The Girl's Guide To Manicures

By Alexia Gonzalez on February 6, 2015

Getting a manicure has basically become part of most girls’ typical monthly beauty routine, if not more than once a month.

Everybody’s regimen differs to some extent: some of us color our hair, shape our eyebrows, or visit the tanning salon, but regardless of what kind of aesthetic you want to achieve, it seems as though a manicure is a universally basic and necessary practice.

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Many of us have been getting manicures on a regular basis for years, so the idea of going to the salon and getting your favorite nail-do seems almost like second nature at this point.

But have you considered the type of manicure that you have been getting? Is it worth the bang for your buck?

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Think about it, the average full treatment manicure runs about $20, so that’s about $300 a year that you’re spending on getting your hands polished and pampered. Honestly, would you ever pay $300 for something without really thinking about it?

Probably not, so why should your manicures be any different? Educating yourself on the different types of manicures out there today can help you decide what suits you best.

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Let’s face it, your nails can say a lot about your sense of style, tastes and personality. Whether you are artistic and allow your creative nature to shine through with the latest nail embellishment trends, or if you prefer a simple nude polish, it’s really up to you to decide what type of nail art suits you best.

File and Polish

A simple file-and-polish is the most basic nail treatment available, and it can be easily done. A file-and-polish begins by the removal of any polish that is already on the nails. The nails are then filed into the desired shape and covered with a clear base coat.

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Two coats of nail color follow and then the treatment is finished off with a topcoat. Some salons even offer cuticle maintenance included in the price of the file-and-polish.

Basic Manicure

If you are new to receiving manicures, start with a typical basic manicure, without all the extras. A nail technician will apply a cream, oil, or lotion to the cuticles first, and place the hands into a dish of warm water for about five minutes to soak.

After the soaking process is over and the cuticles have been tamed, the technician will dry the hand, and ask what nails and length you prefer.

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The technician will then shape your nails to your liking, whether it’s square, oval, almond, or even stiletto shape. At this point in the manicure, the shape of the nails has been defined and it is time for a massage.

When the massage has been completed, a base coat will be applied first. After that, a polish of your choice is applied usually twice.

Last, a topcoat is applied, and presto, your nails are glammed up and ready to go! Check out this diagram for the different nail shapes that you can ask your nail technician to do for both natural and acrylic nails.

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Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are an easy way to lengthen your nails without the time it takes to naturally grow them out. An acrylic manicure involves the technician mixing an acrylic powder with a liquid to form a thick paste.

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The acrylic paste can be applied over your natural nail for added strength and an enhanced look; however, it is usually applied to an artificial tip that is glued on and shaped to appear like a longer nail. Once the acrylic is applied with a brush, it hardens (or cures) in 2 minutes or less.

Color and glitter acrylic powders can be used for all kinds of dazzling effects and art. The acrylic treatment lasts for several months but requires maintenance and upkeep every few weeks.

Gel Manicure

A gel manicure will provide a long-lasting natural nail treatment without the commitment (or potential damage) of having false acrylic nails applied.

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The only difference between a gel and basic manicure is that after the procedure of the basic manicure is completed, a special gel based nail polish that requires curing under a UV light is applied over the natural nail.

This special kind of polish typically lasts days longer than the regular polish used for a basic manicure, is less prone to chipping, and instantly dries under the UV light.

Paraffin Manicure

If you are one with dry, overworked hands, or sensitive skin, then a paraffin manicure is definitely for you. Paraffin wax is used to infuse the skin with instantaneous moisture, leaving it smooth and supple.

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This manicure also includes a stimulating hand massage and finishes with a chic basic manicure polish look. This treatment will leave your nails looking fresh and your skin feeling rejuvenated and soothed.

Currently seeking a Master's Degree in Media and Communication Studies with a Certification in Multicultural Marketing. Also an undergraduate Public Speaking Instructor at Florida State University. Along with media studies and marketing, I have extensive experience in journalism, writing for outlets such as the Huffington Post and USA Today. Lover of food, fitness, travel, music, and film. 23 years old and bilingual.

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