Tell me if I'm wrong – your life may be a mess, but if your nails are perfect, then it's okay. If your nails are on point, your life is on point, right?
If you're a nail art novice, on the other hand, and this is your first time considering getting a manicure, you must have millions of questions. What are the different types of manicures you can get? What's the difference between an acrylic manicure and a dip powder manicure? Is it worth getting a manicure in the first place? Should you save on cash and just have a crack at it yourself? Or go to a professional nail technician and leave it up to them?
You'll learn all there is to know about manicures in just a couple of minutes, and you'll be one step closer to joining the nail hype. We'll be looking at over 10 different types of manicures, so let's get to work!
- Types of Manicures
- Why Get a Manicure?
- How to Pick the Best Manicure for Me?
- Before You Go
Types of Manicures
1. Au Naturale Manicure
The natural nails manicure keeps your nails in check without adding tons of nail polish. It's an excellent choice if you want to maintain hydrated skin and tidy nails. A natural manicure usually includes some cuticle grooming, nail shaping, a hand massage, and potentially a coat of clear nail polish. An au naturale manicure is suitable for people taking a break between gel polish manicures or people waiting to grow out their nails. This natural method is also a great DIY manicure project you can do at home. Do you work somewhere that doesn't allow bold and crazy nails? Natural nails may be the perfect choice for you.
How long does it last? Up to a week, as the nails start to grow out.
How much does it cost? This is the cheapest procedure, between $10-$15.
Does it damage your nails? Quite the opposite – it keeps them well-maintained!
2. Basic Manicure
A basic manicure is the next step up from the natural manicure. The procedure includes shaping, filing, and buffing your nails, trimming the cuticles (optional), cuticle oil treatment, a moisturizing hand massage, a couple of coats of nail polish, and a top coat nail polish. Basic manicures don't use fancy gel polish. They use a regular polish that you can buy from a cosmetics shop. Basic manicure is the perfect choice if you want to opt for a cheap manicure that won't damage your nails if you're attending a one-off event that requires more grooming than usual.
How long does it last? About a week or longer, depending on the quality of the nail polish.
How much does it cost? Between $20-$30.
Does it damage your nails? Nope, and that's why many people love it!
3. Press-On Nails
I used to cringe at the thought of press-on nails. I always picture those nails you can buy in packets from a cosmetics shop that somehow never fit and turn into a whole messy fiasco trying to glue them on. Oh, how the press-on nails have evolved! The quality and variety of press-on nails have improved for the better. You can find hundreds of pre-painted press-on nails nowadays, with all kinds of nail shapes. Whether you wear yours in a classy oval or a bold square shape, there are plenty of choices to go around.
How long does it last? As long as you want them to! Just make sure you use strong glue!
How much does it cost? Between $30-$45.
Does it damage your nails? They shouldn't damage your nails if you're careful when removing them.
4. French Manicure
A classy French manicure is an excellent option if you're looking for a neutral palette. The classic white nail tips can be swapped for more interesting options, like a rainbow tip or a diagonal tip. The French manicures with a twist are a huge trend right now and can be done using regular polish, gel polish, and acrylic.
How long does it last? Anywhere from a week to three weeks, depending on the method you choose!
How much does it cost? Depending on the polish, between $10 – $30.
Does it damage your nails? It depends on the kind of manicure – if you're using gel, acrylic, or regular nail polish.
5. American Manicure
I'm sure you've heard of a French manicure, but are you aware of the American spin-off? The American manicure doesn't emphasize the white tips of your nails. Instead, it tries to blend your entire nail into a single color, creating a soft pinkish-white hue. This style really buffs up your nails and makes them look healthy and clean. It's perfect for people who enjoy soft pastel colors, a baby-ish look, and attend to their nail care. It's an easy manicure to do at home if you're trying to save on money.
How long does it last? Depending on the nail polish used, anywhere up to 3 weeks.
How much does it cost? $30-$45.
Does it damage your nails? Not unless you're using gel polish or acrylic!
6. Acrylic Manicure
Are you trying to get striking nails that look like they came out of Euphoria‘s latest season? Then allow me to introduce you to acrylic manicure – gel polish's foreign cousin! Acrylic is a liquid and powder nail enhancement, which hardens on its own and is often used to create nail extensions starting from your filed cuticles. It's solid and doesn't need UV light to set. It's the go-to choice for impressively long nails in a coffin or stiletto shape. It's perfect if you need a larger canvas for one of your grandiose nail art ideas.
How long does it last? Over three weeks if done right!
How much does it cost? This manicure is pretty expensive, between $40-$65.
Does it damage your nails? It can, especially if you decide to cover it with gel polish.
7. Gel Manicure
We have already mentioned gel polish several times, but what exactly is it? Gel manicure is ultra-tough and doesn't air dry like regular nail polish. Instead, it's baked under a UV light, where it hardens. Gel manicures can last up to three weeks and are preferred by customers who want long-lasting results. There is a downside to gel manicures – hard gel can often damage the nail underneath. Gel manicures can be a long-term investment because they require someone to remove the polish and shape your nail. Thankfully, you can always get your manicure done straight after, and no one will ever know that the nails underneath are in poor condition. Many people love gel manicures due to the great variety of techniques and ideas you can apply. It is also very durable, making it suitable for everyone!
How long does it last? Up to three weeks.
How much does it cost? Between $20-$65.
Does it damage your nails? Unfortunately, it does. The gel is ultra-difficult to remove at home with acetone. Make sure to schedule your next nail appointment in three weeks to remove the gel by a professional. Otherwise, you may risk peeling off parts of your nail.
8. Shellac Manicure
Shellac is a gel polish brand made by Creative Nail Design (CND). The brand claims to be the originator of gel polish. This soft gel will also need a UV or LED lamp to harden. Shellac nail polish has over 160 shades to choose from for your gel nails, and their colors do look braggingly stunning with a high gloss shine.
How long does it last? Up to three weeks.
How much does it cost? Starting at $30 and up to $120.
Does it damage your nails? Yes, if you remove it incorrectly.
9. Dip Powder Manicure
With dip powder manicures, the color of the nail matches the color of the powder polymer poured or dipped onto the nails. Dip powder nails need to be completely dry for the adhesion to work. They are extremely quick to do and require no drying time or UV lamps.
How long does it last? Up to two weeks.
How much does it cost? Between $35-$56.
Does it damage your nails? If used often, it can cause thinning of the nail, so make sure to get a break every two and a half months.
10. Plexigel Manicure
Plexigel is a type of acrylic manicure by the brand CND. There are two main products – a nail shaper and a nail builder. The nail shaper is the repairman, often used to fill cracks or repair broken nails, and can be used to enhance the nail shape. The nail builder allows you to build out extensions from your nails, and is a preferred choice due to its lightweight formula.
How long does it last? Up to three weeks.
How much does it cost? Depending on the nail length, it can be pretty expensive, starting at around $130 for sculpted nails.
Does it damage your nails? No, as long as it is correctly removed.
11. Embellished Manicure
Step up your nail game with an embellished manicure for your next special occasion. Embellished manicures are becoming increasingly popular for fancy events. It's a form of nail art that can integrate glitter, faux gems, mylar, or other applications to the nails.
How long does it last? Depending on the base of the nail, between two and three weeks.
How much does it cost? Between $50 – $80.
Does it damage your nails? With the right nail tech, it shouldn't damage your nails.
Why Get a Manicure?
You might be thinking, is it really worth the hassle? What is it about manicures that gets everyone so hooked and obsessed? The truth is, there are multiple benefits to getting your nails done!
The first one is pretty unambiguous – your nails will look fabulous and well-kept. But it isn't just your nails exclusively that get a pamper – your skin and cuticles are also taken care of during the process. If you visit a professional nail salon, you'll most likely receive a brief hand massage with some moisturizing cream which, nine times out of ten, smells divine. You'll most likely take advantage of the free cuticle oil too, which maintains the necessary hydration on your delicate skin. At the end of the day, regular visits to the salon can make your hands appear younger and healthier!
No More Nail-Biting
Receiving a professional manicure also helps decrease your nail-biting compulsion. I am a notorious nail and skin-biter, and I have tried all kinds of remedies over the years – from bitter hand cream to wearing gloves. Nothing quite worked the way manicures did. I started loving my nails, and looking after them was an immense help. Not to mention, now that I spent money on my nails, it just seemed a waste to start chewing and biting at those beauties!
Improved Mental Health
Lastly, the therapeutic effect you get from a pampering session is another underrated benefit. I leave the nail salon feeling refreshed every single time and I know for a fact other people do too. I have even shared some pretty personal stories with my nail technician, and I haven't once regretted it! Visiting the nail salon is a great way to spoil yourself with a well-deserved treat!
How to Pick the Best Manicure for Me?
Now that you know the different types of manicures, you probably wonder which one to pick. Decisions, decisions!
It's best to start by choosing a type of manicure based on your budget. If you feel like you can't spend much money, you can always get a basic manicure or try getting your nails done at home. There are plenty of YouTube videos to show you how to do it all by yourself, but we recommend this easy-to-follow guide!
If you have some money to spare on your nails and have decided to visit a nail salon, you must be wondering where to start. I usually consider whether I'm getting my nails done for a specific occasion, like a Halloween party or a wedding. If it's a special occasion, I usually want my nails to last longer than a week. I tend to choose a more permanent option, such as a gel manicure or a dip powder manicure. Make sure you're aware that your nails will need some time to recover after such a treatment, so once you get rid of the polish, they won't look ultra perfect!
If I'm not going to a special occasion, I tend to look for neutral colors, especially if I'm choosing a long-lasting manicure. Neutral tones such as pink and cream blend with your nail color and aren't that easy to spot once your nails have grown out.
Finally, you can find tons of inspiration and ideas on nail designs by browsing Pinterest or Instagram. People come up with unique nail art every day, so it's worth checking out if you're feeling at a loss for ideas.
Before You Go
Nail art can turn into a unique way of self-expression, but you don't have to stop at a manicure. Summertime is around the corner, which begs the question – how often do you get a pedicure? We have answered this popular question and many more in our detailed guide!
There's a little something for everyone on our blog! If you're looking for more beauty content, why not check out our top-rated best primers for large pores? Or our round-up of the best indoor tanning lotions!
What is your favorite type of manicure? Let us know in the comment section below!