What is the difference? Nail Bonders, Primers & Dehydrators

Image of three bottles with bonder, primer and dehydrator. There is no surprise that bonders, primers and dehydrators are confusing.  All three products aid in one common goal – increasing adhesion to the natural nail. What most people don’t realize is the similarity stops there. Each product differs both chemically and in the way it actually promotes adhesion.


Products like PH Plus or OPI’s Bond Aid® are a bit more universal. These are solvent based formulations used to remove oils and raise the pH of the natural nail. Raising the PH of the natural nail occurs because of their basic chemistry. This allows many different nail enhancements to stick better. Our bonder is called PH Plus. If you have an acrylic customer that lifts even with primer, PH plus should be applied prior to primer. If you are just polishing natural nails, a quick wipe with PH Plus helps prevent chipping. Basically, anything a nail technician needs to adhere better, PH Plus is a good first step.

When should you be using a bonder?

  • Before nail polish
  • Before gel polish
  • Before UV/LED Gels
  • Bonders can be used with any nail enhancement to help promote adhesion.
  • Acrylics: Before primer on clients who are prone to lifting.


Primers could conceivably be considered a bonder. We separate the two because 1) Both products promote adhesion differently 2) Primers and bonders are not interchangeable. Acrylics for example almost always require a primer, a bonder shouldn’t be used as an alternative. Primer (whether acid or not) serve one primary purpose: Preparing the nail bed for acrylics. Chemically they are much more corrosive to the natural nail. The primary function of primer is to bond the acrylic to the nail plate much like the roots of a tree to the ground. Non-acid primers do have a slight corrosive property and should be applied with care to avoid contacting soft tissue, but are still considerably less dangerous to the skin than acid based primers. In the event of a spill, non-acid primers (Magic Bond) are far less likely to cause a chemical burn to the skin. Primer is only applied to the natural nail.

When should you be using a Primer?

  • Always before applying acrylics. (Primer is optional for Nomma Plus, recommended for “problem-lifters”)
  • Before UV/LED Gels
  • Pro Tip: Dab the free edge of the natural nail with Magic Bond to help prevent Gel Polishes from peeling on even the most stubborn of clients.


Dehydrators, are similar to bonders and pretty universal. They prepare the natural nail surface with the end goal of better adhesion. Dehydrator works on the premise that it dissolves the oils in the nail allowing for a more desirable nail surface.  Our Dehydrator was officially discontinued from future production in 2017. We previously produced a Dehydrator, but the product benefits are significantly less than PH Plus (Bonder) or our Magic Bond Primer.

When should you be using a Dehydrator?

  • Before nail polish
  • Before gel polish
  • Before UV/LED Gels
  • Dehydrator can be used with any nail enhancement to help promote adhesion.
  • Acrylics: Before primer on clients who are prone to lifting.


All three of these products could be used together but there are no stacked or layered benefits from doing so. If you were going to use all three: Dehydrator would go on first and remove the oils, Bonder would be used second to raise the pH level of the natural nail, and Primer would be used third to help attach the enhancement to the nail.

Our Recommendation:

You should always have a primer. Primer is an important step in completing a proper set of acrylic nails. For other enhancements, you don’t need both a bonder and a dehydrator, but you should use one. We definitely recommend PH Plus over dehydrator because our Bonder is a more balanced and complete adhesion promoter.


We would love to hear your feedback. We offer free samples of any product we sell; contact us to test the differences for yourself.


DeEnterprises Inc. Buy Better. Buy Smarter. Buy Direct.


For more information, call us at (800)433-4630

By Peter DeSantis the Marketing Director at DeEnterprises Inc., a Chemical Manufacturer of Manicure and Pedicure Products. You can find Peter on Google+ and Twitter.