Can You Use Acetone To Apply Acrylic Powder?

Acrylic nail art is the most eye-catching part of the nail care and beauty industry. It levels up your manicure game and is adopted by many people who wish to have beautiful, glam, and sturdy nails. It

all boils down to using the proper tools at home. 

At-home manicures sometimes run into situations where they run out of acrylic liquid halfway through the finish. Do you wonder if at that time you can use another substance to replace liquid acrylic to finish your nails? Is a liquid that is always available in the nail kit like acetone the perfect alternative? Can you use acetone to apply acrylic powder? Let us see.  

The Role Of Acetone In Acrylic Nails

Acetone is a colorless, liquid solvent with a pungent smell that is highly

volatile and flammable. Widely used to dissolve or break down other substances, it is incorporated in nail polish removers, paint removers, and varnish removers. 

Similarly, when it comes to removing acrylic nails, an acetone soak is the most foolproof method. 

Acetone will soften the polish and make it easy to remove. 
Acetone will soften the polish and make it easy to remove.

Can You Use Acetone To Apply Acrylic Powder?

The short and simple answer is No. 

It is because acrylic powder needs to be transformed from its powdered form into a binded mass before being applied and acetone would not do the job of solidifying the powder. 

Since acetone is a liquid solvent that tends to break down whichever thing it reacts with, it will also melt and dissolve and eat away the acrylic if you try to use it in the application of acrylic powder. Moreover, it will also ruin your application brush by getting into the base of the bristles.

It is, therefore, recommended that you do not use acetone to apply acrylic powder at all. 

Acetone only works to remove acrylic paint
Acetone only works to remove acrylic paint

What Can Be Used As A Substitute To Liquid Acrylic?

First things first! We all know how crucial is the monomer (acrylic liquid) to apply the polymer (acrylic powder) to form those immaculate and neat acrylic nails because first it transforms the dust from acrylic powder to a liquid. It then turns the powder into solid as the acrylic cures.

Keep in mind that without acrylic liquid, the acrylic powder would not change into that ultimate perfect solid texture you require, so be realistic with your expectations. If you somehow go for acetone to apply acrylic powder, it just would not work. 

We do not think any other alternate thing can entirely replace its efficiency the same as acrylic liquid, however, we also understand that monomer may not be always available.

Sometimes it may happen that you run out of the acrylic liquid halfway through applying acrylic nails and you can not just leave it hanging with half nails undone. In such cases, you can look up for the following substitutes that may compensate for it somehow, at least for a short period of time. 

Dip powder activator

Dip powder activator is one of the forms of acrylic monomer because of a resemblance in the chemical composition. This is the reason why it can be substituted with acrylic liquid.

But, it is very expensive and the quantity is also very less which makes it practically a not-so-good idea to use it. Some of the activators also come in nail polish-shape like small bottles and so your dip brush can not get inside the bottle. 

Polyester resin

Being the same in chemical composition, it can also be used as a substitute. It also cures the acrylic powder; which too quickly even at roo temperature.

However, after being dried out, it tends to leave a slight greenish hue which may interfere in the process of well synchronized and coordinated nail color.

Nail glue

Although the substance is quite thin and watery, nail glue is still a potential substitute
Although the substance is quite thin and watery, nail glue is still a potential substitute

If you check the ingredients of the dip powder, you would find that the base liquid comprises the same ingredients as used in the nail glue. So, you can use it to stick acrylic powder.

But, it is too runny and thin in consistency to be applied precisely. Nonetheless, it can be used as an emergency substitute provided that the consistency is handled in an extra careful and proficient manner. 

Can I Use Water To Apply Acrylic Powder?

Water is a universal solution for almost every problem. But can it be used as an alternative to acrylic liquid? Well, not really.

With normal acrylic powders, it would not work because of course, it does not have the monomer to bind properly with the polymer in acrylic powder. 

However, there are water-cured acrylics available in the market these days that make use of warm water to sculpt it into a nail with water-cured acrylic powders.

Warm water is a good option to be used with water-cured acrylic powder because it is odorless and gentle on the skin. 
Warm water is a good option to be used with water-cured acrylic powder because it is odorless and gentle on the skin.

How To Use Water With Acrylic Powder?

Remember, you can

NOT use water with regular acrylic powders while doing regular acrylics. But if you have got your hands on water-cured acrylic powders, then the warm water will help harden and cure the acrylic perfectly.


  1. Trim and push back your cuticles and buff them out to prep your nails. Apply a layer of acetone to clean and remove any residue or polish from your nails.
  2. Next, apply at least two layers of primer and dip them in the water-cured acrylic powder. Create a shape as per your choice while wiping off any excess powder.
  3. Simply dip your nails into warm water. It will start to cure right when you do it. Let them be inside the water for 3 minutes for a proper cure.  In this case, warm water takes a little more time to set the acrylic so you get sufficient time to fix the acrylic nails accordingly. The warmer the water, the quicker your acrylic powder will set and harden.
  4. Follow up by a layer of base coat to keep the acrylic sturdy and intact.

How To Use Gel Polish With Acrylic Powder?

Gel polish is made with acrylic monomers and oligomers that together form a bond when placed under UV light. So yes, it can be used as an emergency alternative too.

Many people use nail polishes to cure and set acrylic powders but since gel polish lasts longer than standard nail polish, we would recommend a gel polish comparatively. 

  • Simply clean and prep your nails by applying a thin layer of acetone and wiping it off. 
  • Trim and push your cuticles back. 
  • Apply two coats of primer and then follow up by applying one base coat of the gel polish.
  •  Next, dip the gel polish coat inside the acrylic powder instantly.
  • After a few seconds, shake the excessive acrylic powder away and put your nail inside an LED lamp. Keep it there for 10 seconds to cure the acrylic. Repeat the procedure for each nail. 
  • Now buff out your nails to apply one final base coat of gel polish to prevent acrylic powder from cracking. Set it under the lamp for one more minute and you are good to go!

How To Remove Acrylic Nails Using Acetone?

You can remove the acrylic nails easily through a

warm acetone soak. But do not do it by using a microwave to warm the acetone or keep it around a direct heating source such as a stove because it is very inflammable and can therefore easily catch fire.

Instead, warm it up by running some hot water over the bottle so it will easily soak through the acrylic powder which has been hardened. 

What do you need?

  • E-filer or buffer
  • Clips
  • Cotton balls
  • Acetone
  • Aluminum foil

How to do:

  1. First, clip the tips from your acrylic nails towards a shorter length.
  2. Now, using either an e-filer or buffer, start filing the topcoat on your acrylic.
  3. Simply dip a cotton ball into acetone and place it around and at the top of your acrylic nails, covering the remaining acrylic-free part.
  4. Use a little piece of aluminum foil to wrap your nail. 
  5. Let it soak for at least 15-20 minutes.
  6. Repeat the procedure with each nail separately. 
  7. After removing the foil, using the same soaked cotton ball, wipe your nail.
  8. You will see all the acrylic coming out easily. If in any case, you see some acrylic left, just buff it away.
  9. Now file and shape your natural nails to get back to where you were or of course if you already love acrylic like we do, you can again prepare for a fresh set of acrylics.


Can I use rubbing alcohol with acrylic powder instead of acrylic liquid?

No. It would not work either. This is because alcohol does not have monomers in it that bond with polymer in the acrylic powder.

Even if it somehow manages to form a dough or a ball, it would not last long like its acrylic monomer liquid counterpart.

Are acrylic powders universal? Can you mix any brand of acrylic liquid with any acrylic powder?

No. Every acrylic powder varies differently.

Some are fine, some are medium fine and some are coarse which means some apply smoothly while others need a wet consistency for application and some require a dry consistency. 

Because there are multiple branded acrylic powders with different types and additives, you can not use a single acrylic liquid to be used with any acrylic powder.

A brand will design acrylic liquid and acrylic powder, each of which respects the chemical formulation of the other resulting in a balanced and effective result.

So, do not go on experimenting by mixing and matching different brands together. Instead, preferably use both of the products by the same brand.

What about a DIY liquid monomer? 

Seems like you are much on the creative side! Yes, you can definitely make an acrylic liquid at home with the help of a few handy things. This would indeed be not only a good binding agent but an affordable choice.

  • Take an empty and clean nail polish bottle.
  • Add 1/4th teaspoon of water and 3/4th teaspoon of any non-toxic nail glue available.
  • Mix it well and keep stirring the mixture for at least 45 seconds. Your simple acrylic liquid is ready.
  • Use it with your regular acrylic powder to create your perfect acrylics.

But remember, these can not replace or match the professional and qualitative acrylic liquids available in the market. This DIY is just applicable if you are looking to do acrylic for the short term and on a smaller scale.

What can be some good aftercare tips for acrylic nails?

Since your nails have gone through too much, it is best to provide them with extra care and hydration. This is achieved by using cuticle oil (as acetone tends to dry out cuticles) and massaging it gently into the nail and cuticle. It also helps in preventing breakage or peeling of the nail from the acrylic end.

Nail care experts also suggest cleaning the nail plate once by washing your hands with a nail brush. You can also use a good quality nail polish like the one with kale extracts to nourish weakened nails.

Furthermore, you can make them last longer for 3 weeks or more by getting them properly filled and keeping them clean and dry to prevent any potential infection.

Application of acrylic nails can be done at home with proper guidance.
Application of acrylic nails can be done at home with proper guidance.


While Acrylic nails can be so much fun to apply by experimenting with different shapes, colors, and textures, they demand equal attention and precise and accurate chemicals for its application.

This means that

you can not just pick up any alternative to the monomer acrylic liquid-like acetone and apply it with acrylic powder. Not only would it not work but instead of setting and curing the acrylic, it has the potential to further damage the whole process and of course, you want to avoid it.

However, if we have to choose one amongst the lot, we would opt for nail glue as the closest (if not equally best) alternative to acrylic liquid for applying acrylic powder. But handling it with care is the key.

We also believe that investing in a good quality acrylic liquid to be applied with the same quality acrylic powder along with proper application and removal method can rock your acrylic nail art just the way you want!

So it is always a wise choice to stock up enough acrylic liquid and powder before beginning with your acrylic manicure to avoid any mishap. Wishing you artsy nails and lots of gloss and shine your way. Happy nail coloring sessions!


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