The Enduring Beauty of Nail Overlays
Nail extensions have been around since Ancient Egypt. Only the rich and wealthy could afford nail overlays, but since then, they have become accessible for everyone. Originally made from ivory or gold, the contemporary nail overlays came about when a dentist broke a nail. Using his dental ‘plaster’, he fashioned an artificial nail, and here we are!
Dentist Fred Slack, in the 1950s, broke a nail while at work, and realising this could be unhygienic and uncomfortable, he used his dental materials to successfully craft a false nail. He later went on to patent his idea.
Today, there are multiple nail extensions and overlay techniques available for those who wish to enhance the appearance and strength of their natural nails, all based dentistry!
There are two main types of false nails – extensions and overlays. Nail extensions, or tips, are made from lightweight, but durable, plastic, trimmed to your chosen shape – such as almond or coffin. These are glued on your natural nails and overlaid with acrylic or gel to give them a secure finish.
Nail overlays don’t extend your nail, and involve a strong, hard-wearing acrylic or gel being applied directly onto your natural nails and shaped by hand to give an attractive, neat look. They are then buffed to create a glossy effect. Providing an extra layer of protection if your nails are weak and prone to breaking, overlays are great if you *gasp* chew your nails, or generally have trouble growing them.
Types of Nail Overlays
Nail overlays are available in all of the same systems as extensions – acrylic, gel, fiberglass, and silk.
How to Achieve a DIY Gel Nail Overlay
As you only use a tiny amount of the gel, your overlay kit will last you for a whole year’s worth of great manicures. But here’s what you need to get started:
- Gel Nail Files
- Nail Polish Remover – acetone free if possible
- Base Gel
- Gel Color polish – optional
- Gel Top Coat
- Start by gathering your products and making yourself a coffee!
- Give your nails a good clean with the nail polish remover
- Buff slightly to remove any shine
- Then clean again – it is worth the effort, trust me
- Apply a thin layer of the primer and let it dry completely
- Brush on a layer of the gel base coat
- Cure thoroughly
- Apply a second thin layer of gel base coat over the whole nail
- Then add a little bit more gel down the center of your nail. Let the gel settle for a few seconds then cure it under the lamp. This provides a natural looking curve to the nail surface
- Gently file the surface to your liking. Don’t apply too much pressure as you don’t want to file down to your natural nail!
- When you’re happy with the look, buff
- Clean your nails again
- If you wish, now’s the time to add your color, curing thoroughly between coats
- Apply a thin layer of gel top coat, making sure you cover the free edges, too, and cure
- Remove any residue
- Admire your gorgeous nails and enjoy your coffee, while still gazing in wonder at your beautiful nails.
After trying out many overlay builders, this one from Makartt comes out top in all tests, and I highly recommend it for both pros and novice DIYers.
What Makes It Great
Makartt have designed this 100% organic polygel to have multiple uses, however I really rate it for nail overlays. It’s quick and simple to apply, wonderfully mess-free, and doesn’t have the eye watering chemical odor that some other overlay products do. Being slightly thicker than regular gel polish, it’s a good idea to very carefully apply it over your whole nail rather than letting it spread out from the central ‘strip’. However, once cured, it’s easy to file down to a perfectly smooth, naturally rounded nail surface look. Once applied, my overlays lasted for over a month, and when removed, my natural nails seemed super nourished and healthy.
Where It Could Be Improved
Only available in pink, you’ll need to use colored polish with this overlay, and can’t get away with your natural nail color.
For strength, durability, and ease of application, this gel overlay has it all and at a budget friendly price. I can’t live without it in my mani kit, and nor should you!
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