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Which Manicure is Right For You?

BlogBeauty Tips | August 15, 2014

At Empire Beauty School, each and every one of our cosmetology students learns natural, acrylic, and gel polish manicuring.   If you’ve ever had your nails done you know what a fabulous treat it is for yourself.  Having someone else primp and prime your digits always feels so great since our hands do so much for us.  And even if you get no polish at all, they always look so nice afterwards!  If you’ve never had your nails done maybe this guide can be helpful in deciding if a natural nail manicure or nail enhancements are best for your needs.  Let’s go through the differences.

Gel polish generally lasts 2 weeks but can be longer or shorter depending on wear and tear, and how oily your natural nail beds are.

Gel Polish

Often referred to as ‘Shellac’, gel polish actually comes from many brand names. Shellac is actually the name of a brand, like Kleenex is, but what you’re actually after is called a tissue. Get it? Gel polish has exploded in popularity in the last 5 years or so as an alternative to artificial nails. It’s great for those who like the idea of a no-chip polish, but don’t want the damaging effects artificial nails are known to cause. Other benefits include no dry time, as the product is cured under a UV lamp in a couple minutes and you’re good to go. You don’t have to sit still for an hour; your nails are already dry when you walk out the door!  A drying agent, such as alcohol, is applied to the nail prior to applying the gel polish to remove oils and get the product to last longer. On the bright side, there is no need to file the surface of the nail down, which is much more damaging. The product is self-leveling so there are no ridges or imperfections in the nail. It looks just like polish, but wears like gel. The process is almost identical to a natural nail manicure, but you put your nails under a light in between coats o product. Removal is similar to artificial nails but less time spent soaking in acetone. It’s a fabulous hybrid, but it is usually more expensive than a natural nail manicure.

Properly preparing a nail plate for an artificial enhancement is crucial to the enhancements ability to endure.

Acrylic Nails

Acrylics are the most permanent option, so this is not for commitment phobes! Formerly the most common type of nail enhancement, acrylic nails are applied to natural nails by first gluing a thin plastic tip to the natural nail if extra length is needed. Once all tips have been glued, the acrylic liquid and powder is mixed and then is overlaid on the nail. Acrylic usually hardens in 30-40 seconds and continues to cure to final hardness within 15 minutes. To remove, acrylic is soaked in acetone for 15-20 minutes. Acrylic was once the most popular type of artificial nail because it is much less costly than gel nails. However, there are some downfalls to acrylic nails. If the acrylic nails is jarred, it may create a space between the enhancement and the natural nail.

Acrylic is porous, which means that bacteria may enter through the nail into the space that was created. It is possible to develop a nail infection between the natural nail and the acrylic, which can go unnoticed because it is difficult to see the natural nail through the acrylic overlay. These can last 2-3 weeks before you will need a “fill” to cover the outgrowth from your natural nail and the polish will never chip. Acrylics generally add thickness to the nail; which can provide protection from breaking or splitting, but it is important to be careful about breaking the acrylic nail as well!

Clear polish is also a good choice if you don’t want color, but all the benefits of happy, healthy nails!

Natural Nail Manicures

Manicures and nail art are a relatively inexpensive beauty routine, the cheapest option you have. There are TONS of colors to choose from and you can always bring your own colors from home (you can do this so touch ups are a breeze – if needed). You can also take the nail polish off on your own if you’re wanting a change or can’t take the chipping any longer in between appointments. A natural nail manicure lasts about 4 to 7 days; be careful with them though (limit cleaning or be careful while cleaning, etc.)  If you have “difficult” nail beds, nail shape or cuticles, then regular manicures will help keep these at bay, making your “at home” manicures in between salon manicures easier. Extra drying time at the salon can be a downfall, since polish takes several hours to completely set. And minor chips are inevitable. (Although I will say the salon manicure lasts longer than an at home manicure)

Hopefully this can help you make the right decision for your own nails; remember there are always Pros and Cons to any choice you make. If you’re concerned about cost, going to a cosmetology school like Empire for these services is a great and affordable way to get them done! Some of our students have incredible talent, so don’t worry that you’re going to get a bad service, and because of the school environment you are always guaranteed a safe and sanitary experience every single time! Happy Manicuring!!

Lauryn Salzwedel

Written by Lauryn Salzwedel

A licensed cosmetologist for 5 years, and over 12 years in the industry. I love all things beauty, and could not have found a more amazing career field. I no longer work behind the chair, but am still just as passionate about Cosmetology! Working as a Career Planning Specialist gives me the opportunity to get anyone and everyone just as excited about Cosmetology as I am!

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