Nail extension is not a new concept. However in the last 5 years, the technology has advanced. Now there are many different type of nail extensions available on the market.
Nail Extension Explained!
If you are not in the nail industry or - of if you're new to the industry - it can be a little confusing to decide which type of nail extension is right for you. That's why one of the most frequent and important questions we get asked is: Which type of nail extension is better for your nails?
To answer this question, we need to start by explaining different types of nail extensions and their pros and cons.
- What is nail extension?
- Why get a nail extension?
- Different types of nail extension
- How long will each type of nail extension last?
- PLUS We'll answer some of the questions we have had from you
What is nail extension?
Long, beautiful nails can make a huge difference to how you feel and how your hands look. If you have short nails or are unable to grow your nails, nail extensions might be a good option for you. Nail extension or nail enhancement is a term used when you make your nails longer than they are naturally using specialised products such as nail tips.
Longer nails also provide a bigger surface for creating amazing nail art.
Why choose nail extension?
There are many reasons why you might want to get nail extensions:
- The way nail extensions look
- You like longer nails but can't grow your own nail naturally
- You want to stop biting your nails
- For special occasions such as weddings, engagements, birthday parties, and more
It simply is a choice and you can have your nails extended by either a little bit or a choose a more dramatic length.
You can also choose the shape that you want. Some of the common shapes are: Coffin, Almond, Square and Stiletto
What types of nail extension are there?
There are many different types and most common ones are:
- Acrylic nails
- Dipping nails also known as SNS
- Hard gel nails
- Polygel nails
- Soft gel nails
Now let's look at each type of nail extension.
Acrylic nails are combination of mix powder and liquid monomer that create a dough-like consistency. To apply the mixed product, an acrylic brush is used. The product dries in the air and then it will require a lot of filing to make them look thinner and more natural.
Acrylic nails were one of the first type of nail extension that were strong enough to last.
Are Acrylic nails good or bad?
Acrylic nails are less popular these days for a number of reasons.
- According to US National Library of Medicine Monomer can cause a range of adverse health effects such as irritation to skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, allergic dermatitis, stomatitis, asthma, neuropathy, disturbances of the central nervous system, liver toxicity, and fertility disturbances.
- Acrylic nails require an acrylic brush that need animal hair for them to work. As a vegan who is strongly against animal cruelty, I believe that acrylic nails are NOT an option. There are so many other ways to achieve long nails which will not cause inhuman treatment to innocent animals.
- These nails are thicker. And that means when they break, they break hard.
- Salons where acrylic is applied often smell very strongly of chemicals.
- Due to the excessive filing required, it is a very dusty process and most acrylic nail techs wear gloves. As a client, you should also wear protective gear to avoid breathing in the acrylic dust.
- The nails, if not filed correctly, can look uneven, lumpy, and too thick.
- The extension can feel heavy on the nails.
- There is a chance of over-filing and damaging natural nails because acrylic application requires filing.
- A full set of acrylic nail extensions takes a long time to create which is not ideal for nail technicians and clients.
- Acrylic nail extensions are not an option for at home nail extension kit.
We vote NO to acrylic nails.
How long do acrylic nails last?
Acrylic nails typically last 3 weeks and then they need to be redone. This is normally done by a process called balancing, backfilling, or refill. This means that the nail technician doesn't remove the whole product but fills the gap between your cuticle and the old nails.
Dipping nails also known as SNS
Dipping or SNS became very popular around the mid 1990s because they didn't smell as bad as acrylic and took less time than acrylic to create.
Dipping is a type of nail extension where you apply a sticky liquid (super glue) and then dip your finger into the powder (acrylic powder). The powder simply sticks to the glue. This process is repeated until a thicker layer is made.
Then the nails are filed down to look natural.
So basically speaking, dipping or SNS is acrylic powder applied to nails using super glue.
Is dipping nails good or bad?
The process of dipping nails is slowly losing popularity due to new and better systems which more and more people are becoming aware of.
- They do not have a strong chemical smell like acrylic extensions.
- Almost anyone who has had dipping done has experienced their nails feeling like paper after the product is removed. This is because super glue is NOT designed to be applied on top of the nails. The process can cause very real damage.
- It is common for dipping nails to end up uneven or lumpy. This is not due to the product, but because it requires a very skilled nail technicians to file it down correctly. It takes a lot of time, and few technicians are able to do it well.
- Most dipping systems are non vegan which makes them a NO from us.
- Not an ideal option for at home nail extension kit as it never looks as good due to the filing techniques required.
We vote NO to dipping nails.
How long do dipping nails last?
Dipping nails typically last 2-3 weeks and they are prone to lifting. This means the nails will need to be redone. This is normally done by removing the old nail extensions by soaking the hand & nails in pure acetone that is warmed up by placing the ball of acetone into a ball of hot water. I personally do not like this technique as the heat makes the acetone fume and as a result dries your skin. The dried acetone can damage your nails and aggravate allergies.
Hard Gel Nails:
Hard gel is similar to acrylic nails, except it cures in an LED light and doesn't use monomer. It is NOT gel polish, shellac, soft gel, or soak-off gel.
The hard gel normally comes in a tube or a jar and you can extend the length of the nail with hard gel using half-cover nail tips or forms.
Similar to acrylic, hard gel must be filed to shape. Unlike Acrylic, hard gel is not as harmful.
Is hard gel nails good or bad?
Hard gel nails are not as popular as other nail extension techniques. However they do look a lot more natural and they are much lighter than acrylic. There are a few things you need to know about hard gel nails, especially if you are not a trained nail technician and want to do nail extension at home.
- Much like acrylic extensions, these need to be filed to shape. Otherwise, they can look even and unnatural.
- Hard gel nails can not be soaked off, which means if you want to remove them, you have to completely filled them off your nails. This increases the risk of over-filing and damaging your natural nails.
- Hard gel nails need a lot of practice to get perfect. If you're new to nail extensions, it can take a lot time to complete a set of nails.
We vote MAYBE to hard gel extension.
How long do hard gel nails last?
Hard gel nails typically last 3-5 weeks. This means the nails need to be redone. Similar to acrylic nails, this is normally done by a process called balancing, backfilling, or refill where the nail technician doesn't remove the whole product but fills the gap between your cuticle and the old nails.
Polygel extension is normally sold in a tube and it is a mixture of acrylic powder and gel. Polygel consistency can be described at patty like gel and it is easier to apply but still requires a little bit of filing. But not as much as acrylic nails, dipping nails, or hard gel nails.
Generally, a plastic nail is used to help shape the polygel and then it is applied onto the nails. Because the product has gel in it, it needs to be cured under an LED lamp.
To remove & replace, unlike hard gel nails, you can choose to either soak off polygel or backfill it.
Are polygel nails good or bad?
Polygel nails never became very popular. We believe that's because dipping nails were still very popular at the time and polygel, if not correctly applies, has less staying power.
One key advantage of polygel over acrylic nails, dipping nails, and hard gel nails is that it doesn't take as long to create because it requires a lot less filing.
- Polygel nails often pop off if not applied correctly.
- It needs a little bit of practice to learn how to apply them.
- It may be a good option for at home nail extension kit however you will need tools to be able to do this at home.
- If applied thin, it can break easily because often there is nothing to support the extended nails.
- It still requires filing to shape and can be uneven if not done correctly.
We vote MAYBE to Polygel extension.
How long do polygel nails last?
If applied correctly, Polygel nails typically can last 3 weeks before requiring to be reapplied. This means the nails can be removed by soaking them and reapplied or you can choose to refill them.
Soft Gel Nails:
Soft gel nail extension uses gel-based products to extend your nails. They are also called soak-off nail extensions because they are 100% soak off unlike hard gel nail extensions. They do not have any acrylic in them. Instead, they are purely gel based. However, these are not the same as gel polish as they are stronger and you can extend your nails with them.
The newest technology in soft gel nails is Brush on Builder gel, also known as Builder Gel in a Bottle.
Similar to all the other nail extension systems we have talked about, soft gel nail extensions can be done using half-cover tips and forms.
However, there is something even more exciting about soft gel nails that has made a nail extension at home or at salon even better.
This new technique is called full cover tips.
What are full cover tips?
Full cover tips are the type of nail tips that cover your whole nails. The advantage they have is that they are pre-shaped and therefore do not require any filing. Most importantly, they look and feel natural and anyone can do these with a little bit of practice. That makes these the perfect fit for any at-home nail extension kit.
Are soft gel nails good or bad?
Soft gel nails are starting to become very popular thanks to their ease of use, perfect shape, and endorsements from high-profile celebrities like J.Lo.
Here are some of the benefits of soft gel nails:
- No filing required for shaping.
- Fast to apply, making them a more economical solution for salon owners.
- They're easy! You won't need to complete a nail technician course to learn how to do these.
- The best solution out there for at-home nail extension kits.
- They feel and look like natural nails.
We vote YES to full cover nail extensions.
How long do soft gel nails last?
Soft gel nails typically last 3-5 weeks. When it's time to redo them, you can either remove them or refill the gap with builder gel in a bottle.
Your questions answered about nail extensions:
Are nail extensions the same as acrylic?
No, acrylic is just one type of nail extension. There are many other types of nail extension that you can choose from.
Is nail extension harmful?
Some nail extensions like acrylic and dipping can be harmful. Others like full-cover nail extensions are not.
Is nail extension painful?
NOOOOO! If you ever go to a salon and it is painful, stop the process and run out of the door!
Are there any nail extensions that don't require filing?
Yes. Full-cover nail extensions do not require filing on your nails as the full-cover nails are already shaped.
Can I do nail art on top of nail extensions?
Yes. You can paint and add nail art to all of the nail extension systems that we've discussed in this article.
What is the best & safest type of nail extension?
In our opinion, full-cover nail extensions are safest because:
- They feel like your own natural nails
- No filing is required
- They are strong
- Last as long as other types of nail extensions
- Less damaging to your nails
- Fast and relatively easy to apply
- They don't give off strong fumes
- They're the best choice for at-home nail extension kits
Where to purchase full-cover nail extension kits
At Mitty, when we were researching what products to use for nail extensions, we decided to offer the best and safest nail extensions on the market: full-cover nail extensions.
So to make it easier, we've created a nail extension starter kit to help you get started.
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog, you can comment below or email us if you have any questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in learning more? check out our nail courses and nail trainings. We offer both online and face to face training. (Australia only). Click HERE to find out more