❻❸: What are nail extensions/overlay/Infills?

A lot of girls step into a nail salon, look at the service menu and go “what’s overlay?” or “I want to do extensions but idk to choose from gel or acrylic”. I know, I’ve been there and I’ll always end up doing classic mani/pedi or express mani/pedi because that’s the only thing I understand from the menu hahaha. One fine day I decided to muster my courage and prompt one of the manicurist on the difference and meaning of each but ended up going home even more confused -_-

So, here’s a post to clear up the mystery girls!

Picture below shows the different type of extensions. (Not all)

Before I start, let me briefly point out the difference in gel and acrylic.

  • Gel – gel-like product and only cures under UV or LED lamp. Will not air dry.

Type of gel:

  1. Hard gel – final gel nail appears hard when extension is done. Can or cannot be soaked off.
  2. Soft gel – final gel nail appears soft when overlay is done, usually not used for extensions. Can be soaked off.
  3. Traditional gel – final gel nail that cannot be soaked off. Traditional gel is not equivalent to hard gel.
  4. Soak off gel – final gel nails that can be soaked off. Soak off gel is not equivalent to soft gel.
  • Acrylic – using monomer and arcylic powder to sculpture extensions, or to create embossed/3D nail art. Dries up and harden in seconds to minutes, UV/LED lamp not required.

1. Extensions – using acrylic or gel to lengthen nails to desired length.

Extensions are usually done when customer broke 1 or 2 of her nails and to extend these nails to the same length as their natural nails, or when they want longer nails than usual for an occasion/event. Read about the acrylic extension I did for my mom here.

Basically there are 2 types of extension: Tip overlay and nail sculpture

a) Tip overlay extensions in gel or acrylic

A half tip will be pasted on customer’s natural nail to give the impression of longer nails, which will then be shorten to requested length and finally an overlay of gel or acrylic will be added. Thumb and index fingernails above illustrates tip overlay extensions in gel.

Picture of a half-tip below.

Tip overlay extension (acrylic) done during lessons.

b) Nail sculpture extensions in gel or acrylic

Form will be customized to required shape (optional), which will then be fitted just beneath free edge and finally a layer overlay of gel or acrylic will be added. Length will be customized according to customer’s request.

Nail form

Cut the form (optional, depending on nail shape)

Fitting of form

An example of acrylic nail sculpture extensions

My gel extensions for now, done by Joe during lessons.
Ring fingernail – sculpture
Index fingernail – french tip overlay

2. Overlay – a coat of polish/acrylic/gel on top of natural nails.

Anything that is applied on top of your natural nails will be considered an overlay, e.g. using tradition gel, soft gel (such as gelish), acrylic, or even normal nail polishes. Acrylic or gel overlay are usually done to prevent chipping when nails break in between and when adding a few coat of glue doesn’t work anymore (yes I totally feel you I always have this problem before I start doing gelish on myself).

Types of overlay:
a) Hard gel overlay
b) Soft gel overlay (either traditional gel or new technology such as gelish or gelly polish)
b) Acrylic overlay

3. Infills – filling in grown out gaps in between cuticle and acrylic/gel.

Fingernails grow at an average rate of 3mm/month and the beautiful designs done will be pushed downwards, hence infills are done by filling in this gap in between to cover up the grown out portion.

And, that’s it! I hope this information is helpful to nail lovers out there! ☺

Kate – Nails Obsession