nails

Your Beginners Guide to Nail Enhancement

Beauty Jubilant

Image of Nail Art

Have you ever gone to get a professional manicure for nail enhancement before? Then you must know all of the different options that you can choose from. I remember the first time I went, I felt as if everyone was staring at me because I was totally clueless! Below I’ll shed some light on the top three most popular nail enhancements, so you don’t end up as embarrassed as I was!

Acrylic Nails

Dating back to the 70s, acrylic nails used to be the top preference out of the three. They are glued to natural nails by applying liquid acrylic and powder, which creates a tough and hard protective layer. It takes about 15 minutes in total to fully dry. To remove, your fingernails must be soaked in acetone for 15-20 minutes. Acrylic nails are long lasting, and while applied can make them stronger. They are the cheapest out of the three nail choices, and because they are more well-known, all of the treatments should be available at any salon. These nails last the longest out of the three choices, and you’re able to design the nails any way you’d like!

There are many drawbacks that come with acrylic nails and have subsequently caused their decline in popularity. If these are applied incorrectly, your natural nail may become extremely damaged and infected. There are many strong chemicals that are used during the application process, including the actual acrylic which is toxic. It’s not recommended for pregnant women because of the toxins! If you already have weak nails, this option may not be for you as in the long run, as it will weaken your nails even more.


Image of Acrylic Nails

Gel Nails

Like acrylic, gel nails are fake nails that are placed over your natural ones. This form of nail enhancement is quickly taking the lead, as they are non-toxic and often look more natural than acrylic. The application process begins with adding a thin layer of gel over the natural nail. The gel is cured under ultraviolet light, and hardens. This process may be repeated up to four or five times, until you achieve your desired look. Unlike acrylic, these nails must be filed off. The gel gives the nails a natural and glossy look which lasts up to two weeks. These are more flexible than the acrylic nails, and are easier to remove. They are also much less dangerous and hold no toxins and fumes.

Unfortunately, these nails are probably going to be the most expensive out of all three! If you chip or break these nails, it’s difficult to fix at home. If the gel is used too often, the removal of gel nails can cause serious damage. Unlike the ever-present acrylic nails, not all salons will have this treatment available. Also, the ultraviolet light from the nail dryer is very harmful to the skin.


Image of gel nails

Shellac Nails

Shellac nails are the newest out of the three, and are a hybrid between nail polish and gel that is applied like normal polish. A base coat is applied, then two coats of polish, with a top coat finish. In between each coat, the nails are placed under ultraviolet light to harden. These nails look like regular manicures and are easy to remove, without leaving nails dry, torn or damaged. They may be cheaper than gel nails, and lasts up to two weeks.

Unlike acrylic or gel, you are unable to use Shellac to strengthen your nail, or change the length of it. Unfortunately, since this is the newest form of nail art, it may be the hardest to find within salons. It is only sold to licensed professionals, and the removal process is very specialized. You won’t be able to apply, repair, or remove these guys at home.

Image of shellac nails

If you are prone to weak nails that chip and break, it is recommended that you strengthen your nails before any of these procedures, as they may cause damage to your natural nail! Now you have some tools in your artillery for when you decide to go to the salon. Remember, if you are still uncertain, you can always consult a professional!


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