What Are the Different Types of Manicures

Getting a Manicure

Most manicures start out the same way, with some people choosing the basics and others opting for more creative options. Learning about different types of manicures can help you decide what suits you best. After all, your nails say a lot about who you are!

Ten Popular Types of Manicures

Whether you let your personality shine with the latest 3-D décor or choose a simple nude polish, there are no limits when it comes to nail art. These popular manicure types can help you look perfectly put-together no matter what your style is.

Basic Manicure

If you are new to receiving manicures, start with a basic manicure, without all the extras. A nail technician will apply a cream, oil, or lotion to the cuticles first, then place the hands into a dish of warm water for about five minutes to soak. After the soaking process is over and cuticles have been tamed, they will dry the hand, and ask what shape and length you prefer. You can choose from square, oval, squoval (a combination of the two), or the popular stiletto.

At this point in the manicure, the shape of the nails has been defined, and it is time for a massage. Once that has been done, a base coat will be applied. Two coats of colored polish go over top, with a clear top coat finishing it all off. The hands are then placed under a nail dryer to speed up the drying process.

basic manicure
Basic Manicure

French Manicure

The ever-classic French manicure is guaranteed to give you the clean, gorgeous look you desire. For this style, a clear, pale pink, or beige polish is applied over the entire nail, with white polish along the tip. The end result is healthy, vibrant and perfect for all occasions. You can't go wrong with this look!

French Manicure in a Salon
French Manicure

Reverse French Manicure

On the flip side, you might consider the reverse French manicure. This look took off on the high-fashion runways in Europe before achieving mainstream popularity. It is essentially a takeoff of the traditional French style, however the moon of the nail is painted white while the rest is done in a darker shade.

Another option is to switch up the colors with an all-white nail and a strip of color along the tip. Popular shades for this look are black and wine during fall and winter, and yellow and pink during spring and summer.

American Manicure

An American manicure is similar to the French, but the shape and color of the nails differ. In this particular style, the tips are sometimes rounded, and use neutral or off white colors on the tips, instead of the drastic bright whites used in the French manicure. This can be worn in the classic style or made modern with some well placed glitter polish.

Gel Manicure

If you want a long-lasting manicure without the commitment (or potential damage) of acrylic nails, a gel manicure is a great option. All the steps of a basic manicure are taken, except a special polish that requires curing under a UV light is also applied. This lasts days longer than the polish used for a basic manicure, and is less prone to chipping.

Gel Manicure
Gel Manicure

Paraffin Manicure

A paraffin manicure is a must for anyone with dry or overworked hands. Paraffin wax is used to infuse the skin with instantaneous moisture, leaving it smooth and supple. It also includes a stimulating hand massage and finishes with a chic basic manicure polish look. Some paraffin treatments include various oils, like grape seed oil, for extra moisturizing benefits.

Hot Stone Manicure

If you've been dreaming of something ultra-pampering (or want to spoil a friend or family member), consider going the hot stone route. This indulgent treatment includes all the delights of a basic manicure, plus the addition of heated stones. They are placed over the hands to provide relief and comfort. You can also give yourself a hot stone manicure at home.

Shellac Manicure

Another popular type of manicure is shellac. Your natural nails are cleaned, filed, and shaped at the salon. Then, a special base coat is applied, followed by two coats of shellac nail polish, and a top coat. In between each step, a dryer is used to cure. Similar to a gel manicure, shellac lasts for about two weeks and is resistant to chipping. However, unlike gel, this can actually make your nails stronger.

Mirror Manicure

For those looking to make a statement with their nails, go chrome. The mirror manicure was named a trend by both Pinterest and Reader's Digest. To achieve the look, each nail is first cleaned and shaped. Then a coat of black polish is applied, cured, and buffed. Next, top coat is applied and cured, before putting on a mirror powder. It is sealed with a top coat, cured, and buffed. It finishes with a gel top coat to create a shiny mirrored effect.

Silver gray nails

Vinylux Manicure

If you are someone who gets bored easily, this next style is for you. It has been dubbed the one week manicure, as it is designed to stay on for seven to ten days. According to Refinery29, CND's Vinylux polishes have incredible staying power and can be removed with a normal nail polish remover. Plus, since there is no need for a basecoat, the application process is simpler and faster.

Manicure Embellishments

Further personalize your manicure with embellishments! Adding that extra something to your nails is not just exciting - it gives them a fun pop. Many salons have a display to showcase the many nail art services they offer.


Airbrushing is a quick way to apply a design to the nails. The technician may use a stencil or create the style freehand. If you want something specific, don't be afraid to bring in your own stencils or unique designs!

Airbrushed Fingernails
Airbrushed Fingernails

3-D Nails

This type of nail art is innovative. You can pick bow-ties, hearts, happy faces, or whatever design your salon has in stock. These are applied directly to the nails to create a boldly textured look. It allows you to walk around with your own pint-sized works of art! With 3-D nails, both you and your nail technician are free to get creative.

3D Flower Fingernails
3D Flowers on Fingernails


Adding gems and rhinestones to a manicure can make even the simplest manicure pop. They are used in a number of ways - from enhancing other types of nail art to becoming the main attraction. Put them all over the nails for a daring (and sparkly) finish.

Rhinestones on Fingernails
Rhinestones on Fingernails

Gold Add Ons

Sometimes all you need to transform an ordinary look is a hint of gold. There are countless ways to incorporate it into your next design, from a golden glitter top coat to golden tips, a statement nail, or geometric design. You can even create an unforgettable gold leaf manicure!

Nails in gold


Beautiful embellishments don't have to be elaborate or over the top. Something simple like a nail sticker can quickly and easily change up your look. You can find them online, in drugstores, at beauty counters, and in salons. Not only are stickers affordable, but they come in a variety of sizes, designs, and finishes.

Art nail design

Artificial Nails

A manicure is not typically given when receiving a set of artificial nails because it interferes with the bonding process between the extensions and the acrylic. If you choose this option, nail tips allow for a more personalized look. Many salons have the basic French tips, but they also have more exciting ones with pre-made designs, in a variety of colors.

Artificial Nails
Artificial Nails

There are Many Ideas to Choose From

With so many manicures to consider, it is easy to find one that suits your personal preferences. Beauty trends are always changing, so be sure to talk to your nail technician beforehand. They will help you stay on top of the latest looks! For best results, be open to new ideas and enjoy all of the pampering that goes along with a salon appointment.

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What Are the Different Types of Manicures