Although nails are considered to be an important part of any woman’s beauty regimen, few are as skilled in styling and maintaining them as they are with their hair or makeup. While nails offer boundless potential for customization while being relatively quick and affordable to apply, the perceived amount of talent and know-how it takes to have them look just the way you want has women either opting for the salon or just not paying as much attention as they could be.
To address this, countless beauty companies have tried to come up with their own lines and products to lower the barrier of entry when it comes to nails. Not only are they offering more colors and designs every year, but also introducing new and ingenious methods to make the process of applying salon-grade nails at home as quick and easy as possible.
This trend often takes form as a type of artificial nail, a category that has been steadily growing into a pillar of the nail industry. It’s clear that artificial nails are here to stay, and in this article we will explore the different material types, shapes and looks available to the medium.
What are Artificial Nails?
Artificial nails can be applied in different ways to increase the length and strength of natural nails, or change the shape altogether. In broad terms, they can be divided into full-cover artificial nails, acrylics, or gel polish. Each type of artificial nail looks a little different and has its own pros and cons.
Press-On Artificial Nails
Press-on and glue-on nails are one of the most popular options for applying artificial nails at home. They usually come in a kit that include different shapes and sizes of nails, application tools (and glue, for the glue-on variety). The different nail shapes include square, oval, squoval( a square shape with rounded corners) and many other, which add enough variety that any would be able to complement and style or natural nail bed. Dashing Diva has a complete line of full-cover nails that come in a number of colors, shapes, and designs.
Press-on nails are a great choice for women who are looking for a quick, affordable manicure. They are widely available, come in a variety of designs, generally last about five to seven days, depending on the specific type. While press-on nails typically do not last as long as permanent or semi-permanent nail enhancements, they are much easier to apply and remove, in some cases only taking a second or two for each nail, compared to acrylics or gel nails that can take minutes to apply and much longer to take off. Not only that, but the general process is much more forgiving to the natural nail bed and the skin around it, so is popular among women health conscious women looking for alternatives.
Acrylic nails are the go-to artificial nail for many salon professionals and most commonly seen on fashion websites like Pinterest and Instagram. Women turn to acrylics for their durability and nail art appeal (plus, we all love that thick tip click!).
Contrary to what most believe, though, acrylics are available at home by non-professionals, as well. Dashing Diva’s Virtual Nails, for example, are a great alternative to salons and don’t require any fancy equipment that can be prohibitive to the common user.
One of the strongest points when it comes to acrylics is that they are custom sculpted in various different lengths and shapes when serviced in salons. Although they are one of the most popular nail enhancements, there are a few things to consider before turning to acrylics.
First, they are a little more costly and time-consuming than some of the other options. Getting a full set runs anywhere from $30 to $60, depending on the salon, and requires maintenance as your nails grow out. Also, if not applied properly, acrylic nails can visibly damage your natural nails in a way that is almost irreparable until they completely grow out.
Not to be confused with nail polish, gel polish allows you to apply a long-lasting color and shine to your nails without having to deal with chipping or dry time. Getting a gel manicure generally involves a three step process: which starts with base coat, 2 coats of color, and then is finished of with the top coat. (In the case of certain new products, such as Dashing Diva's Magic Gel, this process is shortened into just a single coat that creates the same desired effect.) Each coat is cured under a UV/LED light and when applied properly, gel manicures can last up between two to three weeks.
Gel manicures are perfect for women looking for a low-maintenance manicure that are drawn to the high gloss shine and smooth finish. They look more natural without being as damaging to your natural nails as acrylics, which is a huge selling point for many these days.
One downside, however, is that gel nail polish is more difficult to remove than air dry polish. A “hard-gel” must be filed off, which takes a considerable amount of attention and effort, and a “polish-hybrid gel”, while it can be soaked off with solvent, still requires you to bound each finger in cotton and foil (or use a soak-off kit) for several minutes for them to come off properly without forcing them off.
Now that we went over the different types of artificial nails, let’s dive into some of the most common nail shapes and the looks they can achieve.
Square nails are one of the most common nail shapes and are loved for their versatility and professional appeal. Square nails vary in length, which affects their overall look. For example, short square nails are closer to a natural look while longer square nails add a more dramatic appeal.
Oval nails can be considered the square’s contemporary cousin in that they are still versatile, but offer a very different feel. Oval nails are often the preferred choice when going for a soft, feminine and natural look. Oval nails tend to pair well with neutral or soft pale shades of color.
Squoval is a happy medium between the traditional square and oval shapes. Squoval nails have the straight top of a square and the rounded sides of an oval. This nail shape is usually an option for DIY at-home kits because they look great on all nail shapes and nail beds. Whether you’re using a short squoval for everyday wear or a longer shape for a more dramatic look, this nail shape is doesn’t often disappoint.
Almond nails are the hot nail trend of the year and have been worn by celebrities like Katy Perry, Chrissy Teigen and Lady Gaga. This shape is perfect for a dramatic look and complimentary for all finger shapes.
Almond nails, like their namesake, are round at the bottom and taper at the top. Because they have a wider base, they almost fade into their pointed tip. The length of the artificial nail will affect how your almond artificial nail shape will look. Short nails can lend themselves to a more natural look, while a longer nail will work for a more dramatic look.
If you’re wearing an almond full-cover nail shape, try pairing it with some classic nail art or with a glitter statement nail. Considering with their dramatic shape, most nail artists would suggest keeping the design and color simple to highlight the shape of the nail itself.
Like their namesake, stiletto nails make an impact with their sharp, pointed look. Like almond nails, this artificial nail shape is rounded at the bottom and taped down into a tip. But where stiletto and almond shapes differ is the length and feel of this look. Stiletto nails are made for glam and are the perfect accent to a true dramatic style.
When rocking stiletto nails, why not pair them with a sassy pair of heels and complete the look? These nails look great dressed up with a dramatic red, a sultry dark blue or black, or with some nail gems to really amp up the look.
Like their namesake, stiletto nails make an impact with their sharp, pointed look. Like almond nails, this artificial nail shape is rounded at the bottom and taped down into a tip. But where stiletto and almond shapes differ is the length and feel of this look.
Stiletto nails are made for glam and are the perfect accent to a true dramatic style. They look great dressed up with a dramatic red, a sultry dark blue or black, or with some nail gems to really amp up the look.
On top of knowing the most common types of nail shapes, it’s handy to know some of the hottest trends in the nail industry.
Nail Wraps and Decals
Nail wraps are a fun and easy way to add a little oomph to your manicure and can easily be applied at home. Dashing Diva has a wide collection of designs suited for any occasion and whether you go with stripes, flowers, or polka dots, nail decals will add a little extra something to your look.
One of the best things about nail wraps is that they can fit virtually any nail shape, real or artificial. Most kits come with various sizes of decals that can be customized to your artificial nail shape, short or long. The fun patterns and designs on nail wraps are a no-brainer for a fashionista looking to capture something special with their nails.
Ombre is all the rage right now, whether it be with hair highlights, art, or nails. Longer nails work better when trying to create an ombre effect, so this style would pair well with longer, square nails, almond nails, or stiletto nails.
To create this look, a nail technician will generally use a sponge to disperse the color darker at the bottom and lighter at the top (or the opposite!). With a little practice, this design can also be achieved at home with a few simple tools.
Matte nails are a cool way to mix up your look because they are trendy and easy to maintain. While there’s nothing wrong with the high gloss shine of gel nails, adding a matte top coat is fun for dark colors and to change up the look of traditional shapes. For example, an oval or squoval nail would look great with a dark, matte color to complement the classic shape. The edgy trend and the classic shape are the definitions of “opposites attract.”
Nail art has been around for a while, but there are always new ways to implement this design trend. One of our favorites at Dashing Diva is adding nail gems, which are crystals or rhinestones added to a nail to bling up the look. Many of our nail gems are made out of Swarovski crystals, meaning that they feature unmatched sparkle and class.
Nail art looks good on all nail shapes, and the design depends on the length. Undoubtedly, the longer the nail the more a nail artist will have to work with. But that’s not to say that you can’t glam up a shorter look.
There’s no look as classic as a french manicure, a go-to since the beginning of fashion nails. With a crisp smile line and a subtle look, French manicures are perfect for a professional look and classic style.
In terms of nail shape looks, French manicures look best on square or slightly squoval nails. In addition, the width of the smile line can make a big difference. Smaller smile lines look a lot more natural, while thicker bands pump up the drama. Some women might also turn to colored French manicures, which replace the white line with another neutral (or a bright color!). There are no limits to this timeless look.
Chrome nails are one of the newest looks to hit the scene and have become more and more popular. Using a fine chrome powder, nail artists start with a base color and rub in the powder to create the look. With enough layers, the chrome powder quickly turns into a mirror-like shine.
As there are many at-home options with chrome powder, they can be used on any type of nail shape. Most women, though, will turn to a more dramatic look and rock a longer nail with this chrome style to get the maximum “eye-catching” appeal. The iridescent shine is here to stay because of its simple application, high-fashion look, and unique twist on a traditional manicure.
There are many ways to accentuate your nails without having to worry about having the perfect nails or growing your natural nail out. Our TL;DR on today’s nail enhancement landscape is as follows:
1. The most popular types of nail enhancements are full cover nails, acrylic nails, and gel polished nails.
2. There are many nail shapes, but some of our favorites are square, oval, squoval, almond, stiletto, and coffin.
3. Some really trendy looks include ombre nails, matte nails, nail art, French manicures, and chrome nails.
The nail world is always changing and it’s always fun to see what’s next on the horizon. What is your favorite artificial nail shape and how do you wear it?