Bridal Club Magazine
Nailed It! Our Definitive Guide to Nail Salon Treatments
You can, of course, paint your nails at home, but where's the
fun in that? At a salon you get to relax, be pampered, and walk out
with smooth hands and flawless nails. Overwhelmed by all your
options? We provide you with all the help you need, to get your
nails camera-ready for your wedding day.
Many women regularly have manicures, which involves buffing and
shaping the nails, and then applying a colour. There are different
types of manicure, but the most popular for the Big Day is the
French. With this option the nail base is coated in a light pink,
and the tip is painted white, which is essentially an enhanced
version of your nail's natural state (much like how we wear pink
lipstick), and is considered an elegant and timeless go-
With all of these manicures, you're improving your nails by simply
painting over them, but if you want to add length or thickness to
your natural nails, you need artificial enhancements. For this you
have two choices: nail overlays and nail extensions.
During this process you get a strengthening mixture painted on
top of your natural nails, and this makes them harder and more
durable, but not longer. Overlays are ideal if you struggle to grow
your nails, or if they're weak and prone to breaking or
As the name suggests, this is the option to choose if you want
longer nails instantaneously. A lightweight plastic plate that
follows the shape of your natural nail, is glued to the nail tip
and then a strengthening mixture is applied over the entire
surface, to keep the tip in place. You can shape the tip into any
style you choose, from round and square to stiletto.
For both overlays and extensions you can choose which strengthening
system to use: acrylic, gel or fibreglass.
This is one of the oldest, most affordable and popular types of
nail treatment available. A technician will mix a powdered acrylic
with a liquid acrylic, and then brush this onto your natural nail -
if you're having an overlay - and onto your nail and tip - if
you're having extensions. The product hardens quickly when it's
exposed to air, and when it's dry it forms an elongated nail. This
is filed to the length and shape you want, and then it's buffed
until it shines.
There are two types of acrylic nails - normal, and pink and
- With normal acrylics you can use any colour polish over the nail,
and this can easily be removed at home, when you're bored, and
replaced with a different shade.
- Pink and white acrylics have a translucent base and a white tip,
which replicate normal nails.
Acrylics grow out with your natural nail growth, and so they last
for about 2 weeks, before a gap appears between your cuticle and
your artificial nail. Instead of having a new set done, you can
choose to have them filled, where your nail technician simply tops
up the "gap" with the same colour, and your nails look like
Pro: This treatment is widely available, and
it's the strongest, thickest and most durable type of artificial
nail. It's ideal for the active woman, or if you want something
that won't easily chip.
Con: If they're not applied professionally,
your nails will look thick and unnatural. The most common problem
is infection between the false nail and your real nail, which
happens if they're poorly fitted or not properly maintained. Long
term use can also leave your nails weaker and more
These are quickly gaining popularity as a more natural-looking
artificial nail. They're formed by painting a premixed liquid
chemical gel onto your nails, and after each coat, your nails are
put under a UV lamp to "cure"- which means to set them. The
hardened gel creates an artificial nail coat on top of your natural
nail, and this strengthens it. You can use the gel to fix broken or
split nails, or you can paint over your extensions to give you
You can also get a gel manicure that is cured using a special
activator, or by dipping your hands in water, if you don't want to
use a UV light.
Gel nails, like acrylics, will grow out after about 2 weeks, but
will last longer if you choose to have them filled.
Pro: Gel nails are hard and glossy and
resemble your natural nails. The gel doesn't turn yellow or damage
the nail bed underneath. It forms a protective layer which promotes
growth, and this makes it perfect for people who want help growing
their own nails. The gel is odourless and because it hardens within
minutes, there's no chance of accidentally bumping your wet nails,
or waking up in the morning with your sheet pattern imprinting on
your nails. You can apply polish or leave them clear and
Con: This treatment is usually more expensive
than acrylic nails. The gel is more flexible and therefore less
durable than acrylics, which means that the colour will chip
quicker on a person who is very active. With most gels you have to
return to the salon to have them professionally removed.
This method can be applied to all nails (to add length), or to
individual nails that are cracked or broken. Fine layers of silk,
linen, paper or fiberglass are pre-shaped, according to each nail,
and then they're attached using a special glue that won't damage
the nail underneath. It's a temporary treatment as the adhesive
loosens within 2-3 weeks.
Pro: These are the thinnest type of
artificial nail and so they're considered the most real-looking.
They're ideal for people who are allergic to the chemicals in the
acrylic or gel treatment. This is the best method for nail repair
as it helps cracked nails grow out.
Con: Because it's thinner and softer, it's
doesn't handle as much wear as other artificial nails. It's also
not a great choice for women who have a particularly active
lifestyle as the glue is water soluble.
Sculptured nails are another very popular treatment available at
most salons. The process uses metal, foil or forms - essentially
big, stiff stickers - that are placed underneath the tip of each
natural nail, between the nail and your skin, creating a platform.
An overlay of gel, acrylic or fibreglass is then brushed over the
nail and the platform to create a new, longer nail. This allows you
to get nail extensions without having to glue on artificial tips.
Once the artificial nail is hard, you can remove the platform. The
final product is transparent and you can then shape the nail and
file it to the desired length. How long the nails last, will depend
on the overlay that's used.
Pro: The enhancement takes the shape of the
natural nail, and this makes it more comfortable. Sculptured nails
are stronger and last longer than glued on tips, as there is no
weak point where the tip is attached. You can file the nail into
any shape you want.
Con: They aren't suitable for thin, fragile
nails and they need lots of maintenance. It also takes practise to
correctly place the metal, foil or form.
Have you ever seen those women with exceptionally long nails
trying to type, do up a button on their shirt or open a can of soft
drink? Long nails may look great, but think about your lifestyle
before you decide on the length. If they're not practical, they
won't last. Pick an established salon that has a good reputation,
to ensure that your nails are professionally done. Treat your nails
with care to keep them healthy, and to make them last as long as
Many women don't have the time, patience or skill to do their own
nails at home, and with an array of affordable treatments
available, a trip to the salon can be quite reasonable. It also
prevents the frustration of trying to use your non- dominant hand
to paint your dominant for the seventh time!
Are you looking for the perfect matrimonial manicure? Whether you
go quirky and bold, or simple and understated, getting enhanced
nails will ensure that you walk down the aisle knowing that you've