Everything you need to know about SNS nails

Everything You Need To Know About SNS Nails

From what they are to how long they should last

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / May 10 2018

Whether you're a Shellac convert, paint your nails yourself at home or haven’t stepped foot inside a nail salon in years, there’s a good chance you’ve still heard of SNS nails. While the manicure trend has been around for a while, its popularity has swelled in recent years due to the belief that it’s a healthier alternative to a Shellac manicure.  

To find out if it lives up to the hype and discover whether we should all be embracing the nail trend, we spoke to two top manicurists, Bernadette Leva and Sally Hansen Nail Expert and Brand Ambassador, Alison Bowhill-Hayes.

What are SNS nails?

In short, “SNS stands for Signature Nails Systems and is a type of manicure that involves repeated dipping of your nails into a powder that then hardens on your nail,” explains Leva.

How SNS differs from Shellac

According to Bowhill-Hayes, the distinction between the two nail trends is simple: “Shellac is a [product] name for a hybrid polish (half nail polish, half gel) made by Creative Nail Design (CND). After completing a standard manicure, a base coat is applied to the nail then cured under a LED lamp for 10 seconds. Afterwards, two colour coats are applied before being cured for 60 seconds. To finish, a top coat is applied to each nail and cured for another 60 seconds.”

Alternatively, “SNS involves applying a gel base over three quarters of the nail, before dipping each nail into the natural set powder. Next, a gel base is applied to each nail before it’s dipped into a gel-based powder. To finish, a sealer is applied to each nail before they’re shaped and groomed, and a top coat is applied,” says Bowhill-Hayes.  

Why SNS is so popular

Both Bowhill-Hayes and Leva believe SNS’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that no LED lamp is needed to set the polish. As a result, SNS is “touted as a healthy or natural alternative to Shellac or gel manicures, when in actual fact the concept has been around for many years and is just an adjusted application of acrylic manicures,” explains Bowhill-Hayes. “Essentially, SNS is a super glue that’s applied to nails and then dipped into a polymer (acrylic powder).”

We think another reason SNS has risen in popularity is because it easily lasts anywhere between three to four weeks with none of the telltale lifting that’s synonymous with Shellac around the second-week mark.

Side note: Personally, while I prefer the look and feel of Shellac nails, SNS manicures have become my new go-to simply because of their longevity (not to mention the competitive price point and extensive colour range).  

Does SNS damage nails?

Like most in-salon manicures, damage to your nails most commonly occurs during the removal process. To remove SNS, your nails need to be soaked in acetone for 10 to 15 minutes, which can make them dehydrated and brittle. To combat this, make sure you regularly apply a rejuvenating nail serum and/or cuticle oil to keep both your nail and nail bed nourished and strong. One of our favourite nail serums at the moment is Sally Hansen Nail Rehab.

Bowhill-Hayes notes that damage can also be caused if the technician drills the nails in prep, fails to groom the nails well or files and scrapes the natural nails at any point. So make sure you choose a well-trained manicurist!

Looking for more nail-related tips and tricks? Then find out the right way to remove a gel manicure at home and learn six ways to make your gel manicure last longer.

Do you love SNS manicures? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.

Main image credit: @vanessahudgens


Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.

Related tags