Blog, Nail Polish

A Guide to Different Types of Manicures

Whenever you go to the nail salon, you might see all sorts of different manicure services. While most of them have the same basic function of cleaning and shaping your nails, there are a few key differences. For the most part, all manicures are the same except for the type of nail polish you choose to apply. The type of nail polish you choose also determines how long the process takes and how long the manicure will last.

Below is a summary of the different types of manicures. Each one has its own pros and cons to help you select which manicure is ideal for you.

Basic Manicure

This manicure includes cleaning the nails and sometimes pushing back the cuticles and buffing the nail. The aesthetician then applies a base coat to protect the nail from getting stained by nail polish pigments. Afterward, a layer of two of colored nail polish is applied followed by a topcoat.


Basic manicures are the most affordable type of manicure. Aside from the low price point, you can also easily remove the nail polish whenever you like. All you need is a nail polish remover on a cotton pad, and you can remove the polish in a few minutes.


Basic manicures can chip easily if you’re not careful. On top of that, the aesthetician must wait for the nail polish to dry completely before applying a new coat. Depending on how quickly your chosen nail polish dries, this can take anywhere between 2 to 5 minutes between each layer of polish.

Gel Manicure (Hard Gel)

Gel manicures have become incredibly popular because of how long-lasting they are. Hard gel manicures involve placing and shaping a monomer liquid and polymer solid onto the nail. This is then cured under a UV light until it hardens.


Hard gel manicures are incredibly tough, so you won’t have to worry too much about chipping. On top of that, this type of manicure doesn’t require you to grow your nails as the hard gel can extend past your natural nails.


It can take up to an hour to complete this manicure. Aside from that, this manicure requires special tools and chemicals to remove, so you can’t take them off at home. Lastly, the UV light that cures the gel can damage your skin when done too often.

Shellac Manicure (Soft Gel)

This is a hybrid of the basic manicure and the hard gel manicure. Shellac manicures are applied the same way as a basic polish. However, your nails will be placed under a UV light after each layer is applied.


Shellac manicures may not be as tough as hard gel manicures, but they’re still pretty sturdy. They’re also incredibly resistant to chipping. Also, unlike hard gel manicures, shellac manicures can be removed at home using acetone-soaked cotton pads. You’ll have to soak your nails in acetone for about 20 minutes, though.


If you work a lot with your hands, you can still chip this manicure, but it does take a lot to do so. The UV light used to cure this manicure can also damage your skin when used too often.

Acrylic Manicure

An acrylic manicure is similar to a hard gel manicure in that a clay-like substance is applied and shaped onto your nail. However, acrylic nails cure on their own when exposed to air, so you don’t need to cure it under UV light.


You get chip-resistant nails without exposing your hands to UV light. This manicure can last up to three weeks.


You might wonder how an acrylic nail adheres to the nail. Well, the aesthetician files your nails to make it rough enough for the acrylic to stick. This isn’t an issue for people with tough nails, but it may cause some long-term damage for people with weaker nails.

Press-on Nails

This type of manicure involves ready-made acrylic nails that you press onto your skin using special nail glue. It requires virtually no prepping as the acrylic nail completely covers your natural nails.


It’s cheap and easy. It’s great for when you need perfectly manicured nails in a snap. These press-on nails also don’t require much work or chemicals to remove, so there’s minimal damage on your nails.


It can be difficult to find the perfect size for your nails. Some press-on nails look very obviously fake if you choose the wrong size. Also, they can be quite easy to remove, so you need to be careful with where you place your hands.

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