How To Apply Nail Extensions Perfectly? – With Steps And Pictures

Learn to make your own quirky nail looks with these easy extension application tips.

Reviewed by Gabrielle Richens, Skin Therapist
Written by Jyotsana Rao
Edited by Madhumati Chowdhury
Fact-checked by Vaishali Sinha  • 

All of us love well-groomed hands and feet, but everyone knows how to apply nail extensions. Since ancient times, women have painted and accessorized their nails. Historically speaking, long nails represented status and wealth in ancient Egypt.

While some are blessed with strong and beautiful nails, others have to pay a lot of attention to their regular manicures to get that neat and pretty look. As a result, artificial nails or extensions are popular in the current fashion industry. Global personalities like Billie Eilish, Cardi B, Beyoncé, and many others have often been spotted with long claw-like nails. They are made with acrylic, fiberglass, or gel, and the process is known as sculpting.

Swipe up to know more about the process. The article also mentions tips, tricks, and a step-by-step tutorial for applying nail extensions. Read on!

protip_icon Keep In Mind
  • Prepare Your Nails: Prepare Your Nails Gently buff your nails to create a rough surface that will help the nail extensions adhere better.
  • Select Correct Size: Prepare Your Nails Choose the right size of extensions for your nails. If they are too big, they will not adhere properly and if they are too small, they won’t cover the entire nail.
  • Apply Topcoat: Prepare Your Nails After applying extensions, seal them and apply a topcoat to give them a glossy and natural finish.
  • Aftercare: Prepare Your Nails Wear gloves while washing up, cleaning, or cooking with spices as they can leave a stain on the nail extension.

Acrylic Nails Extensions

The acrylic nails are created by mixing liquid monomer and a powder polymer, which when combined form a hard protective layer that is sculpted over the natural nail. These nails become hard when exposed to air. To do extension an artificial tip is added on the nail before using acrylic mix. After that, the nail extensions are shaped, buffed for a shiny finish.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Dentist Frederick Slack accidentally invented acrylic nails in 1955 when he broke his nail. He experimented with different dental chemicals to create an acrylic nail extension to cover his old broken nail.

Gel Nails Extensions

Gel is a softer consistency than acrylic, that is applied either on top of an artificial nail extension, or directly onto the natural nail bed to strengthen the nail and promote long nail growth naturally. It differs from acrylic in terms that no mixing is required to create gel and the nails must be cured in a UV lamp to create strong gel extensions.

Fiberglass Or Silk Nail Extensions

This is a less popular approach. This process involves cutting pieces of fiberglass or silk to fit the nail bed or tip, before sealing them into position using resin or glue. These are the three different types of nail extensions that can be done to get longer nails but all of them require the help of a professional artist slash nail technician and a proper nail salon.(of course they can be done at home but then you require to buy all those expensive products and most importantly lots of practice to get them done at home.)

So how can you apply nail extension at home because it’s very expensive to get them done in salons?

protip_icon Trivia
In Ancient Egypt (around 3000 BC), women wore nail extensions made of gold, ivory, and bone to symbolize wealth and luxury.

There are several types of artificial nail tips available on the market to do nail extensions at home. You can try with these:

How To Apply Artificial Nail Tips At Home

To apply nail extension at home you will need following things:

1. Artificial tips: There are several types of nail tips available on the market, like white, clear, colored, glitter, with design etc. These tips are basically made of plastic. Get the one which you prefer.

2. Nail glue: Nail glues are easily available now.

3. Manicure kit: Nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher and nipper.

4. Scissors or nail tip cutter.

Stepwise Tutorial

Step 1

To start, first prepare your natural nails; wash your hands, removes any polish or glue or anything with the help of acetone.


Step 2

Push your cuticles back.

Step 3

Now buff your natural nail lightly so that it doesn’t have any shine and moisture on it.


Step 4

If your natural nails are long, then cut them and trim the corners for better grip of artificial nails.


Step 5

Now the important step, choosing an appropriate size of nail tip. This step is important as it will look very bad if you choose a wrong size. Take time and choose the exact size of tip which matches the c-curve of natural nail bed (from left to right). If the tip is slightly wider, then you can file it down.


Step 6

Once you choose your tip, apply glue on the hollow part of the tip and apply it on nails. Give it a little pressure to avoid air bubbles. Be careful as the glue is very sticky.


Step 7

Leave it on for 30 seconds. After that cut the tip a little longer than you desired length with the help of a tip cutter or scissors. (as filing and shaping will make them shorter).


Step 8

Shape your tips and sides of the artificial nail (to make them an exact fit on the nail bed). Buff them to finish.


Step 9

Now take your nail buffer and start buffing lightly where the artificial tip meets the natural nail to make an even surface. Don’t buff on natural nails, try to do it on artificial tips only. Do it slowly so that you can see what you are doing and are not accidently buffing the whole artificial tip at nail bed.


Step 10

Clean your nail and apply the base. Apply nail polish design; do nail art on the new long nails and finish off with nail primer for a neat look.


It will need a little practice but you will learn very easily. To remove tips, simply soak then in acetone for 10 minutes and the tips will easily come off. You can remove and do different manicures on the same tips if you get bored after 2-3 days. I personally did 3-4 manicure on the same tips.

Aradhana Agarwal, a blogger, shared her experience of getting nail extensions done: “Nail extensions can feel super weird at first. It takes a few days to adapt. They’re nothing, not even remotely close to your actual nails, you feel they’re too plastic-ey (i).”


Here’s one of my manicures using artificial tips:

Don’t be scared of the red/yellow skin is because of henna.

Infographic: Simplified Steps To Apply Nail Extensions

Not everyone can grow beautiful and strong nails. The next best option is to use artificial nail extensions. If you are someone who has never used nail extensions, a few simple steps can help you.

Check out the infographic below to get an idea of the simplified steps for applying nail extensions.

simplified steps to apply nail extension (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Nail extensions are a great way to flaunt your style and add beauty to your hands. If you know how to apply nail extensions, you can get a pretty and neat look in no time. These nail extensions are available in gel, acrylic, and fiberglass. With the step-by-step tutorial mentioned above, you can easily apply these nail extensions at home. Although it may seem difficult initially, you can learn to apply these extensions easily with regular practice. You can also experiment with different nail art designs to add a pop of color and style to your look! But don’t forget to cater to proper nail care and nail health post the extensions as they can damage the nail bed and make them prone to breakage. It is important to keep nail maintenance in mind. Stick to safe nail removal methods that do not harm your cuticles and nails.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do nail extensions last?

Nail extensions usually last 3-4 weeks before your nail grows, creating a gap between the cuticle and the extension.

Do nail extensions fall off?

No. Nail extensions usually don’t fall off on their own. You have to either cut them off when your nail becomes too long or get them removed at the salon.

Which lasts longer – gel or acrylic nails?

Gel extensions last over 3 weeks, while acrylic nails need refilling or removal after 1-2 weeks.

What is better for your nails than acrylic?

Gel nails are a better alternative to acrylic nails as they are easier to apply and remove and don’t damage your natural nails.

Key Takeaways

  • There are three types of extensions: acrylic, gel, and fiberglass or silk nail extension.
  • To apply artificial nails at home, clean your nails, prep, and shape the nails by pushing cuticles back and buffing them.
  • Choose the perfect nail size, apply the nails with glue, and leave them for 30 seconds.
  • Shape the artificial nails, clean them, and apply nail polish or do nail art.

Learn how to create beautiful gel nail extensions with this step-by-step tutorial video below. Get ready to create stunning nails with ease and flaunt them like never before!

Personal Experience: Source

i. The nail extension experience

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