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The Pros and Cons of Manicures and How to Pick the Best One for You

The Pros and Cons of Manicures and How to Pick the Best One for You

The way we style our nails is a very personal thing. Some of us opt for natural nails with a coat of Ballet Slippers à la the Queen, while others love bold statement nails. Even if we know how we want to style our nails, sometimes our ideas can be difficult to convey to nail technicians, especially as we see more and more options in salons. To avoid any confusion at your next manicure, we’ve gathered all the essential information about popular manicures so you can leave a satisfied and knowledgeable customer.

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Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails have been around forever, so you’re probably already familiar with how they work. They’re pretty simple, all it takes is a blend of a powder polymer and liquid monomer which form a gel-like substance that’s applied to the nail and air dried.   Because acrylics are great for adding length to the nail, the nail technician will usually use a nail form to create the shape and length, or apply nail tips for a long and uniform look. Acrylics are ideal for people who want strong nails, and they make the perfect canvas for intricate designs or fun accessories like crystals.  Think Cardi B or Missy Elliot.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Nails

When you’re ready to remove the nails, a nail tech will use acetone and then scrape the nail down with a file, which could damage the nail if not done well. There are some other downsides to acrylics that you need to consider before going through with this style of manicure.   First, they need consistent upkeep, so if you want your acrylics looking good you’ll need to visit the salon every two to three weeks for fills. All of this maintenance adds up. A full set could cost up to $60, and many salons charge around $30 for a fill so you may need to save these for special occasions.








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Gel Nails

Gel nails have been around for a few years and have become extremely popular for people who don’t want the traditional acrylics, but we need to clear up some confusion. There is a difference between gel nails and simply adding a gel polish to your natural nail, which I’ll get to in the next paragraph. For fake gel nails, the nail tech will add the gel product to your nails and cure it under a UV light.

Pros and Cons of Gel Nails

Like acrylics, you can add length with fake gel nails, but this version is thinner and more natural-looking, making it a great choice for those who don’t love how acrylics look.


Though they are long lasting and durable, some people opt out of this type of manicure to avoid UV light exposure. Generally, gel nails are more expensive than their acrylic counterparts, but like acrylics, they must be filed off to be removed so there is a chance of damaging your natural nail.

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The Difference Between Gel Nails and Gel Polish

Gel polish is ideal for anyone who wants a natural look, as it can’t be used with nail extensions. It’s applied just like a polish onto your natural nail and cured in a UV light, which again some people find too risky. Gel polish is porous so it’s easy to remove with acetone, and it’s flexible but try to resist peeling it off yourself as it could be damaging to your natural nail.   Gel manicures can be as cheap as $10 in some places, especially if you’re not getting an intricate design. Your natural nails may need some extra lovin’ after removing a gel polish manicure, so be prepared to rehabilitate them with nourish oil treatments, like the CND Solar Oil.








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Dip Powder Nails

Dip powder nails are thought to be the most harmless option, as there is no UV lamp or harsh chemicals needed. The application of dip powder nails is pretty unique, the technician will apply a base layer of adhesive, then dip your nails one-by-one into the colored powder of your choice and repeat the steps a few times until they reach the desired outcome.


A commonly used brand of powder is SNS, so sometimes this is referred to as SNS nails, but remember it means the same thing. The technician can also add nail tip extensions for length, but the one issue that people seem to dislike about this type of manicure is how thick your nails feel.


Unlike a gel polish that can be sleek and smooth, the layers of powder add up and are a little raised, which may not be aesthetically pleasing for everyone. One of the best parts about this type of manicure is the removal. All you need to do is apply cotton balls soaked in acetone for a few minutes and the color will peel off. No scraping or harsh damage like with the other manicures.

There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to which manicure to choose. Each has its pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide what fits your budget and of course, which one you like the most. Plus, manicures are temporary, so you can always change things up to fit your mood.

By Clare Saxton
Photo by Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
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