Can You Use Nail Tips Without Acrylic?

If you’re wondering, “Can you use nail tips without acrylic?”, then check out our article for the answer and some other alternatives for long nails to try out! 

Long, stunning nails, perfectly shaped with a favorite color that lasts – that’s what we all dream of, but what’s the best way to get the look we want?

Tips applied with acrylics look fab, and after all, they’re popular, so we can’t resist trying once. Yet, then right after taking them off, the unhealthy, dry nails are revealed.

That’s when you may want to try a safer alternative or at least exclude acrylic from the process. Can you use nail tips without acrylic? Are there any other choices to get you longer, awe-inspiring nails? Here is the answer!

What Is The Big Deal About Acrylic In Nails?

Acrylic nails are a combination of powder and liquid monomer mixed into a blob of dough, shaped onto your nails with a brush to create nail shapes.

Nail Tips With Acrylic
Nail Tips With Acrylic

In the world of manicure, the word “acrylic” often carries negative connotations as this chemical is quite harmful to your nails and overall health. The chemicals used in acrylic nails are offenders such as resins and formaldehyde, which have been shown to cause cancer.

There are a few implications that acrylic nails pose to your nails that you should be aware of:

  • Damages To The Nails

Prior to the application of acrylics, your nails should be filed until they get rough for the acrylics to adhere to. Frequently filing makes your nail plates thinner over time.

This is even worse when you don’t know how to file your nails properly. Your nails can fray while the bed and cuticle can be damaged heavily with the wrong motions of the file.

In addition, regular filing your nails and wrong techniques will create a destructive combination to your nails, which can lead to inflammation and fungal infection.

If you have the habit of peeling the acrylics with your hands, you should alway be aware that doing so will remove the natural thin layer of your nails.

  • Potential Risks Of Allergy And Infection

The ingredients used in the acrylic application can cause itchiness and allergic reactions. The biggest concern with acrylic nails, however, is the likelihood of infection on your nails.

Infections are typically caused by bacteria or water trapped between the natural and fake nails. This gap can be a favorable environment that promotes excessive fungi growth.

Can You Use Nail Tips Without Acrylic?

Yes, instead of acrylic, you can apply artificial nail tips using other bonding agents, such as gel, which is considerably less harmful to your nails. 

The nail tips cannot stand on their own, and the gel or acrylic not only gives the tip strength but covers the line between the tip and the nail.

Many people use glue to hold the nail tips in place. Yet, keep in mind that glue does not have the adhesive strength needed to secure the acrylics, making it a bad choice if you want your fake nails to last.

Your nails only last a few days after gluing and even less when your hands are exposed frequently to water.

Different Alternatives To Acrylic Nails

So, how to do nails without acrylic? If you’re a fan of long nails, there are still a few amazing alternatives to acrylic nails that you may want to experiment with:

Gel Nail Extensions

Acrylic nails and gel extensions are built from natural nails and are extended with fake nail tips. Yet, the similarity stops there.

Nevertheless, these types of manicures require different ingredients.

Acrylics involve the use of a polymer powder and a liquid monomer, while gel extensions need hard or soft gel that needs to be hardened using either a LED lamp or UV light.

In acrylic nails, you need to mix the powder and liquid to the proper ratio before you can apply the mixture to your nails.

Gel extensions, however, use a premade gel, which can be hard or soft gel, so you can use it without any mixing step.

Besides, the hardness of acrylic nails make it more challenging to remove than gel extensions.

With the hardness, acrylics are highly recommended for soft nails whereas the flexibility of gel extensions make it ideal for hard and brittle nails.

Gel Nails With Tips
Gel Nails With Tips


  • Less Damaging To Your Nail

When applied and removed properly, gel extensions are a very safe choice.

They’re regarded as a healthier alternative to acrylics since they don’t have the powder or harsh chemicals such as methyl methacrylate and toluene.

The extension also serves as a layer of protection over your natural nails. This means that they help your natural nails underneath grow longer and stronger.

On top of that, gel extensions do not produce any harmful fumes, and they cause no health risks to you and the nail artist.

Acrylic nails, on the other hand, contain ethyl methacrylate (EMA), and can cause toxic fumes. These fumes significantly reduce the indoor air quality, and can lead to headache, dizziness, itchiness, respiratory problems, etc.

  • Long-Lasting

Gel nails last as long as acrylics, but regular upkeep is vital. Nail extensions of all sorts go no more than four weeks!

There are two types of gels commonly used in nail extensions: soft gel and hard gel (aka builder gel).

Hard gel is more durable, and thus, can hold the extension for up to 4 weeks, whereas soft gel is only good for around 3 weeks.

Thanks to its durability, hard gel is a better choice for those after strong and long nails.

The trade off is that they are a pain to remove. If you only want to improve the strength and durability of your mid-length and short nails, without the heaviness and hardness of hard gel, soft gel is the way to go!

  • Quick To Apply And Remove

Gel extensions are easier to apply and require less time than acrylics. The gel can be used immediately; all you need to do is to apply it all over your nail before curing it under UV light.

The application of acrylic nails is not as straightforward, however! You need to achieve the right ratio between the liquid and powder to ensure that the product is movable, yet not too runny.

Besides, it is important to be mindful of the timing of the application before the monomer and powder begins to harden. Gel extensions are also better than regular acrylics when you take them off.

The removal process of acrylic tips involves drilling, soaking, and filing. You only need to soak the nails in acetone with gel extensions, and the gel tips gradually dissolve.


  • More Expensive

Gels are also less widely available and tend to be more costly than acrylics.

  • Require UV or LED Lamp

Gel is a viscous liquid substance that hardens in the presence of UV or LED light. Hence, you will need either of these devices to cure your nails.

Check out this video by Sonia Castaneda for a tutorial on how to apply gel extension at home: 

Press-On Nails

Press-on nails are essentially acrylic resin in multitudes of colors, designs, and shapes. They are commonly applied to the natural nails with nail glue or adhesive strip.

Also, they come in a wide range of sizes, which means that you can pick the right size for your fingers. What we love about press-on nails is their convenience, as they are specially made for at-home DIYers.

Press-On Nails
Press-On Nails


  • Nail Protection

Your natural nails are safer underneath press-ons than acrylics or gels. Press-ons and glue don’t take a toll on your nails the same way gel polish, or acrylics do once they come off.

Additionally, putting on a set of press-ons gives you a layer of protection against external damage and abuse (and the habits of reflexive chewing of some), leaving my nails to grow strong and long in peace underneath.

  • A Wide Range Of Design To Suit Your Personalities

Press-on nails are very cheap; you can get a pack for less than $20. Most importantly, they come in an abundance of styles for you to choose from.

Plus, it’s a breeze to remove them. For these reasons, it’s perfect for anyone wanting to try a different nail look every couple of days.

  • Quick Application

Unlike the time-intensive process of acrylic nails, the application of press-ons is relatively quick and can be done properly in under ten minutes.


  • Short Longevity

Press-on nails can be good for one to two weeks, and it depends on how rough you are with them and the upkeep.

You may want to check out this video by Sadler Up Nails on how to apply press-on nails with glue:

Dip Manicure

Where acrylic extensions have had their time in the spotlight, it’s now time for dip powder nails to get the same attention.

There are many distinctive differences between dip manicures and acrylics.

Firstly, they use different bonding agents: dip manicure needs Cyanoacrylate, also known as super glue, which adheres well to the nails and also dries fast.

Acrylic nails require a monomer that has great adhesive strength for the nails and acrylic to stick together.

Acrylics, in general, are more time-consuming and expensive as they involve multiple steps and supplies in the process.

As far as safety concerned, acrylic nails appear a safer choice! Dip manicure has yet to be approved by the FDA due to the potential risks of infection and contamination.

Acrylic nails, on the other hand, already have obtained FDA’s approval and become a staple in most nail salons’ menus.

However, there are still safety concerns about this manicure as there are several harsh chemicals used in the process, which can cause headache, irritation, respiratory issues, etc.


  • More Affordable

A dip powder manicure might cost between $30 and $50. Acrylics are usually more expensive, costing roughly twice as much.

  • More Natural

While nails with dip powder are thinner than those with acrylics when correctly applied, they are comparably strong. Yet, the light layer makes your manicure look more natural.

  • Easy To Apply And Remove

Many people love dip manicures for the ease of application. This type of manicure simply involves the application of the powder and top coat.

There is no need for the nails to be cured under UV light to harden. Instead, the powder dries immediately on its own.

For this reason, dip manicures are less time-consuming than acrylic application, whether you’re doing it at home or at the salon.

Dip powder contains cyanoacrylate, a nail adhesive that is susceptible to solvents. Thus, dip nails are less hassle to remove than acrylic nails.

After soaking in acetone, the dip powder should come off. You will need to use an Efile to remove any remaining dip color in some cases.

  • Safe For Nail Health

While dip powder is not necessarily harmless, they do not contain harmful chemicals like acrylics, and therefore are less damaging to your nails.

On top of that, some brands even take a step further and include calcium and many other vitamins to their dip powders to encourage healthy nails.


  • Not As Flexible 

You can use acrylics with both nail forms and tips, which means that you can enjoy more possibilities with the manicure.

In addition, typical flaws such as bumps and irregularities on the surface can be easily eliminated with acrylics. There is also the freedom to create the nail shape to your liking.

On the other hand, dip powder can add length to your short nails, but it requires the use of acrylic nail tips.

  • Thicker And Heavier Than Gel Nails

With dip manicure, several layers of powders are applied to your natural nails. This gives a thicker and bulkier look to your nails. When compared with gel nails, you can easily notice that they make the nails look and feel heavier and less natural.

Fortunately, many brands have made notice improvements in the formulas of dipping powder, so that there will be less powder required for the desired opacity for a lighter and more natural manicure.

  • Risks Of Infection

When the sanitation is not properly maintained, you’re at high risks of infection with the manicure. The concerns lie in the fact that some salons use the same jar for different clients to dip their nails into it.

This means that the jar can be a haven for microorganisms and spread the infections to different people. Therefore, before taking the plunge, make sure the nail artist uses a separate dipping container for your nails or a brush application to minimize the risks.

Here is a video by Kiara Sky Nails on how to apply dip powder on natural nails:

Other Alternatives

Gel Polish

Gel nail polishes can be used directly on natural nails or on nail extensions, aka nail tips. There are certain advantages of gel polishes over acrylics.

They are more affordable and less damaging to the nails than acrylics. Also, the applying process of gel polish is also easier and faster.

On the flip side, acrylics provide a hard protective barrier to the nail tips, and thus, gel polishes are considerably less durable than gel polish.

You’re less likely to encounter issues such as cracking, lifting, or breaking while you have the acrylics on your nail tips.

Gel polishes do need to be cured under UV or LED lamps, which means it can be an investment if you do your nails at home. When done, they can last as long as 3 weeks before they start to chip and peel.

Fiberglass Nails

Fiberglass is a less common choice when it comes to adding temporary to the natural nails compared to acrylics or gel extensions. However, for those who have thin nails or habitually bite their nails, this is still a viable alternative to acrylics.

The nail technician will add a thin, cloth-like material to the nails before securing it with resin glue along the nail’s edges. Then, the fiberglass should be applied, followed by another layer of resin glue to form a hard surface.

Once the application is done, you can use an enemy board and nail drill to shape the extension as desired. Finally, gel nail polish or acrylic powder should be applied on top of the cloth.

Due to the fine texture of the fabric, you should not expect fiberglass nails to be as long-lasting as acrylic powder and gel extensions. However, the nails will look thinner, lighter and more natural with the extra length you’re after.


Can you use nail tips without acrylic? Adding nail tips but skipping the acrylic step might leave you with nails prone to coming off, not to mention its lack of aesthetic due to the noticeable lines. Instead, you can apply gel to the false nails after gluing them to your natural nails.

If you’re not interested in using gel, there are other ways to get longer nails, including press-on nails and dip manicures.


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