What are Overlay Nails & Which is Best: Gel, Acrylic or Dip

Have you ever come across overlay nails? Are you wondering what they refer to and whether you should use them? Well, this guide identifies all the key factors you should consider about this manicure approach.

So, what are overlay nails?

Overlay nails refer to artificial gel, shellac, or acrylic coatings. Users usually apply this product to the nails’ top structure, which can involve several thin layers. Overlays also don’t typically extend the nail. Instead, they leverage the current natural as a base

Join us as we take a look at all your should know about these nail types:

What Are Nail Overlays Made Of?

overlay nails before and after
Source: Pixabay

Overall, nails typically exist in three types of materials. These can include acrylic, gel, and shellac materials. 

All these are ingredients that can harden when exposed to elements such as U.V or the air. Here is what you need to know:

  1. Gel

So, what is what are gel overlay nails?

Gel overlays refer to nail products that feature acrylic monomers and oligomers. These two substances refer to small plastic molecules that brand makers use in cosmetic products. Acrylic monomers also usually feature liquid plastics that stick together during curing. 

The acrylic monomer type in gel overlays doesn’t have the same density as the traditional or pure acrylic overlays. Instead, it’s much more flexible. Once the curing process completes, the previously liquid gel breaks into a dense, chemical-resistant coating. 

The gel overlay also makes it easy to develop the shape of your natural nail. The bonus is that you get a dense, glossy nail color finish. 

Many people also like the gel overlay on the short nails approach. Why? It’s because the gel nails are appealing, and short nails are easy to maintain.

PRO TIP! Here are some helpful gel overlay nails pictures from Pinterest (literally, tons of ideas there!)

  1. Acrylic

If you have ever asked this section, “what is acrylic overlay nails?”

The acrylic overlays feature a liquid or powder material, which has almost the same properties as resin. Usually, the acrylic polymer features a plastic type that consists of larger molecules than the types in gel overlays.

Acrylic overlays are common among nail product users for various reasons. These include transparency, breakage resistance, and flexibility. 

The typical acrylic application method that you can use involves the use of dip powder products. Once satisfied with the results, you must apply a top coat. It helps the underlying coats of a base liquid and powder.

You don’t have to use UV lights for acrylic nails. Only air is sufficient for this process. The reason is that chemicals in the base coat and powder can lead to extensive reactions with air. 

  1. Shellac

Shellac overlay refers to a  nail product created by Creative Nail Design (CND). It is a hybrid nail product – meaning half nail polish, half gel. Many people also describe shellac as the best overlay for natural nails.

It usually has a thin consistency compared to this list’s previous overlays. However, it is also durable and provides the same glossy finish for the nail structure.

How Are Nail Overlays Applied?

what is gel overlay on natural nails
Source: Unsplash

The traditional way of applying overlay nails involves a few universal procedures. A good example is that it often involves using a specialized brush on the nail surface. 

However, the nail must first go through specific cleaning and preparation procedures. It can happen unless you opt for a full-blown manicure procedure. 

Your nail professional will ask you to clean your hands. Next, they will perform the nail buffing process and push back the cuticles. 

The next step is to apply the base coat. It’s an essential layer for safeguarding the structure of your nail bed. It also helps ensure that the layers following this process can cure correctly. 

If you want to use acrylic nail extensions, here is where you should use the small acrylic tip. Ensure you glue it onto your natural nail and take it through the shaping process. The next step is to brush on the shellac, gel, or acrylic overlay.

These products require some coats and time to achieve the best results. You must also cure it using a UV lamp for the best results. 

Once you apply the final coat, the process is complete. Even though overlays are similar in composition and application methods, they require different solutions for addressing damage due to breaks or chips.

It’s possible to file acrylic overlay nails. However, the shellac and gel types require complete removal and replacement procedures. Acrylic fills also have fillings and coverings also work well with newly grown nails. It can go through the filing process to have the same finish as the current acrylic.

There is no way to file shellac or gel nails. They tend to be soft and more flexible than acrylic products. 

Avoid peeling your overlay nails at all costs. Doing this could cause cracks or peels on the nail surface, which is challenging to fix.

Causing any damage to the nail bed also makes it prone to infections and dirt issues. It can also weaken the nail bed, thus leading to long-term nail health complications. Removing and setting overlay nails also requires the right products and techniques. 

PRO TIP! Consider searching for some overlay nails before and after pictures. Doing this helps improve your ability to perform nail care processes.

How Much Do Nail Overlays Cost?

overlay nails vs acrylic
Source: Unsplash

The average cost of overlay nails is between $20 to $75. The price of these nails also relates to the individual’s preferred salon. Getting a simple one-color gel overlay can start at the $30 mark. However, a simple acrylic nail set can average $40.

Even if simplicity is crucial, it’s also good to settle for nails that look good. So, ensure the price you pick also relates to your desired design quality. Depending on the salon you prefer, 

the traditional set of overlay nails costs between $20 to $70. 

The cost also depends on your preferred nail salon. Getting a basic one-color gel overlay can start at the $25 mark. But, a basic set of acrylic nails can begin at the $35 mark. 

Factors such as nail art, conditioning, and treatment are also crucial in the price of overlay nails. The cost of add-ons also varies between different salons and locations. So, confirm with your nail tech service before starting this process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is an Overlay Good for Your Nails?

Nail overlays are good for the nails. However, you also have to do the right for the best results. These nails are ideal for people that have brittle or short nails. The common types include gell, acrylic, and shellac overlays.

What’s the Difference Between Overlay and Acrylic Nails?

The differences between overlay and acrylic nails are significant. Acrylics refer to full nail extensions that you apply to the nail plate. They also have to undergo sculpting procedures. The overalls refer to a thin coat that you set over the natural nails. 

Is Overlay the Same as Gel?

Yes, overlay shares various similarities with gel nails. However, the overlays involve extensions instead of a plastic plate for nail extension. The gel refers to a product that users apply directly to the natural nail. Overlays also help improve the length and strength of nails.

Is an Overlay Cheaper Than a Full Set?

Yes, overlay nails are cheaper than full-set acrylic nails. Some common reasons include that overlays don’t feature forms or nails. Plus, the product also requires a small amount of monomer and acrylic powder to provide results.

How Long Do Nail Overlays Last?

The longevity of nail overlays is two weeks. Overlays that have a top coat of gel or acrylic also provide longevity. However, products like acrylic overlays will last up to 5 days before requiring replacements.

So, overlay nails are products you apply to your nail bed. There are different types, and each requires a unique application process. With an informed strategy, using overlay nails becomes a simple process.

Katharyn Riedel

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