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What are SNS nails?

The newest nail trend is here — and it's a gentler option than acrylics..

SNS nails have become popular as a low-maintenance alternative to traditional acrylics or gel manicures. Devotees swear by the chip-free finish that requires zero drying time. Not only is SNS better for the health of your nails, it lasts up to twice as long as regular gel polish.

If you're unable to get to the salon, you can give yourself an at-home dip powder mani with just a little preparation and a few tools.

What are SNS nails?

SNS — short for Signature Nail Systems — is a powder-and-glue formula that’s applied to the nails for a long-lasting manicure. The process is pretty simple: A nail technician coats your nails with glue, then dips them into a colored powder of your choosing. Glue is reapplied and an accelerator is sprayed, which causes the colored powder to harden. 

Unlike gel manicures, no UV lights are used to dry your nails — which is a helpful pro for anyone concerned about the possible side effects of UV rays. Plus, it’s odor-free and you won’t have to deal with that super-strong smell that comes with acrylics.

How are SNS nails different from acrylic or Shellac nails?

Quite a few differences set SNS apart from traditional manicures, starting with the fact that SNS nails rely on powder rather than layers of gel. But there are a few drawbacks to the SNS method, too.

Pros of SNS nails

  • Lasts longer than regular manicures
  • Less harsh on your natural nails than acrylics
  • Doesn't contain harmful chemicals like methyl methacrylate (MMA) and formaldehyde
  • Doesn't require UV light to dry

Drawbacks of SNS nails

  • Pricer than regular manicures
  • Requires a gel base and top coat, which can damage nails

SNS nail salons near me

If you’re on the hunt for a salon that offers SNS nails, your first stop should be snsnails.com, where you enter your ZIP code and find a nearby salon that offers the formula. We recommend giving the salon a quick call ahead of time, just to double-check that they’re still offering the service.

How much do SNS nails cost?

Like all hair or beauty services, cost varies — especially based on what area of the country you live in. Depending on the salon, expect SNS nails to range from $25 to $75. That price could go up if you request a more intricate design.

How long do SNS nails last?

SNS nails can last up to four weeks, but your nails will likely grow out before this. You may have to go in for a touch-up around the two- or three-week mark. Otherwise, you can opt to remove the rest of the SNS powder.

SNS is most effectively removed with acetone. Nevertry to peel off your SNS nails, as this can remove the top layer of your natural nails — causing them to become brittle and break. Another option is to go to your local nail salon to have your SNS nails removed professionally.

How to remove SNS nails

  1. Gently sand off the top gel layer. Don't worry about removing any of the color beneath it.
  2. Soak your nails in nail polish remover for 10 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can soak cotton balls in acetone, place one over each nail then wrap the nail and cotton ball in aluminum foil.
  3. After 10 minutes, check one nail to see if the polish wipes away with a paper towel. If not, soak for another 10 minutes before wiping again.

How to do SNS dip nails at home

SNS kits contain everything you need for an at-home, long-lasting gel manicure. You can also buy products individually.

What you'll need:

  • SNS gel base
  • SNS gel color
  • SNS gel top coat
  • SNS setting powder
  • SNS sealer dry

First, you'll want to make sure your nails are trimmed and shaped. File your nails to your desired shape, push back any cuticles and buff the top of your nail with the file to wear away any shine. You've probably noticed your nail technician doing this important step that allows the nail to grip the polish better.

Once your nails are prepped and you have your supplies, follow these steps from nine.com.au:

  1. Apply a thin layer of gel base on your nail, then dip it into the setting powder. Tap and brush off any excess powder. Repeat on each nail until you have the desired thickness.
  2. Apply another thin layer of base on your nail, and then dip your nail into the gel color. Tap and brush away any excess powder. Repeat on each nail as necessary to build color.
  3. Apply another base layer, then dip into the setting powder.
  4. Apply sealer dry to each nail.
  5. Wash your hands with water to remove the excess powder.
  6. Apply a thin layer of SNS Gel Top polish on each nail, brushing from left to right and taking care not to go over the same area twice. Let dry.
  7. Apply a second coat of SNS Gel Top polish to each nail.
  8. Allow your nails to dry for several minutes.

What does SNS look like?

Top picks for at-home SNS nails

Looking for more DIY nail products?

If you think you'd rather stick to standard nail polish, check out the top sites to buy nail polish online, or check out some of our favorite nail polishes below. You can also head to our beauty hub for more makeup and skincare reviews, news and deals.

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