Which nail polish is right for you

Shellac, Builder Gel or SNS – which is the right one for your nails?

Stepping into the world of nail art, extensions and long-lasting polish can be really daunting, especially when you want to preserve your natural nail bed. Whether your nails are short and brittle or you are tired of topping up your manicure every week, we’re shedding light on the best manicure for your nails and your budget.

So, what options are there?

From countless choices at the nail salon, picking the right base for what you want to achieve with your nail is really important. Not only will this ensure the longevity of your polish, it will also allow your nails to grow strong and healthy. Having the right nail tech (making sure they are following all hygiene protocols) is also important in keeping your nails looking fresh. Shellac, SNS, Acrylics, Polish and Gel are all really common nail options, so we’re going to discuss what they mean for your nails.

Gel Polish or ‘Shellac’

Like normal polish, Gel Polish or Shellac (which is a brand) also provides no extension to your natural nails but is long lasting than regular polish. Gel Polish has to be cured under an LED Lamp for 30 – 60 seconds, making it hard instantly – that means no more messing up your freshly done nails when you step out of the salon! Gel Polish is also great for nail art, if you want to spruce up your regular mani. This type of polish usually lasts for around 2 – 3 weeks depending on the amount of friction to your nails, but you’ll have to get this removed professionally again at the salon with high strength acetone. 

Hard Gel / Builder Gel

If you are wanting to add a small amount of length, or to avoid a nail breaking, try Builder Gel – one of the new nail products in the beauty world. Builder Gel and Hard Gel are applied and cured with an LED Lamp, but are applied in thin layers, creating a bridge between your natural nail and the gel. You can also ask your nail tech to apply tips for hard gel, which sets strongly like acrylic. For removal, you have to soak it off with acetone at the salon and is more costly than regular gel, usually setting you back $70 – $100 for a set. However, as it is created using a flexible form and is softer and less brittle than acrylics or SNS, it is great for people who have weak or brittle nails.


The most common way of adding length to your nails are acrylics – known to stop nail biters, or those who can’t achieve any length – it allows your natural nails to grow on top of a ‘fake’ base through applying tips. Once you have your desired length and shape, your nail tech will apply ‘hard acrylic’ polymer gel which is overlayed on top, sealing in strength. From here, you can then paint your nails with regular or gel polish, getting an ‘infill’ every three weeks at most to avoid lifting. A set of Acrylics will set you back around $60 – $70, but beware, they can be damaging to your nail bed if removed incorrectly, or if ripped off accidentally.


Similar to Gel Polish, SNS uses a ‘dip powder’ system that doesn’t need to be cured. The nail is prepped with a base coat and then ‘dipped’ into the powder colour of your choice, hardening and setting instantly. If you are wanting added length, you can also apply tips (similar to acrylics) – this means you are able to walk out of the salon with dipped nails that does require to be painted afterwards, which is a great time saver. It’s great for people that need length and strength but don’t have time to sit through hours of appointments and touch-ups.

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