Using Acrylic Paint on Nails

Have you ever observed or looked at a rainbow of acrylic paints? They are a sight to behold! Acrylic paint forms the basis of some of the best and most beautiful works of art. However, their use depends on the surface because some acrylic paints are toxic. Nail painting is an art loved by many but mastered by a few. Many questions surround the use of acrylic paints on our nails. People wonder if they can use the paint for polishing their nails or whether it will damage the nails. In this post, we will answer the questions about the use of acrylic paints as nail polish.

You may have visited a craft store and seen how beautiful the art looks and wondered how my nails would look if polished with acrylic paint? The next question that may come to your mind is, is it possible to paint my nails using acrylic paints? How safe is it?

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Nails?

Many people ask themselves the above question, but its answer is YES. You can use acrylic paint on nails. Acrylic paints stick to various surfaces including, press-ons made of plastics, acrylic nails that you get from a cosmetic shop, and natural fingernails. They are available in various colors, and also their price per ounce is lower than many nail polishes. However, you must choose the right process and the proper type. The acrylic paint must be non-toxic because some are toxic. To protect the surface of your nails, apply a clear base coating before applying the paint. However, you should know that acrylic paints are not designed for nail polishing.

Is It Toxic on Nails?

The toxicity of acrylic paints on nails depends on the ingredients making it. Some have dangerous or toxic contents that may be toxic on your nails. The harmful substances take the form of heavy metals that color the paint. Heavy metals are harmful when introduced into your body. The heavy metals accumulate as they go through your body. Hence, with the right quantities and time, they damage your organs. Ultimately, you get severe complications like organ failure and even death.

However, non-toxic acrylic paints are not harmful. Therefore, unless you are allergic to some contents in the paint, using them on your nails should not cause any issue. We advise you to read the label on the acrylic paint container to ensure no harmful ingredients are present before using it.

Even genuine nail polishes can have toxic elements. These are the polishes that have ingredients like formaldehyde, triphenyl phosphate, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. Nail technicians are at a greater risk compared to their clients. It is because they are constantly in contact with the polish and are exposed to the fumes from the nail polish.

Will Acrylic Paint Damage Your Nails?

What are the ingredients of acrylic paint? If the paint does not have toxic ingredients, there will be no damage to your nails. It is safe to use. Because most acrylic paints are water-based, you can easily remove them.

If the paint contains toxic ingredients, do not use it on your nails. It may not harm the nails but may lead to heavy metal poisoning in the long run. Accumulation of some heavy metals in your body can affect the growth of your nails and their health.

Will Acrylic Paints Stain Nails?

Yes, using acrylic paints on your nails can stain them. The acrylic paint’s pigments can absorb on your nail’s surface, leaving a trace of the acrylic paint’s color behind.

However, there is a way around this. You should have a clear base coat. The coat acts as a shield and primes the nail for color. The shield prevents the pigment from coming into contact with the surface of the nail. The odds of the paint staining your nails are reduced. Therefore, when you remove the paint and polish, your nails remain in their typical color.

Make a habit of applying the clear coating, even for ordinary nail polishes. They, too, can stain your nails. The coating prevents the pigments from leeching into the nail and discoloring them.

Can You Use Acrylic Paints on Gel Nails?

Gel nails are a form of fake nails. Acrylic paint fuses with many materials, including gel nails. Therefore, you can use it on gel nails. You must paint a base polish coating first. It creates a suitable surface where you can make nail art using acrylic paint.

Is It Easy to Make Nail Art with Acrylic Paint? 

Making nail art is easy using acrylic paints. Many nail art technicians prefer using it for creating various nail arts. Compared to many traditional polishes, it is easier to use acrylic paints when creating distinct designs.

In terms of rates of drying, acrylic paints dry faster than other nail polishes. It makes acrylic paints the ideal choice if the nail art has fine lines. Slow drying may cause the spreading of the paint that may end up ruining the design.

The other feature that makes it easy to make nail arts using acrylic paints is they are water-based. Thus, cleaning it up is easier compared to ordinary nail polishes. You can get the acrylic paints off the brush, nails, or your skin with ease as long as they are hydrated.

A great way to make fine artwork on nails or any small surface when using acrylic paint is to use acrylic paint pens. They capture that bright color and make creating small defined artwork a breeze.

Can You Use Acrylic Paints on Acrylic Nails?

You can use acrylic paints on acrylic nails because the paint bonds with many materials. They include the polymers found in acrylic nails. However, when acrylic paint is used on acrylic nails, a person first paints on top of a base coating of the ordinary nail polish.

By doing this, you get an even surface that you can work with. It also seals and protects the material making the acrylic nail.

Can You Mix Acrylic Paints with Nail Polish?

You cannot mix nail polish and acrylic paints. However, you may use acrylic paint on top of nail polish. Since the two have varying compositions, mixing them leads to a unique chemical structure. They will not blend if you mix them. Instead, the nail polish creates globules and clumps in the paint.

Note that you may mix two acrylic paints to create a unique hue. Similarly, to create custom colors, a person can mix two nail polishes. Polish or paint of the same kind has a similar composition. Their similarity in composition allows their shades to blend perfectly. Therefore, mixing them results in a final polish or paint as smooth as the original two colors.

Can Clear Polish be Used for Sealing Acrylic Paint on Your Nails?

Yes, you can apply a transparent polish layer to cover acrylic paint on nails. Upon drying, the acrylic paint’s clear coating bonds like it would go on dry nail polish. It protects the designs and colors underneath from getting damaged.

However, most people prefer using a clear polish over acrylic paint or nail art. It is because acrylic paints have a very matte finish. Do you prefer a glossier look or a nice shine? Using a clear polish is the best way to achieve that. Using acrylic paint alone appears flat.

What Kind of Acrylic Paints Should I Use on Nails?

Non-toxic varieties of acrylic paints should be your choice if you decide to use acrylic paints on your nails. They do not have toxic ingredients that might harm your body, nails, or skin. They also reduce the risks that arise from inhalation. Such risks include breathing harmful heavy metal fumes into your body.

However, it is always advisable to apply a base coat of nail polish before applying the color, even for non-toxic acrylic paints. It creates a protective layer by sealing the nail. The chances of staining are also reduced, ensuring that when you remove the paint, the color of your nails remains their usual.

How to Get Acrylic Paint Off Your Nails

Getting acrylic paint off your nails relies on whether the paint is dry or wet.

Removing wet paint can be as easy as washing it with warm water. For paltry amounts of non-toxic acrylic paint, you can clean them in your sink. However, the paint may accumulate in the plumbing pipes leading to blockages. Therefore, remove it in a rinse bucket. Wait for the water to evaporate and throw the paint residue away.

Is the paint toxic? Do not wash it off in a sink. Washing the toxic paint in a sink releases the harmful ingredients into the environment. Instead, remove the paint into a rinse bucket. Wait for the water to evaporate and take the paint residue to a hazardous waste collection site near you.

To remove dry acrylic paint, you can use a nail polish remover. Depending on your preference, you can use acetone-free or acetone nail polish remover.

After you have set the nail remover, soak a cotton pad or a cotton ball in it. Press the cotton ball against the nail that you want to remove the polish from for some seconds. The polish breaks down. The next step is wiping the paint off. The paint bonds with the cotton pad, getting off your nails. Throw that cotton pad into the waste bin if it is non-toxic. Otherwise, wrap it up and take it to the nearest hazardous waste collection site.


If you were wondering if you can use acrylic paint on nails, as you can see above, the answer is in the affirmative. The only consideration to make is whether the paint is toxic. Do not use toxic acrylic paints as they may cause damage to your skin and nails. Also, ensure that you apply a base coating nail polish. It prevents staining and seals your nails. Always read the acrylic paint’s ingredients to see if there are allergic and toxic materials.