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Can You Paint Over Acrylic Nails?

by Gabbi
Painted Nails

If you love your acrylic nail extensions but don’t love the color, you may be thinking of ways you can paint over them. 

Perhaps the color isn’t an issue, but your acrylics have grown out and there is an obvious “gap” between the manicure and your cuticle. Or maybe you’re just bored with the same color you’ve been looking at for two weeks.

Whatever the situation may be, it’s perfectly okay to look at options to paint over your acrylic nails to update your look.

So, can you paint over acrylic nails? Yes, you can! There are actually a lot of different ways to paint over your acrylic nails that are completely safe and won’t damage your acrylics or your nails.

We’ll go over all that and more in the following article, so stick with us!

Can You Use Regular Nail Polish Over Acrylic Nails?

If you got your acrylic nails at the salon, chances are, your nail technician already painted them in front of you with the color of your choice. This is because the acrylic material itself only comes in a few neutral shades.

If you want to add some personality to your new set, your tech will usually have to apply a layer or two of nail polish on top. They can also create fun designs and apply gemstones if you’re into that.

This means it’s perfectly safe to paint over acrylics with regular nail polish. It will not harm or in any way interact with the acrylic material.

Since regular nail polish usually begins to chip after about a week, we recommend adding a top coat to seal the color in and make it last longer.

Can You Use Gel Nail Polish Over Acrylic Nails?

If you have a gel polish in mind that you think would look great on your acrylic nails, you’re in luck. It’s completely safe to put gel polish on acrylics. In fact, it can even make your acrylic nails a bit stronger since gel polish adds durability.

However, there are a few things you have to keep in mind if you plan on putting gel polish over your acrylics:

  • Any previous polish will need to be carefully removed (read below for tips on how to do that)
  • The surface of your acrylic nail will have to be gently buffed so that the gel can stick to it
  • You will have to use a gel base coat and a gel topcoat in addition to your gel polish
  • You will need to use a UV lamp, as with any gel polish application

As you can see, there are a few things to consider when painting over your acrylic nails with gel polish, but as long as you can follow the steps, you’ll have no trouble adding a new color to your nail set!

Can You Remove Old Nail Polish From Acrylic Nails?

So what do you do if you want to remove the previous nail polish color from your acrylics without damaging them before you put on a new color? The process depends on the type of polish you had on top of your acrylic nails, to begin with.

Removing Regular Nail Polish From Acrylics

If your old nail polish is “regular” nail polish – AKA not a gel polish – it’s super easy to remove. Follow the steps below and make sure you have the right kind of nail polish remover that won’t damage your acrylics.

Most nail polish removers contain acetone, but you can also buy non-acetone removers. In this case, it is crucial that you get a non-acetone nail polish remover. This is because acetone is so strong, that it can start to dissolve your acrylics.

You should have no problem finding a non-acetone nail polish remover, as they are widely available. The packaging is usually clear on whether the remover contains acetone or not.

Once you have the correct nail polish remover, follow the steps below to remove your old nail polish from your acrylic nails:

  1. Soak a cotton pad with the non-acetone polish remover
  2. Gently hold the soaked cotton pad against your nail for 5-10 seconds – this will help the remover work its way into your nail polish and start to break it down
  3. Start rubbing the soaked cotton pad in circles and towards the tip of your nail.
  4. You may have to repeat this process a few times since non-acetone remover is gentle and takes longer to break down the nail polish
  5. Repeat the process for all nails. Use a new cotton pad when you feel like it’s needed.
  6. Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any remainder of nail polish remover from your nails. Dry your hands.

That’s it! Your acrylics should look nice and bare and ready to receive a fresh new coat of color.

Removing Gel Nail Polish From Acrylics

If your old nail polish is a “gel” polish, it’s not as easy to get it removed from your acrylic nails. Gel nail polish has to be removed with acetone remover, but acetone can damage your acrylic nails. In fact, acetone is used to dissolve them when you’re ready to get them removed.

So what’s a girl to do? There are a few methods that nail techs use to remove gel nail polish while keeping your acrylics intact. Let’s discuss them below.

Filing It Off

When you get gel nail polish removed from your acrylics at the salon, most of the time your technician will do it with the help of an electric file – one of those round-barrel files that spins super fast. 

This is by far the most effective and efficient method of removing gel nail polish from a fake nail. Professionals are trained to do it in a precise way so that they only file off the color, and not the nail itself. 

If you’re doing it at home, you can purchase your own electric file (like our favorite one on Amazon), but beware: this method requires a very steady hand. One mistake and you might end up damaging your acrylic. Or worse – your fingers.

Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover

Non-acetone nail polish remover is too gentle for gel nail polish, but it can still work. It might just take longer.

If you have plenty of time on your hands, this is probably the safest method of getting your old gel polish off your acrylics without causing a lot of damage.

We recommend buffing the gel polish first, to get through the top coat. Then, use pieces of foil to wrap some well-soaked cotton balls with non-acetone remover (like this one from Mineral Fusion) over your nails and keep them there for 20-30 minutes to start. You may need to unwrap them occasionally and assist the process with your file.

Eventually, you should be able to remove most of gel polish and reveal your undamaged acrylics underneath.

Just Painting Over It

What if you just paint over your old gel nail polish with a new polish? Would that work? 

Yes, that would work! In fact, it might be the easiest option of all. If you don’t have the supplies on hand to carefully remove your old gel polish from your acrylics, you can just cover it all with a new color.

You can use either regular nail polish or another gel polish. 

There are a few things to keep in mind. If you are putting gel nail polish over your old gel polish on top of your acrylics, your nails might end up looking really thick. So if that’s something you don’t want, you might want to use regular nail polish instead.

With regular nail polish, you can simply paint a coat or two right over the old polish and it will look brand new. It’s a fast and easy way to paint over your acrylic nails without worrying about removing old polish or damaging the nails themselves.

If you do decide to use another gel polish, just make sure to follow all the usual steps of applying gel polish, which include:

  • Buffing the surface (in this case, the old gel polish) that you will paint over
  • Using a base coat
  • Curing under UV light
  • Painting a few coats of gel polish, remembering to cure under UV light after each coat
  • Using a top coat and curing that as well

This option can seriously extend the life of your acrylic nails, as each layer of gel adds a level of durability and strength. 

How Long Does Regular Polish Last On Acrylic Nails?

Regular nail polish can last 3-4 days without chipping, depending on your lifestyle. However, when painted over acrylic nails, it actually lasts longer.

This is because the surface of the acrylic nail is sturdy and durable, which prevents the nail polish from chipping as early. It can usually last 5-7 days, in some cases even longer.

Adding a layer or two of a topcoat can protect the nail polish from daily wear and tear and make it last even longer. 

If you want something that lasts longer than 1.5-2 weeks, you should definitely consider using gel nail polish as it can double the longevity of regular nail polish. 

Up Next: Can You Paint Your Nails With Acrylic Paint?

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