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What exactly are SNS nails? Alexandra Hourigan

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

The newest nail trend is here — and it’s a gentler option.

SNS nails aren’t new, but they haven’t been hugely popular until recently. Not only is SNS better for the health of your nails, it lasts up to twice as long as regular gel polish.

What is SNS?

SNS stands for Signature Nail Systems. It’s a branded powder-dipping system, accompanied by a brush-on, gel-based polish. The nail technician applies the polish to your nail, dips it in the powder and repeats the process.

SNS comes in an array of colors and shades and consists of benzoyl peroxide, titanium dioxide and acrylic ester polymer. These ingredients help strengthen your nails rather than wear them down.

How do SNS nails differ from acrylic or Shellac nails?

Quite a few differences set SNS apart from traditional polishes, starting with the fact that SNS nails rely on powder rather than layers of gel. Just a few of the benefits of ditching your old manicure for SNS:

Less harsh on your natural nailsDoesn’t require UV light to dryTypically requires less filing than other manicure techniquesGives off less fumesMore resistant to chips and can last up to twice as long as acrylic or Shellac nails

Is SNS good for your nails?

As few as eight visits to a nail salon using a UV light can cause skin damage. While SNS is better for your nails than acrylic or Shellac, it isn’t all-around good for them either.

Even though no UV or LED light and less filing of the natural nail is involved, SNS nails still require a gel base and top coat, which can be damaging to nails. It’s also important to visit a trained nail technician to ensure minimal risk of infection and other skin issues.

How long do they last and how do you remove SNS nails?

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 can be removed with or without acetone. While acetone is the most effective method, it can irritate and dry your skin. You can use acetone-free nail polish remover if you prefer.

Never try 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

Gently sand off the top gel layer. Don’t worry about removing any of the color beneath it.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.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 much does SNS cost?

Like all hair or beauty services, cost varies. Depending on the salon, you can expect SNS nails to range from $35 to $75 for a full set.

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