Gel, Shellac Or SNS? Which Nails Are Right For You?

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Finally, an explanation for the difference between gel nails, Shellac and SNS and which type you should be getting.

If you’ve ever had the luxury of heading to the salon to get a fresh pair of nails, chances are you’ve heard these words floated around the room a few times.

But what do they actually mean?

First off, the most common misunderstanding when it comes to nails is that gel and Shellac are two separate things.

Shellac is actually a brand of gel polish, so when the nail technician asks you if you want Shellac, they are really asking you whether you want gel polish.

Unlike regular nail lacquer, gel polish AKA Shellac, requires a UV light to dry so you can walk out that salon with zero fear of messing up your brand-new nails.

Gel polish can be applied to regular nails or fake nails (acrylics).

Before application, the nail technician will apply a base coat to form a clean protective base for the gel polish to glide onto without staining the actual nail.

3-4 coats of the gel polish are then applied to the nail and sealed with a top coat for a glossy finish.

The key step in using gel polish is placing the hands under a UV light machine for 1 minute after every coat to let the nails dry completely.

Going through this curing process after each layer of paint ensures that the nails form a sturdy rubbery exterior that is less prone to chipping and lasts for up to 2 weeks.

To remove gel nails, they need to be soaked in acetone and filed off.

A downside to gel nails include UV light exposure which can result in faster-ageing skin and the use of acetone for removal which can weaken and damage the nail bed over time.

Now onto SNS.

SNS stands for signature nail system and is actually a brand that represents a type of nail manicure.

This type of manicure uses powder rather than polish to coat the nails.

The nails are first prepped and buffed to create a rougher surface for the powder to easily grip onto.

After applying a thin base coat of an SNS bonding liquid the nails are then dipped into the coloured SNS powder and excess is flicked or brushed off.

This process is repeated up to 4 times until the pigment and thickness is as desired.  

A top coat is then applied for a glossy finish.  

SNS is a great option for those with skin and sinus sensitivities as it doesn’t require a UV light to be cured and sealed, and is also odourless. Β 

Just like gel nails, it is long-lasting, virtually chip-free and only requires infills every 2-3 weeks.

It is important to note that although SNS is perceived as less damaging, it also requires the use of acetone for removal which can dehydrate the nail beds.

Which is better?

Both nail systems will leave you with a pigmented, durable set of nails that could last over a fortnight before having to visit the salon again.

They also both require acetone for removal.

With gel polishes, you have the liberty to explore different nail art designs and aesthetics, not just glitter or ombre designs that SNS nail are normally limited to.

SNS however, is a faster process that lasts longer and doesn’t need as much filing, keeping friction damage to a minimum.

Most people opt for SNS if they are looking to keep their nails healthier for the long-term.

Get inspired by these colourful nail trends that are the perfect addition to any spring outfit.

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Anisha Premawardhana

CONTRIBUTOR

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