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Acrylic, Gel, or Shellac? What Type of Manicure to Get

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When you first walk into a salon, trying to figure out what kind of manicure to get can be difficult. Most people want to save as much money as possible on a manicure-pedicure combo, but sometimes saving a buck or two on a manicure isn’t really beneficial. Why? Certain types of manicures last longer than other types. But which one is the right option for you and your lifestyle? Here’s a closer look at the most popular types of manicures: shellac, gel, and acrylic.

The Shellac Manicure

Shellac is similar to regular polish, but it is a combination of both gel and polish. During this type of manicure, a base coat, two coats of polish, and a top coat are applied. As each coat of polish is put on, your manicure specialist will ask you to place your hands under a special UV light that seals in each coat quickly (you don’t have to place your hands in front of a small fan for twenty minutes to get this polish to set). The advantage to a shellac manicure is that the polish will last for two weeks or more without chipping or fading, and this means that you can go about your day after your manicure without a worry – perfect for busy moms!

The Acrylic Manicure

Acrylic manicures are a lot different from most other types of manicures. When an acrylic nail is applied, a piece of thin plastic is glued to the nail tip. Then, a special acrylic powder and liquid are mixed and applied to the nail. This mixture will harden completely in 15 minutes. Acrylic was once the most popular form of a manicure because they lengthen nails while also lasting longer than regular polish.

The downside to an acrylic manicure is that the plastic may break, chip, or break off. If the nail becomes jarred, the plastic part and the natural nail part can separate causing a strange appearance. Keep this in mind if you use your hands a lot to work, or if you do things daily that could cause a plastic nail to chip or break.

The Gel Manicure

Gel nails are becoming much more popular than acrylic options and are comparable to a shellac manicure. When getting a gel manicure, gel is applied over the natural nail, using a UV light, and the gel is set quickly. This is another good manicure to get if you use your hands a lot or if you often chip manicures. The downside to gel is that you have to have it professional removed. You can’t use regular nail polish remover to get rid of gel. However, these manicures do last for a few weeks.

Picking the Right One

Which type of manicure will be the best investment for you? There’s no doubt that getting a manicure can help boost your mood quickly and it’s nice to have sculpted nails when pointing or holding someone’s hand, right? You don’t want to plunk down $20 for a manicure and have the paint start chipping off the next day. So, consider your lifestyle first. Do you type all day long? Do you have kids? Wash your hands a lot? All of those things mean that you may want to go for shellac or gel over a regular manicure.


If you rarely use your hands, you can opt of acrylic or a regular manicure that will require new polish within a week or so. Often, acrylic is a much better deal than a regular manicure because it lasts longer, but it’s up to you! No matter what kind of manicure you decide on, you can always count on the professionals at Athena to give you the best manicure possible for your hands and for your lifestyle. At our nail salon in Fort Collins, we have the latest colors and techniques too! When it comes to Windsor spas, Athena is one of the top for a reason – we take care of you from head to toe! Call today to book your manicure in Windsor!

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