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Nailed It! Our Definitive Guide to Nail Salon Treatments
What better way to show off your new, very sparkly engagement ring than by having an immaculate manicure to match? It doesn’t matter if you have brittle or torn nails, have trouble growing them, or you’re a biter – there’s a salon treatment to help your nails look instantly beautiful and healthy.
You can, of course, paint your nails at home, but where’s the fun in that? At a salon you get to relax, be pampered, and walk out with smooth hands and flawless nails. Overwhelmed by all your options? We provide you with all the help you need, to get your nails camera-ready for your wedding day.
Many women regularly have manicures, which involves buffing and shaping the nails, and then applying a colour. There are different types of manicure, but the most popular for the Big Day is the French. With this option the nail base is coated in a light pink, and the tip is painted white, which is essentially an enhanced version of your nail’s natural state (much like how we wear pink lipstick), and is considered an elegant and timeless go- to.
With all of these manicures, you’re improving your nails by simply painting over them, but if you want to add length or thickness to your natural nails, you need artificial enhancements. For this you have two choices: nail overlays and nail extensions.
During this process you get a strengthening mixture painted on top of your natural nails, and this makes them harder and more durable, but not longer. Overlays are ideal if you struggle to grow your nails, or if they’re weak and prone to breaking or splitting.
As the name suggests, this is the option to choose if you want longer nails instantaneously. A lightweight plastic plate that follows the shape of your natural nail, is glued to the nail tip and then a strengthening mixture is applied over the entire surface, to keep the tip in place. You can shape the tip into any style you choose, from round and square to stiletto.
For both overlays and extensions you can choose which strengthening system to use: acrylic, gel or fibreglass.
This is one of the oldest, most affordable and popular types of nail treatment available. A technician will mix a powdered acrylic with a liquid acrylic, and then brush this onto your natural nail - if you’re having an overlay - and onto your nail and tip - if you’re having extensions. The product hardens quickly when it’s exposed to air, and when it’s dry it forms an elongated nail. This is filed to the length and shape you want, and then it’s buffed until it shines.
There are two types of acrylic nails – normal, and pink and white.
- With normal acrylics you can use any colour polish over the nail, and this can easily be removed at home, when you’re bored, and replaced with a different shade.
- Pink and white acrylics have a translucent base and a white tip, which replicate normal nails.
Acrylics grow out with your natural nail growth, and so they last for about 2 weeks, before a gap appears between your cuticle and your artificial nail. Instead of having a new set done, you can choose to have them filled, where your nail technician simply tops up the “gap” with the same colour, and your nails look like new.
Pro: This treatment is widely available, and it’s the strongest, thickest and most durable type of artificial nail. It’s ideal for the active woman, or if you want something that won’t easily chip.
Con: If they’re not applied professionally, your nails will look thick and unnatural. The most common problem is infection between the false nail and your real nail, which happens if they’re poorly fitted or not properly maintained. Long term use can also leave your nails weaker and more brittle.
These are quickly gaining popularity as a more natural-looking artificial nail. They’re formed by painting a premixed liquid chemical gel onto your nails, and after each coat, your nails are put under a UV lamp to “cure”- which means to set them. The hardened gel creates an artificial nail coat on top of your natural nail, and this strengthens it. You can use the gel to fix broken or split nails, or you can paint over your extensions to give you extra length.
You can also get a gel manicure that is cured using a special activator, or by dipping your hands in water, if you don’t want to use a UV light.
Gel nails, like acrylics, will grow out after about 2 weeks, but will last longer if you choose to have them filled.
Pro: Gel nails are hard and glossy and resemble your natural nails. The gel doesn’t turn yellow or damage the nail bed underneath. It forms a protective layer which promotes growth, and this makes it perfect for people who want help growing their own nails. The gel is odourless and because it hardens within minutes, there’s no chance of accidentally bumping your wet nails, or waking up in the morning with your sheet pattern imprinting on your nails. You can apply polish or leave them clear and shiny.
Con: This treatment is usually more expensive than acrylic nails. The gel is more flexible and therefore less durable than acrylics, which means that the colour will chip quicker on a person who is very active. With most gels you have to return to the salon to have them professionally removed.
This method can be applied to all nails (to add length), or to individual nails that are cracked or broken. Fine layers of silk, linen, paper or fiberglass are pre-shaped, according to each nail, and then they’re attached using a special glue that won’t damage the nail underneath. It’s a temporary treatment as the adhesive loosens within 2-3 weeks.
Pro: These are the thinnest type of artificial nail and so they’re considered the most real-looking. They’re ideal for people who are allergic to the chemicals in the acrylic or gel treatment. This is the best method for nail repair as it helps cracked nails grow out.
Con: Because it’s thinner and softer, it’s doesn’t handle as much wear as other artificial nails. It’s also not a great choice for women who have a particularly active lifestyle as the glue is water soluble.
Sculptured nails are another very popular treatment available at most salons. The process uses metal, foil or forms - essentially big, stiff stickers - that are placed underneath the tip of each natural nail, between the nail and your skin, creating a platform. An overlay of gel, acrylic or fibreglass is then brushed over the nail and the platform to create a new, longer nail. This allows you to get nail extensions without having to glue on artificial tips. Once the artificial nail is hard, you can remove the platform. The final product is transparent and you can then shape the nail and file it to the desired length. How long the nails last, will depend on the overlay that’s used.
Pro: The enhancement takes the shape of the natural nail, and this makes it more comfortable. Sculptured nails are stronger and last longer than glued on tips, as there is no weak point where the tip is attached. You can file the nail into any shape you want.
Con: They aren’t suitable for thin, fragile nails and they need lots of maintenance. It also takes practise to correctly place the metal, foil or form.
Have you ever seen those women with exceptionally long nails trying to type, do up a button on their shirt or open a can of soft drink? Long nails may look great, but think about your lifestyle before you decide on the length. If they’re not practical, they won’t last. Pick an established salon that has a good reputation, to ensure that your nails are professionally done. Treat your nails with care to keep them healthy, and to make them last as long as possible.
Many women don’t have the time, patience or skill to do their own nails at home, and with an array of affordable treatments available, a trip to the salon can be quite reasonable. It also prevents the frustration of trying to use your non- dominant hand to paint your dominant for the seventh time!
Are you looking for the perfect matrimonial manicure? Whether you go quirky and bold, or simple and understated, getting enhanced nails will ensure that you walk down the aisle knowing that you’ve nailed it.