The Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Manicure

From the basic mani to acrylics, we've got you covered for your next nail appointment.
Reading time 5 minutes
Anna Yurkova photographed by Alena Sazonova for L’OFFICIEL Baltics April 2021.

Whether you’re looking to refine your nails or have an Instagram-worthy set, the plethora of manicures offered at your typical nail salon may be overwhelming. In addition, different manicures require different levels of upkeep. Here, L’OFFICIELbreaks down every type of manicure to inspire your next appointment. 


Basic Manicure


The basic manicure is as simple as you can get. The nail tech will start by soaking your hands in warm water to soften dead skin cells. Then, they’ll proceed to file and buff your nails, clean your cuticles, and follow with a cuticle oil treatment or hand massage. The addition of nail polish or nail art is optional, and will be done with regular polish that you can expect to last about a week before chipping.


French Manicure


The classic French tip manicure consists of a white polish tip on top of a pink or beige-colored layer. You can even opt for a multi-colored, fun twist if a white tip is too simple.


Gel Manicure


Following the basic manicure process, you can choose to either get a soft gel or hard gel manicure. Soft gel is a gel polish applied to your nail and is cured under a UV light twice. In contrast, hard gel is a sculpting gel—similar to acrylic—that gives you the freedom of creating any nail shape on top of your natural nails. For hard gel removal, it’s recommended to see a nail tech to prevent any damage. Both types of gel manicures will last at least two weeks. 


Acrylic Manicure


Acrylic nails enable you to extend and alter your existing nail shape. It consists of a liquid monomer mixed with powder polymer, which forms a malleable bead that allows the nail tech to build your desired shape on top of your existing nail. Afterward, you can either choose nail polish (with the option of nail art) or gel for your color. As for getting your acrylics redone, nail techs will often recommend a fill every couple of weeks. The process consists of filling in the new nail growth, and the existing acrylics are then touched up. 


Gel Extensions


Gel extensions are pre-made extensions applied using clear polish and are then cured under a small LED light. Like acrylics, you can choose to alter your nail shape, adjust the length, and follow with regular nail polish or gel. Gel extensions are typically more flexible due to their thinness, making them more durable and long-lasting than acrylics, which are brittle and can often break easily. 


Dip Powder Manicure


Dip powder consists of dipping your nails directly into the colored powder and following it with layers of adhesive. Unlike traditional nail polish or gel, the dip powder process is completely dry and requires no UV or LED light. As a result, it’s a long-lasting option and can easily be removed at home. However, it’s recommended that you remove it after a couple of weeks to prevent bacterial infection. 


Shellac Manicure


Shellac by CND is a product that can be best described as a nail polish and gel fusion. It simply applies like nail polish but is just as tough as gel without any unnecessary dry-time. The manicure will last you around two weeks. 


Vinylux Manicure


Another product by CND, Vinylux, is a two-step product that requires just the colored polish and a top coat. The top coat will toughen with time as it interacts with natural light. The manicure will last you around a week and can be easily removed at home with acetone.



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