Acrylic Bead Ratio

Acrylic Ratio. We’ve all seen the pictures of what acrylic beads look like when they’re too wet, too dry and just right but how do you actually achieve the perfect ratio? I’m going to talk you through this today.

A correct acrylic ratio has got to be THE most important factor in acrylic application. And if you are experiencing anything more than minimal to zero lifting, either you aren’t adequately prepping the nail or, more than likely, your acrylic ratio is not quite right – YET.

So first lets talk about how the perfect ratio bead behaves so you know what you’re looking for when you’re practising.

The perfect bead will absorb all the powder on the brush within 3-4 seconds after pick-up. Then, the acrylic goes through a dimply orange peel like state, before turning glossy and smooth and as soon as this gloss happens, this is the point that you place the bead on the nail. Not directly after picking it up from the container, it needs a few seconds to go through this 3 step process.

Once placed, the bead will settle slightly within the first 4 seconds and at around the 15 seconds mark, it’s completely finished its settling process.
if you’re practising on a plastic sheet and your bead immediately runs and flattens within just seconds, it’s too wet. and you’ll also notice a ring of liquid around that bead. You don’t want this happening on the natural nail plate because that excess liquid is going to run into the sidewalls and overexpose your client to the monomer. Now you’ll also find that after placing a wet bead, after slightly curing, you’re going to feel an intense heat coming off of that bead. This is a huge indicator that your beads are too wet and if you’re client ever comments that the the acrylic is feeling hot on their nail plates, you’re most definitely working too wet.

Likewise, if you place your bead, and it’s still powdery or not budging at all, it’s too dry. Often, these beads will appear lumpy or have white clumps of acrylic because there wasn’t enough liquid to dissolve the powder.

The perfect bead will also leave the brush smoothly with minimal effort and minimal residue on your brush. A wet bead will release, but half the bead will cling to the tips of your bristles are produce a gummy mess. A dry bead, normally doesn’t want to release at all, it requires a lot of encouragement and leaves clumpy powdery bits behind. Now, acrylic sticks to acrylic so, if your brush is gummy or powdery, you’re going to have trouble with every subsequent bead after that releasing from your brush unless it is cleaned properly to start fresh.

So, that’s how beads behave. You now know what you want to see, and what you don’t want to see, but how do you achieve it?!

The more liquid, the bigger the bead. 
The lower the angle of your brush, the bigger the bead.

I have a number 8 brush. (NailPerfect No. 8 Bling Handle Brush)
I want, a large bead. So I’m going to burp my brush, and wipe on my dappen dish, the entire length of my brush.
 I’m then going to hold my brush at a low angle and drag for a quick 1-2-3
I wait for the bead to go glossy and place it down and wipe my brush

Now I want, a medium bead. 
I’m going to burp my brush, wipe on my dapper dish the entire length of the brush and another half length of the brush
I’m gong to hold my brush at a 45 degree angle and drag for a quick 1-2-3
Wait for the bead to go glossy and place it down and wipe my brush

Lastly, I now want a small bead
I’m going to burp my brush, wipe on my dapper dish the entire length of my brush, and the entire length again to remove even more liquid
I’m now holding my brush at a high angle and drag for a quick 1-2-3
wait for the bead to go glossy and place it down and wipe my brush

The bigger the bead, the less liquid I removed
. The smaller the bead, the higher I angled my brush up and you can see the drag marks in the powder. The brush had the same time in the powder each bead but the drags appear as different lengths because the lower the angle, the more powder my brush was able to collect in that time frame.

Now, if you are working with a larger brush, your ‘small bead’ following this method, may still be too big for a clients teeny tiny pinky nail. So you will need to sit down and work out how much liquid you need to remove for your brush to create the size of beads that you like to work with. But now that you know that behaviour you’re looking for from your practice beads, hopefully this will now be easier. 
This is also not fail safe completely because salon temperature plays a huge role. You may need to adjust your ratio in summer compared to winter.

Plastic sheets are great to practice on, because you can simply bend them and your practice beads will smoothly pop off.
I recommend practising with a clear or translucent powder and once set, hold these up tot he light, because if your practice beads have lots of tiny bubbles in them, this indicates your ratio if not quite right yet.

When it comes to applying your beads to an extension edge on a client, you want a slightly drier bead. The drier the bead, the stonier it is but, dry beads do not adhere as well. So we like a drier bead at the extension edge that wears the brunt of everyday life, and a wetter bead at the cuticle edge for the best adhesion to the nail plate.

The achieve my extension edge bead, I first, collect a perfect ratio bead, just before it goes glossy, I’m going to bleed any excess liquid from my brush to so it stays at that consistency before placing it down.

For my subsequent beads, I’m picking up a perfect ratio bead allowing it to go glossy and placing straight onto the nail – without bleeding the liquid.

I hope this helped to explain acrylic ratio. It’s definitely one of the hardest things to master. But the most important.

Let me know if this helped you in your acrylic journey!