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What Nail Enhancement Is Best For Me?

So you want beautiful structured nails but there are so many options to choose from that you’re lost. Or maybe your friend will never go without acrylics but they never last long enough on you, while your mom might swear up and down that dip powder is better than anything she has ever tried but it makes you itch. We think everyone who likes getting their nails done has been there! Many people assume that all nails are the same, but this is not the case. Nails are as individual to a person as skin and hair, and you shouldn’t be afraid of trying different types of enhancements to see the one that fits you and your situation best! In order to help our guests make a better decision on their enhancements, we’ve created this guide to help decide what enhancement is best for you.


Also called builder gel, hard gel is like gel polish, but it is much harder as the name suggests. It will be much sturdier than having gel polish alone on your natural nail. Hard gel is liquid until it goes under an LED light, and the gel gets slightly hot for a second or two as it cures to a solid. (Some people actually call it hot gel!) We usually recommend hard gel for those who are looking to keep a more permanent enhancement since they are not able to be soaked off in acetone. You can opt to extend your nails with hard gel using tips or you can have them sculpted, but they are also perfect for adding strength to your natural nail if you want to keep them short. Without extensions, the service is called a hard gel overlay. It is great for those wanting to grow out their damaged nails or those who have very thin, brittle nails and just want to grow them out. You can choose to put regular polish or gel polish on top of this enhancement if you’d like, or you can also opt for a natural pink hard gel.


Acrylic is a system that uses a combination of monomer (liquid) and polymer (powder) to create a runny dough that will become the structure of your nail enhancement. Just like hard gel, this can be used to extend your nails with tips or sculpture; it can also be used as an overlay on top of the natural nail to keep nails from breaking as they grow out. The benefit of acrylic is that it is able to be soaked off with acetone when you decide you no longer want to keep your nail enhancement, and it doesn’t have to go under an LED lamp that may cause your nails to feel hot while it cures. People are sometimes apprehensive about acrylics because traditional acrylic uses acid primer that is meant to create holes in your nail plate for the acrylic to adhere to, and there is always a fear of salons using Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) monomer in their acrylics. This will never be something to worry about at NEST, as we only use non-acid primer and Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA) monomer. You can choose to get clear acrylic and apply a colored polish on top, or you can pick from our selection of colored acrylic powders!

Learn more about the difference between EMA and MMA on our blog post: EMA vs. MMA: Is your full set actually bad for you? 


Dip powder is a system that, similar to acrylic, uses a polymer, but it is applied onto the nail over a glue-like resin. We recommend dip powder to those who feel like gel polish always lifts on them. Sometimes, dip might be an option that goes better with the chemistry of their nail. With dip powder, it is the product itself that contains the color and also builds the structure of the nail. It does not require a gel top coat, and the dip powder top coat dries in just a few minutes. You will also have the option of extending the nail with dip powder as well, but tips are the option we suggest going with. Although dip nails can be sculpted, it is not usually recommended. At NEST, we have a wide selection of dipping powders, from glitter to cream colors, as well as vitamin-infused dipping powders as well. Just like the regular gel polish, this type of nail enhancement needs to be soaked off before every application.


Nail biters, this one is for you! Gel-X is a system that was invented by Apres Nail, and it is a soft gel nail extension that was created as an alternative to acrylic or hard gel. It uses a soft gel base polish to adhere a fully-formed nail tip onto one’s natural nail. This gel base and nail tip are cured together under an LED light, and these nail tips are already perfectly formed to the shape and length you prefer. These extensions are perfect for those who have bitten their nails so far down the nail bed that there is no longer a free edge to their nails, as it doesn’t require the edge for a sculpting form to fit under. We recommend Gel-X for those who want extra long nails, since the gel used is more of a rubbery texture and will be more forgiving on rougher wear as compared to hard gels and acrylics which may hurt due to the hardness once it is accidentally bent at a longer length. These nails cannot be filled and will need to be soaked off with acetone before every application, giving you the option to stick with your natural nails whenever you choose to do so.


The NEST Express Set is what we suggest to our guests who are looking for a temporary set for just a day or two and do not want to keep maintaining hard gels, acrylics, Gel-X, or dip powders. With the Express Set, we prep your nails like we would for any other nail enhancement and then we apply full-form nails onto your nail with our professional-standard nail glue. We have many different shapes to choose from, and these nails are only meant to last between 2 to 8 days. Those who usually go for this type of enhancement are doing it for an event like a graduation, a wedding, or a party. You have the option to get your set topped off with gel polish and it

can be soaked off as easily as dipping powder or acrylic.


According to experts, no single nail enhancement product is damaging to the nails. The damage done to a person’s nails is in the aggressive and careless removal of any enhancement. Careful, healthy, non-damaging removal takes time and should not be rushed in any way. Although a swift removal either by quickly drilling off all the product or prying off acrylic with a nail tip may make a nail technician’s job easier, it does a lot of damage. A gentle nail removal will maintain the integrity of the nail plate and keep your nails healthy, so always go to a salon that will take precautions to make sure your enhancements are removed. You can trust that our technicians at NEST will always prioritize the health of your nails and will never put you at risk. Your wellness has always been and will always be our priority. So go on, experiment with your enhancements and find the one that fits you best!