A close-up shot capturing a pair of hands delicately applying vibrant acrylic nail polish outdoors, with a backdrop of lush greenery and natural sunlight, showcasing the versatility of nail art.

Can You Do Acrylic Nails Outside?

With the rising popularity of acrylic nails, many DIYers wonder if it’s possible to apply acrylics in an outdoor setting instead of being cooped up inside. If you’re crunched for indoor space or want some fresh air during your nail session, you may be asking: can I do acrylic nails outside?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: yes, you can do acrylic nails outside if you take the proper precautions against wind, bugs, and sunlight which can negatively impact the application and curing process.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about doing your own acrylic nail application in an outdoor environment. We’ll discuss the potential risks, tips to protect against them, what items you need to bring outside, and ideal outdoor settings for DIY acrylic nails.

The Risks of Applying Acrylics Outside

Wind blowing debris onto uncured nails

Working with uncured acrylic nails outside poses a major risk of wind blowing dirt, dust, grass, and other debris onto the still-wet product (Nails Magazine). This can happen in an instant and ruin the look of the nails before they are properly set.

Nothing is more frustrating than spending 30-60 minutes applying a fresh set, only to have wind gusts blow lawn trimmings and dust directly onto the wet polish. Yikes! Some particles may even get stuck in the acrylic and be impossible to remove without taking off the whole nail.

Winds and unpredictable weather are simply not ideal for any professional manicure. The still-curing acrylic is so sensitive that even the tiniest bits of dirt and dust can leave unwanted textures and blemishes. Acrylic application requires a clean, controlled environment for best results.

Bugs getting trapped in the nail product

Sitting outside also leaves you open to bug attacks! Gnats, flies, bees – you name it. All manner of tiny critters seem attracted to the smell of nail products and perfumes. Can you imagine an ant or spider getting itself trapped under your freshly applied acrylic? No thank you!

Even mosquitos and other biting bugs are annoying and dangerous when you’re trying to focus on nail care. If you’re unlucky enough to have a severe allergy to stings or bites, an outdoor session could put your health at risk.

For sanitary and safety reasons, it’s best to keep acrylic manicures inside where pests and bugs won’t disrupt the process or contaminate the products (CND).

Sunlight prematurely curing the acrylic

Direct sunlight can also cause problems by prematurely cureding exposed areas of wet acrylic. The UV rays will cause the product to dry too quickly before it has been properly shaped and set on the nail plate.

This leads to weak, brittle areas that may crack or lift off entirely just days or hours after application. For the acrylic to cure evenly across the whole nail, a controlled indoor environment is essential.

Work done in the shade or indirect light may minimize this risk slightly, but sunshine contains many variables that could still hamper the process. The gradual shifting of the sun’s angles throughout the day makes its ultraviolet intensity on the nails unpredictable.

Not to mention the possibility of sunburn on the hands! For long-lasting acrylic nails applied under optimal conditions, an indoor salon or workspace is highly recommended (Nails Magazine).

Tips for Protecting Nails from Outdoor Elements

Work in shade and avoid direct sunlight

Direct sunlight can be very damaging to acrylic nails. The UV rays from the sun can cause the acrylic to become brittle and discolored over time. Working in the shade is the best way to protect your manicure when doing your nails outside.

Sit under an umbrella, canopy, or tree to block the harsh rays of the sun. If shade isn’t available, be sure to apply sunscreen to your hands before getting started. An SPF 30 or higher is recommended to protect against UV damage. Reapply every 2 hours if you’re outside for an extended period.

Use bug repellent before starting

Nothing can ruin an outdoor manicure session faster than getting bit by mosquitos or other bugs! Be sure to spray your hands and wrists with an insect repellent before beginning your nail work. This will help keep annoying bugs away so you can focus on perfecting your nails.

Choose a repellent made specifically for use on skin, not one formulated for clothing. For the best protection, use a product containing DEET or picaridin. Reapply every few hours as needed. Pro tip: keep the bug spray nearby so you can reapply if needed without having to stop what you’re doing. πŸ‘

Bring materials to block wind like umbrella, sun shade

Wind can make doing your nails outside very tricky. Even a light breeze can blow dust and debris onto your wet polish or acrylic. It’s smart to come prepared with accessories to block the wind. A beach umbrella, pop-up canopy, or portable sun shade are great options.

Position it to block the prevailing wind so you have a calm area to work. If no shade is available, you can also set up a temporary wind block with a large piece of cardboard, sheet, or beach towel propped up on poles or chairs. Just make sure it’s secured well.

Gusts can also blow your nail supplies right off the table if you aren’t careful! Weight them down with a heavy object like rocks or your purse. 😊 With some creative wind blocking, you can get salon-worthy results even outdoors.

According to a 2021 survey by Nail Magazine, over 75% of nail technicians said wind and dust were their top challenges for doing nails outside. Many recommend bringing a small battery-powered fan to keep air circulating around your workspace. This helps minimize dust settling on wet polish.

A mini vacuum is also handy for quick cleanups between coats. With some smart preparation, you can beat the elements and get stunning nails anywhere!

Essential Items to Bring Outside

When deciding to do your acrylic nails outdoors, having the proper supplies on hand is crucial for success. Not only will this allow you to actually apply the nails, but it will also keep everything sanitary and organized. Here are the key things you’ll want to pack up and bring along.

Acrylic nail supplies – monomer, polymer powder, primer

The basic ingredients for acrylic nails – liquid monomer, polymer powder, and primer – are absolute necessities to bring (see Nailsmag.com). Trying to apply acrylics without these key supplies would be like trying to bake cookies without flour, sugar, and eggs.

Most nail techs recommend bringing more product than you think you’ll need in case you need to redo a nail or make any repairs.

Disposable gloves, masks

Keeping everything sanitary is crucial when doing nails, so bringing disposable gloves and masks is a must. Not only does this prevent spreading germs, but it also keeps technicians and clients safe from inhaling dust and odors from the products.

According to industry standards from NAILTEC, masks and gloves should always be worn when applying acrylics, no matter if you’re indoors or outdoors.

Hand sanitizer, nail cleanser

Hand sanitizer and nail cleanser allow you to promote cleanliness and hygiene throughout the service. Having mini bottles available allows technicians and clients to periodically sanitize hands and refresh nail beds.

This helps prevent bacteria and debris from contaminating surfaces or getting trapped under the nails. The CDC reports that 1 in 4 nail salon customers have experienced infections from unsanitary conditions, so promoting cleanliness is key.

Water in spray bottle for slip solution

Acrylic application involves repeatedly dipping brushes into monomer. Bringing along a spray bottle filled with regular water allows you to easily wet your brush and prevents your product from getting contaminated. Simply mist the brush bristles prior to dipping it into the monomer.

The water creates a barrier that causes excess monomer to “slip” off rather than clump up.

Paper towels

Paper towels serve many purposes during a nail service. You’ll need them for wiping up messes, soaking up spilled liquids, cleaning nail beds, and for the client and tech to use after sanitizing hands. Choose thicker, more heavy-duty paper towels that won’t easily rip or shred.

Trash bags

While doing nails outdoors can feel closer to nature, you want to be respectful by properly containing and throwing away all waste, nail clippings, used cotton pads, etc. Bring along a trash bag so you don’t leave traces of debris behind.

Some parks even require people to pack out everything they pack in.

Ideal Outdoor Spots for DIY Acrylic Nails

Patio, Gazebo

Sitting outside on your patio or in a gazebo is a relaxing way to give yourself an at-home manicure. The fresh air and natural sunlight make it a pleasant environment. Just be sure to have a table or flat surface available to neatly organize your nail supplies.

An outdoor power outlet is also handy for plugging in a lamp, fan, or portable UV nail light. The shade from a gazebo helps block direct sun exposure while still allowing ample ambient light.

Garage with Door Open

The garage is a practical spot for DIY nails, especially with the door open. The hard floor is easy to sweep and clean up any spills or nail dust. Park your car outside to free up space. Arrange a folding table and chairs alongside an electrical outlet for lighting and tools.

The open garage door lets in sunlight and ventilation while keeping you protected from wind or rain. Just beware of bugs that may try to crash your nail party! Annoying gnats are no fun.

Park Picnic Area

Feel free to pamper your nails outdoors at a park picnic spot. Many public parks have covered pavilions with picnic tables perfect for manicures alfresco! Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature around you as you focus on nail care.

The openness also means you don’t have to worry about strong polish or monomer fumes building up (be conscientious of other park goers). Although lighting may be a challenge, consider bringing a small cordless lamp if needed. Watch for sudden breezes that could blow bottles or nail dust astray!

Beach Cabana

Imagine getting a beach-chic manicure seaside under a cabana! The canopy shade provides protection from the blazing sun while still allowing ocean breezes. Lounge on a towel or beach chair as you shape tips and polish away. The sound of rolling waves is so soothing.

Just be prepared to battle sand and salt that may stick to wet polish or acrylic. Bring sealable containers for your supplies and cover hands if taking a dip. Watch polish doesn’t get gummy in the heat. And don’t forget the SPF – harmful UV rays still penetrate shade structures.


While doing your own acrylic nails outside comes with some extra precautions, it can be an enjoyable way to get creative nail art with a breath of fresh air. As long as you block yourself from wind and bugs, work in filtered shade, and bring all the required supplies, you can achieve stunning acrylics outside your home.

With the right covering and preparation, outdoor spaces can become DIY nail salons full of sunshine and sweet summertime air.

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