A trip to the nail salon is definitely one of the best and most relaxing ways to treat yourself. Whether you’re there for a manicure, pedicure, or a full set of gels or acrylics, the nail salon experience is one of the most pampering beauty treatments out there.
If you’re a nail salon novice or you’re looking to upgrade your manicure from regular nail polish to nail powders, gels, or acrylics, you probably have a lot of questions about the services you can get at a nail salon. Don’t worry, this comprehensive guide to nail salons will answer all of your manicure and pedicure questions!
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7 Common Services You Can Get in a Nail Salon
Out of all the services offered at nail salons, manicures are probably the most ubiquitous. A basic, no-frills manicure is one of the best and easiest ways to pamper yourself. The average manicure will involve filing and trimming your nails into a nice, even shape, scrubbing and moisturizing your hands, and finally, applying a shiny coat of your preferred color of nail polish. However, many salons also offer upgrades to your regular manicure, which might involve extra moisturizing treatments, hot towels, and more.
Pedicures are definitely the second most common service offered at nail salons. Like manicures, they’re a great way to take care of yourself and get your feet ready for sandal season. A basic pedicure is exactly the same as a manicure, but with your feet instead of your hands. Your toenails will be filed into shape, your feet will be massaged, and you’ll walk away with a nice, shiny coat of nail polish! Again, many salons will allow you to upgrade your pedicure to include bonus amenities like mineral foot soaks, sugar scrub exfoliants, and body butters.
3. Dipping Powder Nails
Dipping powder nails are a relatively new innovation in the world of nail salon technology. Unlike regular manicures, which use a coat of liquid nail polish, dipping powder nails use a combination of polishes and powders to create a set of gorgeous, shiny nails that are supposed to last up to a month before chipping. Plus, nail dip powders come in just as wide an array as regular nail polishes, so no matter what color you want, there’s a dipping powder out there for you! (Find our top 15 nail dipping powder kits here)
4. Gel Manicure
Gel manicures are a perennial favorite for people who want beautifully manicured hands but are sick and tired of having to touch up their nail polish once a week. Regular manicures use layers of base coat, colored polish, and topcoat to perfect your manicure. However, a regular manicure doesn’t last for very long. Gel manicures use a specially formulated, more durable type of nail polish in combination with a curing UV light to create shiny, durable results that last for at least two weeks.
5. Acrylic Nails
Traditional acrylic nails are the perfect way to get the long, sophisticated-looking nails of your dreams without waiting weeks and weeks for your natural nails to grow out. Acrylic nails are fake nails made out of a combination of liquid and powder polymers that are placed over your natural nails and filed into whatever shape you like. Some of the most popular shapes include round, square, oval, stiletto, and coffin. Then, your nail technician will paint a coat of nail polish over your fresh acrylic set. Because acrylic nails are generally longer than natural nails, they’re also the perfect foundation for beautiful nail art!
In addition to manicure and pedicure services, many nail salons also offer waxing services. These services might include brow, upper lip, chin, sideburn, and full-face waxing at the very most basic. More extensive salons might also offer body waxing services like underarm waxing, half and full leg waxing, and bikini and Brazilian waxes. If you’re getting ready for a special event like prom, homecoming, a wedding, or a gala, a wax is a great way to get your face and body silky smooth before the big day!
Threading is an increasingly popular alternative to waxing that originated centuries ago in Central Asia. Instead of using strips of hot wax to remove hair, threading uses a crosshair of thin threads, which remove short rows of the eyebrow or upper lip hair at once. The threading technique is often touted by enthusiasts who claim that it’s much more precise and gentle than waxing. However, many people also believe that despite its speed, precision, and efficacy, threading is more painful than waxing. If you know that you have a low pain threshold, but still want to get your brows or upper lip threaded, you might want to take an over-the-counter painkiller before you head to the salon.
Where Can I Get a Manicure?
The easiest and most cost-effective way to get a manicure is to do your own nails at home. However, if you don’t have the dexterity and coordination necessary to paint your own nails without smearing polish everywhere, your best bet is to visit your local nail salon.
Literally, all nail salons offer basic manicures at the very least, which just use commercially-available base coats, nail polishes, and topcoats. However, if you want to upgrade your manicure to a fancier, more durable option, you should look for a nail salon that also offers services like dip powder manicures, acrylic manicures, gel manicures, and shellac manicures. You could also look into a nail salon that offers nail art services, which can elevate a basic manicure or set of acrylics to a whole new, Instagram-worthy level.
How Much Does a Dip Powder Manicure Cost?
The price of a dip powder manicure will generally vary based on the salon you visit and the type of manicure that you want. Most salons will charge slightly more for a dipping powder French manicure than just a regular, one-color dip powder manicure since French manicures require multiple colors of powder to create a gradient effect.
On average, a dip powder manicure will cost you around $40. If you want a French manicure, you’ll probably end up paying $3 to $5 more. The price of a dip powder manicure is significantly higher than that of a regular manicure, but the beautiful results and increased longevity make them totally worth it!
How Much Do Acrylic Nails Cost at a Salon?
An acrylic manicure will almost always be more expensive than a regular manicure. However, they tend to last for a much, much longer time, so although you pay more for an acrylic manicure up front, their value is actually quite good. If your nails are naturally short, brittle, or if you’re a nail-biter, acrylics can be a great way to artificially lengthen the appearance of your fingers, making you look more sophisticated and elegant.
The price of an acrylic set will probably run you anywhere between $30 and $35. You can also opt to replace the regular nail polish coat on your acrylic nails with a gel polish, which will add even more to the overall longevity and durability of your manicure. For an acrylic full set with gel polish, you can probably expect to pay around $40.
If you already have a set of acrylic nails, but they’ve grown out a bit, exposing your natural nail beds, you can also head to your salon for a fill-in. Fill-ins are less expensive than a full acrylic set from scratch, and will probably cost you $10 to $20.
How Much Do At-Home Nail Dipping Powder Kits Cost?
If you don’t want to book an appointment and drive all the way to your local nail salon, but you still want the convenience, durability, and longevity of a nail dipping powder kit, you’re in luck! At-home nail dipping powder kits are widely available commercially, and you can easily get them in stores and at online retailers like Amazon.
The price of these kits generally depends on how many different colors of nail powder are included in the kit you’re purchasing. The most basic kits only come with one or two colors, but more elaborate, all-inclusive kits might include up to 10 different colored powders. For a basic French manicure nail dipping powder kit, you can expect to pay $40 to $50. For kits with lots of different colors of powder, you might pay $90 to $100. That might seem like a lot, but keep in mind that these kits are good for dozens upon dozens of nail dipping powder applications, which actually makes them a pretty good value for their price.
If you already own the necessary base and topcoats for a dip powder manicure but are looking to expand your color repertoire, you can also purchase individual jars of nail dip powder, which will probably cost you somewhere between $10 and $15.
How Much Does a Gel Polish Manicure Cost?
Again, gel polish manicures are slightly more expensive than regular manicures, since they require a special kind of nail polish, as well as UV lamps to apply. You’ll probably end up paying anywhere between $15 and $50, but the average cost of a gel manicure is around $35.
For comparison, the average cost of a regular manicure is about $15. However, the significantly higher price tag might be worth it for you if you do a lot of housework or work at a job that involves a lot of manual labor, but you still want beautiful nails that last. Gel manicures are most famous for their extreme shininess and longevity.
You can expect your gel manicure to last anywhere from 8 days to 2 weeks before chipping or wearing away. To remove your gel nail polish at home, you’ll probably have to soak your nails in acetone nail polish remover for at least 20 minutes, which can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. Most salons recommend that you revisit them if you want to remove your gel nail polish since they have professional-grade removers that can get the job done in a fraction of the time. ( Find our best gel polish kits here)
How Long Do Fake Nails Last?
Acrylic nails, the most popular and common way to apply fake nails, are generally supposed to last between 2 and 3 weeks before needing a fill-in. As your natural nails grow, a gap forms between your cuticle and the base of your acrylic nail. If you wait too long to get a fill-in, your nail technician will probably have to remove the entire acrylic nail and reapply a new one, which is more expensive and can also damage your natural nails.
However, your acrylic nail might break or lift off your natural nail during that 2 or 3-week duration, especially if you’re using your bare hands to do things like open boxes. If that happens, you’re going to want to head over to your nail salon for a quick nail readjustment.
Are Gel Nails Better Than Acrylic?
Gel nails aren’t necessarily inherently better than acrylic nails. Depending on your personal manicure wants and needs, one or the other will be better suited for you. Gel polishes get applied on top of your natural nails, just like regular nail polish. Then, they get cured for a few minutes under a specially-made UV light, which gives them their characteristic shine and longevity. If you like the length and shape of your natural nails, or if you just prefer having short nails, gel manicures are definitely the way to go.
Acrylics are a set of false nails applied over your natural nails, and then covered with a layer of polish. If you don’t like the look of your natural nails and wish they were longer, an acrylic manicure is a great way to create that illusion. Neither gel manicures nor acrylic manicures do significant damage to your nails during the application process.
However, removing gels or acrylics often requires soaking your fingers in strong chemical solvents like acetone, which can dry out your natural nails. In that sense, neither gels nor acrylics are that healthy for your hands. However, if you take breaks between gel or acrylic manicures and give your natural nails time to breathe, grow, and heal, you shouldn’t suffer any serious damage from a gel or acrylic application. ( Read more: Best hard gels on the market)
How Much Do You Tip for Acrylic Nails?
The acrylic nail application process is lengthy, time-consuming, and requires a lot of finesse, skill, and attention to detail. You should always tip your nail technician after getting a fresh set of acrylics, or even after getting a simple fill-in or touchup. Unless your experience goes drastically wrong, you should always be prepared to tip 15% to 20% of the price of your acrylic manicure, fill-in, or touchup.
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If you have a really great relationship with your regular nail technician, or you feel that they went above and beyond in crafting an acrylic masterpiece on your fingertips, you should show your appreciation by tipping them 25% to 30% of the price of your acrylic manicure.
Finally, it’s best to tip your nail technicians in cash, not using your credit card, because when you use a card to tip, there’s always a possibility that your technician might not even end up receiving the gratuity they’re owed. Doing nails is not always the most lucrative of career options, so your nail technician will definitely appreciate it if you show your appreciation and gratitude through a tip.
How Long Does Getting Your Nails Done Take?
Depending on the treatment you get, the time that you spend in the nail salon can vary quite a lot. An express manicure or pedicure, which is often the cheapest and most basic service offered at most nail salons, will probably take 20 to 40 minutes, including drying time.
A standard manicure or pedicure will probably last around 45 minutes since you’re paying for a more luxurious and pampering experience. Upgraded, deluxe manicures and pedicures might last upwards of an hour, for the ultimate luxury nail salon experience. Gel manicures generally take about as long as regular manicures.
The drying time involved in a regular manicure is replaced by the UV lamp curing process. Applying a fresh set of acrylics generally takes about an hour, since your nail technician sculpts each acrylic nail by hand. If you’re also looking to get nail art done, you might end up spending 2 to 3 hours in the salon, depending on how elaborate of a design you’re going for.
The world of manicures is surprisingly more extensive than you might initially be led to believe. If you want to step up your nail polish game from a basic manicure, a dip powder manicure, gel manicure, or full acrylic set are three treatments definitely worth considering. We know that these fancier, more extensive treatments can be intimidating, but hopefully, this comprehensive nail salon guide was able to answer all your questions and assuage all your manicuring fears! A beautiful manicure or pedicure is the perfect way to reward yourself or practice self-care!