So many times I hear the words “I don’t know what’s on my nails…” or “I don’t know the difference”. 

Here’s the lowdown on the many different types of nail enhancements, so you can make an informed decision about what you actually want on your nails next time.

Before I begin I need to explain something… SNS and Shellac are BRANDS.. just like Panadol or Bandaid. They were just lucky enough to be first on the market, therefore securing the name associated with the product.

So, let’s start from the beginning…

💅🏻 NAIL LACQUER- A fancy name for your standard, run-of-the-mill nail polish/nail varnish comes in all shades of colours and usually last (in perfect condition) anywhere from 3-10 days depending on how tough you are on your hands. They are removed with regular, non-acetone nail polish remover and cause no damage to the natural nail plate. 

💅🏻GEL LACQUER- AKA Shellac, Gel Polish is a hybrid product. A mix between nail lacquer and gel (we will get to gel in a minute) it comes in a bottle and is applied the same as nail lacquer but each layer is cured (set) for 30seconds under a LED nail lamp. Lasting anywhere from 10-15 days or longer in some circumstances. The gel lacquer formula is lightweight and flexible light a regular lacquer, but more durable and chip-free.

💅🏻GEL- You may hear words like ‘hard gel’ and ‘soft gel’ being thrown around, this refers to the flexibility of the gel. 

It will generally come in a pot and be applied with a tiny paint brush. Gel is always set under a LED lamp for a minimum or 30 seconds.  

There also a few ways you can have gel nails applied: 

  • A gel overlay onto your natural nails
  • Extensions with tips; plastic nails glued onto your free edge (the tips of your fingernails), and then gel over the top.
  • Sculpted extensions; a form is placed under the free edge, gel is applied over it, and the form is removed once the gel is set.

Gels will last you roughly 2-4 weeks depending on how hard you are on your hands, and can either be soaked off or infilled. 

💅🏻DIPPING SYSTEM-The newest kid on the block. This product is still a form of acrylic. The process involves a liquid from a polish bottle that is applied first, then the fingernail is dipped in to a pot of a powder solution in your chosen colour. 

Is slightly harder than gel but not a thick as your standard acrylic enhancements. Acrylic dipping system will last roughly 10day -3 weeks weeks, again dependant on how hard you are with your hands and is soaked off prior to each treatment and re-applied. 

💅🏻ACRYLIC- the strongest of nail systems.. but also the system with most chemical. This powder solvent into a powder sets like rock and can almost be treated as roughly as you like. So if your tough on your hands then this may be your nail of choice. These can also be applied in the three ways that gel can be; overlay, tips & extensions. 

Again you’ll get 2-4weeks before you need an infill. 

So there you have it. That’s the low down on all types of nail extensions. If you are ever confused 🤷‍♀️ ask your nail technician.. they should have no trouble explaining it to you.