What Are Acrylic Overlays? What Are Acrylic Overlays?

What Are Acrylic Overlays?

Acrylic overlays are nail enhancement that do not add length to the natural nail. A layer of acrylic is applied to the nail and then sculpted into the desired shape. The acrylic can be smoothed or textured to create a variety of looks.

Acrylic overlays are a popular choice for those who want to enhance the appearance of their nails. Whether you have brittle and weak nails, or you simply want to create a stunning nail design, acrylic overlays are a versatile solution that can help you achieve your desired look. But ,what are acrylic overlays exactly and how do they work?

Acrylic overlays are made from a liquid and powder, which is mixed together to form a paste that is then sculpted over the nails. The mixture is then cured under a UV light to harden it into a solid, glossy, and durable layer.

In this blog, I will explore the basics of acrylic overlays, benefits of getting them, and the process of applying them to your nails. Whether you’re a seasoned nail professional or a beginner, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know about acrylic overlays.

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Understanding Acrylic Overlays

Acrylic overlays are not nail tips. Acrylic overlays are applied over the entire surface of your natural nail, including the sides and underneath. They are a perfect solution for those who want to be able to wear their natural nails without worry about cracking or peeling, but don’t want to have to keep up with weekly manicures.

Types of Acrylic OverLays

Standard Acrylic Overlay

Standard acrylic overlay is a thin layer of clear or colored acrylic that’s placed on top of your natural nail. The overlay is then filed and buffed into shape. This type of overlay can be used to strengthen nails, as well as make them look longer and thicker.

Standard Acrylic overlays are usually considered a temporary enhancement, which means they can be removed within three weeks. However, if you choose a gel overlay, you may have to wait an additional week before removing it because these types of overlays take longer to cure than regular acrylics.

Gel Overlay

A gel overlay consists of a thin layer of gel applied over the nail bed and cured under a UV light. It strengthens the nail bed and prevents cracking while giving your nails a natural-looking shine. The gel can also be sculpted into certain shapes so that it looks more like real nails than artificial ones. Gel overlays don’t chip or crack as easily as regular acrylics do, but they’re not as long-lasting either — usually lasting about two weeks before needing replacement or removal. If you are torn between getting acrylics Vs gel nails, check out this article!

Dip OverLays

Dip overlays, also known as dip powder nails, are a type of artificial nails that are applied using a dipping process. Instead of using a liquid and powder mixture like in acrylic overlays, dip overlays use a colored powder that is applied to the nails in multiple thin layers. The nails are first coated with a base coat, and then each layer of powder is applied, adhering to the base and creating a smooth, even surface.

The process is repeated until the desired opacity is achieved. Finally, the nails are sealed with a top coat to protect the color and add shine. Dip overlays provide a more natural look than traditional acrylics and are known for their durability and long-lasting wear.

How To Apply Acrylic OverLays?

Here is a general guide on how to apply acrylic overlays:

  • Prepare the nails: Start by cleaning and shaping the nails, removing any oils and debris, and pushing back the cuticles.
  • Apply a Primer : Apply a primer to each nail and allow it to dry completely. I recommend modelones Nail Primer with Gel Top Coat and Base Coat.
  • Mix the acrylic: Pour a small amount of the liquid acrylic into a mixing dish and add a small scoop of the powder acrylic. Mix the two together until a dough-like consistency is formed.
  • Apply the acrylic: Next, use a brush to apply the acrylic mixture to the nails, starting at the base and working your way to the tip. Shape the nails as desired and smooth out any rough spots. Repeat this process on each nail for extra layers.
  • Cure the nails: Place the nails under a UV light or LED light to cure the acrylic and harden it into a solid, glossy layer. If you are doing acrylic overlays at home, i suggest you get your self a 180W UV LED Nail Lamp that comes with a Fan and 46pcs led lights.
  • Buff and file the nails: After curing your overlays, buff or use a nail file to shape the nails to your desired shape and remove any rough spots. Buff the nails to a smooth finish.
  • Apply a topcoat: Finally, apply a topcoat to add shine and protect the acrylic. My favorite is Mia Secret UV Finish gel top coat.

It is important to work carefully and precisely, as any mistakes or inconsistencies in the application process can result in a poor-quality finish

How To Remove Acrylic OverLays?

Here is a general guide on how to remove acrylic overlays:

  • Gather your supplies: You will need acetone, cotton balls, aluminum foil, and a nail file.
  • Soak your nails: Pour some acetone into a bowl and soak a cotton ball in the solution. Place the cotton ball on each nail and wrap it securely with aluminum foil.
  • Wait for 10-15 minutes: Leave the foil-wrapped cotton balls on your nails for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until the acrylic begins to soften.
  • Scrape the acrylic: Use a nail file to gently scrape the softened acrylic from your nails, starting at the tip and working towards the base. Avoid using too much pressure, as this can damage your natural nails.
  • Repeat: Repeat the process on each nail until all of the acrylic has been removed.
  • Clean your nails: Wash your hands thoroughly to remove any residual acetone, and then moisturize your nails and cuticles.
  • Use a cuticle oil or moisturizer after this step!

Here’s an article that explains how salons remove acrylic nails ensuring a safe and efficient process for maintaining the health of your natural nails.

Note: It is important to take your time when removing acrylic overlays, as rushing the process can damage your natural nails. If you experience any discomfort or difficulty during the removal process, it may be best to seek the assistance of a professional.

Does Acrylic Overlay Damage Your Nails?

Acrylic overlays can potentially damage your natural nails if not applied or removed properly. The removal process can sometimes involve soaking the nails in acetone, which can be harsh and drying to the nails and surrounding skin. Additionally, if the nails are not properly cleaned and prepared before application, bacteria and fungus can develop under the acrylic, leading to infection. Here’s what may cause acrylics to damage your natural nails, take a look.

However, with proper application and maintenance, acrylic overlays can be a safe option for enhancing the appearance of your nails. It is important to keep your nails clean and moisturized, and to avoid picking or biting the nails, which can weaken the natural nail and cause damage. If you experience any discomfort or irritation, it is important to remove the acrylic immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.

It is also recommended to take regular breaks from wearing acrylic overlays to allow your natural nails to breathe and recover. Regular manicures, including regular oil and moisturizer treatments, can help maintain the health of your natural nails.

How Long Do Acrylic Overlay Last?

On average, acrylic overlays can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days while gel over lays can last up to 2 weeks before they start to show signs of wear and tear.

Exposure to water, cleaning products, and harsh chemicals can weaken the acrylic and cause it to chip or peel. Regular touch-ups and maintenance can help extend the life of the overlays and ensure they continue to look their best . If you really take good care of your acrylic overlays, they can last for several weeks.

How To Make Acrylic OverLays Last Longer?

Acrylic overlays are the perfect way to get the look you want, without having to spend a lot of money or time on getting your nails done at a salon. However, if you aren’t careful, these overlays can be a bit tricky to work with and might not last as long as you want them to. Here are some simple ways to make sure that your acrylic overlays last longer:

1.Cleanse Your Nails Properly

Before applying the overlay, make sure that your nails are clean and dry. You don’t want any oil or moisture on your nails because it will compromise the quality of the overlay. After cleaning off any excess debris from underneath your nails, use an acetone nail polish remover to remove any traces of old polish and top coat. If there is still some residue left after using acetone remover, try using alcohol instead.

2.Apply Base Coat or Primer Correctly

Base coats and primers are important because they provide a smooth surface for the overlay and minimize chipping while protecting your natural nail from damage during application. Make sure that you apply base coat or primer before creating any acrylic over lay. This will also help prevent discoloration and cracking.

Difference Between Acrylic And Acrylic Overlay?

Acrylic refers to a mixture of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer that is applied to the natural nail to create a durable and long-lasting enhancement. The mixture hardens into a solid and is then shaped and filed to create a desired look. Acrylic is often used to create a full set of enhancements, adding length and shape to the natural nails.

Acrylic overlay, on the other hand, is a thin layer of acrylic that is applied over the natural nail without adding length. The overlay is applied directly to the natural nail, and is often used to improve the appearance of damaged or brittle nails. Unlike a full set of acrylic enhancements, an acrylic overlay is typically only applied to the nails that need it, and is often used as a more natural-looking alternative to traditional enhancements.

Difference Between Acrylic Overlay And Dip Nails?

Acrylic overlay nails and dip nails are two types of artificial nails. Both of them are applied over real nails, but they have their own different features. An acrylic overlay nail is a type of artificial nail that is bonded to your natural nail by using an adhesive substance called monomer. This process can be done at home or in a salon.

Dip nails on the other hand are basically gel nails that were dipped into a liquid monomer solution using heat before being applied on your natural nails.

They can last longer than acrylic overlays because they form a stronger bond between your natural nail and the artificial one when they are set properly with the use of UV light drying system. The only downside of having dip nails applied is that they require more time.

Is Overlay More Expensive Than Acrylic?

Acrylic overlays are less expensive than acrylic nails due to the simpler application process and reduced product usage(See cost of acrylic nails here). Overlays involve applying a layer of acrylic or gel directly onto the natural nails, while acrylic nails require the application of a mixture of liquid monomer and powdered polymer, along with additional steps for shaping and sculpting. The reduced time and materials required for overlays often result in a lower cost compared to full acrylic nail sets. So is maintenance as well.

Can You Get Acrylic Overlay on Short Natural Nails?

Indeed! There is no reason why you should not get an acrylic overlay on short natural nails. In fact, acrylic overlays are even better for individuals with shorter nails who want to enhance their nail length . The acrylic overlay can be simply used to provide a protective coating over the natural nails, depending on your preference. So, yeah you can rock them on even if you have short nails. You should also try getting acrylic nails on short nails, just make sure to prime your nails first.

The Pros and Cons of Acrylic Nail Overlays: Is it Right for You?


  • Natural looking nails: The most important advantage of acrylic nail overlay is that they look very natural. They are made of acrylic which can be shaped in any form or color that you want, so they look like real nails. You cannot tell the difference between natural and acrylic overlays unless you closely examine them closely.
  • Durability: Acrylic overlays are extremely durable and long-lasting, making them a great option for those who want their nails to look great for extended periods of time.
  • Protection: For the most part, they can help protect natural nails from damage, such as splitting, cracking, or breaking.
  • Versatility: Acrylic overlays come in a variety of colors, shapes, and styles, allowing you to create a customized look that suits your personal style.
  • Easy maintenance: Lastly, they are easy to maintain because all you have to do is clean around the cuticles using soap and water before putting on new ones again! You do not even need professional help for this since it does not require any special equipment or training at all!


  • Damage to natural nails: Acrylic overlays can cause damage to natural nails if they are not applied or removed properly. This can lead to thinning, peeling, or brittle nails.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to the chemicals used in acrylic overlays, which can cause redness, itching, or even rashes.
  • Cost: Acrylic overlays can be more expensive than other nail enhancement options, especially if you need regular touch-ups or maintenance.
  • Maintenance: To maintain the appearance of acrylic overlays, they need to be regularly filled and polished, which can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Takes Time: The process takes time, so you might have to make an appointment with a technician, which can be inconvenient if you don’t live near a salon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are acrylic overlays the same as veneers?

Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are placed on the surface of your teeth. They act as a cover for teeth that have been damaged by decay or injury while acrylic overlay is a nail enhancement applied using acrylic powder and monomer.

How long does it take to get a custom overlay made?

It takes about 1-2 hours to get your acrylic overlays done. This includes priming to drying under UV led lamp.

Is overlay better than acrylic?

It depends on the individual’s needs and preferences. An acrylic overlay is a thin layer of acrylic applied directly to the natural nail that does not add any lengths to your nails. A full set of acrylic enhancements, on the other hand, adds length and shape to the natural nails. It’s important to consider your personal needs and preferences before deciding if an overlay or a full set of acrylic enhancements is right for you.

Does acrylic overlay damage your nails?

If applied or removed improperly, acrylic overlays can cause damage to natural nails, such as thinning, peeling, or brittleness. It’s important to have your acrylic overlays applied by a licensed professional who follows proper application and removal techniques.

Is acrylic overlay stronger than gel?

Acrylic gels are typically stronger and more durable than acrylic overlays, making them a popular choice for those who want their nails to look great for extended periods of time. However, overlays are often easier to remove and may be a better option for those with sensitive skin.


Overall, acrylic overlays are a great investment for any lady looking for that extra sparkle. They have numerous uses and benefits associated with them, and are often much easier to get. As such, I recommend giving them a try. After all, how can you truly know what you like until you’ve tried it?


  • What are Overlay Nails & Which is Best: Gel, Acrylic or Dip


  • How can you add an acrylic overlay on natural nails?