • Use a nail strengthener or hardener polish for added protection.
  • Get infills done every 2-3 weeks to prevent lifting or gaps between the acrylic and natural nail.
  • Remove all traces of old polish before infills to allow new acrylic to adhere properly.
  • Avoid excessive water exposure and take care not to bump or catch the nails on things.

Natural acrylic vs gel nails

Gel manicures have also grown in popularity for nail enhancements. Here is how natural acrylics compare:

Natural Acrylic Gel Polish
Ingredients Mixture of polymer powder and non-toxic liquid monomer such as PMMA or HPMA Methacrylate polymers and oligomers
Process Liquid and powder are mixed and sculpted on the nail, then hardened Base coat, colored gel polish and top coat are painted on and cured under UV/LED light
Nail Appearance Extensions sculpted into a desired shape Natural nails painted with a glossy gel polish
Feel on Nail Slightly rigid feel Flexible with slightly tacky layer between coats
Dry Time Minutes 30-60 seconds between coats
Durability 2-3 weeks Up to 3 weeks
Damage Risk Low. Flexible acrylic blends well with nail. Higher than acrylics if gel is peeled off nail instead of soaked off.
Removal Process Filed then soaked off Soaked in pure acetone
Maintenance Infills every 2-3 weeks Full gel manicure every 2-4 weeks

Overall, natural acrylics allow more customization and length with an overlay extension while gel polish offers brilliant color without having to sculpt onto the nails.

Cost of natural acrylic nails

On average, you can expect to pay the following prices for natural acrylic nail services in a salon:

  • Full set – $50-$85
  • Infills – $30-$50
  • Natural acrylic overlay – $5-$15 per nail
  • Natural acrylic nails with polish – $55-$100
  • Natural acrylic nail removal – $15-$25

Prices vary by location, salon, the intricacy of the design, and other factors. Home acrylic kits can also be purchased but it takes skill to apply them properly.

Natural acrylic nail shapes

Some popular shapes for natural acrylic nail designs include:

  • Squoval – Slightly rounded square shape
  • Round – Circular rounded shape
  • Coffin – Tapered square tip with straight sides
  • Ballerina – Gently tapered oval shape
  • Almond – Softly tapered square
  • Stiletto – Dramatically tapered into a narrow point

The length can range from short to extra long depending on your preferences. Shorter coffin and squoval shapes work well for everyday wear while more dramatic stiletto or long almond shapes make more of a style statement.

Natural acrylic nail ideas

From chic nude shades to artistic designs, here are some stylish ideas for natural acrylic nails:

  • Pink, beige or clear ombre – Fade between two soft, neutral shades.
  • Short almond nails – Flattering on all hands and low maintenance.
  • White tips – Add a French tip or half-moon shape for a classic, polished look.
  • Matte finish – Buffed matte powder for a modern velvet effect.
  • Glossy reds – Rich wine reds or bright cherry colors make a statement.
  • Metallic accent nails – Gold, rose gold, silver or chrome acrylic powder on an accent nail.
  • Marble swirls – Mixed marbling using two colored acrylic powders.
  • Minimalist nail art – Small stickers, crystals, glitter or striping tape for minimalist nail art.

The possibilities are endless for shaping and designing natural acrylic nails! Have fun exploring different looks.


Are natural acrylic nails safe?

Natural acrylic nails are considered safer and less likely to cause damage compared to traditional acrylics. Brands that exclude chemicals like EMA and MMA help reduce irritation risks. However, basic precautions like not picking at the nails and moisturizing the cuticles should still be taken.

Do natural acrylic nails damage your nails?

When applied and removed properly, natural acrylics will not damage the natural nail. To avoid damage:

  • – Never peel off acrylics; only file and soak them off
  • – Keep nails moisturized underneath acrylics
  • – Fill gaps with acrylic as needed
  • – Remove all old polish before fills

How long do natural acrylic nails last?

With proper application and infill maintenance, a set of natural acrylic nails can last 2-3 weeks or more before needing removal. Durability depends on the strength of your natural nails and avoiding excessive moisture or trauma to the acrylics.

Can you get natural acrylic nails wet?

You can get acrylics wet and wash hands normally. However, exposure to excessive water can cause lifting at the edges as it seeps underneath the enhancement. Wearing moisture-blocking gloves for dishwashing can help prevent this.

How do you make natural acrylic nails last longer?

Tips for longer-lasting natural acrylic nails include:

  • – Get consistent infill appointments every 2-3 weeks
  • – Avoid picking, pulling or prying that can crack acrylic
  • – Use cuticle oil daily to hydrate the nail bed
  • – File down snags immediately to prevent breaks
  • – Wear gloves during wet work
  • – Keep nails short if your job is hard on hands


Natural acrylic nails offer a safer, healthier alternative to standard acrylics while still allowing you to get long, customizable nail enhancements. Choosing products free of harsh chemicals like EMA and MMA can help reduce risks of nail damage, allergies and overexposure. With proper technique and care, natural acrylic manicures can safely extend your nails for 2-3 weeks of durable wear. If you love acrylic nails but want a more natural option, natural acrylics are an excellent choice.