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Can You Do Nail Art With Acrylic Paint?

Can You Do Nail Art With Acrylic Paint

So, can you do nail art with acrylic paint? Yes, you can use acrylic paint to do nail art. Just put a base polish so that the acrylic paint doesn’t wash away. Acrylic paint can be easy to use since it’s water-based and you can remove it if you make mistakes. If you are good with acrylic paint, then definitely use your skills on nail art.


Nail treatment originated as early as 4000 BC in ancient Egypt. Women of high standing got their nails treated with henna, while others dyed with pastel and natural shades. Men prepared for war by getting their nails and body parts painted. Noblemen had their nail painted in black, while the common men in green color.

Nail polish origin can get traced to ancient China during 3000 BC, and they got made from beeswax, gum arabic, egg whites, gelatin, and vegetable dyes. The women dipped their nails in this dye for hours and left them to dry.

Red and pink were some typical tints available in those days. Later during the Zhou Dynasty, women got their nail polish covered with gold and silver dust to signify their social status.

During the Ming Dynasty in China, it was fashionable to grow long nails. Sometimes, these nails got protected with gold-plating. The Incas in South America were known to do nail art in their times by painting eagles on their nails.

Modern Manicure

Before you use acrylic paint for making nail art, you should know the various procedures involved in making nail art. This knowledge is essential so that you can make the perfect nail art with acrylic paint. Let’s start with a little history.

The orange stick got invented by Dr.Sitts a European podiatrist in the early 1800’s. This thin wood with a pointed end got made from orange wood. His niece developed manicure tools for ladies, and very soon, these ideas reached the American salons. Before these inventions, people got to use acid, scissors, and metal rods, to trim and shape their nails, and oil created the tint and shine.

In early 1900 the first nail polish got invented, though this was colorless. Very soon, dyes got added to such polish, and innumerable shades were made available. Half-moon manicure found some users for a short while, but soon the fashion returned to uniform nail color shades.

It was only in 1976, the French manicure style emerged, with the establishment of ORLY, a Paris based cosmetic company. From the 1980s, there has been no looking back with the emergence of the nail painting industry!

Tools And Technique

Here are some tools and techniques involved in the production of nail art. Some of these tools and techniques got evolved during the early civilization, while most of the others are recent inventions and introduction to this evolving fashion space.

Pedicure And Manicure

This is the necessary cleaning and managing process of your nails on fingers and toes. You require the scissors to keep your nails at a particular length and helps you to manage any chips and cracks.

These processes can either get conducted by you at home or visit licensed nail salons. Since the tools get used on various individuals, they must get disinfected before getting used to you. Hence, visiting a standardized parlor is very important for your safety.


Several types of polishes get used during nail art today.

Nail Varnish Or Polish

To avoid any damage to your nails or discoloration, you must always apply a coat of base lacquer or polish, before any further cover or polish gets added.

Acrylic Polish

This is a chemical mixture of a monomer liquid with polymer dye powder and can safely get applied to polish. After some while, they dry in the atmosphere, forming a hard film on top of your nail.

Gel Polish

This chemical formulation also uses shellac and requires external stimulants to dry. These types of nail polishes require UV and LED lamps to get cured and dry. They don’t dry in the atmosphere like the acrylic polish.

Decorating Nails

  1. Glitters

  2. Nail piercing

  3. Nail art pens

  4. Water marbling

  5. Stamping

  6. Accessories like – rhinestones, studs, beads, acrylic motifs, and aluminum foils

  7. Acrylic powder for 3D designs

These tools are quite useful for nail art process:

  1. Nail dotting tools

  2. Nail art brushes

  3. Stationery tapes and stickers

  4. Thin colored striping tapes

  5. Sponges for a gradient effect


Various types of changes get added during the implementation of nail art. Some such options are as follows:


Small beads get placed on wet polish, and when they dry, it gives us a rough and uneven surface.


Nail polishes with unique properties give a sparkling and rainbow effect when your nail gets exposed to sunlight.


On top of wet polish, velvet strands get spread, to give your nails a velvety feel.


A unique polish gets applied on top of the already painted nail to give it a crackled look when this top coat dries.

Inverse French

This is reverse to French tip manicure, where there is a different nail polish applied at the base of the nail, and the rest of the nail has another shade.

Nail Stickers

These artificial stickers mimic the myriad hues and glitter of nail polishes and studs and metals, to give your nails a 3D effect. Wide varieties of designs help you decorate your nails in a flash, without going through the entire, painstaking nail art process!

Metal Design Plates

These are sturdy metal plates, where the required designs get engraved. They have a highly polished surface and can withstand repeated cleaning with acetone. Stainless steel is one of the preferred material that gets used for this purpose.

Nail Stamper

Usually made from silicone, these stampers transfer the designs from the plates to your nails. The face of the stamp must be firm enough to pick up the plan and replicate it on the nail surface.


You must always cover your nails with a base coat before you commence with your nail art activities.


To get bling to look to your nails, you can use stones, metal chips, and pearls, glued to your nails.

Stamping Polish

There is a special polish that gets required for your design transfer from the metal plates to your nails.

Nail Brushes


If you wish to create art on your polished nails, you need varieties of these brushes. Acrylic paints generally get used for this purpose. You could either create a design using these brushes or add a few strokes, along with other tools.

What Are Nail Brushes Made Of

Nail brushes are either made of natural or synthetic bristles. Maintaining natural bristle brushes are essential to its life. Though they are costlier, you can work on detailed artwork with such brushes.

Natural nail brushes get made from Kolinsky sable. These are bristles found on the tail of Siberian weasels. Low-quality brushes use hairs of other commonly found animals.

Types Of Nail Art Brushes

Nail art brushes come in various forms and sizes since each gets used for a specific set of activities. Let’s look at the basic types of brushes and their application to nail art.

Round Brush

Round brushes are present in everyone’s manicure kit since they get used most often. You can make intricate designs using this brush, including some firm strokes. You can also create a 3D design using this type of nail brush.

Liner Or Striper Brush

You can create strips and lines with this brush. Zebra and tiger stripes are made easy with such a tool. They come in three different types and get picked as per the required design. This is a handy brush for your nail art kit.

Stripette Brush

This is the shorter form of striper brush and gets used for short stripes and lines required in your design.

Flat Brush

There are different sizes of flat brushes. You use them to create shades, waveforms, and strokes. They also get known as a shader brush and is particularly useful for flower designs. This brush gets mainly used for gel polish and design.

Angled Brush

This brush has its bristles, set at an angle. It is quite useful in loading two different colors on both ends and creating shades using a single stroke – another useful brush for creating exquisite flower designs on your nails.

Shader Brush

Brushes, which are in the form of a right angle on both ends, gets to be used for creating shades and filling up the gaps. They come in 2-3 types and get picked up as per requirement.

Fan Brush

The fan-shaped brush has multiple uses. You can create swirls, shades, and strokes with this brush. Gets used for dusting glitter on your design, or remove glitter from dried corners.

Detail Brush

The fine-tipped brush is a must-have in all your nail art kit since this brush gets used to add details to all your nail art activities. You can remove and correct with such a brush. More exquisite features get integrated into your nail art, more use for such types of brushes.

The shorter, stiffer bristles of this brush help create a logo, characters, outlining, lettering, shapes, and patterns since you will have better control over your design work.

Crooked Detailer Brush

These brushes have a short length and are round. They get to be used for finer details and for creating outlines.

Pointer Brush

This gets used for broad stripes, petals, and designs. You can add pressure initially and then reduce with your stroke.


Your brush kit is incomplete without this dotting tool. Gets used on creating dots in your nail art designs. For larger dots, you may have to choose a larger instrument. Each of these brushes has many sizes, depending upon its applications. Different brands provide varieties of add-ons to these brushes, like cases, cover for the tip, and bristle tip perfection with professional cuts.

Brushes empower nail art professionals with the most important working tool. The grips of these brushes are different, and many are light-weight. Even the synthetic brushes come in various types. Some of the bristles give very near-natural bristle outcomes.

The angle of the brushes also plays a vital role in delivering its promise. Another critical aspect of these brushes is how these bristles are held together, without losing its shape or falling off. All these provide user satisfaction, and hence it’s prudent to check feedback before purchase.

Nail art brushes get used with acrylic, polish, and gel paints. Everyone requires a clean-up brush, to remove paints and polish from the edges of your nail and the cuticle. For all kinds of designs on nail extensions, you will require acrylic brushes. If they get adequately maintained, they will last years. Do not use acetone for brush cleaning, but soak them in the monomer.

In case you plan to use nail brushes on polish surfaces, along with stamper design stampers, you may use acetone for any type of corrections. Since nail polish remover damages natural bristles, try and use synthetic brushes for such applications. For all gel-based design work, you can use Kolinsky brushes, since corrections here are by using alcohol or monomer.

How To Paint With A Nail Art Brush

Here are some primary forms and the specific nail art brushes that will get used:


You would require the dotting tool, which comes in two sizes. Dip the end in nail polish and place your dots on the nail surface, as per the design planned.

Line Or Swirl

The striper brush gets used for such strokes. Depending upon the quantity of paint or polish your brush is holding, you can make thin or thick lines.

Petal, Teardrop, Or Comma

Use detail or flat brush for this purpose. For petals and teardrops, press initially with your brush while applying the paint and slowly ease the pressure while you complete the design.


Place two paint drops next to each other with the dotting tool and then mix them on the nail surface as per the design you have envisaged.

French Manicure Tip

You will require flat and detail brushes for this design. French tip guides also help you with this design more accurately.

Acrylic Paint As Nail Polish

This is the final part. This will give you the information on how to use acrylic paint as nail polish which is needed for the nail art.

Acrylic paints are water paints but have the properties to paint on all surfaces. You can use this paint as polish as under:

  1. Apply a coat of base polish on your nail to protect it from any stain. It is quite safe to use acrylic paint on your nail since it is non-toxic.

  2. Choose the shade of acrylic paint, and apply a coat on your nail surfaces. This paint dries quickly and gives you a matte finish.

  3. You have to apply a top coat nail polish to protect the acrylic paint to wash away or get chipped.

  4. You can remove this polish and paint using nail polish remover or acetone.

  5. Do not mix acrylic paint with polish, since they have different properties and will form lumps.

Acrylic Paint With Nail Art Brush

We use acrylic paint to decorate your nail with brushes. It is easier to use acrylic paint than polish for the following reasons:

  1. Acrylic paint is water-based and has its primer. You can wash your brush with water and remove any mistake during nail painting with the same media.

  2. You can design excellent lines and images with acrylic paint and your detail or striper brush. This is not possible with polish.

  3. You can provide shades and create depth of field using acrylic paint medium. They also get dried quickly, enable you to complete your nail art application professionally.

  4. Various shades of acrylic paints can get mixed to give you the required tint for your nail art masterpieces.


Nail art has been fashionable over centuries, and in the recent past, we seem to create beautiful designs. Some many tools and techniques get used to creating these stunning vistas on your nails. Acrylic paint is an apt media to create images as per your imagination.

There are various shades and brushes to help you with this quest. The base and topcoat polish assists in protecting these designs get made with water-based acrylic paints. They also get used as polish, providing color options to your nails. The matte and glossy finish gets done with the help of the topcoat.

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