I Tried Every Type of Manicure So You Don't Have To

The world of manicures can be a strange and confusing place, especially if you’re new to the game or always stick to the same thing. There are so many different products and services to navigate and know the difference between, but there really is something for everyone. When choosing which manicure is right for you, you should consider price, how long the manicure will last, how much damage it will cause and if you care about the damage, as well as how natural the nails will look. Over the years, I’ve tried just about every type of manicure and nail service there is. Here are the main ones you’ll probably come across.

 

1. Regular Manicure

This is exactly what it sounds like: a manicure with regular, old-school nail polish. This is the best option for someone who wants quick removal at home, and it’s also the easiest on your nails and your wallet. The only downside to these manis is that they don’t last very long, and some can chip in less than 24 hours. You can always go back to the salon to have these manicures easily touched up, but some might say that they’re more effort than they are worth. 

Perfect for: minimalists, someone who is indecisive about nail color, someone wants to remove the polish at home, someone on a budget.

 

2. Gel Polish

This one is my personal favorite! Gel polish is considered a “soft gel” and it includes products like shellac and gelish. This type of polish is applied like regular nail polish, but it is cured under UV light after every coat. The result is a super glossy manicure that lasts 2-3 weeks, and you won’t have to wait for your nails to dry. A downside to this manicure is that it peels rather than chips, so it might not be the best option for those who have a habit of picking at their nails. Gel polish is removed by buffing off the top layer and soaking the nails in acetone. After having gel polish removed, your nails may be dry and a little thinner than usual, but you probably won’t see dramatic damage like you would with dip powder, acrylic, and gel nails. 

Perfect for: someone who wants nails that last but are quick to apply and take off, someone who wants nails that look more natural, someone on a budget. 

 

3. Dip Powder

Dip powder has become super popular, and you may have seen videos of the process on social media. It is also one of the quickest and easiest manicures to get, and they tend to last for three to four weeks. During a dip powder manicure, a base coat is painted onto the nail and then each finger is dipped into a bowl or container of powder a few times before a topcoat is applied. Some people have issues with dip powder because of the fact that multiple people are sticking their fingers into the same container. Despite this, I have never had an instance where my dip powder nails gave me an infection or made me feel that the process was unsanitary. Like gel polish, dip powder is removed by buffing off the top layer and soaking the nails in acetone. Since dip powder is thicker than regular polish and gel polish, the nail technician has to file your nails down a decent amount with the electric file before the application, which can lead to uneven, damaged nails when the dip is taken off. A plus to dip powder nails is that they don’t really chip, so you only need to get them redone when you feel they have grown out too much. 

Perfect for: Someone who wants their salon trips to be quick, someone who wants nails that are durable and last.

 

4. Acrylic

These nails are old school. Acrylic nails are usually applied with a tip to lengthen the nail. The product is a combination of liquid and powder that is formed into a pliable ball and applied over the nail and false tip. The result is a durable manicure that can last anywhere from two weeks to a month. Similar to dip powder, the nail has to be filed down a decent amount before the manicure, so your nails may be thinner and more prone to breaking after the acrylics are removed. Acrylic nails are also removed by buffing and soaking in acetone. Just like dip powder, acrylic nails don’t tend to chip, so you only need to get them redone when they have grown out too much. 

Perfect for: Someone who doesn’t mind spending quite a while at the salon, someone who wants to lengthen their nails/get false tips, someone who wants nails that are durable and last.

 

5. Gel

Not to be confused with gel polish, gel manicures typically refer to hard gels. With this thicker type of gel, the nail technician is able to extend your nail length and sculpt it into any shape (ballerina, almond, etc.). Hard gels and gel extensions also tend to have a thinner, more natural look than acrylic and dip powder nails. Like gel polish, this manicure is also cured under UV light. Gel manicures tend to last about three weeks, and you only need to get them redone when you feel your nails have grown out too much. Hard gels can’t be soaked off like most other manicures. Rather, they are removed by filing down the gel and then allowing a small amount to grow out with your natural nail. Again, your nails may be slightly damaged from being filed down.

Perfect for: Someone who doesn’t mind spending quite a while at the salon, someone who wants to lengthen their nails/get extensions, someone who wants natural-looking nails that last.