Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Style > Beauty

Explaining the different kinds of manicures

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UNH chapter.

I have been consistently getting my nails done for as long as I can remember. It is the one thing that has always been sort of a treat to myself, and I feel incomplete without my nails done. With that being said, I have tried all of the possibilities available to me. Whether thats regular nail polish or a full set of acrylics, I’ve gotten it all, and here is everything you need to know about each kind of manicure.

regular polish

We’ll start with the classic and basic, regular nail polish. You’ve probably been doing this since you were a kid getting your nails done by your parents as a cute little spa day. It does the job and there are millions of options for colors. Whether you’re getting it at the store to do yourself or just looking for a cheaper option at the nail salon, this is definitely the most cost sensitive option. It is also super quick and easy to do yourself, and is also easy to take off. It does not however, last very long. Tasks like washing your hair, doing the dishes or working out will usually create some chips in the polish. If you’re looking for longevity, this probably isn’t your best option.

gel polish

Gel manicures are almost like a step up from regular nail polish. It’s slightly more expensive, but will definitely last you longer. This is my usual go-to because it does not chip and can last me around three weeks. It requires a UV light to cure, and that is what helps it last so long. You can do fun designs, and there are also always so many color options. You won’t find gel nail polishes as commonly in stores, but the UV lights and all the tools you will need are available on amazon. I got myself a gel light and kits of polishes during the COVID-19 lockdown, and have been doing my own gel manicures myself since then. It is almost as easy to do as regular polish, just with the added step of using the light. This is a money saver if you love gel manicures as much as I do! The only downside to gel in my opinion, is the process of taking it off. It requires soaking in acetone, which not only can be difficult to do on your own, but also can be damaging to your nails if not done properly.

dip polish

Dip is something I have only done a handful of times. Instead of it being a lacquer like gel or regular polish, dip is a powder that you dip your nail into. The first time I got it, it was on my natural nails and I did not love the feeling of it. It felt super thick, as it is supposed to, but it just felt sort of uncomfortable to me. I know this is not something everyone may experience, but the nail technician told me it is not uncommon. I also have gotten dip on acrylics, and this was a better experience for me. If you’re looking for something thats thicker this may be for you! And although I have not personally done it myself, I have friends who have gotten kits and do their own dip powder at home. Dip also can be more expensive than gel as well, and last about the same time although they have a better chance of lasting slightly longer.

Acrylic nails

This is also something I have gotten quite a few times. If you’re looking for extra length, these are a great option. The application of acrylics is a lot more lengthy, and can also be damaging to your nails if not done right. Acrylics are a combination of a liquid monomer and dip polymer that forms a hard coat over your nails. Then you can go along with the process of either gel or dip polish, and this is just like the normal process. These can also be super damaging if not taken off properly, which I have been a victim of. Be sure you’re going to reputable salons who take care with their removal process! With that being said, these are thicker, longer, and a bit of a more of grueling process. They can last a while as well, as long as you’re careful not to break them. Again, these are more expensive than the previous options, but definitely another go-to for many people.

Gel x extensions

These kinds of extensions tend to be the most expensive out of all of the options. I have just gotten Gel X for the first time last week, so this is a new one for me. The difference between these and acrylic extensions is that these are tips that are held onto your nails by gel polish that is cured with a UV light, and then you can paint normal gel over them. These are slightly thinner, and might lift off quicker than acrylics. If you’re not a fan of the super thick feeling of dip or acrylics, give Gel X a try! The same company that I have gotten my at home gel polish from also sells these kinds of extensions, so they are also doable at home and I’m sure it would be easier learning how to do Gel X on your own rather than acrylics. The other limitation to Gel X is that they have to be soaked off with acetone each time, whereas acrylics just get filled when you’re getting them redone.

There are so many other kinds of manicures that I have not yet tried, and everyone has their own preferences for their manicure. This is just a brief glimpse into my opinions on the manicures I have gotten, and I hope it is helpful to you if you are looking into what to get for your next manicure!

UNH Biomedical Sciences major and Nutrition Minor Dog and ice cream enthusiast