Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Salon Manicures

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Love the idea of getting a salon manicure but overwhelmed by all the options? I’ve got you! Read on for everything you ever needed to know about salon manicures, including the cost and pros and cons of each.

Having fancy nails is one of those things that makes me feel like a million bucks even though I rarely make time for them. For most people, a trip to the salon is a special occasion that can be confusing, overwhelming and expensive. So today I’m gonna crack the code for you on salon lingo, prices and more! 

Bear in mind that every salon differs wildly in both prices and options available but the following types of manicures seem to be the most popular. When booking your appointment, don’t forget to specify the type of manicure you want and ask about the pricing options.

1. Basic Manicure

This is the type of manicure you give yourself at home; it involves cleaning, filing and buffing your natural nails and then applying several coats of regular nail polish. 

Pros: the most affordable type of manicure. It also doesn’t damage your nails and doesn’t require a hassle to remove. 

Cons: doesn’t last very long. I’ve never had one of these manicures last longer than 5-6 days, especially as a busy mom who’s hard on her nails and hands.

Estimated price: $18+

2. Gel Manicure

This manicure is done a lot like the basic manicure above except they use a special kind of polish and activator. The nails are then placed under a UV light to cure the polish and make the manicure last longer.

Pros: look super shiny and make your natural nails thicker. This type of manicure generally lasts about 2-3 times as long as a basic manicure

Cons: the manicurist has to sand down the top of your nail to get the gel to adhere to them which damages your nails and makes them weaker once the gel is removed. And it’s a pain to remove it; you either have to soak your nails in acetone and then scrape the gel off or have it professionally removed. 

Estimated price: $30+

3. Powder Dip Manicure

This one is relatively new on the manicure scene and is probably my favorite of the fancy, long-lasting kind. Your natural nails are prepped much the same way as with a gel manicure, but then the manicurist paints your nails with a clear polish and dips each one into a fine powder in the color of your choice. This is repeated several times until your nails are nice and thick and the color is vibrant.

Pros: these also end up looking super shiny, make your nails thick and strong and last forever! If done well, these nails will survive just about anything; you just eventually have to take them off when your natural nail grows out enough that it starts looking weird.

Cons: the same as with a gel manicure including damage to your natural nails and being a hassle to remove.

Estimated price: $35+

4. Acrylic Manicure

This is the manicure most people think of when talking about getting “fake nails”. Your nails are prepped the same as the gel and dip manicures and then the manicurist uses nail glue to adhere an acrylic nail to your natural nail. This is the service people go for when they want to add length to their nails, since the previous manicures can only work with the length of your natural nail.

After the acrylic is applied, they add a type of paste to the top of your nail that gives it additional thickness and creates a smooth coating to both your natural nail and acrylic nail. After this hardens, the nails are painted using regular or gel polish. This entire procedure is called getting a “full set” of acrylic nails.

Pros: add length and strength to your natural nails and can be filled in when your nail grows out, instead of removing the entire set and reapplying. This is called getting a “fill”. The manicurist adds more of the above mentioned paste to fill in the space between the cuticle and the grown out acrylic nail. They’ll also clip and/or file the tips of the acrylics if they’ve gotten too long.

Cons: Same as with gel and dip manicures. If you keep acrylics on for a very long period of time (just by getting fills as they grow out), your natural nails can become very damaged and brittle and typically need several months to grow out and become healthy again.

Estimated price: Full set $40+; Fill: $30+

Salon manicures can be the best thing to make you feel pretty and fancy, but it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into before you go!

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