How to rock statement nails this season

There are so many ways to create your dream manicure, from DIYing your own designs with polish to going all out at the salon with tips or acrylics. But which one is right for you?

“Consider your lifestyle,” advises Darlene Sritapan, OPI education and capability manager. Do you play volleyball? Take pottery classes? Wear contacts? The way you use your hands on the reg will dictate what kind of mani works for you.

You’ll also want to factor in upkeep (think long and hard about whether you’re cool with spending two hours in a salon every couple of weeks) as well as cost (TikTok-inspired manis = a lot of babysitting bucks). To figure out which manicure fits your look and your lifestyle, we consulted the experts to bring you the facts.


What it is: Your basic polish is a lacquer that you paint onto your nails.

Pros: We all know and love this trusty go-to. “It’s perfect for the DIYer who wants to change her color frequently,” says Sritapan. It’s also great if you work with your hands a lot, since it’s cheap and easy to apply.

Cons: Regular polish chips easily. So while it can last up to seven days, it usually...doesn’t. Opt for a long-wearing formula to try to stretch it up to 10 days.

Price: About $20 at a salon for a mani ($8 to $15 for a bottle you can use over and over).


What it is: Gel polish adheres to your nail much stronger than regular polish. “A UV or LED lamp is used to cure and dry it,” says celebrity nail artist Julie K.

Pros: “Gel is a solid choice as it lasts about two weeks,” notes Julie K. It also dries right away, so you can walk out without worrying about smudges.

Cons: Tempted to pick it off during a boring class? Don’t. “If you peel your polish, it’ll remove layers of nail with it. Then, when you go to reapply gel, it’ll adhere to a damaged nail and peel off quicker—it’s a vicious cycle,” shares Julie K. Removal is best done by the professionals.

Price: About $30 at a salon for a mani.

Sculpting gel

What it is: This is a much more advanced type of gel. You’ve probably seen videos on TikTok of a nail artist creating long extensions with a form or a plastic tip.

Pros: Sculpting gel can give your nails tons of length and strength. “You can also get them retouched [aka filled] by adding more gel to the base of your nail rather than removing them every time and starting from scratch,” says Julie K. This technique is also good for doing nail art.

Cons: This formula is non-porous, so it can’t be soaked off with acetone. Proper removal by a professional is key to preventing nail damage.

Price: About $50 at a salon for a mani.

Dip powder

What it is: This mani is created with a polymer and layers of resin that build up as you dip each nail into a pot of colored powder. “It adheres to the natural nail in a stronger way than gel or polish,” says Julie K.

Pros: It’s very long-lasting, so it’s great if you want to grow out your nails and keep the same look for about three weeks.

Cons: Dip powder is not great for art, so you’ll need to keep your nails a solid color.

Price: About $35 at a salon for a mani.


What it is: Similar to dip powder, this technique requires a monomer and acrylic powder, explains LeChat Nails educator Anastasia Totty. Once applied, it cures and hardens on its own. Then, just get it refreshed by filling in the growth at your nail’s base every other week.

Pros: Acrylic keeps your nails super strong—and you can add gel or regular polish over top to create fun art.

Cons: Once you start getting acrylics, you’re kind of committed until you want to take the time to get them removed. Plus, they get a little pricey.

Price: About $45 at a salon for a new set, $30 for a fill.

Press-on nails

What it is: Press-ons are fake nails that you can literally glue right over your natural nail. No chipping, smudging or artistic ability necessary.

Pros: “Press-on nails are great if you aren’t into committing to something more permanent like acrylic or dip powder,” says Totty. “They can be worn for just a day or up to a week.” And they’re affordable!

Cons: Because press-ons are not customizable to your nails like other techniques, fit can be an issue. “Everyone has a different arch on their nail,” reveals Julie K. If a press-on nail is too flat or too curved, it can easily pop off. Finding the best brand for you may take some trial and error.

Price: $10 to $20 for a set.


What it is: These pre-done nails work kind of like a press-on, but they are more moldable to your nail. They’re often made with nail polish and cling to your nail like cellophane.

Pros: It’s easy to customize the size since they flex to your nail— you can just file away the excess.

Cons: It can take a few tries to line them up to your cuticles to get a clean look. Practice really does make perfect!

Price: About $15 to $25 for a sheet of strips.

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our October/November 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.

Images via Pexels | Gifs via Giphy

by Erin Reimel | 11/13/2021