June 15, 2021

The Different Types Of False Nails, Explained

Which false nail type will deliver the best result without the damage? We investigate.

Ah, manicures. Up there with getting into fresh sheets after you’ve shaved your legs or not having to leave the house when it’s cold and rainy outside, getting your nails done is one of the best feelings ever. Suddenly, even the most mundane tasks become exciting, allowing you yet another opportunity to stare at your perfectly clipped and coloured paws.

But what was once a simple decision of just choosing the colour that you were least likely to hate in 48 hours, has now become quite an overwhelming excursion. With acrylics, SNS, gel and regular polish now on offer, we don’t blame you for wondering which option is best suited to you, your nails and your needs.

Here, we breakdown the difference between each type of manicure like Carrie Bradshaw would weigh up getting back with Mr Big: the pros and cons list.

Acrylics

The Explanation: Arguably one of the most misunderstood variations of false nails, acrylics don’t have to be razor sharp and four inches long à la Kylie Jenner. By definition, acrylic nails are created by combining a liquid monomer with a powder polymer to form a paste that can bind to the nails. This paste is molded into the desired shape and adds length, thickness and strength to the nail beds.

Pros: 

  • Lasts anywhere between six and eight weeks
  • Adds strength to your nails
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Must be professionally removed
  • Removal process can weaken your natural nails
  • Requires you to take a break every three to six months to allow your natural nails to recover

Signature Nail Systems (SNS)

The Explanation: More commonly referred to as SNS, this type of manicure is the newest kid on the block. With a reputation as the ‘healthiest’ false manicure option for your nails, SNS operates as a dipping nail system that begins with a brush-on gel base that is then dipped in powder. Said powder is made up of organically-processed chemicals Benzoyl Peroxide, Titanium Dioxide and Acrylic Ester Polymer.

Pros:

  • Durable yet lighter on the nail bed than traditional acrylic nails
  • Doesn’t require UV light to bond the nail
  • Lasts up to one month

Cons:

  • Must be professionally removed
  • Bonding agent can lead to weakened natural nails when used over a long period of time
  • Potential to be unsanitary due to the communal dipping pots used to create the false nail

Editor’s Note: If you find you’re struggling with weakened nails after acrylic or SNS manicures, a nail strengthening serum (like this one from Sephora) will do you a world of good.

Gel & Shellac

The Explanation: The perfect middle-ground manicure, gel nails walk the line between long-lasting results and minimal commitment. The service uses a gel-based polish that is set with either a UV or an LED light to really adhere the colour to your nail bed. The most common form of a gel manicure is Shellac, which we’re sure you’re all familiar with. Oh, and did we mention there are now at-home gel kits?

Pros:

  • More durable than regular polish
  • Chip-resistant
  • Lasts up to two weeks

Cons:

  • Must be professionally removed
  • Exposure to UV light
  • Can weaken your natural nails if not removed correctly

Regular Polish

The Explanation: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but let’s not forget about our trusty base coat-colour-top coat mani. The most affordable and least time-consuming manicure on offer, we love the regular polish option for when nothing sounds better than having OPI Funny Bunny or Essie Ballet Slippers on your nails—the latter is approved by none other than Her Majesty The Queen, so you know it’s iconic! Plus, for those of us who struggle to choose a colour, this manicure is like your high school boyfriend–commitment free.

Pros:

  • Time efficient
  • Can be removed in the comfort of your own home
  • Doesn’t damage or weaken nails

Cons:

  • Easily chipped
  • Only lasts up to one week
  • Unable to add length or dramatically change the shape

Nail Art

The Explanation: We know, we know, nail art isn’t technically a form of false manicure. However, it is without a doubt the biggest nail trend right now. All your favourite Scandi influencers are doing it! Basically, anything that isn’t a solid colour falls under the category of nail art—polka dots, organic shapes, leopard print and colourful french tips are some of our favourites.

Pros:

  • Can be applied to any manicure
  • Super cute
  • Easy way to spice up any outfit or beauty look

Cons:

  • There are none — woohoo!
June 15, 2021

The Different Types Of False Nails, Explained

Which false nail type will deliver the best result without the damage? We investigate.

Ah, manicures. Up there with getting into fresh sheets after you’ve shaved your legs or not having to leave the house when it’s cold and rainy outside, getting your nails done is one of the best feelings ever. Suddenly, even the most mundane tasks become exciting, allowing you yet another opportunity to stare at your perfectly clipped and coloured paws.

But what was once a simple decision of just choosing the colour that you were least likely to hate in 48 hours, has now become quite an overwhelming excursion. With acrylics, SNS, gel and regular polish now on offer, we don’t blame you for wondering which option is best suited to you, your nails and your needs.

Here, we breakdown the difference between each type of manicure like Carrie Bradshaw would weigh up getting back with Mr Big: the pros and cons list.

Acrylics

The Explanation: Arguably one of the most misunderstood variations of false nails, acrylics don’t have to be razor sharp and four inches long à la Kylie Jenner. By definition, acrylic nails are created by combining a liquid monomer with a powder polymer to form a paste that can bind to the nails. This paste is molded into the desired shape and adds length, thickness and strength to the nail beds.

Pros: 

  • Lasts anywhere between six and eight weeks
  • Adds strength to your nails
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Must be professionally removed
  • Removal process can weaken your natural nails
  • Requires you to take a break every three to six months to allow your natural nails to recover

Signature Nail Systems (SNS)

The Explanation: More commonly referred to as SNS, this type of manicure is the newest kid on the block. With a reputation as the ‘healthiest’ false manicure option for your nails, SNS operates as a dipping nail system that begins with a brush-on gel base that is then dipped in powder. Said powder is made up of organically-processed chemicals Benzoyl Peroxide, Titanium Dioxide and Acrylic Ester Polymer.

Pros:

  • Durable yet lighter on the nail bed than traditional acrylic nails
  • Doesn’t require UV light to bond the nail
  • Lasts up to one month

Cons:

  • Must be professionally removed
  • Bonding agent can lead to weakened natural nails when used over a long period of time
  • Potential to be unsanitary due to the communal dipping pots used to create the false nail

Editor’s Note: If you find you’re struggling with weakened nails after acrylic or SNS manicures, a nail strengthening serum (like this one from Sephora) will do you a world of good.

Gel & Shellac

The Explanation: The perfect middle-ground manicure, gel nails walk the line between long-lasting results and minimal commitment. The service uses a gel-based polish that is set with either a UV or an LED light to really adhere the colour to your nail bed. The most common form of a gel manicure is Shellac, which we’re sure you’re all familiar with. Oh, and did we mention there are now at-home gel kits?

Pros:

  • More durable than regular polish
  • Chip-resistant
  • Lasts up to two weeks

Cons:

  • Must be professionally removed
  • Exposure to UV light
  • Can weaken your natural nails if not removed correctly

Regular Polish

The Explanation: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but let’s not forget about our trusty base coat-colour-top coat mani. The most affordable and least time-consuming manicure on offer, we love the regular polish option for when nothing sounds better than having OPI Funny Bunny or Essie Ballet Slippers on your nails—the latter is approved by none other than Her Majesty The Queen, so you know it’s iconic! Plus, for those of us who struggle to choose a colour, this manicure is like your high school boyfriend–commitment free.

Pros:

  • Time efficient
  • Can be removed in the comfort of your own home
  • Doesn’t damage or weaken nails

Cons:

  • Easily chipped
  • Only lasts up to one week
  • Unable to add length or dramatically change the shape

Nail Art

The Explanation: We know, we know, nail art isn’t technically a form of false manicure. However, it is without a doubt the biggest nail trend right now. All your favourite Scandi influencers are doing it! Basically, anything that isn’t a solid colour falls under the category of nail art—polka dots, organic shapes, leopard print and colourful french tips are some of our favourites.

Pros:

  • Can be applied to any manicure
  • Super cute
  • Easy way to spice up any outfit or beauty look

Cons:

  • There are none — woohoo!

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