5 Best Nail Primers, Prep & Dehydrators to Prevent Lifting

Best Nail Primers, Prep & Dehydrators
Best Nail Primers, Prep & Dehydrators

The Best Nail Primers, Prep and Nail Dehydrators for acrylics and gel polishes are:

  1. Gelish Primers and Dehydrator (A consistent and effective brand of nail primers)
  2. Young Nails (A great protein-based nail primer)
  3. Mia Secret Nail Primer (An affordable combo set)
  4. No Lift Nails (A very strong acid-based primer)
  5. OPI Bond Aid (A budget-friendly dehydrator)

What are Nail Primers

Nail Primers are special chemicals used to treat your nails to make gel polishes or acrylics adhere better to your nail plate.

By making your gel polish and acrylic stick to your nails better, prevents them from lifting or coming off easily. Citation.

How Nail Primers Work

Even though they are used for the same purpose nail primers are different from a base coat. You see a Base Coat is more like an extra coat of polish and primers are not like nail polish.

Nail primers work by treating the surface of your nail beds to make your gel polish or acrylics adhere better to your nails.

There are various types of primers and each works differently.

Types of Nail Primers:

1) Acid-Based Primers work by etching your nail beds with microscopic cracks. These micro holes allow the acrylics and gel polish to seep in and grip onto your nails better.

2) Acid-Free or Non-Acid Primers form a thin sticky coat on the surface of your nails, kinda like glue, that bonds your gel polish or acrylics to your nails.

Non Acid Primers are very thin and watery so I won’t consider them a base coat or a nail bonder which tends to be thicker.

Some non-acid primers do contain small amounts of acid but they are not as corrosive as Acid-Based Primers.

3) Nail Preps and Dehydrators are used to remove any moisture and oils on your nails allowing your gel polish or acrylics to adhere to your nails better.

Some brands of Acid and Non-Acid Primers also work to remove moisture and oil from your nails.


1- Gelish Primer and Dehydrator

Gelish Nail Primers are some of the best at making your acrylics or gel polish adhere to your nails.

Their primers are consistent, high quality yet affordable and because of this, they are currently the brand that I use the most when a primer is needed.

Gelish is one of the companies that helped pioneer the use of gel polishes and is one of the largest nail companies in America, they are based in California with around 300 employees.

Gelish has two main primers a dehydrator and a non-acid primer both of which are made in the USA.

Gelish PH Dehydrator

Pros of Gelish Dehydrators

1- Very Effective

Gelish Dehydrators are a simple and yet very effective way to make your acrylic, gel polishes and even regular polishes adhere better to your nails and thus prevent premature lifting.

They work by removing that oily and shiny layer on the top of the nails and any moisture as well, both of which hinder your acrylics or gel polishes from properly adhering to your nails.

The ingredients that Gelish Dehydrator use are: Isopropyl Alcohol, Ethyl Acetate, and Isobutyl Acetate.

The alcohol is used to dissolve the oily layer and the acetates are volatile liquids that cause any moisture to evaporate along with it.

By removing the oily layer over your nail also reduces the acidity of your nail beds which allows your nails to bond better with your acrylics and gel polish – this is why it is called PH Bond.

2- Easy to Use

Gelish PH Bond is super easy to use. You won’t need any UV or Led Lamp.

  • First, apply a thin coat of the dehydrator over your nails.
  • And then wait 30 seconds for the coat to evaporate completely.
  • Once it’s totally evaporated you can proceed to apply your other products.

It’s important that you wait for the dehydrator to evaporate completely. When the dehydrator evaporates it removes with it the dissolved oil and any moisture on your nail beds.

3- Affordable

Gelish PH Bond in my opinion is very affordable yet very effective.

Drawbacks of Gelish Dehydrators

1- Not as effective as a Primer

Acid-based primers and Non-Acid Primers are much better at bonding your acrylics and gel polish to your nails in comparison to dehydrators.

But to be fair dehydrators were meant to be used in conjunction with a non-acid based primer.

Who Should Get Gelish PH Bond Dehydrator

Even though dehydrators were meant to be paired with a primer they can be used by themselves without a primer. Especially if you are looking for a simple and gentler way to prevent lifting.

This is because a dehydrator wouldn’t damage your nails think of it as deep cleaning your nails before applying your products.

But for maximum effectiveness, I would advocate pairing a dehydrator with a non-acid based primer. And Gelish has its own non-acid primer which was made to work with their Gelish PH Bond Dehydrator.

Gelish Pro Bond Acid-Free Primer

Gelish Pro Bond works very similar to how glue works. It is applied in thin layers on your nails and is used to bond your acrylics and gel polish to your nails.

It is extremely effective at preventing lifting and it doesn’t use strong acids like an acid-based primer making it safer for your skin.

But the biggest drawback for Gelish Pro Bond is that it makes your acrylics and gel polish very hard to remove. And usually requires a lot of work and acetone to remove it and this can potentially damage your nails.

How to Use Gelish Pro Acid-Free Primer

Gelish Pro Bond Primer can be used alone without a dehydrator. And they don’t require any UV or Led Lamps to dry.

  • First, prep your nails as you would usually do.
  • Now before you start applying your products, you just need to apply a coat of the primer over your nails.
  • Then let it dry for 30 seconds (it won’t dry completely the primer will leave your nails feeling sticky which is what you want)
  • And finally, once your primer is applied, you can start to apply your other products.

Now when used together Gelish PH Bond Dehydrator and Gelish Non-Acid Primer create a firm and extremely effective adhesion between your acrylics, or gel polish, and your nails.

To use both you need to first apply your dehydrator and let it evaporate, then apply your primer.

Who Should Use Nail Primers & Dehydrators

Primers and Dehydrators are perfect for women who want durable and long-lasting acrylics, gel, or regular polishes.

They are also really good for those that consistently suffer from premature lifting and chipping.

Premature lifting and chipping are usually caused by certain activities such as cooking, gardening, and doing the dishes.

These activities tend to cause your nails to be exposed to water, heat, and chemicals such as bleach other detergents. All of which weakens the bond between your nails and your acrylics, gel polishes, and regular polishes.

Additionally, certain individuals tend to have extra oil deposits on their nails which can also cause chipping.

This is because the oil hinders the acrylics or polishes from properly bonding to your nails – for these individuals using a dehydrator is a must.

When You Shouldn’t Use Primers

If you plan to change your nails often (like every week) I wouldn’t advise using primers since they would make removing your acrylics or gel polishes tougher.

When you use primers and dehydrators your nails should be able to easily last you for 3 weeks or even longer.

Where to Get Gelish Primers & Dehydrators

You can get Gelish Primers and Dehydrators on Amazon you can click on the links below to see current price:

Gelish PH Bond (Dehydrator)

Gelish Pro Bond (Acid-Free Primer)

Or you can get them at Walmart too:

Gelish PH Bond Dehydrator

Gelish Acid-Free Primer


2- Young Nails Protein Bond

Young Nails Protein Bond is one of the best non-acid primers on the market.

They are extremely effective at bonding your acrylics or gel polish to your nails.

Young Nails are a premium brand that has been around for some time now, their products are generally high-quality and very consistent. But I usually shy away from them because they tend to be very pricey.

Young Nails are based in Anaheim California and their primers are made in the USA. Citation.

Pros of Young Nails Primers

1- Consistent and Very Effective

Young Nail’s Protein Bond is an extremely good protein-based nail primer.

When applied it forms a very thin and sticky layer that works like superglue bonding your acrylics or gel polish tightly to the keratin structure of your nail plates. Which prevents them from coming off easily.

They are made primarily of a custom made polymer resin and don’t use strong acids that can potentially burn your skin.

2- Easy to Use

Young Nail’s Non-Acid Primers are super easy to use. They are air-dry usually within 30 seconds, so you won’t need to use any UV or Led Light to cure them.

These primers won’t dry completely they will leave your nails feeling sticky.

I usually just apply a coat over all of my nails and then start applying the other products.

You can see how to use them in the video below.

3- Won’t Damage Your Nail

Non-Acid Primers aren’t as corrosive as acid-based primers so they don’t directly damage your nails.

Cons of Young Nail’s Non-Acid Primer

1- Expensive

Most of Young Nails Products tend to be super pricey and their primers are no different.

Young Nail’s protein bond primer is around twice the price of Gelish’s Non-Acid primer even though both products work very similarly.

Added to being expensive they also come in very tiny bottles.

Now I do think that Young Nails edges out Gelish in performance meaning that they make a stronger bond between your nails and your acrylics and gel polish. But I don’t think this extra performance justifies such a high price.

And because of its high price tag, I would only recommend Young Nail’s Protein Bond to individuals who can afford it.

2- Makes Your Acrylics and Gel Polish Tough to Remove

This is the biggest drawback that both Acid-Based and Non-Acid primers have is that they make your acrylics and gel polish extremely difficult to remove.

Once you use these primers properly your acrylics and gel will require a lot of work and acetone to remove – which can damage your nails.

Where to Get Young Nails Protein Bond

You can get their protein bond on Amazon, you can click here to see the price there.

Or you can get them at ebay too, click here to see the price there.


3- Mia Secret Nail Primer

Mia Secret Primers and Dehydrators are some of the most affordable nail primers and yet they still do a great job of keeping your acrylics and gel polish from coming off.

And because of this, they are super popular and is one of the most widely used brands of primers and dehydrators.

Now in my opinion when compared to Gelish and Young Nails they aren’t as effective but they are more affordable. So Mia Primers are a good choice if you are looking for a budget friendly option.

They are also easy to use just like Gelish and Young Nails Primers they don’t require UV or Led Lamps.

You can click here to see the price on Amazon for a Mia Secret combo set which includes a dehydrator and an acid-free primer.


4- No Lift Nail’s Primer

No Lift Nails is an acid-based primer and is made mostly of Methacrylic acid.

This high level of Methacrylic Acid makes it one of the most effective primers to keep your acrylics and gel bonded to your nails.

No Lift Nails have been around for almost 20 years and for a long time was one of the most popular brands of primers.

Pros of No Lift Primer

1- Multipurpose

Acid-Based primers like No Lift Nails have both the functions of a dehydrator and primer all in one.

The acid will remove any moisture and oils on your nails just like a dehydrator. And at the same time making microscopic scratches on your nail plates, which allows the acrylics and gel polish to grip onto the nails better allowing for strong adhesion.

2- Very Effective

Acid-Based primers are some of the best primers on the market – they allow your acrylics or gel polish to form extremely durable bonds with your nails.

3- Cost-Effective

No Lift primers are so effective that you only need to use a tiny amount of the primer on each nail. A full coat is not needed and might actually cause you to get burn – instead, you should use only a dot of the primer.

Now because you only need to use a small amount allows No lift Nails to last you a very long time which will save you money.

Cons of No Lift Nails

1- Very Corrosive

The biggest drawback that acid-based primers like No Lift Nails have is that they are very corrosive which can if used in excess weaken your nails and if it touches your skin cause painful burns.

Now because of the caustic nature of acid-based primers can be tricky to use. You see if you use too much you can seriously burn your cuticles and maybe damage your nail beds.

2- Not Recommended For Home Use

And because of the potential dangers of acid-based primers, they are not recommended for home use.

So if you are not a nail technician I don’t advocate that you use any acid-based primer.

Plus I would only use an acid-based primer for a client who has very thick and durable nail beds.

3- High Scent

Most acid-based primers have a very high and nauseating scent, though once you are in a well- ventilated room the smell usually dissipates pretty quickly.

So if you do use it make sure the room you are in is well ventilated.

Where to Get No Lift Nails

You can get No Lift Nails on Amazon, click here to see the current price there.


5- OPI Bond Aid Dehydrator

OPI Bond Aid is a great budget-friendly dehydrator and works very similarily like Gelish Ph Dehydrator.

It is super effective at removing moisture and that oily layer over your nail plate allowing your acrylics and gel polish to bond to your nails better.

They are easy to use, just apply a coat over each of your nails and allow it to dry.

You can get OPI Bond Aid on Amazon, click here to see the current price there.

Citation and References Used

Non Acidic Nail Primer Patent

Acidic Nail Primer Patent

FDA on Methacrylic Acid in Nail Primers

The Importance of Nail Primers

How Nail Primers Work

Report of the Safety Assessment of Methacrylic Acid NIH

Scroll to Top