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Guitarist Kirk Lorange doesn’t use picks when he plays. As a result, his nails were a perpetual mess. Desperate, the dude had acrylics applied at the mall and loved them so much, he started doing his own manicures. Guys doing acrylics? You betcha — and you don’t have to play guitar to match his strong nails. Acrylics require a precise application ritual, and like most things in life, timing is everything. The priciest products won’t do much if you don’t allow enough dry time between applications, so pay as much attention to that as you do to your nail color.

Get Soaked

Soak your fingertips in your favorite nail cleaning agent, but set the timer when you start this step. Your objective is softening the cuticle to accept the acrylic nails and that shouldn’t take more than three minutes. Dry your nails with a towel before using a 240-grit nail file to prep the nail surface. Towel dry your nails thoroughly to remove dust and water.

Extreme Dry Time

Apply you favorite nail plate prep product. Use a gentle scrubbing motion to remove the remaining moisture from your nail surfaces. This dehydration process temporarily removes lingering moisture and some oils so base coats adhere immediately. Dehydrating nail plate prep products keep the nails dry for about half an hour, so you have a little time to apply the base coat.

Be Clear About Your Base

Apply a clear base coat within the aforementioned 30-minute window and it will bond to the nail immediately thanks to the lack of moisture. Choose either a ridge filling base coat or a plain clear one. As long as you apply a thin coating of either, the base coat will dry relatively quickly — within a few minutes it will be dry to the touch.

Get Your Polish On

Rather than blobbing on a thick coat of lacquer, apply two thin coats instead. Dry the first coat at least five minutes before stroking on the second. Eliminate dry time guessing by using a quick-dry polish. Some popular brands offer one-coat coverage that dries in 60 seconds.

See the Light

Encourage faster dry times between product applications by using a UV light made for acrylic nail application tasks. UV manicuring light fixtures are manufactured to speed up dry times, and as a bonus, the chances of smudging or denting your nails after all the time you’ve spent getting them perfect are extremely low.

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