On Nail Art Brushes and Acrylic Paints

Most of the queries I receive ask about my nail art tools and the kind of acrylic paints that I use for creating my nail art designs. I have been meaning to write this post for awhile and I don't know why I haven't done so until now.

Nail Art Brushes

I basically use 2 kinds of nail art brushes -- a detailing and a stripping brush. As of this post, I am using 2 detailing nail art brush that varies in length.

Nail Art Tools
From left: (1) flat and pointed brush, (2) 11mm bristles long detailing brush, and
(3) 0.9mm bristles long detailing brush


Recently, I've also been using a flat and pointed brush that you can see in action here. I can see myself using this nail art brush for many more designs. It's a good choice for painting teardrops, flower petals, and hearts, to name a few.

There's really no big difference between the longer and the shorter detailing nail art brushes except that based on my personal experience, longer bristles can give better control when working with curve lines. I recommend having at least 2 sets of nail art brushes so that you'll always have an extra one just in case you lost or worn out the other one.

I bought these brushes in sets of 12 from Amazon. All are brandless. The important thing to remember here is that buying nail art brushes is a risk until you find that set that works for you. Each nail artist have a different personal preference when it comes to nail art tools. As for me, I settled for brushes with soft bristles. The good thing is that nail art brushes are relatively inexpensive so you can give yourself the option of trying a few.

I also have 3 pieces of stripping nail art brushes in various lengths.

Nail Art Tools
Stripping nail art brushes in different lengths.


I bought these at Landmark (a local department store). I also have a few more that came with nail art brush sets I previously bought. But I've been using these 3 primarily because of the varying lengths. I have very small nail beds and these sizes works perfect for me.

Acrylic Paints

For clarification, the acrylic paints I use for my nail art designs are different from acrylic powder used for nail sculpting or extensions. The ones I use for nail painting are the same acrylic paints used by artists that mostly comes in tubes and can be bought in craft stores and sometimes, bookstores as well.

This is my first set of acrylic paints:

Nail Art Tools
Peebo Studio Acrylic Colour


I bought them as a set of 12 colors that came with a box at National Bookstore. It was the set I used during my first attempts at creating nail designs using acrylic paints. I still didn't know anything about acrylic paints when I bought this set but somehow I wanted to try at least another set for comparison. So I browsed online and stumbled upon a set that I eventually fell in love with.

This is my second set of acrylic paints:

Nail Art Tools
Acrylic paints from Born Pretty Online Store
14 COLOR 3D NAIL ART PAINT Brush Pallet Acrylic Gel


I never used the Peebo acrylic set once I tested the ones that I bought from Born Pretty Store (BPS). The consistency is simply amazing. I now just use the former for experimenting on mixing colors and on occasions wherein I just need to lighten or brighten a color with white acrylic paint. Let me expound on that last statement by discussing consistency.

Take a look at this photo:

Nail Art Tools
On the left is a sample of consistency from Peebo.
On the right is from Born Pretty Store.


Peebo has a thicker consistency compared to the acrylic paint from BPS. Brush strokes are harder to manage using acrylic paints with thick consistencies as it would weigh down the bristles. The usual remedy is to add a water until you reach that consistency you are looking for. The consequence of doing such is you lose opacity as you add water to a paint. This would mean that you need to add layers to your strokes. If you need to add more water to an acrylic paint, chances are it doesn't have the consistency you want to work with. And you can't add too much water because it will not stick to your nail.

Another way I remedy acrylic paint with thick consistency is to add another acrylic paint with good consistency. This method has been working for me. Most of the time, I mix a good white paint with colors from tubes that I have a problem with. For example, I need a pink color, I get the Peebo red tube and lighten it with my reliable white acrylic paint and tadah(!), consistency becomes very manageable.

I would have bought more sets of that BPS acrylic paint but shipping to my part of the world has become a burden so when I consumed the most used tubes, i.e. black and white, I resorted to trying other brands that were available locally.

I've tried several brands such as Galeria, Reeves, and Liquitex. I prefer Liquitex among the brands that I used and have been buying such for every BPS acrylic tube that I fully consume.

Nail Art Tools
Liquitex Basics Value Series


White was the first Liquitex color I bought. When I ran out of black acrylic paint, I already knew what to buy. But I discovered that there was another kind of Liquitex acrylic paint. I decided to buy the more expensive one with the assumption that it would have a better consistency. I was wrong.

Nail Art Tools
On the left is Liquitex Heavy Body and
on the right is Liquitex Basics


Below is a photo that captures Liquitex Heavy Body's consistency:

Nail Art Tools
Liquitex Heavy Body


True to its name, the Heavy Body series had a very thick consistency. The thickness made it hard to squeeze it out of the tube. Watering it down was ineffective and it dried much faster too. Lesson learned here is that price is not an assurance for good consistency. The Liquitex Basics retails for Php96 ($2) while the Liquitex Heavy Body is priced at Php290 ($7) each.

Below is photo of Liquitex Basics' consistency:

Nail Art Tools
Liquitex Basics


From the above photo, notice how easy it is to squeeze out the black paint from the Liquitex Basics tube. You'd want to purchase an acrylic paint that comes out the tube easily. As for tte Heavy Body (left on the above image), I still had to press down the tip of the opening to fully dispense the paint from the tube.

In an attempt to find a better black acrylic paint, I also tried Reeves.

Nail Art Tools
Liquitex on the left and Reeves on the right.


Here's the consistency comparison:

Nail Art Tools
Liquitex on the left and Reeves on the right.


Liquitex Basics still wins in terms of density. Finding the right brand of acrylic paint boils down to finding the right consistency. But also remember that not all colors from a specific brand will render a satisfying texture simply because colors are made from different pigments. But once you find a brand that suits your taste, most of the colors will probably not disappoint you.

Bottomline, nail art tools such as brushes and acrylic paints can sometimes disappoint a beginner or even those that have been nail painting for a long time. It is important to be patient and persistent in finding the tools that will complement you and the way you work. And when you find those tools, don't stop from discovering other brands or sources. You'll never know when you'll be stumbling upon something better.

I hope this article was helpful to those who would like to try nail art painting using acrylic paints. And to all followers of this blog that have been requesting this post, I hope the wait was worth it. :)

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36 comments:

  1. hey thanks for this detailed post!!! it really helps!

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  2. thanks for this, it's really useful :-D

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  3. Thanks rina,

    I have similar nail brushes as yours and my results are not as near perfect as yours. Oh well!!! a girl can dream can't she and aspire as well. Thanks for the detailed explanation, it really helps.

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  4. I cannot find those acrylic paints on BornPretty, can you write the exact name so I can search for it?

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  5. Love the article - thanks for the great advice on choosing the right brush. I've been using a single somewhat wide detail brush and haven't been entirely happy with some designs, but am looking forward to trying the set you highlighted above!

    Talia

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  6. Thank you! This was such an informative post and exactly what I was searching for.

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  7. This post really cleared my mind about acrylic paints... Thanks a lot Rina...
    I got the same stripping brush as yours for less than P50 at Ebay , 15 pcs brush for P120 and dotting tool for P80... Simply Rins and Ebay are my nail art angels....

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  8. I'm glad this article helped some fellow nail artists. :)

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  9. This is a really helpful article. thanks

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  10. This post is great! Your explanation is very detailed and useful! Thank you! :-)

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  11. Thank you for this artikel. Great!

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  12. Do you also use a nail dotting tool? And what can I use instead but still get the same effect?

    Please reply! I'm sorry it's anonymous but I don't have a website or anything, I'm just a beginner in nail art. Thanks:)

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  13. @Anonymous
    Yes, I use dotting tools. For alternatives, you can use an orange stick, a bobby pin, or even the tip of a pencil that is not newly sharpened.

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  14. @Biberlee
    Here's the direct link to the BPS Acrylic Paint I included in this post:

    14 COLOR 3D NAIL ART PAINT Brush Pallet Acrylic Gel

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  15. Thanks for your post. It is really detailed and very helpful.

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  16. Hi rins! Im a nail art enthusiast and been reading your blogs and following your designs as well. I hope its ok with you. :-)
    Ive never tried using acrylics because i have this impression that its not healthy on our nails. But when i saw your designs i decided to buy one. Tried looking for peebo, instead, found pebeo. Its the same acrylics that you had first. Waiting for my nail paints from bps. You are such a big help for nail art rookies like me. Thank you for being an inspiration. Keep blogging! :-)

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  17. @Anonymous
    I'm sad that you didn't introduce yourself so I can properly thank you for being a friend of this nail art blog. :)

    As long as you have a base coat to protect your natural nails, you can use acrylic paint to decorate your nails. I'm sorry if I got the spelling of the brand wrong. I hope you'll have a good first acrylic experience. :)

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  18. Hello, its me again. Im sorry for not leaving my name in my first comment. I am Karla Yap, and i wanna be your friend too, not just your nail art blogs. Havent tried my first acrylics yet but will surely let you know when i do. Thanks for your reply. :-)

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  19. Hi! I bumped across your blog because I have been using acrylic artists paint for a while to decorate my nails, and I wanted to see if others were doing well with the technique. As for myself I find it extremely easy, but I am an Interior Decorative painter so I had years of practice and studied different types of paints and techniques. Therefore I just wanted to give my input to these helpful suggestions you have provided based on my own experience.

    I use very cheap acrylic paint because I just don't want to spend much money. Some paints can get extremely expensive, and you can get the same result for less. In my classes to achieve the right consistency, luminosity, viscosity and thinning of acrylic paints we use acrylic mediums instead of water. The fact that your most expensive paints are thinner and keep their consistency is mostly because the brands use more medium to thin the paint.

    Any type of paint is composed of pigment, medium and solvent and what differs between them is the medium and the solvent. In acrylic paints the medium is acrylic based and the solvent is water, whereas for oil paints for example the medium is usually linseed oil and the thinner most commonly is turpentine. The pigment provides color, the medium gives the consistency and keeps the pigment "glued" together, and the solvent thins the paint and breaks it apart. However the medium can also thin the paint but won't let it break apart and lose its opacity. So you may keep buying cheaper acrylic paints not only because you may thin them with an acrylic medium but because the final result will be the same but just cheaper.

    In any artists store you may find Acrylic Medium (Liquitex also has it but there are a lot of brands) and you can find them in matte, satin, or glossy and even iridescent. Another important characteristic of the medium is that once mixed into your paint it will take a bit longer to dry, so it is perfect for the type of intricate nail art work and subtle blending of the colors.

    Regarding the brushes just some more suggestions:
    1. Never use natural bristles brushes with acrylic paint. The chemistry of this type of paint will deteriorate your brush, Always use synthetic brushes for acrylic paint.
    2. Also the way you clean your brushes will prolong its lifespan. Once you're done painting always clean them and don't allow them to dry with the paint on. I wash mine with shampoo and rinse them well, and then reshape or dress the bristles by passing them through the tips of my fingers. Then I leave them to dry out with the bristles hanging down and never touching any surface. Art supply stores sell "hangers" for brushes that allow them to dry like this.
    3. I never leave them soaking in water because it not only breaks the shape of the bristles but also moist will get into your brush and eventually start loosing around the ferrule (the metal part that keeps the bristles attached to the handle).

    This way you have long lasting brush that will keep working well.

    Hope to have been helpful! Love your artwork and your blog! Congrats!

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Martha! i find this info about acrylic medium very very very helpful. I immediately went on a quest to find it in some local craft stores. I'm just wondering.. is it safe to put in on my nails (on top of good base coat and color, of course). Thank you for sharing your knowledge :-)

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  20. Thanks for the post, what do you think of the acrylic paints sold at National Bookstore that comes in a set/box, is it good? Thanks

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  21. @Maly,
    I actually discussed that in this post. :)

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  22. Do u know where someone can buy luminous paint or the glow in the dark paint? :)

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  23. Thanks for this post!! I will definitely try!

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  24. Just found your site today from a link on the Top Coat It blog. Great site. Very informative and well done! Thank you for this wonderful post on acrylic paint.

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  25. thank u!! it helps me a lot. im a beginner and i dont know where to buy those till i read your blog. ill try peebo. nat'l bookstore is the most accessible store i know. ill go not too expensive for a try.:) godbless!

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found this article helpful.

      I hope you fully read this, that included a review on Peebo. I always suggest to people who'd like to try nail art painting, to always start it right. Get the right tools, and the right paints. Otherwise, the disappointment will just pull your spirits down. When you're serious about a particular hobby, investment is a must. :)

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  26. Hi Rins, thank you so much for your post :-) i find yours very helpful indeed :-)

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  27. Hi Rina, been reading this post over and over again. hehehe. I'm trying to learn painting my nails with acrylic paints And your blog is a perfect guide for me. :) I think I have a problem when it comes to the right consistency of the paints. I believe my black paint is pretty thick(acrylique shello basics from NBS). How can I tell if my paint's consistency is just fine?

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Loli!

      The paint should easily glide during strokes when you paint. If it doesn't, then the consistency is troublesome. Try watering it down. There's Liquitex in NBS. I personally use that. :)

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  28. thank you for this very informative post. Im a beginner so this is really helpful. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. I'm happy that you found this post helpful. :)

      Delete
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