What are all these services?

Not all manicure services are created equal. The list can be endless and confusing. One salon calls it one thing and another calls it something else. The client hopes she is getting what she wants but not sure exactly what to ask for. Sometimes I think they count on the fact that the consumer is truly unaware of what they are supposed to be getting and what their choices are.

I have heard so many horror stories about visits to salons where the client came out with something other than what she went in for. She simply didn’t understand what the nail tech meant but trusted that he/she knew what they were doing. After all they are the “professionals” right?   Well, hopefully so but not always. Let’s look at what services are and what are you getting?

Understanding the basic types of nail enhancement services and their differences makes it easier to know what you are paying for:

  • Acrylic is a liquid & powder mixed, applied with a brush that will harden (cure) with no lamp in 2 minutes or less.
  • Gel , in basic terms, is a pre mixed acrylic in a gel like state, that almost always needs to be cured under a UV lamp, Acrylic usually has an odor while gels are general completely odorless. Gels often will cost slightly more than acrylic.
  • Silk (fiberglass and sometimes linen) is applied with resin (glue) to the nail.
  • Acrylic Dips is the use of resin (glue) applied to the nail, then dipped or sprinkled with acrylic powder
  • Crystal nails is any type of enhancement done with CLEAR acrylic, gel or resin either with clear tips or sculpted.
  • All of the above systems can be applied:
    • Directly on your nail (overlay)
    • On tips that have been applied with resin (glue) to extend the free edge and make a platform for the acrylic, gel or fabric overlay.
    • Sculpted using a paper, plastic or metal form to extend the free edge.
  • All of the above types of services can be finished with a UV gel top coat to protect the enhancement. The UV coating is applied either with a brush or polished on and is “cured” under a UV lamp for around 3 minutes. UV top coats are very protective to the enhancement and will need to be filed off at your next appointment. There might be a slight additional charge for this extra service.
  • A “French Manicure”,  also referred to as “Pink & Whites or “Permanent French”can be done  using several different techniques as follows:
    • Applying white tips with a clear or sheer pink acrylic or gel, or resin with fiberglass or acrylic powder.
    • Applying natural colored tips with white acrylic or gel, resin with fiberglass or acrylic powder in the tip and clear or a sheer pink on the nail bed.
    • Using a “form” and sculpting the white tip using acrylic, or gel and clear or a sheer pink on the nail bed.
    • Airbrushed over any enhancement or natural nail

These services may cost a little more

Examples of typical scams include:

  • SOLAR NAILS – Solar Nails is a BRAND of acrylic (power and liquid) manufactured by Creative Nail Design. It is one of the original brands. It is a true acrylic and nothing more.
  • GEL NAILS – a form of acrylic that is cured under a UV lamp.
  • CRYSTAL NAILS – simply a clear tip with clear acrylic overlaid on the entire enhancement
  • PORCELAIN NAILS – nothing more than acrylic or gels possibly with a UV gel top coat
  • DIAMOND NAILS – Also referred to as No Light Nail. It is an acrylic dip.
  • BAIT & SWITCH – salons will have three jars on the table, possibly hand labeled, one says acrylic, one says gel and one says fiberglass. They are all acrylic, but the consumer will be told fiberglass and gel are better for their nails and cost more
  • SHELLAC’D WHEN IT’S NOT– A regular polish with a UV top coat is NOT “Shellac” or any of the new Gel Polish brands (OPI Gel Lacquer, eco, So Quick, Gelish, Gellac, etc). A UV Top coat (needing to put your hands in a lamp to “cure”) will NOT allow the polish underneath to dry properly. If the salon is selling you a “Gel Polish Service” no matter what brand or what they call it, EVERY layer needs to be cured under the UV lamp. Ask to see the bottle or jar WITH a brand name on it.

NONE of the above services are anything special, nor should they incur any additional cost.  

If the nail tech cannot explain in easy to understand terms what service you are getting then you are in the wrong salon. Go find a professional nail tech who knows what she is doing and understands her services and products. It is a State Board requirement that every nail technician is knowledgeable about product ingredients and understands what she is providing for her clients.

You are paying good money for your personal nail services. You should be getting what you want and know what you are getting.

Linda Clemmons

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