Everything You Need to Know About Acrylic Nail Brushes
When it comes to creating awesome nail extensions, technique is only one part of the story. Having the correct tools can make or break a manicure, and no matter how skilled you are, if you’re aiming high, good equipment, such as nail files or clippers, will help get you there.
Most acrylic nail kits include a brush or two, and these are ideal for newbies just starting to get the hang of things, but as you gain experience, you’ll inevitably develop preferences on what type of brush you can work with. A longer shaft, shorter or sharper tips, more weight, all of these can make a difference to how comfortable the brush is to hold, and how accurately you can wield it.
How to choose an acrylic nail brush
Before you make your decision on which brushes to consider, it helps to understand a little about how brushes work.
Many acrylic nail brushes are made using kolinsky hair, sometimes called sable. This comes from a species of weasel native to the colder regions of Russia and China, and is chosen for its ability to ‘hold’ liquid, releasing it when necessary. It’s also firm enough to keep a nice, sharp tip. However, a growing number of us prefer to use man made fibers rather than those harvested from an animal, and manufacturers have catered for this by producing high quality nylon brushes that have similar, if not better properties than kolinsky hair.
Cleaning your brushes
Whichever option you decide on, your brushes will only be as good as the care you show them. After every use, they should be thoroughly cleaned, removing every bit of acrylic. This prevents the brush from stiffening, and ensures it remains soft and flexible whilst maintaining its shape for longer. The brush cleaner that I’ve had most success with is this Tammy Taylor Brush Cleaner.
It’s great at getting even dried acrylic out, leaving the brush smooth, pliable and ready to go again. Unlike many acetone based products, it won’t ruin your brushes, and they’ll remain in good condition for years.
Brush sizes run on a numbered scale, from 000 for the smallest all the way up to 30+, and for acrylic nails, a 6 or an 8 are the best sizes to consider. Being able to lift a smaller ball of acrylic, this size brush enables you to master the techniques without having too much acrylic to move around. It also makes gauging the correct ratio of liquid to powder much easier by allowing more control.
If you do choose a smaller brush, be aware that the bristles tend to flatten with less pressure, and this can trap the acrylic ball, making the application that much harder.
As you gain experience, or you are a professional manicurist, you may well prefer to go up a few sizes, to a brush that can mix and apply the acrylic in larger amounts. By picking up a bigger ball of acrylic, you can cover the nail with fewer strokes, and still finish with a great looking nail that took you less time, thereby maximizing your profits!
The other advantage to using a larger brush is that, with a larger ball of acrylic, there is less chance of any areas of the nail drying before you finish, and it reduces the likelihood of overlapping the sections of acrylic, ending up with a lumpy ‘joining point’.
Brush weight and length
Now, this may not seem that important, but too heavy or long a brush can make them unwieldy and tiring, especially if you are carrying out a lot of manicures every day.
You can, of course, use traditional artists brushes, and many nail techs working with fine details will choose these over specialist nail brushes, due to the wider range of sizes available. However, due to the length of the handle, art brushes tend to be cut down for detailed nail work.
After thinking about these points, it’s time to look at the brushes themselves.
My favorite brush set is this Beetles UV Gel Nail 7 Piece Brush Set
In sizes 6,8,10 and 14, this 4 piece collection has wooden handles, nylon bristles and is the perfect length and weight for beginners and pros alike. Easy to clean, the bristles are firmly attached, and draw to a decent point that’s ideal for applying both acrylic manicures, and finely detailed nail art.
Here’s some more hints and tips to get the best from your brushes: