What Is An Overlay On Your Nails?

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There’s nothing worse than wasting time and money on a manicure, only to have it chip or peel before you’ve shown the world your colorful nails!

Nail polish can be frustrating to work with and smudges so easily while drying.

An overlay is your best option if you’re looking for a long-lasting, chip-proof manicure. They’re the most natural type of fake nail and can withstand everyday gestures and movements.

But what is an overlay on your nails? How is an overlay different from nail extensions? What kinds of overlays are there?

Nail overlays cover your natural nails with polish but do not extend their length. We’ll go over all this and more, so keep reading!


What Is An Overlay On Your Nails?

There are two kinds of fake nails: extensions or overlays.

Overlay nails are a type of manicure. It uses dip powder, acrylic, gel, or poly gel to cover your natural nails.

They harden and are durable, but they don’t extend the length of your nails. There are no tips or forms, no extensions. Just nice and simple color.

Products that go into nail extensions are used. It is less the actual plastic that lengthens your nails.

This sounds similar to painting nail polish onto your nail. But, an overlay manicure cannot be achieved by applying polish only.

Nail polishes aren’t strengthening and don’t offer any protection. These easily chip away and don’t protect your nails from breaking.

Overlay nails are a type of fake nail manicure that uses dip powder, acrylic, gel, or poly gel. This is used to cover your natural nails.

Benefits Of Overlay Nails

So, what are the benefits of getting an overlay manicure? Why not just get a regular manicure?

Overlays are better than your regular gel manicure. This is because they reinforce your natural nail, so it’s protected from breakage, damage, etc.

Because they’re stronger and more durable, you’ll get to enjoy your manicure for a longer duration.

Nail polish generally lasts 5-7 days on your nails. An overlay is good for 3-7 weeks, depending on which kind of overlay was used.

You won’t find any chips or peeling with an overlay! Sweet!

Overlays Versus Nail Extensions

Nail extensions are also known as nail tips. They’re made from lightweight plastic. This is cut into the shape of your nail, then covered with acrylic or gel to hold it in place.

Ultimately, nail extensions lengthen your nails and can be shaped in any way you’d like.

If you can’t decide between the two, you have to ask yourself what you’re looking for in a manicure.

Are you looking to strengthen your manicure, or are you looking for more length?

Nail extensions give you length. Overlays strengthen your natural nail. How long your nails are when you get an overlay is what determines how long they’ll be by the end of your appointment.

Nail extensions give you length. Overlays strengthen your natural nail.

Another difference is the weight.

Overlays feel lighter and look more natural than nail extensions. This is because they use fewer products to create the overlay.

But nail extensions need a lot of product to form, which causes them to feel bulkier and cumbersome.

If you’re after the manicure that’ll last the longest, you should go with an overlay.

Because you’re adding extra length to your nails when you get extensions, they’re more likely to lift prematurely, pop off, or strain your nails if caught on something.

Overlays are also more affordable, as it takes less product and time to complete the manicure.

Which Type Of Overlay Nails Are Best?

There are four types of overlay nails you can get done at your nail salon: dip powder, acrylic, gel, or polygel.

But which is best for you?

While they may seem the same, they do offer differing benefits. We’ll list all their key differences below so you can make an informed choice when you get to your overlay appointment!

Dip Powder Overlay

Dip powder is a popular choice for natural-looking nails.

They’re easy to apply, remove, and offer that durable, long-lasting benefit that we love from an overlay.

It’s also not so harsh on your nails or skin, as it doesn’t use as many chemicals and doesn’t need UV lamps to cure.

This method can cost a bit more than the other choices. It isn’t always available in nail salons as it’s a newer product.

If your nail salon doesn’t carry it, you could easily apply it at home with a dip powder kit!

Acrylic Overlay

Acrylic nails are the most popular choice for nail extensions. But, they’re also great for overlays.

They’re a combination of liquid monomer and powder polymer that form a paste on top of your natural nail.

Acrylics are incredibly durable, lasting up to 6-7 weeks. It is by far the choice that will get you the most wear time. But as your nails grow, you’ll have to get them filled every three or so weeks.

These are the cheaper choice, which may be due to their wide availability.

The downside is that they can be harsh on your nails, and are a pain to remove.

Acrylic nails use strong chemicals to bond with your nails. It requires a lot of filling during the application. You may find that after removal, your nails are thin and brittle. Give your nails a break from time to time.

Gel Overlay

Gel polish on its own isn’t considered an overlay as it doesn’t strengthen your nail.

Gel overlay tends to look more natural. It is also less damaging to your nails as there are fewer harsh chemicals in the product.

Your manicure should last anywhere from 3-4 weeks. Yet, be warned that it is a more expensive process, as your nail tech will need to use a UV lamp to cure your nails.

Polygel Overlay

Polygel is a new nail product that combines acrylic and gel.

Because it’s a hybrid gel, it will be stronger than if you used gel or acrylic on your own.

Polygel is generally meant to be used with nail extensions, but they work for overlays too.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).