Nail expert and salon owner Tee Hundley gives us the 101 on manicure options.
What is consists of: Your basic manicure includes shaping, buffing and polishing.
Pros: With hundreds of colors to choose from, either in-store for DIY or at a salon, basic is great if you have a very specific hue in mind. You can also remove it yourself at home with polish remover from any drugstore.
Cons: It takes time to dry, and can easily chip.
Great for: If you’d like to change your color quickly from wedding to honeymoon.
Pro Tip: Have a bottle of quick-drying topcoat at home and re-top coat your nails every two days to extend and protect your manicure.
What it consists of: A gel polish manicure is finished with a polish that cures in a UV light, so no dry time is needed.
Pros: Gel manis have quick dry time, and they are strengthening and long-lasting (up to 14 days!).
Cons: Gel polish has to be soaked off, which takes time and is very drying on nails.
Great for: You can get your manicure a few days before the wedding and still have it last through your honeymoon. “If you're like me and love the pool and ocean, you'll definitely want to have a gel polish for your honeymoon,” says Hundley. “This way you won't worry about chipping or discoloration.”
Pro Tip: While wearing gel polish, be sure to apply cuticle oil on your nails a few times per day to avoid drying.
What is consists of: Think of longwear polishes as a hybrid between gel and basic—they do not require UV light, yet still dry quickly, last from 7-14 days, and do not need to be soaked off.
Pros: These polishes come in a variety of colors and can also easily be purchased and applied at home.
Cons: The downside of a longwear polish is that since it is not cured, depending on how adventurous your honeymoon is, you may see slight discoloration or chipping early on.
Great for: They are great options for a wedding or honeymoon for their ability to be changed or touched up at home or on-the-go.
Pro Tip: Since the colors dry fast, have a longwear polish with you for quick reapplication or touch ups!
What is consists of: Acrylic nails are a liquid-and-powder combo that self-cure to create a strong barrier on the nail.
Pros: They allow you to extend the nail length, particularly useful if you have shorter natural nails.
Cons: Acrylics have a heavy scent when being applied, so be prepared to sit through up to two hours of chemical fumes during application. Additionally, you must have acrylic nails professionally removed.
Great for: If you want a luxurious-looking set for your wedding or want nail art that will last, acrylic is a great option for you.
Pro Tip: Be sure to consider your lifestyle when deciding on the length of your nails. Long and blingy nails look fun and beautiful, but may be a hindrance after the wedding day!
What is consists of: An alternative to the acrylic mani, the very popular “dip” is a fine acrylic powder applied with a resin glue instead of a liquid monomer.
Pros: All of the benefits of the classic acrylic set without the harsh scent.
Cons: A little less strength than what you get with acrylic.
Great for: Dip powder manis are great for an option to wear from wedding through your honeymoon.
Pro Tip: Dip manicures are an alternative to acrylic NOT gel polish.
What is consists of: Apres nails are becoming very popular because they cut down on the sculpting time of acrylic and hard gels. Apres nails are a full nail created from soft gel that is applied to the nail bed using the same soft gel and cured to adhere.
Pros: You can have a full set of beautiful nails of any length and shape fairly quickly. If applied professionally you can have a one color set done in an hour or use the extra time to get some fun nail art!
Cons: These nails also have to be professionally removed and everyone isn't a perfect candidate.
Great for: If you merely want to add length for the special occasion, as it is simply a full gel extension that is less damaging upon removal.
Pro Tip: “If your honeymoon includes anything that has you and the Earth ‘as one,’ I would skip them in fear of losing a nail,” notes Hundley.
What is consists of: Since the pandemic hit, the press-on nail industry has boomed and the options today are a far cry from press-ons of past.
Pros: They come in a variety of colors, shapes and lengths. They also come with basic to extraordinary nail art.
Cons: If you lose one or two, you have to replace the entire set.
Great for: “Press-ons are perfect if you're just looking to have something pretty for your wedding and will remove after, or if you are going to pull a Beyonce and do outfit and nail changes throughout your big day!” says Hundley.
Pro Tip: Do not glue press-ons onto your natural nails, as you will ruin your nails if you try to pull them off.