We Asked A Nail Tech The Most Common Questions About Having Perfect Claws

Find the perfect nails to suit you and your lifestyle.

Is there any better feeling than having your nails done? I’m a firm believer that if your nails look perfect, you can give off the illusion that your life is somewhat in order too, even if that’s not the case.

Polished nails are a trend that has been and will be around for ages, but like most trends in the ever evolving world of beauty, there are lots of options and styles out there and it can be tricky to find the perfect nails to suit you and your lifestyle.

If you’re considering taking matters out of your own hands (pun intended) and letting a professional at your claws, nail expert and enthusiast Naoimh McKenna (@naoimhsnails) is here to enlighten and inform.

Acrylics, gels or three week polish – which is right for me?

If you’re looking to add length and strength to your nails, acrylic or gels are the way to go – but what’s the difference? It’s in the system, says Naoimh.

“The difference is that they’re two entirely different systems. So for acrylic you’re using monomer, which is a liquid, and then powder. The liquid turns
the powder into acrylic in a chemical reaction and that’s what’s applied to the nail. The gel is literally gel in a pot that’s applied straight to the nail.”

Acrylic Nails

“The main difference is that acrylic sets itself, whereas gel has to be set under a UV lamp. A lot of people opt for gel because it’s virtually scentless, however it is slightly more expensive as the product costs more to buy.

“Everyone’s opinion on which is stronger is different. It really depends on the person and their nails and what their occupation is or how much they use their hands. My opinion is that acrylic would be stronger for me because I use my hands quite a lot.”

If you don’t think you can handle super long nails, three week polish is the one for you.

“Gel polish or three week polish is often referred to as Shellac – but that’s just a brand name. Girls from the age of 15/16 right up to my oldest client who’s 85 wear gel polish because they like having their short, natural nail. They’re never going to be as strong as acrylic or gel but it does last if applied correctly and isn’t picked at.”

Which shapes are on trend right now?

Like with most beauty trends, nails are always changing. “Coffin shapes are very common”, Naoimh says, “which is nearly a square but tapered in at the top. Imagine like a ballerina shoe.”

Coffin Nails @naoimhsnails

“Sharp, pointed stiletto wouldn’t be as popular anymore, it used to be before coffin came along. Almond shape would be popular with older clients, which is slightly pointy but rounded on top. Mid-way or short is standard for length. It all depends on which length you can handle and how much you use your hands.”

Stiletto Nails

Will gel or acrylic ruin my nails?

Your artificial nails won’t ruin your real nails if you look after them properly, Naoimh explains.

“Never try take your nails off yourself, always come back and get them removed properly, otherwise you will definitely destroy your nails. This is why people have this idea that gel or acrylic will ruin your nails. Of course they will if you try take them off yourself.”

You don’t need to give your real nails a break from gel or acrylic either. “People are under the illusion that your nails breathe – they don’t breathe. A lot of my clients constantly have false nails on and their real nails are fine.

“I’ve never had someone’s actual real nail come off, but you might have breakages from hitting one the wrong way. There’s a saying I heard a long time ago that says: ‘use your nails like your jewels, not your tools.’ They’re not made of steel, you have to look after them.”

How to look after your own nails

Although taking a break from your claws isn’t necessary, if you decide to embrace your natural nails between sets there are ways to keep them healthy.

Naoimh recommends Sally Hansen. “I recommend their Complete Care 7-in-1 Nail Treatment. It’s an all-in-one base and top coat and is a strengthener, ridge-filler, brightener and ultra-nourishing nail treatment all in one.”


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