Acrylics are normally used to make natural nails stronger and longer with the use of nail tips. However, acrylics are also used to create a protective layer on the nails without making them artificially longer.

Acrylic overlay on natural nails is a nail enhancement in which acrylics are applied on top of these nails that are long enough so it is not necessary to extend them with nail tips. An acrylic overlay creates a thin protective coating on the natural nails that make them stronger and help nail polish stay up to two weeks.

Acrylic overlay nails have a more natural look and can be thinner than an acrylic full set because they do not have the additional thickness of nail tips and people who want acrylic overlay opt for a natural look anyway.

Why do you need overlays on nails with acrylics?

One of the problem people who want their natural nails to have a little bit of length is one or two would break and they do not have all ten nails with the same length anymore.

Acrylics are a great nail enhancement product to strengthen natural nails.

So by doing overlays on nails using acrylics will minimize the chance one or two break off or crack and keep the uniform look longer.

Another advantage of having overlay on nails with acrylics is the polish will stay on the nails up to two weeks.

Acrylic overlay on natural nails without tips

Some people like to wear their natural nails a little longer than the tips of the fingers. The problem is when the natural nails get long, they tend to break, split or peel.

When applied, acrylic overlay on natural nails will help these people enjoy their long natural nails without having to worry about them breaking so easily.

Acrylic overlay on short nails

For people with thin nails, the biggest problem they have is their nails peel, split or break. Sometimes, these breaks go deeper into the nail bed and cause bleeding. Furthermore, they can not grow long nails because one or two will break or tear off and their nails will not have even length anymore.

With a thin coat of acrylic overlay on the real nails, all of these issues are prevented.

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Is acrylic overlay better than acrylic full sets?

The acrylic overlay is for people who have their nails long and want to strengthen them.

Acrylics with tips or full sets are for people who want fake nails longer than their natural nails.

So it is the same acrylics that are applied on nails to achieve two different outcomes.

It is a user’s preference that they would pick one acrylic application over the other.

In short, the difference between acrylic full sets and overlays is how they are applied on nails. One with nail tips and the other without nail tips.

Does acrylic overlay add length?

An acrylic overlay is a coat of strengthening product applied on top of your natural nails and the final length will be the original lengths of your nails.

If you want your nails to be longer, you should do an acrylic full set where nail tips are added to your nails to make them longer instead of an acrylic overlay.

How long do acrylic overlays last?

Similar to an acrylic full set, an acrylic overlay can last up to three months if you do two to three-week fill-in intervals.

Does acrylic overlay strengthen nails?

Acrylics are an external nail enhancement product. An acrylic overlay will give the natural nails an additional thickness thus make them stronger, however, an acrylic overlay does not make the nails themselves stronger or thicker.

Acrylic overlay with gel polish

For people who want an acrylic overlay on their nails, they can put either regular or gel polish just like they can on acrylic full sets, and they can have any designs or nail art as they wish.

Is acrylic overlay bad for your nails?

No, the bad effects of an acrylic overlay will be the same as those of acrylic full sets. As long as you know how to take care of your acrylic full sets, you will know how to care for your acrylic overlay.

  • The common bad things that are associated with acrylics are:
  • Thinning of the natural nails due to sanding or buffing.
  • Nails are dry and brittle after acrylic removal.

These are known negative aspects of acrylics, however, they are temporary. If acrylics are removed, natural nails will grow back normal in two months.

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How much does acrylic overlay cost?

Most nail salons will charge their acrylic overlay services the same price as acrylic full sets. Even though nail tips are not used, shaping acrylic overlays tends to take more time because natural nails do not always have perfect or even shapes.

Acrylic overlay pros and cons


  • Thinner, lighter, and look natural.
  • Do not have to use nail tips to extend the lengths


  • Break or chip easier than acrylic full set.
  • Nail’s free edges tend to separate from acrylics.

Can you put acrylic on natural nails?

Yes, you can put acrylic on natural nails. You should consider this acrylic overlay if:

  • Your natural nails are thin and break easily.
  • You do not want long nails.
  • You want the nail polish to last longer on your thin nails.

Then acrylic overlay is a perfect choice.

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When is an acrylic overlay not good for your nails?

You should not have an acrylic overlay if one or more of your nails do not grow out evenly. An acrylic overlay will take the shape of your nails. If you do not like the way your natural nails grow out, then you should trim the free edges and put on an acrylic full set with nail tips.

What do you need for the acrylic overlay?

If you want to have an acrylic overlay on your nails, you do not need nail tips.

As a nail technician, you must know that natural nails do not grow out evenly, some even grow out crooked. You must have a good eye to decide how you would go about creating an acrylic overlay for your customers so that the final product will be better-looking than before.

That is what both you and your customers want.

Other alternatives to acrylic overlay that you can do at home

Acrylics were invented in 1954 by a dentist and it has a great product as an artificial nail enhancement. However, there are other great nail products that you can do at home and make your nails stronger which take less time and fewer skills to apply.

Gel polish:

This is the easiest product to strengthen your thin nails. You can just brush on the polish and cure it using an LED light. Your nails will have an additional thickness that keeps them from breaking and the polish will stay on for up to two weeks.

SNS dipping powder:

Another great product that you can use to do an overlay on your nails at home. This product is more involved than gel polish, but it can make your nails much stronger.

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