The 5 Different Types Of Manicures To Know, So You Can Choose The Right One

Plus, how long they last and how much they'll cost you.

Nail Salon Polish Colors

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There was once a time when a manicure really just meant one thing: basic polish, swiped onto filed nails, finished with a shiny top coat. Today, there are many more options to consider, and it's become tempting to forgo the old-school, quick-to-chip manicure for something that offers longer-lasting benefits.

Before your next trip to the nail salon, make sure to learn about the different types of manicures—plus how long they typically last and how much they cost—in order to choose the best style for you, no matter which shape, length, or color you prefer.

Here's your handy guide to the 5 most popular types of manicures you'll find at the nail salon.

Classic Manicure

This is the original manicure, using the same exact bottles you can buy at the drugstore. You simply pick a level of pampering—basic to deluxe—and get your cuticles clipped, nails filed, and polish applied.

How long it lasts: Up to a week with minimal chipping.

Who it's for: If you're not one to carve out time to get a gel manicure soaked off at the salon in two or three weeks' time, a basic manicure is your best bet. Likewise, it's a solid choice if you're in a rush or generally impatient.

How much it costs: Around $20–40, plus tip.

Gel Manicure

Think of it as an advanced 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. There's one catch: You'll have to go back to the salon to get it soaked off. Avoid trying to pick it off as it will lead to stripped nails.

How long it lasts: Around two to three weeks.

Who it's for: If you love your signature OPI or Essie color but need it to last past the weekend, a gel mani will do the trick. Nowadays, most salons carry your favorite nail colors in both regular and gel polish.

How much it costs: Around $30–45, plus tip.

Shellac Manicure

People tend to confuse gel and shellac, but the two types are slightly different. Shellac was coined by CND, a nail brand that developed 14-day-wear gel polish. It’s known as more of a mix of both long-wear gel and regular polish, which is generally better for your nail health. It requires to be cured under a UV light just as gel is. 

How long it lasts: Around two to three weeks.

Who it's for: This is a great option for someone who might like gel manicures, but has weaker nails, which will benefit from the formula and typically-easier removal.

How much it costs: Around $30–45, plus tip.

Dip Powder Manicure

For this type of manicure, each nail color comes in the form of a pigmented powder, which your nails are dipped into after being applied a clear liquid formula. It's generally stronger than gel and lasts longer. You'll also see it referred to as merely "SNS," and it requires a trip to the salon to get the polish professionally taken off. It's often marketed as a healthier alternative to acrylic with similar results.

How long it lasts: Around three to four weeks.

Who it's for: This is perfect for those on-the-go who need a hardy manicure. You'll instantly notice that it feels more resilient than other polishes, which is why it tends to last longer.

How much it costs: Around $40–50, plus tip.

Acrylic Manicure

This might evoke flashbacks to the long, square-tipped French manicure trend of the early 2000s, but acrylic manicures are still quite popular despite the emergence of gel and dip powder. You can customize an acrylic manicure to look any way you'd like, which makes it appealing for long-lasting color in a variety of shapes and designs. A mix of powder and liquid formulas are typically applied over your natural nail and false tips.

How long it lasts: Around three to four weeks; you can go to the salon for fill-ins if the false nails break.

Who it's for: If you've always lusted over a particular nail shape, only to be let down by your nails never growing long enough, this one might be for you. Acrylics are a popular choice for those who want longer nails (or are prone to biting), as they will feign the appearance of naturally longer nails, all while providing a tough protective layer to keep you from biting your nails.

How much it costs: Around $40 and up; fill-ins are $15 and up.

Well, consider yourself fully briefed for your next nail appointment.

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