Getting my nails done is probably my most re-occurring splurge. Nothing beats the feeling of walking out of the salon with a fresh set - cue the *it's like i'm getting my personality back* TikTok. Plus, I'm one of those crazies who loves the sound of clicking nails on a phone screen when I text - sorry not sorry.
So, with a habit of getting my nails done as soon as the current set starts to chip, I've tried everything from gel to dip to full-set acrylic. So what are the pros and cons of them all? I'll break it down for ya from price to longevity to feel! Here's the guide you need for choosing your next mani.
Polish - Staying Simple
While regular polish has its pros - it's easier to remove, it's easier on the wallet, and it's easier to touch-up (you can buy your own bottles at the store), I don't typically recommend it for those getting their nails done at a salon. Why? It simply doesn't last as long. With regular polish, I can experience chipping as soon as a couple days after painting, even with a solid layer of top-coat. I've had better experience with pedicures than manicures, but if i'm paying to go into the salon, I personally prefer stepping up to gel for a basic mani.
Gel - Keeping it Non-Committal
Gel polish became the next greatest thing a few years ago, and has since turned into a classic mani essential. It lasts longer than regular polish - usually 2 weeks, but up to 3 if applied well and you're careful with them! It's an easy application, it goes on your natural nails and is sealed with a UV light. I recommend gel if you're looking for the classic mani and you want something that you won't have to worry about chipping off the next day. However, it's a relatively simple salon visit, and while it's more costly than regular polish, it is typically one of the cheapest mani options.
If necessary, you can remove gel polish at home on your own by soaking your nails in nail polish remover. Plus, it generally won't do damage to your natural nails underneath. Those are huge pros if you're not looking for re-occurring salon visits. Overall: gel polish is hard to get wrong and will bring you lasting (but not too long-lasting) results!
Dip - Glorified Gel Polish?
Okay - onto dip polish. Unlike gel or regular polish, dip isn't a polish at all. It's a colored powder that adheres to your nails, and hardens on top. Typically, it is filed down and covered with a clear, shiny top-coat. Haven't used dip before? It feels much sturdier than gel polish - like shields for your nails (but prettier). The advantage of dip over powder is that it supposedly lasts even longer - up to 5 weeks.
While I have friends who swear by dip for its lasting color, I haven't had the greatest experiences with it. It's usually around $15 more than gel, but the last couple times i've tried dip, it has started cracking off within 2 weeks. Major bummer. Because dip is layered on, it leaves you feeling like you've got those thick fake nails, but it's your real nails underneath! I'd recommend dip if you are looking for the feel of acrylic nails, but you don't want acrylics. I'd also recommend going back into the salon for removal or replacement of these - since attempting to remove your dip nails yourself could damage your natural nail.
Acrylic - Channeling Baddie Energy
Acrylics are major players in the nail game - especially if you get a full set. Ya know, those plastic glue-ons your mama warned you about? Acrylics can look and feel amazing - maybe just don't think too much about what's happening to your natural nails underneath. If you get a full set, you'll get to choose the shape and length of your nails (come prepared, know exactly what you want), and the color and/or design.
Acrylics basically last forever - that is, until they grow out long enough to be impossible to type your work emails with. So, I'd opt for acrylics if you are a ritual salon visitor and you know you're going to be back for a nail revamp anyways. Also, if you love the feeling of having your nails done, you will never have to worry about chipping or peeling. These are definitely the hardest hitting on the wallet, as they take a lot of time and effort to apply. But if you're looking for long, attention-grabbing nails, these can be a fun one to try!