Things you need to know before your next manicure


 Nail art is a cool way to add a bit of excitement to your manicure, and can be an extension of your style.

Photo credit: Pool

As a woman, you are always expected to have infinite knowledge about all things feminine. From complicated equations such as how to wear your hair to the oh-not-so-simple choices on what to wear. You are supposed to be interested in things that complete the picture of your womanhood.

One of those important decisions involves doing your nails, whether you are a crimson-clawed fierce female or a demre short nails clear polish kind of woman.

Now, with the existence of nail envy on Instagram, Tik Tok and Pinterest, visual worlds where trends are born and die, you are expected to know that the Ballerina, wider at the bottom and narrowing down towards the tip ;   is the trendiest nail shape.

That if you search for manicures, you will more likely find that, or a stiletto nail. But, that is a small aspect of nail care.

There is a vast universe where nothing but nails live.

It is estimated,for instance, that by 2024, the nail polish industry will be worth well over $15 billion.

That global artificial nails market is expected to grow even more than it did in the West during quarantine. It is expected that by 2024, it will be worth $1.2 billion. As for the nail technicians, that market, those skills, and the number of entrants into it is expected to grow by 10 per cent by 2028.

As you can see, nails are big business in whatever form they take. It helps, therefore, to know what you are getting into when you arrive at the salon or nail counter. For a start, there are about five basic types of nail styles.

Oval, almond - a sharper-tipped oval; square which has several iterations such as squoval, tapered square or flare; coffin and it’s slighter version, ballerina; stiletto (refined to a sharp tip a la Riri) and for the rebellious and radical, lipstick, which looks exactly like a new, unused lipstick with one side slashed to a point. It used to be that the most feminine nail shape was oval. Now, any shape is womanly because you are a woman and you chose it.

Short square nails

When you go for a manicure, there are several options that can fall on your lap. The most obvious one is your own nails. The trend is to make them into perfect little squares with either a contrasting nail colour, or one that blends in.

Personally, I have a preference for short square nails. I think they look better than short oval nails. But hey, you do you?

Ideally, your own nails make for the most affordable kind of manicure. Then there are artificial nails. These are made out of acrylic, and can be layered on top of your own natural nails and filed according to any style you fancy. Artificial nails sometimes look blatantly fake, but that is the vibe one is going for.

These are either applied with nail glue, have a sticky underbelly or can be taped down using a double-sided kind of shtick. They last a week or two, depending on your lifestyle, skill of the technician right down to the quality of nails.

Then there are nail extensions. Here is where it gets interesting. Nail extensions only occupy half of your nail.

The tips are glued. In order to make them stick, you either use acrylic or dip powder. The application method is very different and the two must not be confused. What more often than not happens in our salons, is acrylics. Dip powder is still relatively new to this market and is considered an alternative to acrylics.

With acrylics, powder is bonded with a liquid that turns it into something with the constitution of gel, which is then filed down till it is smooth and lovely. From here, different processes can be applied.

One could be gel polish, which is then cured with UV lights, and the other is gel, with no cure, and finally, acrylics that are polished with nail polish.

Acrylics can last two to four weeks before you refresh them.

The acrylic powder is meant to make sure that the nail extension stays put from the entire nail bed.

You can’t just stick a nail extension on and polish it and say voila! You have to protect the nail, which is what the acrylic does. This is the most popular kind of manicure anytime you see those medium to long nails.

Dip powder is to me the most exciting possibility. With dip powder, you begin the process by attaching the nail tip/extension, then following it up with a base liquid aka a primer.

A liquid that is designed to make the dip powder stick. Your finger is then dipped into the powder, and the excess powder is brushed off.

A good dip powder kit, should you be interested in buying one, comes with a primer and a top coat. Dip powder manicures tend to look more natural than acrylics, and are almost thinner in comparison because of the layered powder as opposed to the shaped mound of gel. Now, word to the wise: Only buy a nail kit if you are very good at doing your nails at home and have acquired the wherewithal to be good with chemicals.

Another way to work around dip powder could be buying your own, with the colours that you love, and taking them with you to the salon. I cannot guarantee that the nail technicians have experience with dip powder.

You might find that you are better off sticking with your acrylicist… If you do your nails at the salon, then you need to have the following in your home:

– A bottle of cuticle oil to rub around your cuticles preferably at night before bed.  A set of emery boards or a nail file – Hand cream to apply every time you wash your hands especially outside the home.

– Sunscreen if you use UV lights to cure your nails. You can apply your facial or body sunscreen on your hands, or buy hand cream with SPF.

– Your own collection of nail polish so that every chip doesn’t rush you back to the salon.

Have a little knowledge when it comes to taking care of your manicure. Don’t blindly outsource your hands and feet. - A reasonably stacked manicure kit that can be used both at home and at the salon.

Enjoy your nails


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