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Nail Extensions 101: Different Techniques Explained

Nail Extensions 101: Different Techniques Explained

Dreaming of having long, elegant nails with elaborate nail art but not sure where to start? Whether it’s choosing from the many different types of nail extensions out there, picking which nail trend will suit your style or making sure you have the right nail products to get the effect you’re going for, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to the art of nail extension techniques.

To help you get started, here’s our guide to different nail extensions, their strengths and weaknesses, and what option is best for you.

What’s the difference between nail extensions?

If you’ve never experimented with nail extensions before, the difference between acrylics, press ons and gel nails can seem pretty opaque. While it’s possible to nail your favourite nail trend with different types of nail extensions, they vary quite a lot in the time it takes to complete the service, the maintenance required to keep them looking their best and how they will feel as you wear them daily.

Deciding which option is best for you or which type of nail extensions you’d like to offer your clients depends on a few factors. Let’s run through the main types of nail extensions to lay out their key features, benefits and drawbacks.

Acrylic nails

Acrylics are the oldest type of nail extension as they have a reputation for being classic and a popular option at many salons. NSI Australia was the pioneer of the acrylic nail extension technique, so we know how to make this style work for virtually any client or at-home manicurist.

Acrylics are formed by mixing a ratio of liquid (monomer) and acrylic powder (polymer) to create a bead which is then sculpted into a nail shape, using a form that helps to dictate the shape and length of the extension. They are sturdy, durable and long-lasting and can be infilled where they have grown out at the base of the nail for an ongoing lengthened manicure all year round. Acrylics’ thick, strong final shape is preferred by some but not by all, and it takes practice and expertise to mix the right ratio that is neither too dry to work with nor too wet to form a smooth final result.

Soft gel nails

Soft gel tips are formed using pre-formed tips, which are affixed and built up with a soft gel that is applied to the underside of the nail form, then applied to the natural nail and cured under a UV nail lamp to give the desired length and shape. Soft gel nails will add length and a new shape while lending strength to your natural nail.

If you like a short tip and don’t want to spend lots of time getting your nails done, soft gel nails are a great option — they can cut almost the entire service time in half. At the same time, soft gels are also a way to go if you’re looking for a fast nail extension technique that will leave you more time to work on intricate freehand nail art or intricate patterns. However, please note that some people find soft gels less strong and durable than acrylic nails.

Builder gel nails

Builder gel nails are the goldilocks of gels — being easy to work with and building up much like soft nail gels but curing to a more sturdy texture similar to hard gel nails. For at-home nail lovers trying out extensions for the first time, builder gel is a great, forgiving medium. It tends to ‘self-level’ out, helping you build the desired nail apex and shape without having lumps or bumps in your final cured product.

Builder gel nails can be removed with acetone. If you don’t have tools like nail drills, you can still take them off safely at home before creating your new manicure. Dual forms will help you to shape and build out the perfect forms with builder gels.

Hard gel nails

Hard sculpting gels are the other nail extension alternative that may be more difficult to work with for beginners but cures to a hard, durable texture more similar to acrylics. These can be used for natural nail overlays, tip and overlays, sculpting on a form and extremely long-lasting pedicures.

Hard gels often come in opaque true colours that give you the perfect opacity with ease. Some hard gels can have a strong odour, so make sure you choose a product like the Elite Sculptor LED/UV Gel System from NSI Australia that is HEMA-free and user-friendly, even for keen at-home amateurs.

Get the best nail salon supplies from NSI Australia

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on the different types of nail extensions, you need the right quality products and nail art tools to create the style you’ve had pinned on your Pinterest board or saved on Insta forever. Whatever look you’re going for, shop all the nail essentials, nail polish and nail art tools from NSI Australia. From all the equipment you need to create nail extensions to the latest on-trend polishes, we’ve got it all.

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