Curious about acrylic toes?
Want all the best info and tips?
Right now we’re gonna go through all your questions about acrylic toenails.
But first – a useful definition:
Acrylic toenails are natural toenails that have been extended or re-shaped using acrylic nail powder and monomer. Acrylic toes are just like acrylic fingernails, they make your toenails look even and pretty.
Now we know what acrylic toes are, here’s what we’re gonna cover in this post.
Table of contents (for easy navigation)
Yes, you can!
The application process is exactly the same as for acrylic fingernails.
So in theory, you should be able to call up any nail salon and book an appointment for a full set of acrylic toes.
But, applying acrylics on toes is more difficult than on hands.
The nail tech is going to have to spend a long time hunched over in an awkward position, which isn’t pleasant.
For this reason, you can expect to pay a fair bit more (approximately 30%) for acrylic toes compared to acrylic fingernails.
Because they can be awkward to do, some salons do not even offer acrylic toes. So you may also have to shop around a bit to find a place that does them.
If you’re very flexible and have a lot of experience, you can do your own acrylic toes at home.
The application process is basically the same, and you can use tips or forms just like you would on your hands.
But it can be very difficult because you are going to have to bend over for a long time.
Doing your own acrylic toes can be very uncomfortable and can cause back and neck pain.
Also, the application is not as easy because you can’t turn your toenails towards you.
This means you are going to have to work moving away from yourself instead of towards your body, which is tricky.
Rather than doing your own acrylic toenails at home, it might be better to get an experienced friend. Or a professional to do them for you.
There are 3 reasons you might need acrylic toes:
- To repair a broken toenail.
If you have a chip or a break – applying acrylic can help to repair and strengthen the damaged toenail.
So you can still have a cute-looking pedicure – yay!
- To make your toenails look better.
The second reason you might need acrylic toes is to improve how your toenails look.
Using acrylics on your toes can make them longer and improve the shape.
You can also use colored acrylic powder or gel polish over acrylic to make your toenails look cute.
- To reduce the number of times you have to paint your toes.
The third reason you might want acrylic toenails is so that you don’t have to paint your toes as often.
An acrylic pedicure will last way longer than a regular pedicure.
And since toenails grow much more slowly than fingernails, you could get months out of your acrylic toes!
Your age, diet, hormone levels, and how often you exercise can all affect the growth rate of your toenails. So the length of time before you need to have a fill appointment can vary.
Toenails grow almost 3 times slower than fingernails.
So a full set of Acrylic toes should last you at least a month before you’ll need them filled in.
Acrylic toenails are much less likely to break, crack or chip because you don’t use your feet to do stuff.
If you look after them, acrylic toes should last a lot longer than acrylic fingernails. Possibly twice as long if not more.
The average price for a full set of acrylic toenails in a US salon is $45.
Of course, the price may be higher or lower depending on the area you live in.
$40 – $60 is a good basic budget.
If you want gel polish, special shaping, or nail art, you can expect to pay at least $10 dollars more.
Or approximately 20% extra.
Colored acrylics are likely to cost a lot more. So expect to pay around $85 if you want the colored acrylic powder on your toes.
If your nail tech does a great job on your toes, you may also want to add a tip.
If you have a broken toenail, a repair should be around $6 to $10.
The price of a basic clear acrylic pedicure in the US ranges between $25 and $85.
The lowest prices are from small independent salons.
There you can expect to pay $25 for a basic clear set and $40 for a french mani style done in pink and white.
Mid-range salons and spas charge around $35 for a clear acrylic pedicure and $55 for pink and white.
High-end resorts and spas charge around $50 for basic clear acrylic toes and $85 for pink and white.
Remember that these are basic prices. Polish (either regular or gel) may be extra.
If you want anything fancy like gems or nail art, then speak to your nail tech first and agree on a price.
If you want, you can always tip your nail tech too!
Unfortunately, acrylic toenails can slightly increase the risk of fungal infections.
If the acrylic is not completely bonded and sealed to the toenail, water can get in.
Moisture gets into the tiny space between your natural nail and the acrylic.
If moisture gets trapped under your acrylic nail, fungus can grow.
Because it thrives in warm, moist environments.
If you see any green, white or yellow spots on your toenail, then you should not do acrylic toes for a while. So that you can treat it.
It is also possible to get fungus from contaminated nail products.
So to avoid getting fungus on your toes, make sure that you get your acrylic pedicure done at a salon with a good reputation for being sanitary.
Technically, yes. As long as you have enough of a nail to build on, you can put acrylic onto a toe without a nail.
But should you do it?
I know, I know, you want your toes to look all pretty!
But, isn’t your health way more important?
Replacing a missing toenail with acrylic puts you at a high risk of infection.
If you get an infection, your natural toenail could grow back all weird.
And left untreated, an infection caused by acrylics can even result in amputation!
Now is that something you’re willing to risk?
To avoid infection, you should never put acrylic over a broken or missing toenail. Especially if there is an open wound or if it is bleeding.
If you put alcohol on it and it burns, then wait 48 hours and try again before attempting acrylics.
In fact, I’d advise against doing it at all.
Much better to bandage the toenail up and let nature take its healing course.
Yes, acrylic can cause damage to your toenails.
Here are 4 ways that acrylics can damage your natural toenails:
- Decreasing the flexibility
Your toenails are naturally flexible. This helps them to cope with the pressure caused by normal daily activities. Things like walking and running.
Add in acrylics that are rock hard and you are bound to get some pulling around the nail bed which does cause damage.
- Exposure to harsh chemicals
There are lots of harsh chemicals in acrylic nails that can weaken and/ or cause damage to your natural nail.
- Increased risk of fungal infections
Acrylic is actually porus which means that minute amounts of water can get through.
Also, moisture can get trapped underneath your acrylic toenail. Where it meets your natural toenail.
This excess moisture can cause fungal infections or if you already have one, make it worse.
- Removal not done correctly
If you’re not careful, you can cause damage to the natural toenails during the removal process.
Peeling your acrylic toenails off or scraping too hard or too much can leave your natural toenails in a weakened state.
This means your nails are more likely to split and peel.
You can make fake toenails using acrylic powder and a liquid monomer.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A standard nail file
- An e-file (a nail drill with a filing bit attached)
- Buffing block
- Acrylic powder
- Liquid monomer
- Tips or nail form stickers
- Dehydrator and primer
- An acrylic nail brush
- A dappen dish (or small glass cup)
- Brush cleaner
- Lint free wipes
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cuticle pusher
- Nail clippers (optional)
- Nail polish (optional)
To make fake toenails you’ll need to follow these simple steps.
We’ll keep it basic for now.
In the next section on how to apply acrylic, I’m going to go into more detail on exactly what you need to do.
But to give you an idea of what’s involved here’s the basic steps for making fake acrylic toenails:
- Clean your toenails
- Dry your toenails
- Basic nail prep (file, tidy up / remove the cuticles)
- Remove any dust
- Buff your toenails
- Apply plastic tips or nail form stickers (optional)
- Trim and shape the tips
- Use nail dehydrator and a primer
- Apply acrylic using a nail brush
- Let it set for 10 minutes
- File to the desired shape and length
- Buff the acrylic toenails
- Remove any dust
- Paint your new fake toenails!
- Use cuticle oil (optional)
You can apply acrylic to toenails in almost the same way as you would for fingernails.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to applying acrylic to toes.
- Clean the toenails.
Soak the toes in warm water for a few minutes then dry with a towel.
- Thoroughly dry the toenails.
The toenails need to be completely dry or you risk lifting and fungal infections.
You can use a hairdryer for 1 or 2 minutes on each foot to make sure they are nice and dry.
- Prepare the toenails.
Push the cuticles back. Then clip them if you need to.
Next, file the free edges down until smooth. Then remove any excess dead cuticle with a nail drill and the appropriate drill bit.
- Get rid of any excess dust.
A quick wipe with a lint-free pad soaked in rubbing alcohol should do the trick.
- Buff the nail bed and surface.
Lightly buff the whole surface of the toenails with a buffing block. Then wipe them down again to remove dust.
- If you are using tips or forms, go ahead and apply those.
This step is optional. You can apply acrylic directly to natural toenails without extending them if you want.
But if you want them longer, you’ll need to either glue on tips or use a nail form sticker.
Top tip – you may want to leave the pinky toes without a tip. This is because you need enough natural nail space for the acrylic to stick.
Sometimes if you use a tip you cover too much of the natural toenail and the nail will just fall off after a day or 2.
- Trim down and shape the tips (if using tips) with a nail file.
Make sure you also blend in the part where the tip meets your natural nail so you don’t get a ridge.
- Apply a dehydrator and a primer.
This will make your acrylic toes last longer and bond better.
- Apply your acrylic.
Use an acrylic nail brush dipped in a monomer to create a bead. Then go ahead and apply as many beads as you need for the application method you are following.
- Add a thin layer of clear acrylic if desired.
This is useful for encapsulating a design and/or making everything smooth.
- File the acrylic toenails into the shape you want.
Start with the sides and then the free edge. You’re basically shaping the toenails and making sure the length is right.
You can use a manual file or an e-file (nail drill with a bit attached) for this.
- Buff the surface of the acrylic toenails.
Do this with a buffing block (first the rough side then a smoother side) to create a smooth surface.
- Wipe all the dust away.
Another quick wipe with a lint-free pad soaked in Isopropyl alcohol.
- Paint your acrylic toenails.
You can paint over your acrylic toenails with regular or gel nail polish.
If you have used colored acrylic powder or done a design then you don’t need to do this.
- Apply cuticle oil.
This final step is optional, but I do recommend it because it keeps the cuticles moist and healthy and makes everything nice and shiny.
Yes, you can use plastic nail tips to create nail extensions for toes.
But, a lot of the nail tips sold are designed to be used on fingernails. You might struggle to find a tip big enough to fit your big toe fully from sidewall to sidewall.
It’s important not to use a tip that’s too small because if a tip is too small it will be more likely to crack.
If you can’t find a nail tip big enough – then you can use a nail form as a guide and make your own toenail tip out of acrylic.
Here’s a great video that shows you how to do that:
I have very small toes and if I try to use tips they always fall off.
It took me a while to figure out what was going on. But then I realized that there wasn’t enough of my natural toenail showing for the acrylic to stick.
If your toes (or your client’s toes) are really small, then you may have to skip the use of a nail tip altogether.
You can make your own call on whether the tip will stick by checking how much natural nail will be exposed once the tip is glued on.
You need enough of the natural toenail to be exposed for the acrylic to adhere properly.
If you don’t think a tip is going to hold, then you can use the form method shown above.
Or alternatively, apply a very dry bead and build up your own mini extension as you apply the acrylic.
To get acrylic off your toes, you’ll need to soak it off using pure acetone.
Here’s how to soak off acrylic toes step by step:
- Use a nail drill with a bit attached or an e-file to remove as much acrylic as you can before you start.
- Take 2 containers (glass cookware or plastic works well) and one should fit inside the other.
- Fill the larger one with hot water and the smaller one with acetone.
- Then place the smaller container (the one full of acetone) into the larger one that’s full of hot water.
Basically, you want to heat up the acetone a little in a water bath.
You should never heat up the acetone directly because it will burn your or your client’s feet!
- Soak your feet in the acetone for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Take your feet out and use a cuticle pusher to scrape off the TOP layers of acrylic.
Don’t try to get under the acrylic and scrape it all off – that will damage your natural toenail.
Working from the cuticle down towards the edge. Gently remove the top layers that are soft and come off easily.
- Gently file down any remaining acrylic that’s still a little hard.
- Soak again for around 10 minutes.
- Scrape off as much acrylic as you possibly can with the cuticle pusher and file off any stubborn bits.
- Your toes should now be clean and acrylic-free. But if they’re not – soak them again for a few more minutes and scrape those last bits off.
If you don’t have any containers, you can also soak off acrylic toenails using cotton balls and foil.
For this method you will need:
- Cotton balls
- Pure acetone
Here are the steps for removing acrylic toenails using foil and cotton balls.
- Cut the foil into strips or squares – they need to be big enough for you to wrap up your toes and a cotton ball.
- Soak each cotton ball in the pure acetone until it is soaking wet.
- Place the saturated cotton ball onto your toenail, making sure it’s completely covered.
- Fix the wet cotton ball to your toe by wrapping the foil around both your toe and the cotton ball.
- Leave in place for at least 30 minutes. The thicker your toenails the longer you should wait.
- Push down gently on each toenail and slide the foil and cotton ball off. The acrylic should come off fairly easily.
- Remove any last bits of acrylic from the toenails by buffing or very gently filing it off.
- You can repeat the whole process if there is still quite a bit of acrylic left.
- Acetone dries out the cuticles, so when you’re done, wash your feet and use cuticle oil to rehydrate.
Toenails grow a lot more slowly than fingernails. Almost 3 times slower.
So does that mean your acrylic toenails will last 3 times longer?
In theory, yes they should last longer.
But in reality – your toenails can take quite a beating from all that walking and running.
Acrylic toenails should last you 3 to 5 weeks before you’ll need an infill.
In my experience, it’s the small toes (the pinky and the one next to it) that let the team down. Especially if you apply tips to them.
I make my acrylic toes last longer by skipping the tip on the last 2 toes.
Instead, I just apply a very dry acrylic bead and build up a thick “tip” that I then file down.
This stops the nails from falling off so I don’t have to redo them as often.
Yes, you can use builder gel on toes!
Builder gel is hard but flexible, which makes it a great choice for fake toenails.
It also looks more natural than acrylic and applies quicker.
The removal process with builder gel is less damaging than acrylic. And there’s also less filing involved.
You will also be less likely to experience breakages with builder gels on your toes.
Builder gels give you more flexibility to work because they don’t set quickly as acrylics do.
You do need a lamp to use builder gel though.
So, there are lots of plus points to using builder gel for your pedicure.
If your natural toenails are strong and healthy – then builder gel could be perfect.
But if your natural toenails are soft and a little bendy – then acrylic will give you a stronger, more durable finish.
Yes, you can soak your toes in acetone to remove acrylic toenails.
It usually takes around 30 minutes in total to get all the acetone off.
After 15 minutes of soaking. Do some light scraping using a cuticle pusher.
It’s a good idea to use a water bath to gently heat up the acetone a bit.
This speeds up the removal process and it feels more comfortable.
It’s important that you NEVER heat up acetone directly on the stove or in a microwave.
This releases hazardous fumes and you can burn your feet!
The best way to heat it up is to place a container of acetone in a larger container of hot water.
You can also saturate a cotton ball in acetone and apply it to the toenail with foil.
Putting acrylic on your toes is generally considered safe.
Of course, you are using chemicals during the application and the removal of acrylic toenails that can be hazardous.
But that’s only the same as when you use acrylic on your fingernails.
Here are some of the risks that you should be aware of when using acrylic on your toes:
Increased risk of fungal infection.
Damage to the natural nail caused by scraping during removal.
The potential damage caused by breathing in fumes and dust.
Weakening of the natural nail caused by chemicals / acetone.
Increased risk of breakages if you bang your toenail because acrylic is super hard.
An overlay, whether it’s applied to fingernails or on toes is a protective layer of product that strengthens the nail.
You can have an acrylic or a gel overlay for example.
But, you don’t use tips with an overlay. It is simply applied over the natural nail.
This could be to make it look nicer and smoother – fill in any ridges and cover over any bumps.
Or it could be to strengthen and protect your natural nails.
It is not an extension. Overlays do not lengthen the nail in any way.
Overlays are pretty useful.
If you have an overlay, you can add and remove gel polish or nail art over the top.
You or your nail tech can then remove/file down and repaint your nails without having to soak the whole set off.
Overlays can also protect your natural nails from breakages.
You have to have an overlay filled in every 2 to 3 weeks.
Acrylic toes are a thing now. But what should you ask for if you want them?
When you put an acrylic overlay on toes it is called a full set of acrylic toenails.
If you have tips, extensions, or nail forms used then it’s called a full set of acrylic toe extensions.
If there’s massage, foot soaking, or pumicing involved – you may also hear it referred to as an acrylic pedicure.
Really, it depends on the salon you are going to.
Ask them what services they offer because not all salons offer acrylic toes as standard.
But they may be able to tweak an existing service to meet your needs.
Always explain exactly what you want before you make your appointment. To avoid confusion and disappointment.
If properly applied and removed acrylics are not bad for your toenails.
Acrylics can cause damage to your toenails if they are not removed gently enough.
They can also weaken your natural nails over time if you don’t give your toenails a break.
There is a small chance that moisture could get trapped under your acrylic layer. This can cause a fungal infection.
You could also experience some pain and discomfort for the first couple of days.
The same is true for fingernails.
If you experience any mild pain just know that it’s normal and it should go away after the first day.
It’s usually down to the weight of the acrylic on the nail. Or the cuticles being pushed right back.
It could also be a result of the pressure that’s been applied when adhering the tips.
If you’re still in pain after a few days, you should seek advice from your nail technician or a medical expert.