If you thought the only option you’d be offered at your next trip to the nail salon was a simple manicure with regular polish, think again. Today, you have endless possibilities for what to do with your nails. Everything from color, shape, length and style is completely up to you!
While this endless opportunity can be fun for some, it can also be stressful; because there are so many options, how do you decide which one to try? VALLEY hopes to make that decision a little easier! With help from an Elle magazine interview with two top New York City nail artists — Vivian Cardenas and Miki Higuchi — VALLEY is breaking down the many types of manicures available and which one is right for you.
A basic manicure is the cheapest option on this list and is the standard when it comes to getting your nails done. Depending on where you go, a basic manicure can cost anywhere from $10-$25 but most basic manicures will cost you around $10-$15. The process usually takes about 30 minutes. The nail tech will file and buff your nails, clean up your cuticles and then paint your nails with your chosen color. If you’re looking for something fast and efficient, this is the manicure for you! A basic manicure is also the safest option if you don’t want to damage your nails. The drawback of a basic manicure is that it usually doesn’t last very long. Typical manicures can last up to seven days, but many people say that their nail polish starts chipping after only a couple of days.
If you’re looking for your manicure to last longer, a gel manicure might be the way to go. Gel manicures include all the same procedures as a basic manicure (filing and buffing of your nails, cleaning of your cuticles, etc.) but include a gel polish that is cured under a UV light. Gel manicures tend to take a little longer because of this UV light: usually 45 minutes to an hour instead of 30 minutes. The combination of gel polish and UV light means that the manicure can last anywhere from two to three weeks before starting to chip. One con of gel manicures is that they can potentially damage your nails if you don’t take care of them correctly. If you choose to peel or lift off the gel polish without the help of a professional nail technician, you risk damaging your nails.
Although acrylic manicures take the longest time in terms of application, usually about an hour or two depending on the complexity of the design, they do last for a very long time, anywhere from three to four weeks for most people. Acrylics are formed through a combination of a liquid (called a monomer) and powder (called a polymer). When mixed together, they form a hard protective layer that nail techs shape however you want — square, oval, coffin or round for example. Compared to the other manicures on this list, acrylics are one of the most expensive. They can be as low as $25 but artists can charge upwards of $75-$100 depending on the design you request. On average, quality acrylics will usually cost anywhere from $30-$60 at a reputable salon. Acrylics are generally safe for the nails when applied and removed by a certified nail technician; if you try to remove them yourself, or rip the acrylic off, you are likely going to damage your nails.
A dip powder manicure usually falls between a regular manicure and acrylics. In contrast to acrylics, dip powders require a resin-based agent to sit on top of the nail beds rather than stick to the nail plate itself. Clients will dip their nails into the powder, and the powder will be sealed by layers of adhesive, meaning there is no dry time or UV light required. Dip powders can last two to four weeks, but it is recommended that you change your dip powder every two weeks; keeping anything on your nails for too long of a period can lead to bacterial infections. These manicures cost around the same as a gel manicure, anywhere from $35-$60 again depending on location and style. Dip powders are also one of the only styles, other than a standard manicure, that can be easily removed at home.
If you’re in between wanting a regular manicure or splurging for the gels, a shellac manicure is a great in-between option. Shellac is a patent-pending nail product created by Creative Nail Design (CND). It is half-nail polish, half-gel, thus making it a hybrid that can be applied similarly to regular nail polish but is cured under a UV light, making it longer-lasting like a gel. The application occurs the same way as it would if you were getting a gel manicure — usually lasting about the same time as well, about 45 minutes. Shellac manicures can range in price depending on the location but usually cost anywhere from $40-$60. A drawback of getting a shellac manicure is that you run the risk of damaging your nails if you remove the polish yourself instead of going to a certified nail technician.
If performed correctly by certified nail technicians, none of these manicures will cause damage to your nails. Just be sure not to pick at or remove the polish yourself! It is recommended that you give your nails a break every couple of months so that they have time to breathe. This can help prevent thinning of the nails and potential long-term damage.
What’s your favorite manicure style? Tag us, @VALLEYmag, with pics of your go-to nail design.