What is a Nail Fill? A Step-by-Step Guide to Nail Fills at Home

Acrylic nails have become a popular choice for individuals seeking long-lasting, durable, and stylish nail extensions. However, like any form of beauty enhancement, they require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best.

Instead of constantly replacing them, consider a nail fill, also known as an infill or refill. But what exactly is a nail fill, and why is it crucial for acrylic nail enthusiasts?

What is a nail fill?

A nail fill, sometimes referred to as an infill or nail refill, is a maintenance procedure for acrylic or gel nails. It plays a vital role in the upkeep of acrylic nails. As your natural nails grow, a gap gradually forms between the cuticle and the bottom edge of the acrylic nail.

This is a natural consequence of the growth process, as new cells develop at the base of the nail, pushing the acrylic upward.

The purpose of a nail fill is to address this gap, ensuring your nails maintain a fresh, well-maintained appearance. By using new acrylic to fill in the regrowth area, a nail fill seamlessly blends your natural and artificial nails.

Why are nail fillers important?

Nail Fill
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Prolongs the Life of Your Manicure: Without regular fills, your nail enhancements can grow out and become unbalanced, making them more susceptible to breaking or lifting.

Maintains a Polished Look: Nail fillers keep your nails looking neat and well-maintained. This is especially important if you’ve invested time and effort into intricate nail designs.

Prevents Lifting and Breakage: As your natural nails grow, the gap between the nail enhancement and the cuticle can create a space where moisture can accumulate, potentially leading to lifting and breakage. Filling this gap ensures the nail remains securely attached.

Promotes Nail Health: Allowing nails to grow too long without fills can put excess stress on the natural nail, potentially leading to damage. Regular fills help distribute this stress evenly.

 The gap between your acrylic and natural nails can potentially trap dirt, moisture, and bacteria. This creates an ideal environment for fungi to thrive, potentially leading to a fungal nail infection characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Swelling and Pain
  • Nail discoloration
  •  Itching and redness

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Comparing the cost of a nail fill to a full set of acrylic nails, both procedures fall within a similar price range. 

However, opting for a refill eliminates the need for nail removal, saving you additional expenses. In essence, a nail fill proves to be the more cost-effective option

Step-by-Step Guide to Nail Fills

Nail Fill

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to note that nails grow, and within 2 to 3 weeks, a gap may start to show between the cuticle and acrylic nail. This is where the nail fill comes into play.

Method 1: Preparing Your Nails

1. Nail Filling Frequency

To maintain the seamless look of your nails, it’s recommended to fill them every 2 to 3 weeks. However, if your nails grow faster, more frequent fills may be necessary.

2. Removing Old Paint

Start by using a non-acetone nail polish remover to gently remove the old paint. This ensures a clean canvas for the fill.

3. Washing and Drying

After removing the old paint, wash your nails with soap and water to eliminate any residue from the remover. Pat them dry with a cotton ball or soft towel.

4. Smoothing Excess Acrylic

Use a nail buffer to smooth out any excess acrylic, focusing on the area where it meets your natural nail. Be careful to only buff the acrylic, not your natural nail.

5. Applying Nail Primer

Spread 1 to 3 coats of nail primer over the natural part of your nail. Allow each coat to dry completely before adding more. This step not only protects your nail but also ensures smoother polish application.

6. Mixing Acrylic Powder and Liquid

Combine acrylic powder with acrylic liquid on the end of a brush. This creates a workable mixture for filling your nails.

7. Applying Acrylic Mixture

Using the brush, apply the acrylic mixture to the natural part of your nails. Ensure an even application, avoiding excess buildup.

8. Allowing to Air Dry

Let your filled nails air dry for 5 to 20 minutes. Take care not to smudge them while they’re drying.

9. Buffing or Filing

Smooth and shape the ends of your nails using a nail file or buffer. If desired, you can also buff the surface for a polished finish.

10. Painting Your Nails

Apply 1 to 3 coats of nail polish, allowing each coat to dry completely before adding the next. Finish with a top coat for added protection and shine.

Method 2: Filling Gel Nails

1. Filing the Top Layer

To prevent buildup, use a 180-grit file to smooth out the top layer of gel. Be careful to remove only the top layer.

2. Buffing the Gel Nail

Buff the area where the gel nail meets your natural nail until smooth. There should be no shine left on the nails.

3. Applying Gel Primer

Using a nail brush, spread gel primer on each nail. Ensure even coverage across the natural nail.

4. Curing Under UV Light

Cure your fingernails for 1 minute under UV light. This step is crucial for properly setting the gel.

5. Applying Gel Nail Polish

Apply 1 to 3 coats of gel nail polish, ensuring even coverage. Use rubbing alcohol to remove any tackiness, if necessary.

6. Drying Under UV Light

Allow each coat to dry completely under UV light for 3 minutes. Finish with a top coat for added durability.

One of the most common misconceptions is that you need to replace your gel/acrylic nails entirely each time. However, a refill can work wonders. 

During a refill, the existing color is filed off, any lifting is addressed, and the gap near the cuticle is filled with fresh gel/acrylic. The result? Nails that look and feel like a new set!

regular nail fills are essential for maintaining the health and appearance of your acrylic or gel nails. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can easily achieve salon-quality results at home.

Remember, a refill every 3 weeks is recommended to keep your nails healthy and beautiful. 

Neglecting this routine can lead to issues like lifting, bacterial growth, and even nail infections. So, take the time to care for your nails, and they’ll continue to dazzle with every gesture.

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