You will have heard about it – the new trend that is taking the nail world by storm, the magical cure-all that promises to make your nails longer and stronger. So what exactly is an SNS manicure? And does it really do everything on the label? This month, our Purely Polished clients have been asking some common questions about SNS nails. Here’s what our professionals had to say in response.
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What is SNS?
SNS stands for Signature Nail Systems and is actually a salon brand name, like O.P.I, CND Shellac or Kerastase. The product that is usually referred to as ‘SNS’ is Signature Nail System’s acrylic dipping system called the Gelous Dip System. It is an alternative to gel polish or traditional acrylic, which gives you the added strength of traditional acrylic nails without the long removal process.
How is SNS applied and removed?
First, your nails are prepped and primed in exactly the same way that they are for acrylic application. Depending on whether you just want the SNS on top of your natural nails (what we would refer to as an ‘overlay’) or whether you want extra length, tips may be glued on and filed at this stage. Your technician will then brush on a layer of bonding agent, and immediately dip your nail in the coloured powder of your choice. This process is repeated four to five times, to create the required strength and structure. Finally, an activator is brushed on to set the nails. Like acrylic, SNS quickly air dries so there is no need for an LED or UV light. Although there is a process for infilling, many salons do not provide SNS fills, so when you return with regrowth you will have to do a full removal and re-application. It is removed by soaking, in the same way that Shellac is removed.
Is SNS hygienic?
Whilst the risk of infection from an SNS service is relatively low, particularly in a country like Australia, the dipping process is not especially hygienic. Industry scientists generally recommend that the powder be poured over the nail rather than dipped in, to avoid the spread of infection. This can be a big problem if the filing involved in the prep process has lead to small abrasions on the skin around your nail.
Is this a new technology?
Not at all. Acrylic dip systems have been around since the early 1980s, however fell out of fashion in the 90’s and are making a resurgence. Traditional dip systems used regular acrylic powder. SNS have updated the old system, by creating much more finely milled acrylic powders and reformulating their bonding agent.
What is in SNS?
The powders used in SNS are exactly the same as traditional acrylic powders, just a bit more finely milled. The difference between traditional acrylic and SNS is in the bonding agent. Traditional acrylics harden by creating a chemical reaction between the liquid and the powder. The bonding agent in SNS is resin-based and the key ingredients are the same as that used in superglue. The chemical reaction is between the resin and the moisture from the activator. This means that the liquid used in SNS does not smell strongly, like acrylic liquid does.
Is SNS better for my nails than gel or acrylic?
There is very little evidence that SNS is any better or worse for your nails than gel polish, hard gel or acrylic. What causes damage to your natural nails is not the product itself, but the application and removal process. This is why your technician will advise you not to pick at or peel off your gel or acrylic. Dip systems often claim to have vitamins and nutrients that help your nails grow longer and stronger. It is important to remember, however, that the only living part of your nail is under your skin. Technicians often like to remind our clients that the only proven way of maintaining the strength of our nails is through regular use of nourishing cuticle oils and creams.
In the same way that regular haircuts prevent hair breakages and so promote growth, any strengthening layer such as SNS that is placed over your natural nail will prevent breakages. This often makes it feel like your nail is growing longer, faster – however it just means your nails have had a chance to grow without being broken off or bitten down.
Why pick SNS over acrylic or gel?
When you pick your nail service, there are lots of different things to weigh up. Ultimately, no nail service is totally perfect for everybody, 100% of the time. It’s important to go with a service that will suit you and your lifestyle best.
Gel polish is a great pop of colour that stays looking great for much longer than regular nail polish, and maintains a protective layer for the surface of your nails. Hard gel provides added length and strength but is more flexible than acrylic and SNS, and so is great for people who want long lasting, beautiful nails but require regular, rough use of their hands. Acrylic provides length and strength and is very versatile, as it is moulded in to shape by your technician. It can be used, therefore, to create beautiful nails in all different lengths and shapes, with a whole host of different designs.
SNS provides a bit of extra strength and length to your nails, whilst maintaining a lightweight feel. It is much thinner than acrylic but thicker than gel polish. It’s a great way of getting a bit of extra strength in your nails, whilst maintaining a more “natural-looking” finish.
We hope we were able to answer all your SNS questions! It’s always a great idea to thoroughly research a service before you get it done, so that you are aware of the risks or possible problems beforehand. Most importantly, though, remember to have fun with your nails! They’re an expression of you – from a classic French to nail art and beyond.