Whether you’re a mani maven interested in trying something new, or you just decided to treat your natural nails to some professional pampering, we’ve done the homework on the 5 latest nail options.
We’ve skipped those rigid stick-ons and cheap-o appliqués from the drugstore to get right to the heavy duty, fabulous-for-two-weeks manis and a one particularly fab DIY option that looks totally professional.
The original fake nail manis are now overshadowed by many other more realistic and gentle options, but many women still stay faithful. These rigid applications can last as long as two weeks, but do need to be kept up with routine fillings at the nail bed. The nails can be clipped to size and then painted with a variety of regular polishes, which allows for a considerably larger selection of colors than the other options, but they do need to be glued to the nail and may begin to lift or tear off, which can cause damage to the natural nail below.
Many salons will offer different brands of gel manis, such as Calgel or Gelife, which may boast longer wear without chipping or claim to be healthier for your natural nails, but they’re all just a gel. The biggest difference between normal polish and a gel is the process of curing and setting the gel under a UV light between coats. A 30-second bath in UV light will instantly freeze the gel to your finger, creating a turtle shell finish allowing you to remove your keys from your purse instantly without the worry of smudging. This manicure usually lasts about two weeks.
The only big difference between gel and shellac is the removal process. Shellac’s creator, CND, sells kits specifically designed to remove the mani after the two week wear period that target just the nail bed. The gel manis, on the other hand, require the wearer to submerge their entire fingertip in an acetone bath to remove the gel, which can totally dry out the nail and your skin. Both options use the UV-curing process between coats and maintain impeccable gloss up to day 14. As a side note, we highly recommend a good coat of sunscreen on your hands before dousing them in that harmful UV light.
These sticky appliqués have been featured in dozens of fashions magazines, on the runway, and on the red carpet on the nails of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and other celebs. Although basically stickers, Minx is applied at professional nail salons for a pretty penny. Much of the cost is due to the beautiful custom design options as well as the professional fitting and filling to make sure no sides are left uncolored. The downside to this mani is that it’s only supposed to last about seven to eight days before the stickers begin to pull up at the nail bed, but professionals say a routine blast of hot air from a hair dryer and then a gentle push down on the sticker while holding your nail over the steam from a boiling pot of water should make the mani last longer. Seems a bit strenuous when compared to the price and the longer life of the other options.
If you’re strapped for time or cash or both, Incoco products are an easy dry-nail strip appliqué that are made from 100% nail polish and include a base, color, and top coat in a single strip. Just remove the color strip from the backing, place on your nail, and trim to fit. Removal just requires the normal cotton ball of acetone remover. This DIY mani is super fast and instantly dry, but may begin to peel or chip within a week.
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