Nail Artistry Redefined: The Comprehensive Guide To Acrylic Overlay On Natural Nails

Key Takeaways
  • Acrylic overlay on natural nails is a popular nail enhancement technique that involves applying a layer of acrylic resin over the natural nail to add strength and durability.
  • This technique provides versatility in terms of nail design and shape, allowing for creative and customizable nail art that suits individual preferences and occasions.
  • Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure the longevity of acrylic overlays. Regular fills and careful aftercare can help prevent issues such as lifting and chipping.
  • It’s essential to be mindful of the health of your natural nails when using acrylic overlays. Overuse or improper application can weaken natural nails, so moderation and proper care are vital in maintaining nail health.

When we think of acrylic nails, we associate them with pieces of colored plastic being stuck onto a natural nail to extend it, though this more often than not, can make your nails look fake rather than natural. 

Even so, due to the added nail tip, it allows for you to have longer nails when you struggle to grow them, and they can be worn for several weeks at a time and have fancy art included upon them.

A Complete Guide To Acrylic Overlay On Natural Nails

There are other ways to enhance your nail, and that is by using acrylic overlays.

The thin acrylic coating gives a nail a polished, natural look, but will not add length due to not having nail tips.

It is normally added to an already long natural nail, but can be added to short nails too, and will keep the polish underneath chip-free for several weeks. It also protects the nail and helps to keep it strong. 

Many manicure enthusiasts are a fan of the more natural look due to the acrylic overlay being a lot thinner than the acrylics with the nail tips. Let us take a look at the different reasons to have acrylic overlay on nails.

What is an acrylic overlay on natural nails?

An acrylic overlay on natural nails is a popular nail enhancement technique in manicures and nail care.

It involves applying acrylic powder and liquid to the natural nails to create a durable, protective layer.

This layer strengthens the nails and enhances their appearance, providing a smooth and polished finish.

Acrylic overlays are commonly used to add length, reinforce weak or brittle nails, or give a sturdy base for nail art and polish.

They can be customized with various colors, designs, and finishes, making them versatile for those seeking style and resilience in their manicures.

Additionally, acrylic overlays are known for their long-lasting properties, making them preferred for individuals looking to maintain beautiful and resilient nails.

However, it’s crucial to have them applied by a skilled nail technician, as improper application or removal can damage the natural nails.

Acrylic Overlay: Short Nails

Acrylic Overlay: Short Nails

When it comes to nail length, there are many factors that decide what it is.

This could be from genuinely not being able to grow nails due to them splitting, or biting them – a habit you should stop.

Having acrylic overlay is a good way to stop the habit, but also to stop breakage of the nails just generally. 

Before You Get Started

  • Nail Preparation: Proper preparation is crucial. It is vital to begin by gently pushing back your cuticles and removing any old nail polish.
  • Select Quality Products: Choose high-quality acrylic products that are safe and non-toxic. Discuss with your nail technician the type of acrylic that’s best for your nails.
  • Nail Length: It is crucial to consider the desired length of your acrylic overlays.
  • Know Your Style: It’s essential to have a clear idea of the style you want to achieve with your acrylic overlays.
  • Choose Acrylic Colors: If you’re going for a colored acrylic overlay, select the shades you’d like ahead of time.

Acrylic Overlay: Long Nails

Acrylic Overlay Long Nails

This takes us onto long nails. When we grow our nails, when they get to a point they can start to split or break.

Having acrylic overlays can make the nail appear strong, and prevent any issues of the nail breaking at the tip. 

Also, if you have naturally longer nails, you do need to have acrylic with a nail tip, you already have them available.

An acrylic overlay would be the perfect choice to give you a more natural looking nail as well as keep it stronger. 

What Is The Point Of An Acrylic Overlay?

What Is The Point Of An Acrylic Overlay

As stated above, there are a number of reasons why acrylic overlay is a good choice for nails.

Not only do they enhance the natural nails whilst helping to strengthen them, but they also keep long nails from breaking at the tip for a longer period of time.

This means you can have uniform nails without the odd one being shorter due to it splitting.

Another reason acrylic overlay is a good option is the fact it keeps nail polish in place without chipping for around two weeks. It can look like you have just had a manicure every time you step outside the home. 

Quick Guide to Glamorous Acrylic Overlays on Natural Nails:

  • Nail Art and Accessories: Get creative with nail art, such as nail decals, studs, rhinestones, or even hand-painted designs.
  • Ombré Effects: Create ombré or gradient nail designs by blending different acrylic colors.
  • Matte Finish: Use a matte top coat for your acrylic overlays for a velvety, sophisticated appearance.
  • 3D Embellishments: Add three-dimensional elements to your nails, such as tiny charms, beads, or mini sculptures.
  • Incorporate Other Colors: Combine colors that complement or contrast with your acrylic overlays for a striking and coordinated appearance.

Can Acrylic Overlay Be Better Than A Full Set Of Acrylic Nails?

Can Acrylic Overlay Be Better Than A Full Set Of Acrylic Nails

It is always going to be up to the preference of the wearer, but because of the different nature between the two types of nails, they have their own merits.

A full set of acrylics is for those who want fake nails that appear longer than their own nails. 

Acrylic overlay is for those who want a more natural look that is applied directly to the shape and size of your natural nail without any added length. 

How Long Do Acrylic Overlay Nails Last?

How Long Do Acrylic Overlay Nails Last?

If you take care of your nails, they will last around two weeks. If you plan to keep them on up to around 3 months, then going to the salon to have them filled in will mean they will last just the same amount of time as an acrylic nail full set. 

What Can I Do To Strengthen My Nails?

What Can I Do To Strengthen My Nails

Whilst diet and lifestyle will play a big factor in strengthening nails, in the short term you can have an acrylic overlay.

If you really want to grow out your fingernails, this is a good way of adding some strength back into your nails without them splitting as soon as they get to a certain size.

Even so, acrylic overlays do not magically make them stronger. They help give them an extra layer of thickness, therefore giving them a bit of extra strength helping to avoid breakages. 

When Should You Not Get An Acrylic Overlay?

When Should You Not Get An Acrylic Overlay?

The only reason not to get an acrylic overlay is if you do not like how your nails grow out.

Whilst you can have an acrylic overlay on short nails, if you are planning to naturally grow them, then you will want to have the length uniform.

If this cannot be done, either stick to shorter nails or opt for an acrylic full set with nail tips.

Keep in Mind

  • Test Patch: If you have any concerns about allergies or sensitivities to acrylic products, request a patch test to ensure you don’t experience adverse reactions.
  • Avoid Excessive Filing: Avoid over-filing or over-buffing your acrylic overlays. It can thin them out and weaken your natural nails.
  • Appropriate Length: Maintain a comfortable and functional length for your acrylic overlays. Extremely long extensions may be more prone to breakage.
  • Aftercare: Follow the aftercare instructions provided by your technician to maintain the appearance and health of your acrylic overlays and natural nails.Reinforcement Products: Consider using nail strengthening and protective products to provide additional support and prevent chipping or breakage.

Can Acrylic Overlay Be Bad For Nails?

Can Acrylic Overlay Be Bad For Nails?

Most people who have acrylic nails know that there are negative sides to having fake nails. Whilst only temporary, it can be annoying to see your nails in a worse condition than what they were previously.

Even so, they will grow back to normal and it will only take a few weeks to do so. 

If you take care of your nails during this process, you could avoid having any issues at all. This includes making sure your nails are kept bacteria free by cleaning the nails thoroughly and drying them completely.

This will stop any growth of fungi which can lead to infection. 

Other things that can happen if they are worn for long periods of time are nails becoming dry and brittle once the acrylic has been removed. Also, due to the overuse of a buffer and other nail items, the nail can become thin.

Over time your nails will go back to normal, just remember to take good care of them and let them ‘breathe’ every once in a while. 

What Nail Polish Can Be Used With Acrylic Overlay?

What Nail Polish Can Be Used With Acrylic Overlay?

Acrylic Overlay nails are extremely versatile due to not having to choose from a particular style of acrylic nail.

Instead, you can have whatever design you like on the nail, along with either regular or gel nail polish, and have it covered on top with a thin coating of acrylic overlay.

Cute overlay nails

Cute overlay nails are a delightful and fashionable nail enhancement technique that combines the durability of acrylic overlays with creative and charming nail art.

This popular style involves applying acrylic powder and liquid to strengthen and protect the natural nails while offering a sturdy canvas for imaginative designs. 

These designs range from adorable patterns and colorful graphics to sparkles, rhinestones, or themed creations like flowers and animals.

The versatility of cute overlay nails allows for personalized expressions of style, suitable for everyday wear or special occasions.

With their added strength, these nails ensure your adorable nail art stays intact for an extended period, offering both durability and a touch of personality to your manicure.

Cute overlay nails are a fantastic way to showcase creativity and add a playful flair to your overall look.


Ensure your natural nails are clean and completely dry before applying the acrylic overlay to promote better adhesion and longevity.

Prepping For An Acrylic Overlay

Prepping For An Acrylic Overlay

Whilst not a lot of prep is needed for acrylic full sets, you may need to make sure your nails are in a certain condition before you head to the salon. 

Natural nails will never grow out evenly, and if they do, then it is extremely rare. This is because nails will break at odd times, and the average person will never file their nails the exact same length just using their eyes. 

If you are wanting your long nails acrylic overlaid, then make sure they are in a decent enough condition and that all nails are long, not just a few. The nail technician will not be adding any nail tips.

Also, make sure they are not brittle and weak. Always go into the salon with healthy nails. If they are not, treat them first. 

Is The Process Of Acrylic Overlay Expensive

Is The Process Of Acrylic Overlay Expensive

The process of getting acrylic overlays will likely take the same amount of time as getting acrylic full sets, so they will charge a similar, if not the same, price. 

Whilst you are not getting acrylic nail tips, there will be a lot of time invested in shaping each nail so they are uniform and ready for the next step. 


A dentist and a beauty school graduate developed the first acrylic nail system. Acrylic nails gained additional popularity during the 1970s due to their use by NASA. Astronauts used acrylics to prevent their natural nails from breaking in the low-pressure environments of space.

Pros And Cons Of Acrylic Overlay

Pros And Cons Of Acrylic Overlay

Whether you are deciding to get acrylic overlay or a full set of acrylic nails, here are the pros and cons to each so you can make your mind up:


  • Natural looking
  • Thinner
  • No nail tips needed on long nails
  • Strengthens natural nails
  • Extends nail polish color


  • Free edges of nail may separate from acrylic
  • Breaks easier than a full set of acrylic
  • No nail tips for shorter nails

Pros And Cons Of Acrylic Full Set

Pros And Cons Of Acrylic Full Set


  • Extends nail length
  • No separation of acrylic
  • No need for nail polish


  • Can look fake
  • Heavier than acrylic overlay

Final Words

There are a number of reasons why people choose an acrylic full set or an acrylic overlay.

If you struggle to grow your own nails and would like to enhance the length, then it makes sense to go for an acrylic full set.

If you want to show off your natural nails, but add strength and some color, then acrylic overlays will be your go-to.

Both can produce fantastic looking nails but with completely different results. An acrylic overlay is best for those who want to keep a more natural appearance, but still have nail color that will last for a few weeks, and keep their nails looking polished and clean.

Whilst they both have their issues, acrylic overlay is a number one choice if you want nails that feel like your own, yet still look brilliant. 

Ariel Coleman

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