There Are 7 Types of Manicures—Learn How to Choose the Right One (2023)

Once upon a time, there was only one way to get your nails done: with regular lacquer. Nowadays, however, the manicure possibilities have multiplied, introducing techniques for every nail goal imaginable. Looking for long-lasting, often high-shine nails? Soft gel is the way to go. Hoping to smooth out your nails while giving them added strength? Hard gel is a solid option. Craving a bit more length? Sculpted nails are worth checking out. And those are just a few of the most popular types of manicures. Ahead, learn everything there is to know about all the different types of manicures, including who they’re best for and how much they cost.

Meet the Expert

  • Brittney Boyce is a nail artist who works with celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Shay Mitchell, and Olivia Rodrigo. She's also the founder of Nails of LA, which offers decals, press-on extensions, and more.
  • Julie Kandalec is a New York City-based celebrity manicurist who works with the likes of Jessica Chastain, Camila Cabello, and Halima Aden. She shares entrepreneurial knowledge with other nail professionals through the Julie K. Nail Academy.

01of 07

Regular Lacquer

There Are 7 Types of Manicures—Learn How to Choose the Right One (1)

What to Expect

Think of regular lacquer manicures as your everyday at-home or salon mani. They're done using regular nail polish, like Olive & June's Nail Polish ($9) or Gucci’s Glossy Nail Polish ($30).

“If you’re getting this done professionally, the nail technician will clean your cuticles, file and shape your nails, and apply a base coat, two to three layers of the nail polish, then a top coat,” says Brittney Boyce, a celebrity nail artist and the founder of Nails of LA. Beyond a solid coat of color, you can also use regular polish for nail art designs. “You’ll just need to wait about 20 to 30 minutes for the polish to dry,” she says.

While nail soaks used to be common prior to a regular lacquer manicure, Boyce says it's best to avoid them. “When you soak your nails, your nail bed expands,” she explains. “After applying polish on it, it crackles when your nails shrink back to their normal size. That leads to shorter wear time.”

Who It’s For

Regular lacquer manicures are great for folks who like to do their nails at home, want a fast (and more affordable) salon appointment, and/or prefer quick and easy removal at home.

Average Cost

$20 to $60. “If you’re getting nail art, that will cost more,” Boyce says. Additionally, some nail salons offer extra hand massages, paraffin waxes, and other add-ons, all of which cost more.


Of course, a DIY regular lacquer manicure costs significantly less. You simply have to invest in your polishes and tools once and then you can use them whenever (and as often) as you’d like. If you choose to take this route and are looking for an all-inclusive set, we recommend the Olive & June Mani System ($88+), which includes six long-wear nail polishes, a top coat, the brand’s signature Poppy tool (which makes painting your own nails—on both hands—easier than ever), a nail polish remover pot, nail clippers, a buffing tool, a nail file, a touch-up brush, and a cuticle serum.

How Long It Lasts

So long as you don’t soak your nails beforehand, Boyce says that an expertly applied regular lacquer mani can last one to two weeks. (As for home manis, I’ve found that Olive & June is the only nail polish to last for more than a few days with zero chips in sight—it’s one-of-a-kind.)

How It's Removed

The best part about regular lacquer is how easy it is to remove. Simply dip your finger into a nail polish remover pot or soak a cotton ball with acetone and swipe it away.

02of 07

Soft Gel

There Are 7 Types of Manicures—Learn How to Choose the Right One (2)

What to Expect

If the idea of even a single chip in your polish is enough to make you shudder, turn your attention to soft gel manicures. “Soft gel is our classic gel polish—for example, Shellac is a soft gel polish from CND,” celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec says. “Once you brush it on—there’s a base coat, color, and top coat—it’s cured under a lamp.”

Who It’s For

Soft gel nails are perfect for those looking for zero dry time and a long-lasting manicure that stays shiny and chip-free for at least two weeks. That said, if you’re looking for extra strength, Kandalec points out that there are better options. “Soft gel polish does not add strength; it is only color,” she says.

Average Cost

$25 to $50. Adding nail art will raise the cost, and it’s often charged per nail.

How Long It Lasts

Typically around two weeks. If you go to a highly trained and rated manicurist, it could last longer.

How It’s Removed

Gel polish often gets a bad rap for being hard to remove, but the beauty of soft gel is that it doesn’t require extra effort. “It’s so porous that it can be soaked off with acetone and foil,” Kandalec says.

03of 07

Full Coverage Soft Gel Tips

There Are 7 Types of Manicures—Learn How to Choose the Right One (3)

What to Expect

Beautiful, long nails that are great for achieving more involved nail art trends. "Aprés was the first to launch them, but many brands make really good soft gel tips now,” Kandalec says. “Think about a tip that's glued on (before we put acrylic or gel over it): Those are made out of ABS plastic, which is virgin plastic. Soft gel tips are gel tips that are adhered to [your natural nail] with more gel. So the entire nail is gel. It's going to go over your whole nail back to the cuticle, not just on the end.”

Who It’s For

While soft gel tips are a great option for anyone, they’re particularly beneficial for those hoping to rock some of the season’s trendiest nail art, as they add length, which provides more area for designs. “They come in flatter shapes or more curved ones if someone has a higher or lower apex,” Kandalec adds. In that way, they can even out your nail shape, too.

Average Cost

$85+. Again, nail art will raise the cost.

How Long It Lasts

Soft gel nails typically last for around three weeks, at which point they can be removed or filled in. “I do a fill on my soft gel tips, and then they just grow out and last,” Kandalec says.

How It’s Removed

Since soft gel tips are made with soft gel, they can be removed in the same fashion as soft gel: with acetone and foil. That said, since layers and layers of soft gel are used to create the tip, it’s best to file them down as thin as possible first. Since filing too far can damage your nail, you should enlist the help of a pro for removal.

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04of 07

Hard Gel

There Are 7 Types of Manicures—Learn How to Choose the Right One (4)

What to Expect

Hard gel is much thicker than soft gel. “It looks like honey,” Kandalec says. “It's either clear or usually has a nude or pink color to resemble the color of your nail.” Like soft gel, it uses a base coat, color, and top coat, all of which are cured under a UV or LED light. (Because of this, it’s important to wear hand sunscreen to your mani appointment.)

Who It’s For

Hard gel, thanks to being notably thicker, is great for anyone looking to strengthen their nails, or fill in ridges for a smoother end look.

Average Cost

$50-$100. Where your mani lands within (or outside) that range all depends on where you go and whether you opt for solid color or nail art, Kandalec says.

How Long It Lasts

Hard gel nails last longer than soft gel nails. On average, you can expect them to last at least three weeks but sometimes up to a month. Of course, with natural grow-out, you’d likely want to get them redone at that point.

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How It’s Removed

Since hard gel is not porous, it has to be filed off. “That sounds scary, but done in the hands of a professional, we know what we're doing because we know exactly when to stop,” Kandalec says.

Fun Fact: Kandalec expects Acrygel, another type of hard gel, to become extremely popular in the U.S. “Acrygel is a type of hard gel that behaves like acrylic and is very thick,” she says, sharing an example of the trendy product in action. “It comes either in a pot or in a tube and you have to use a slip liquid, which is usually 91 to 99% isopropyl alcohol, and you use that to mold this gel into place, usually on a form. You can also overlay the product over a tip, but usually, it’s done on a form. Acrygel is very durable and very hard.” Right now, she says that it’s very popular in Russia and Ukraine, and bound to explode here in the U.S.

05of 07


There Are 7 Types of Manicures—Learn How to Choose the Right One (5)

What to Expect

Acrylic is a liquid (monomer) and powder (polymer) combination that's mixed together and when applied to the nail, the formula hardens on its own to form the nail. “For acrylic and nail professionals, we call it liquid and powder, but the consumer knows it as acrylic,” Kandalec says. While the end result resembles hard gel, Kandalec says that it’s very different. “Gel is a different molecule that needs UV light to cure it, so you can play with gel forever and ever and ever until a light comes in for it to cure,” she explains. “Acrylic, on the other hand, will start to cure immediately and cure 95 percent of the way in three minutes and then 100 percent of the way in 24 hours.”

Who It’s For

Kandalec says that acrylics are best for those who like really hard nails. Think: The classic idea of fake nails. “It is a really durable enhancement, not to say that gel is not durable because it is, but acrylic is just really hard,” Kandalec adds. Additionally, acrylic is great for achieving length, so it’s a good option for those who like dramatic nails and/or involved nail art.

Average Cost

$50 to $95+. Remember: It all depends on where you live, the salon you go to, and the add-on services you select.

How Long It Lasts

Acrylic nails last two to three weeks and should be retouched in between appointments.

How It’s Removed

The best way to remove acrylic nails is by soaking them in acetone. It takes notably longer than soaking off soft gel, but it’s the safest way to ensure your natural nail remains intact. “You can also file them,” Kandalec says. “Use a coarse 100 grit file to get most of the product off and then finish with a fine 400-600 grit file, until you get to the natural nail.”

Here, learn how to remove acrylic nails (along with Kandalec’s step-by-step instructions to do so).

06of 07

Dip Powder (AKA SNS)

There Are 7 Types of Manicures—Learn How to Choose the Right One (6)

What to Expect

Dip powder is a type of acrylic, but it’s often thought of as its own category. “SNS is actually a brand of dip powder; how Kleenex is a brand of tissues, SNS is actually a brand,” Kandalec says. “Dip powder nails are where you have layers of what is essentially acrylic powder and resin, and the finger is either dipped (hopefully not because it's not sanitary in a nail salon) or it can be sprinkled on to be more sanitary. (Typically the nail technician will have a separate little small tray and then throw it out afterward.) It’s layered on the nail with layers of resin, and then it's filed and smoothed out.”

Who It’s For

Dip powder is ideal for shorter nails, Kandalec says, as it doesn’t work to add length. It’s durable and long-lasting, so it’s an especially great choice for people who use their hands a lot.

Average Cost

$35 to $50.

How Long It Lasts

Dip powder nails can last up to a month, making them especially popular for folks who are too busy for frequent touch-ups and redos.

How It’s Removed

Similarly to gel nails, it’s best to file down the top layer of SNS, then soak in acetone until the remaining color easily pushes away.

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07of 07

Sculpted Nails

There Are 7 Types of Manicures—Learn How to Choose the Right One (7)

What to Expect

Sculpted nails, which are a form of gel extensions, build off your natural nail using a sculpting form.“Gel extensions are done using builder gel, like Orly's Builder in a Bottle,” Boyce says. “It's an oligomer, meaning the monomer and polymer are already mixed. So instead of mixing products, it's in a bottle that's easy to apply and is self-leveling, meaning the technician won't have to file the top to shape it well, and it's not sticky or messy.” To adhere it to your nail, she says it needs to be cured like gel using an LED or UV lamp. Once cured, the form will be removed and another layer of builder will be applied to sculpt the nail.

“It's easy to customize the length with them, and there's a unique role positioning that adapts to the curvature of the nail so it looks very natural,” Boyce says. “While it wears like a hard gel, it's still flexible like a real nail, meaning it's not prone to damaging breaks, brittleness, or cracking.”

Who It’s For

Anyone with a bit of a natural nail tip. Since the forms have to be used beneath the nail to sculpt the upper nail, those with extremely short nails aren’t good candidates for this manicure, Kandalec says.

Average Cost

Due to the nature of the process, sculpted nails are one of the more expensive manicure options at $100+.

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How Long It Lasts

Sculpted nails can last upwards of three weeks, depending on the longevity of the product your manicurist uses.

How It’s Removed

Like regular gel polish, sculpted nails are best removed with a little electric filing followed by an acetone soak.


How many types of manicure are there? ›

What are the different types of manicures? The main manicure types that you will come across are basic, acrylic, gel (including Shellac), French and dip powder. We'll explain what's involved in each of these and why you might choose them.

What is the most popular type of manicure? ›

Gel Manicure

What it is: This is the most popular manicure you'll hear about right now. Think of it as a souped-up version of a basic manicure that uses a UV light to cure and harden liquid polish, which is what makes a gel manicure last up to three times longer than regular polish.

What are the 5 main nail types? ›

Most clients lean toward one of five basic nail shapes: square, round, oval, squoval, or pointed.

What are the 10 steps in basic manicure? ›

  1. Step 1: Clean your nails with polish remover. ...
  2. Step 2: Clip, file, and buff. ...
  3. Step 3: Push back your cuticles. ...
  4. Step 4: Exfoliate your hands. ...
  5. Step 5: Moisturize your hands and cuticles. ...
  6. Step 6: Apply a base coat. ...
  7. Step 7: Apply your first coat of color. ...
  8. Step 8: Apply your second coat of color.
10 Feb 2022

How do you use a 7 way nail buffer? ›

Place the board under the nail edge and file in one direction only. STEP 1: Use coarse grit to shape nail. STEP 2: Use medium grit for final shaping. STEP 3: Use fine grit to neaten nail edges.

What are the steps in a basic manicure procedure quizlet? ›

  1. Disinfect Table.
  2. Sanitize Hands.
  3. Analyze Nails.
  4. Remove Polish.
  5. File/shape.
  6. Apply Cuticle Remover.
  7. Soak 1st Hand.
  8. Push cuticle back on free hand.

What is the most important step in a manicure? ›

A clean nail is going to be the most important, remove all nail polish from the nail plate with a non-acetone nail polish remover; this is gentler and will still get the polish off.

Whats the meaning of manicures? ›

noun. a cosmetic treatment of the hands and fingernails, including trimming and polishing of the nails and removing cuticles. a manicurist. verb (used with object), man·i·cured, man·i·cur·ing. to take care of (the hands and fingernails); apply manicure treatment to.

Which manicure is good for skin? ›

If you have rough and dry hands, then a Paraffin manicure is the best way to take care of them. The manicure is like a specialized spa treatment for your hands. It involves a stimulating hand massage with oils. At the end of the procedure, you will be amazed by the softness of your hands.

How do I choose the right nail? ›

The accepted rule of thumb is the nail length should be 21/2 times the thickness of the wood you are nailing through. Thus, for 1-inch-thick material, you would use an 8-penny nail and for 2-inch-thick material, you'd use a 16-penny nail.

How do I choose a manicure color? ›

7 Tips To Pick The Perfect Nail Colour
  1. Match Your Skin Tone. To help you decide the perfect nail colour, we always recommend choosing a colour that complements your skin tone. ...
  2. Compliment Your Style. ...
  3. Match Your Lips. ...
  4. Nails For Each Season. ...
  5. Nails For Every Occasion. ...
  6. The Latest Trend. ...
  7. The Classic Clear.
14 Nov 2017

What is a normal manicure called? ›

A basic manicure is your standard manicure. "The nail tech will start off by soaking your hands in warm soapy water to soothe and soften dead skin cells," Higuchi says. "Then, the nail tech will file and buff, clean the cuticle, and massage your hands with a hand cream.

What are the 7 Structure of nails? ›

The nail structure is divided into six parts: root, nail bed, nail plate, eponychium, paronychium, and hyponychium. Each of these six components has a specific function, and if a component of the nail structure is disrupted, the nail can look abnormal.

What are the 7 part of nail? ›

The parts of the fingernail include nail plate, nail bed, nail matrix, nail sinus, nail root, nail fold, nail cuticle (eponychium), and nail lunula.

What are the 9 main nail shapes? ›

9 Types of Nail Shapes: A Guide to Choosing the Right Nail Shape For You!
  • Square Shaped Nails. Source: iStock. ...
  • Round Shaped Nails. Source: iStock. ...
  • Oval Shaped Nails. Source: iStock. ...
  • Ballerina or Coffin Shaped Nails. Source: Pinterest. ...
  • Squoval Shaped Nails. ...
  • Almond Shaped Nails. ...
  • Stiletto Shaped Nails. ...
  • Mountain Peak Shaped Nails.
13 Jun 2022

What are the 5 steps in a French manicure? ›

  1. Prep your nails. The first step is to make sure that your nails are of the same length, even and filed properly. ...
  2. Apply base coat. Make sure your nails are dry and then apply the base coat. ...
  3. Apply white nail paint. Use the white nail polish on your tips. ...
  4. Apply top coat.
18 Aug 2018

What are the 5 nail care materials? ›

8 Essential Nail Care Tools to Keep at Home
  • Nail clipper. Nail clippers are one of the most basic nail care tools that every person should have in their home. ...
  • Nail file. ...
  • Cuticle pusher. ...
  • Cuticle nipper. ...
  • Nail buffer. ...
  • Nail brush. ...
  • Toenail scissors. ...
  • Nail cleaner.

How many steps are in a manicure? ›

A manicure can be accomplished in 10 easy steps: 1. Remove any old nail polish, dirt, and oils with a nail polish remover. 2. Apply a cuticle remover onto the cuticles and let it soak.

How do I choose a nail buffer? ›

The rule is simple: the fewer grains, the coarser the nail file. The 80 grit is recommended for removing the hardest surface which is acrylic. The 100 is recommended for shortening and shaping elongated nails but it is not advised to use on a natural nail plate.

How do you use a 6 way nail buffer? ›

Straight nail buffer/file with six sides on parallel edges. The 6 sides of the nail file allow you file (sides 1 and 2), remove imperfections (side 3) and excess cuticle skin (side 4) from the nail bed, smooth (side 5) and shine the nails (side 6). Remove any nail polish before beginning your manicure.

Why is it important to follow carefully the steps in cleaning fingernails and toenails? ›

Appropriate hand hygiene includes diligently cleaning and trimming fingernails, which may harbor dirt and germs and can contribute to the spread of some infections, such as pinworms. Fingernails should be kept short, and the undersides should be cleaned frequently with soap and water.

How do you do a professional manicure step by step? ›

Steps to a perfect and professional manicure
  1. Before you begin, wash the customer's hands and dry with a towel. ...
  2. Shape nails with an emery board. ...
  3. Remove cuticles. ...
  4. Smoothen the natural nail surface. ...
  5. Remove side cuticles and any remaining skin. ...
  6. Apply a preparatory solution with a cellulose paper and let it dry.
1 Jul 2015

How do you clean a nail scrub? ›

Step one: Scrub

A nail brush will scrub the dirt out from underneath your nails and attack those hard to reach areas where grime is known to accumulate. Hold the brush downwards and gently rub back and forth, moving to the front of the nails, working in a circular buffing motion. It's actually quite satisfying.

What are the six important implements used in manicure? ›

Manicure Tools
  • Acetone/polish remover to remove polish and debris.
  • Cuticle cream for the bottom of the nail.
  • Lotion to moisturize.
  • Nail brush tool for nail hygiene.
  • Cuticle pusher to push back skin around the nail.
  • Cuticle scissors tool to trim cuticles.
  • Nippers to trim hangnails.
2 Nov 2018

Why is it important to follow the manicure procedure? ›

This is an important part of positive nail health, as both our hands and feet go through a lot on a daily basis. Regular manicures and pedicures ensure the removal of dead skill cells, which is an essential part of encouraging new skin cell growth. New skin cells are key for nails that are strong and healthy.

Why is it important to have a professional manicure? ›

Professional mani's and pedi's on a regular schedule give your hands and feet the skincare they need. Catch problems before they start. Problems like fungal infections can be hard to spot, especially on your feet, until they get bad enough to become a real problem.

What is the importance of understanding the proper nail maintenance? ›

Your nails are there to protect your hands, providing a strong shield as you work with them each day, as well as a barrier – the cuticle – which keeps out environmental pollutants. Regular, professional nail care ensures that your nails stay strong so they can do the job.

What is another word for manicure? ›

What is another word for manicure?

Where is the word manicure from? ›

In French the word manicure means "care of the hands," and it comes from the Latin word for "hand," manus.

What type of word is manicure? ›

Manicure can be a noun or a verb.

Which manicure is safest? ›

A basic manicure, with the right polishes, is the healthiest for your nails. When we say the 'right polishes' we mean the best nail growth polish or breathable nail polish. The harsh chemicals in many polishes often degrade our nails. Using an organic polish that contains vitamins, is the best way to avoid damage.

Are manicures good for you? ›

Manicures and pedicures improve blood flow, which is important in reducing cellulite, tightening your skin, and strengthening your muscles — all of which can improve the visible appearance of your hands and feet.

What type of manicure lasts? ›

If you want your manicure to last longer, you should consider getting a gel or acrylic manicure. Gel and acrylic manicures last longer and you don't have to worry about ruining your nails after doing the dishes or laundry.

What are the 3 types of nail polish? ›

Whatever the case, you can consider this your guide to the seven different types of nail polish you should know.
  • Basic. Let's start with the basics—no pun intended. ...
  • Gel. Another popular type is gel polish. ...
  • Acrylic. Speaking of acrylic nails, this is another common polish type. ...
  • Breathable. ...
  • PolyGel. ...
  • Dip Powder. ...
  • Shellac.
15 Oct 2020

What type of manicure lasts the longest? ›

Six different types of acrylic and gel manicures. If you want your manicure to last longer, you should consider getting a gel or acrylic manicure. Gel and acrylic manicures last longer and you don't have to worry about ruining your nails after doing the dishes or laundry.

What type of manicure is healthiest? ›

A basic manicure, with the right polishes, is the healthiest for your nails. When we say the 'right polishes' we mean the best nail growth polish or breathable nail polish. The harsh chemicals in many polishes often degrade our nails. Using an organic polish that contains vitamins, is the best way to avoid damage.

What are the 7 different shapes of nail? ›

What Are the Different Nail Shapes?
  • Round Nails. This nail shape is simple and easy to maintain. ...
  • Square Nails. Square nails are usually flat on top and have straight corners. ...
  • Almond Nails. Lots of women are obsessed with this 90s beauty trend. ...
  • Squoval Nails. ...
  • Coffin Nails. ...
  • Stiletto Nails. ...
  • Oval Nails.
30 Sept 2019

What is a 3 step gel manicure? ›

Step 1 - Apply Nails Mailed Base Coat & cure for 1-2 minutes. Step 2 - Apply Gel Color & cure for 1-2 minutes. Step 3 - Apply High-Shine Gel Topcoat. Finish off your nails with one of our Jojoba Cuticle Oils for a beautiful, manicured look!

What are the 4 types of nail technology tools? ›

What are the four types of nail technology tools that you will incorporate into your services?equipment, implements, materials, and professional cosmetic nail products
When you perform nail services, those supplies used during a service that must be replaced for each client are called?Materials
32 more rows

What kind of manicure doesn't damage nails? ›

If you're one of them, these tips from dermatologists can help you reduce the damage:
  • Choose soak-off gel nails instead of acrylic nails. ...
  • Go to a salon that uses an LED curing light rather than a UV curing light. ...
  • Ask your nail technician to skip the cuticle trimming. ...
  • Reserve artificial nails for special occasions.

Whats better gel or dip? ›

Simply put, dip powder polymers are stronger than those found in gel polish, and, therefore, dip manicures will generally last longer — up to five weeks, if properly cared for.

How long are manicures good for? ›

A proper manicure should last one to two weeks. A pedicure should last two to four weeks.

What is a natural manicure? ›

Natural Nail Manicure

The au naturel manicure is great for the person that wants to just wear their own nails (it's also called a classic manicure for a reason). This treatment includes cutting and filing your nails to your desired shape and length, cuticle grooming, a hand massage, and regular nail polish.


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