Long, strong, and smooth nails can take a long time to grow, but acrylic nails are a way to attain your nail goals in a matter of hours! When it comes to building anything, a strong foundation is absolutely crucial - acrylics are no exception. If you're trying to do your own acrylics for the first time, you'll want the right tools for dazzling results.
The technical details of the types of acrylic nail brushes can be complicated, so we've created a handy buying guide below and compiled a list of five great acrylic nail brushes for you to peruse. Our favorite is Pana's Finest Kolinsky Acrylic Nail Brush. This brush has the quality Kolinsky sable spring to its bristles that will enable even a beginner to lay acrylic smoothly. If you're curious about other products, keep reading! There's also a buying guide, which was reviewed by a licensed cosmetologist, to help you choose the right product for your hair.
Denise is a licensed cosmetologist who advises people on certain products they should get. She formally worked at Ulta and is now headed into a salon.
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Table of Contents
Brushes are an absolutely integral part of the acrylic nail process, and the type of brush you choose plays an important factor in how easily, quickly, and successfully you get your nails done. Let’s go through some important factors to consider when choosing a brush.
Brushes come in a variety of sizes, generally starting at size 4 and ending at size 22. Most beginners and intermediate nail artists stick with brushes in the 6-8 range because it's easier to control the application. The ratio of powder to liquid is easier to get right with smaller brushes, which is another critical factor in doing acrylic nails.
However, seasoned nail artists prefer larger brushes in the 9-12 range because it cuts down the application time and they're comfortable enough in their craft. They know precisely how much liquid to take and how many strokes to do to get a clean application, so they can apply and finish faster.
For most people, larger-sized brushes tend to make application difficult and messy. This makes it harder to apply acrylic liquid nicely and is a potential hazard since you may get it on your fingers. Allergic reactions can happen, so we want to be on the safe side and avoid getting any acrylic liquid anywhere except for our nails!
The size of your brush will also determine how many beads of acrylic you'll need to apply the nails successfully. A smaller brush will usually mean you have to apply more beads to fully coat the nail, so you may benefit from buying a set of differently-sized brushes so you can work your way up to larger brush sizes in the future.
Most of the time, an oval brush is used for acrylic nails. However, if you're using an odorless acrylic, you may consider using a round or square brush because the consistency of the monomer is thicker than traditional acrylics.
Round brushes are the original form of acrylic nail brushes. They're also the easiest to use for beginners, as their shape ensures that you'll almost always absorb the right amount of liquid monomer.
Due to their rounder bellies and pointed tips, round brushes are also useful for detailed acrylic work and for reaching those crevices at the base of your cuticles. It's hard to go wrong with a round acrylic nail brush, so we recommend this shape if you've never tried painting acrylics before.
Oval brushes are the standard when it comes to acrylic nails. Oval brushes make it easier to make the balls of acrylic that will go on your nails, and the pointed tip allows you to get into small spaces with control to ensure a smooth, professional finish.
Some brushes are crimped, while others are not. Crimped brushes are set or pressed at the base with pliers or a similar tool. This creates a flatter belly that allows the brush to hold more liquid, which in turn can increase the size of your beads.
There are ways to crimp brushes yourself. However, be aware that if you crimp your acrylic nail brush, the process can't be undone. There's also the risk of causing irreversible damage to your brush if you fail to crimp it properly, so you may want to ask a professional for advice.
Square brushes offer a lot of coverage and may be easier to some for that reason. It’s easier to evenly spread the monomer down to the cuticles evenly with square brushes. The monomer is the liquid you have to mix with polymer powder to create your acrylic paint.
An even and efficient spreading of monomer can help speed up your acrylic painting process. However, when it comes to smaller nails, it may be tough to control your stokes if you use a square brush.
Since square-shaped brushes are most commonly used at nail tech schools, it may be a bit difficult to find a set for use at your home. Still, so long as you do some digging, square brushes can be an effective addition to your set!
The quality of the bristles is a crucial component for getting a smooth, clean finish. Bristles that break easily, get bushy after use, or become overly spread out, are going to make it nearly impossible to get that sleek look.
Kolinsky sable hair brushes are made of tail hairs from a species of weasel. These are a tried and true favorite among many nail technicians, as they're easy to clean, maintain their shape, and last a long time.
These strong and flexible brushes can also hold a lot of acrylic liquid! They release liquid from the brush in appropriate amounts based on the pressure applied, which means you'll have a lot of control over your painting process. Kolinsky sable brushes are a good choice if you're aiming to be a professional someday.
There are other sable hair brushes that aren’t kolinsky. These are called red sable brushes and are made of marten's hair. Red sable brushes are still effective at holding the liquid monomer and laying down the acrylic mix.
However, red sable hairs aren't as long or as tapered as kolinsky brushes. This means they give you a little less control over your painting, but they're still a fine option for beginners who don't want to dish out too much money on a kolinsky sable brush set.
Synthetic brushes such as nylon also exist. They maintain their shape well and are durable. However, they don’t do as good of a job at holding the acrylic liquid, which makes it more difficult to create the acrylic ball that goes on the nail. It's easier to damage synthetic brushes while cleaning, but they're preferable if you want a cost-effective and cruelty-free acrylic nail brush.
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Profession Purple Wood Kolinsky Acrylic Nail Brush
Best for Beginners and Professionals Alike
Kolinsky Sable Round Nail Art Brush
Best Crimped Acrylic Nail Brush for All Skill Levels
Kolinsky Sable Brush Acrylic Nail Art Builder Brush Crystal Pink
Best for Creating Detailed Acrylic Nail Art
Wooden Acrylic Nail Brush
Best Budget Pick for Tentative Beginners
Kolinsky Sable Oval Acrylic Nail Art Brush Set
Best Acrylic Nail Brush Set for Beginners
Faux Kolinsky Round Acrylic Brush
Best Cruelty-Free Acrylic Nail Brush
Pana's professional-grade kolinsky sable hair brush is a great investment if you plan on taking your skills to a professional level. The oval-ended handle is made of beautiful hardwood and fits comfortably when held. Durable alloy ferrules hold the bristles sturdily in place, ensuring this tool will last you a long while.
While a few reports warn that the paint on the wooden handle can be worn down too easily, many have said that the quality of the brush has helped take their acrylic nails to the next level. The soft yet durable bristles are said to offer smooth, steady application.
Pana's crimped acrylic nail brush features the same soft yet springy kolinsky sable head and ergonomic, oval handle as its non-crimped counterpart. The crimping creates a flatter brush head for more acrylic distribution, so if you don't want to try crimping your own brush, this is a great choice! This brush is available in all sizes and in multiple fun colors.
A few people who used this product found it difficult to clean without permanently fraying the bristles, so we recommend taking care when you're ready to clean your brush. Still, Pana's crimped brush is popular for its sturdy make and long lifespan, with many saying they've been using their brushes for years without issue.
If you want to add finer details or nail sculptures to your acrylics, you'll need an acrylic brush with a fine head and firm grip. Pana's Kolinsky Acrylic Nail Art Brush is a good fit, as it boasts sizes two through five and has adjustable rubber grips for its handle.
Some warn that the brush head doesn't keep its shape well, especially after multiple uses and cleaning. Still, Pana's nail art brush is still a great hit among beginners for its soft bristles and for how effectively it lays acrylic. If you want to try your hand at 3D acrylics or just add extra detail, this is a fine choice.
If this is your first time trying acrylics, you may want a quality brush that doesn't break the bank. Modelones' kolinsky brushes feature soft yet sturdy bristles that are 100 percent kolinsky sable hair, making them a fine choice for beginners who want a cost-effective brush.
While this brush has been found to shed or fray easily when not cleaned or stored properly, it's still lauded for its brush shape and good monomer retention. Nail tech students and casual users alike have said they love this cost-effective option for their practice. They add that Modelones' brush holds up well against pricier options when it comes to smooth application and durability.
Beaute Galleria's three-piece acrylic nail brush set is a great choice if you want to work your way up to larger brush heads in the future. The included sizes are accessible to beginners, and each brush head has a crimped, flatter belly for more coverage. The handles are ovular and will fit comfortably in your hand.
A few who used these brushes have noted that their sable hairs are not of the highest quality. Still, many beginners have shared success stories after using this set, saying the brush heads held monomer and powder fairly well and that they enjoyed being able to experiment with different brush sizes.
Whether you're a practicing vegan or just want to invest in a more cruelty-free lifestyle, this innovative brush is a great choice for your acrylic needs. Made from lightweight bamboo and nano-synthetic fibers, Americanails' brush promises the same soft yet springy feel of any professional bristle head.
It's been warned that this synthetic nail brush will need to be dipped more often in monomer liquid, as the bristles tend to dry out more quickly. Still, many report to have been pleasantly surprised by how easy to control the brush head was., adding that it was cut well and created large beads of acrylic.
Acrylic nail brushes are important aspects of your paint job, so it's vital that you care for your brushes the proper way. Here are some commonly asked questions about acrylic nail brushes and how to treat them before and after your nails are done.
Acrylic can be a difficult thing to clean out of your brush head, especially if it's made of synthetic fibers. Either way, you'll want to clean your brush after each use to ensure hardened acrylic doesn't build up between the bristles.
First, pour fresh monomer liquid into a small container and let your brush soak for at least an hour. Then, rinse your brush with warm water. Be sure to do this gently, without tugging at the bristles or trying to rub them against your hand.
Once you've rinsed the brush head, swipe it softly against a paper towel or dry, clean cloth. Set it out to dry naturally to ensure there isn't residual moisture. You don't want your brush to get moldy!
You shouldn't use acetone to clean your acrylic nail brushes, as it can actually strip and damage them. This is especially true if your bristles are kolinsky sable. Stick with the monomer method we mentioned above, and your brush should stay soft and clean!
Acrylic nail brushes need to be kept away from dust. Some brushes come with a cap or a plastic tube; we recommend making good use of these. If your brush didn't come with a storage accessory, wrap it in a soft towel or keep it in a box.
We also recommend that you store your acrylic nail brush on its side. Sticking it in a jar with its bristles facing up can lead to monomer running down from the bristles and damaging the ferrule and handle.
Finally, always be sure that your brush is completely dry before putting it away. Any residual wetness can lead to mold or reduce the quality and lifespan of your bristles.
Ready to make your acrylic nails pop? Check out the following links to take you there. And yes, you can use gel polish on top of your acrylics!
Whether you want to get started with acrylics or prefer gel nails, Amazon's best seller list is always a good place to start. Check out more great brushes in the link below!
No. 1: Pana｜Profession Purple Wood Kolinsky Acrylic Nail Brush
No. 2: Pana｜Kolinsky Sable Round Nail Art Brush
No. 3: Pana｜Kolinsky Sable Brush Acrylic Nail Art Builder Brush Crystal Pink
No. 4: Modelones｜Wooden Acrylic Nail Brush
No. 5: Beaute Galleria｜Kolinsky Sable Oval Acrylic Nail Art Brush Set
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