SNS Nails: The New Manicure Technique Taking Over From Gels

From the Italian manicure to blooming gel, we've been spoilt for choice when it comes to manicure trends this year. But forget gels and acrylics, because there's a new technique to get on board with in 2023 — SNS nails — and it's gaining lots of traction right now.
Reported to last longer than traditional nails and to be much easier to remove (which results in less damage to the nail bed and cuticle), the technique is as practical as it is Instagrammable, according to London-based session manicurist, Ami Streets. Here's what you need to know before booking in.

What are SNS nails or dip powder nails?

SNS is a brand name for coloured nail powder, much like O.P.I is a brand name for polish and Shellac is a brand name for gel nails. SNS nails come under the dip powder umbrella. "Dip powder nails are temporary nail colours that are applied to the nail using an adhesive polish before 'dipping' the nail in the chosen coloured powder," says Ami, which explains all those multicoloured pots you see when you search the technique (also tagged as #powdernails and #dippowdernails) on Instagram.
"The method is: polish, dip, repeat," Ami added. "Repeat dipping is needed to ensure smooth, even and intense colour, while any excess product is brushed off before a sealant is applied as a top coat, giving high shine and hard-wearing nail colour."

What's the difference between SNS nails, gels and acrylics?

"Everyone is always looking for an easier and more efficient alternative to traditional nail enhancements," explains Ami, "and with no need to use an LED or UV light like gels, there’s less equipment involved in addition to hardly any fumes when it comes to dip powder nails," — and if you regularly book in for acrylics or gels, you'll know the smell can be pretty suffocating.
Similarly to gels and acrylics, you can achieve a number of different finishes, including glitter, negative space and fonts. "You can do this by being creative with application," says Ami, who suggests visiting a trusted nail technician for best results. "However, the repetitive nature of dipping can take a little longer, with less control over the precision of detailed designs," she points out.

How long do SNS nails last?

In some cases, SNS or dip powder nails can be a little chunkier than gels and acrylics, but this can be controlled by limiting the amount of powder used. And with that in mind, it's important to note that the powder is essentially derived from acrylic. "Too much skin contact over time could potentially be a problem," explains Ami. "And on a hygiene note, make sure your technician doesn’t 'double dip' and that they always use a separate pot for your powder application to avoid cross-contamination."
"Overall though, colours air dry quickly and are chip-resistant, lasting anything up to four weeks," Ami continues. "This is great because it gives nails time to grow while acting as a protective barrier."

How much do SNS nails cost?

Depending on which salon you go to, the price will vary, but it's likely to cost you upwards from £25. Head to Treatwell to discover salons which offer SNS nails in your area.

How to remove SNS nails

"Removal is similar to gels or acrylics, where the top layer of nail colour is gently buffed (either using a nail file or electronic tool) before being soaked off with acetone. That said, the adhesive and powder is more hard-wearing [than gels or acrylics] so it may take some extra soak time."
Too much time in acetone can strip nails and skin of moisture, so Ami suggests a slathering of cuticle oil after removal and throughout the duration of wear to keep nails as hydrated and healthy as possible. R29 recommends Jessica's Phenomen Oil Intensive Moisturiser, £14.50, and Nailberry's Little Treasure Nourishing Cuticle Oil, £15, for especially parched nails.
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