Commercially available nail primers are great at making sure that your crème or gel nail polish stays on for a long time. But a bottle of high-quality primer can be a little pricey. Plus, many primers contain chemicals that can cause skin irritation, and frequent use can strip the nail plate in the long run.
Good thing we have a safer alternative for you. In this article, we’re going to discuss how nail primers work, their ingredients, and their effects on your nails and skin when they are applied incorrectly.
We also have a DIY nail primer recipe that you can make at home using ingredients that you can purchase at your local drug store or even online.
Nail Primer Basics
Having the right shade of foundation will do wonders for you, but the result won’t be as good if you haven’t applied primer on your face first. This is also true for nail polishes.
If you think about it, products such as nail primers serve as some kind of double-sided tape for nail polishes. Upon application, the thin film quickly bonds to the nails, and this serves as a glue between the surface of the nail and the polish or acrylics.
Other primers have an entirely different bonding mechanism. Instead of acting like glue, they create teeny tiny holes on the surface of the nail, then seep into those holes to form strong bonds. This mechanism makes the topcoat stick to the nail surface.
Primers are perfect for nails that are so thin or brittle that they easily chip or break. If your hands are always soaked in water or you’re the type of person who uses their fingernails to scratch something off an object, then a nail primer is essential for your manicure.
What Do Primers Look Like?
Primers look a lot like clear topcoats. The liquid has a transparent appearance, and more often than not, it is stored in a bottle that is similar to your regular nail polish.
Many nail primers are light-sensitive, so they are stored in amber bottles that you commonly see inside medicine cabinets. Others, on the other hand, are stored in completely opaque bottles to protect them from UV light that could affect their composition.
The Different Types of Nail Primers
There are two types of nail primers. The first type is an acid-free one that is similar to a double-sided adhesive. When applying this type of primer, keep in mind that it is normal for the surface to remain sticky even after a few minutes.
It is less irritating than its predecessor, the acid nail primer. But the truth is that the name is a bit of a misnomer as even so-called acid-free nail primers still contain acid in them, albeit of a different kind.
Don’t go overboard when applying acid-free primer on nails. A thin, even coat will suffice as too much won’t make a difference and can even reduce the adhesion of the product.
Technicians and DIYers also have the option to use acid primers. It works like a facial wash or a dishwashing liquid as it contains ingredients that can strip the nail plate of oils that can interfere with nail polish adhesion. Because of its strength, this type of primer is frequently used with acrylic nails.
Unlike acid-free primers that stay sticky after application, an acid primer has a powdery finish upon application. Older acid primers’ main ingredient is methacrylic acid, but thankfully, manufacturers have updated the formulation of newer primers to prevent skin irritation.
Applying Nail Primer
When applying acid primers, always err on the side of caution and use them sparingly. Get rid of excess liquid and dab a small amount of the product near the tip of the nail. There’s no need to brush it to the entirety of the nail as the liquid immediately spreads to the sides.
Avoid dabbing the product too near the cuticle as the chemical causes skin irritation. Wait for it to dry before applying the base coat.
If you’re using non-acid primer, then make sure to remove any excess liquid before applying it to the nail. Apply a thin film of the product on the nail plate, or you can apply it on nail tips if you’re using gel nail polish and you want to remove it easily next time.
Do-it-Yourself Nail Primer Recipe
Nail primers, specifically acidic ones, are notorious for causing skin irritation and nail plate weakness. If you don’t want to mess around with corrosive chemicals, then making your own primer at home or the salon is always a good idea.
So, what are the things that you need?
First, you’ll need a bottle of acetone. This volatile compound is commonly used to remove nail polish, but surprisingly, it can also be used as a primer. It can easily dissolve oil residue on your nail plates, as well as get rid of any moisture left behind. If you’re buying acetone, look for one that has ‘100%, ‘pure,’ or ‘100% pure’ on its label.
Next, you’ll need a bottle of good isopropyl alcohol. This liquid evaporates quickly, and also serves as a nail dehydrator. Apart from getting rid of moisture (germaphobes who frequently use alcohol know how drying it can be), it also gets rid of oil residues and bacteria.
When using isopropyl alcohol, go for one that has a concentrated formulation (99.9%) as it contains as little water as possible. A bottle of 99.9% isopropyl alcohol can be purchased online or in drugstores.
Using Your DIY Nail Primer to Prep Your Nails
Using alcohol and acetone to prep your nails and making sure that your nail polish adheres is so easy. Let us teach you how.
Get a clean nail polish brush and dip it into the bottle of isopropyl alcohol. Dab a drop of alcohol on your nail plates. Wait for it to dry and evaporate completely before applying pure acetone to your fingernails. Again, let the acetone evaporate before applying the base coat.
Difference Between Nail Primers, Bonders, and Dehydrators
Apart from nail primers, technicians also use other types of products that can improve the adhesion of acrylics, gel base, and conventional nail polishes. These products include nail polish bonders and nail dehydrators.
First up are nail bonders. These products’ primary role is to balance the nails’ pH level so the nail polish adheres to the surface better.
This product can be used in tandem with a primer to improve adhesion when applying acrylic nails. It’s not just for acrylics, though. It is also suitable for use with regular nail polish, as well as gel nail polish.
What about dehydrators? Dehydrators are a type of primer that dissolves oils and removes moisture on the nail plate to improve adhesion. They can be used together with bonders, but dehydrators should be applied to the nail first before you apply other products.
We hope that you enjoyed learning more about different types of nail primers and how they work. Now that you know how easy it is to create your own nail primer at home, we hope that you can give it a try.