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What Is Overlay Nails?

Are you looking for a way to reinvent your nails and make them stand out? Overlay nails may be the answer!

But what is overlay nails? Do you want to know what the overlay nails trend is, and if it’s a trend you should try yourself? Keep on reading to find out…

What Is Overlay Nails?

What Is Overlay Nails?

Overlay nails are a type of manicure that is applied directly to your natural nails. This technique uses a hard and durable material such as gel, acrylic, or dip powder to cover your nails without extending their length.

The purpose of overlay nails is to protect your natural nails while making them thicker and easier to shape according to your preference.

When you get an overlay nails treatment, a professional technician applies a thin layer of gel or acrylic directly to your nails.

Unlike extensions, this technique does not involve artificial tips or adding length to your nails. Instead, the overlay acts as a protective and durable layer that can be shaped and polished to your liking.

One of the benefits of overlay nails is that they provide extra strength to your natural nails, which can be helpful if you have weak or brittle nails that tend to break easily.

Another advantage is that they can last longer than traditional gel nail polish, making them a more cost-effective option for maintaining a polished and professional appearance.

To maintain the look and integrity of your overlay nails, regular salon appointments are necessary, typically every two to four weeks.

During these appointments, your technician will fill the growth gap near your cuticle and address any lifting or chipping in the overlay.

What Are The Benefits Of Overlay Nails?

Overlay nails are a popular choice for those who want to maintain the appearance of healthy, strong nails. You might be wondering what the benefits of acrylic overlay nails, among other types, are. 

One key benefit of overlay nails is that they provide additional strength and protection to your natural nails. Whether you have long or short nails, applying an overlay can help prevent breakage, chipping, and splitting.

This enables your nails to grow stronger and healthier over time while still maintaining their original shape and length.

Another advantage of overlay nails is the variety of types available. You can choose from acrylic, gel, or dip powder overlays, each offering its own unique properties and advantages.

When you understand the pros and cons of each type, you can make a well-informed decision about which type of overlay is most suitable for your needs.

These options allow you to customize your manicure experience and achieve the look you desire.

Maintaining the appearance of your natural nails is another benefit of choosing nail overlays. Because the overlay is applied on top of your natural nails, it enhances their appearance without adding extensions.

This is particularly beneficial if you prefer a more natural look or are not a fan of extended nails.

Overlay nails also offer excellent durability. Since they are constructed from strong materials, such as acrylic or gel, they remain steadfast and long-lasting.

As a result, your manicure will maintain its fresh appearance for an extended period, potentially saving you time and money on frequent touch-ups.

How To Apply Overlay Nails To Your Natural Nails

How To Apply Overlay Nails To Your Natural Nails

Applying overlay nails to your natural nails is an excellent way to add strength, style, and durability. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you achieve stunning overlay nails:

1. Preparation: Begin by ensuring your nails are clean and free of any polish or debris. Use a nail file to shape your natural nails as desired. Keep in mind that overlay nails do not lengthen your nails, so if you want an acrylic overlay on long nails, you may need to use extensions.

2. Choose your material: Overlay nails can be made from either gel or acrylic. Both materials have their advantages; gel is typically more flexible, while acrylic is stronger. Consider your lifestyle and personal preferences when selecting your overlay nail material.

3. Apply a base coat: Start by applying a thin layer of base coat to your nails. This serves as a primer, ensuring that the overlay material sticks properly to your natural nails. Allow the base coat to dry or cure under a UV or LED lamp, depending on the product instructions.

4. Mix and apply the overlay material: Next, mix your chosen overlay material (either gel or acrylic) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply a thin, even coat onto your natural nails using a brush or applicator. Be careful not to exceed the nail’s boundaries, as this may cause lifting or uneven application.

5. Shape and cure the overlay: Use a nail brush, spatula, or tool to shape the overlay material over your natural nails. Once you’re satisfied with the shape, cure the overlay under a UV or LED lamp, again following the manufacturer’s guidelines for the required curing time.

6. Apply a top coat: Finish your overlay nails by applying a durable top coat. This seals and protects the overlay, and it adds a glossy effect. Allow the top coat to dry or cure as instructed.

7. Maintain your overlay nails: Keep your overlay nails clean and free from dirt and debris, and avoid using harsh chemicals that may weaken the overlay material. Regularly touch-up and replace the overlay as needed.

What Is The Difference Between Acrylic Overlay On Natural Nails Vs Gel Overlay Nails?

When it comes to choosing an overlay for your natural nails, you have two popular options: acrylic and gel overlays. Both offer a durable and long-lasting finish, but there are some key differences between them that can influence your decision.

Acrylic overlays involve the use of a polymer powder and a liquid monomer to create a thick and strong layer on top of your natural nails.

It dries quickly when exposed to air, resulting in a tough, non-flexible finish. Acrylic overlay nails typically have a life expectancy of around 3-4 weeks, depending on your nail growth and maintenance habits.

Acrylic nails are known for being affordable and widely available, which is a definite plus. However, they can be more prone to damage and lifting than their gel counterparts.

Gel overlay nails, on the other hand, use a UV or LED light to cure a gel substance applied to your natural nails.

Unlike acrylics, which dry quickly in air, gel overlays require the light to harden fully. This results in a more flexible, natural-looking finish that is less likely to lift prematurely.

Gel overlay nails can also last for up to 3-4 weeks, making them comparable to acrylic overlays in terms of longevity.

Some key differences when considering gel overlay nails vs acrylic overlay nails are:

  • Flexibility: Gel overlays are more flexible than acrylics, making them less prone to breakage and lifting.
  • Appearance: Gel overlays often have a shinier, more natural finish compared to acrylic overlays.
  • Odor: Acrylics have a strong smell during application, whereas gel overlays have less odor.
  • Curing process: Gel overlays require UV or LED light to cure, while acrylic overlays dry when exposed to air.
  • Removal: Gel overlays tend to be easier to remove, causing less damage to your natural nails.

Which Nails Are Best: Acrylic Overlay Nails Or Gel Overlay Nails?

When it comes to deciding between acrylic overlay nails and gel overlay nails, there are some factors you should consider before making a decision.

Understanding the differences between these two types of overlays will help you choose the ideal option for your own nails.

Acrylic overlays use a liquid and powder material to create a hard, durable layer on the surface of your natural nails.

This type of overlay is generally considered stronger and long-lasting compared to gel overlays.

Acrylic overlays can also be easily filled at subsequent appointments, making them a cost-effective option in the long run. However, the application process can be quite time-consuming, and improper removal may damage your natural nails.

On the other hand, gel overlays provide a glossy, lightweight finish that looks more natural than acrylics. They are applied using a brush and then cured under UV or LED light.

One of the benefits of gel overlays is that they are less prone to lifting and chipping compared to acrylic overlays.

Plus, the application process is quicker and less harmful to your natural nails when removed properly. However, gel overlays are not as durable as acrylics and usually cannot be filled at a later date, meaning you may need to reapply more frequently.

In terms of cost, acrylic overlays can be more expensive initially but may save you money on maintenance due to the ability to refill them.

Gel overlays, while sometimes less expensive initially, may require more frequent visits to the nail salon for reapplication.

When making a decision between acrylic and gel overlay nails, it’s essential to consider your lifestyle, personal preference, and budget.

If strength and durability are your top concerns, acrylic overlays may be a better choice for you. If you prefer a natural-looking and lightweight finish with a more manageable application process, then gel overlays may be the way to go. 

What’s the Difference Between Gel Nails and Gel Overlay?

What’s the Difference Between Gel Nails and Gel Overlay?

When it comes to nail enhancements, confusion can arise between gel nails and gel overlay. To clarify the differences, let’s briefly discuss both procedures and what sets them apart.

Gel Nails primarily refer to gel nail extensions. This process involves lengthening your natural nails with tips, forms, or artificial nail products.

Consequently, a gel substance is applied to build the structure and fullness of the extended nail. Once cured under UV or LED light, gel nails offer a durable and long-lasting solution for those seeking more dramatic nail looks.

Gel Overlay, on the other hand, is a protective layer applied to the natural nail without adding length or extensions. It consists of a hard-wearing gel, usually acrylic or hard gel, directly applied to your natural nail.

This added layer provides strength and durability, allowing your natural nails to grow out without breaking. The gel overlay process also involves shaping and getting cured under UV or LED lights to ensure proper adhesion.

How To Care For Your Overlay Nails At Home To Make Them Last

Caring for your overlay nails at home is essential for maintaining their longevity and appearance. By following some simple steps, you can keep them looking their best and protect your natural nails underneath.

One important step is to keep your nails clean and free of dirt and debris. Use a gentle brush and mild soap to clean your nails regularly, avoiding harsh chemicals that could damage the overlay.

Maintaining the protective layer is also essential. When you visit a nail salon for your overlay nails application, a nail technician applies a gel or acrylic coating over your natural nails.

This promotes strength and durability, allowing the overlay to last longer. To preserve this layer, avoid using regular nail polish remover that contains acetone.

Instead, use a gentle, acetone-free nail polish remover to prevent the protective layer from weakening.

When it comes to the actual nail polish, select a high-quality product that is chip-resistant, protective, and strengthening.

Choosing a polish that includes a hydrating component is also beneficial for maintaining the health of your overlay and natural nails.

If you notice any lifting or separation between your overlay nails and your natural nails, resist the temptation to pick or peel the overlay.

This can damage both your natural nails and the overlay. Instead, schedule an appointment with your nail technician to address any issues professionally.

Can You Apply Gel Polish Over Gel Overlay On Natural Nails?

Yes, you can apply gel polish over a gel overlay on natural nails. Gel overlays provide a protective layer to your natural nails, and applying gel polish can enhance the appearance of your nails while keeping them protected from daily wear and tear.

Before applying the gel polish, ensure that your gel overlay is properly cured, cleaned, and free from any oils or debris.

Begin by applying a thin layer of base coat to create a strong foundation for the gel polish. The base coat is essential, as it helps prevent staining and enhances the longevity of your gel polish.

One common concern when applying gel polish is the possibility of weakening your natural nails. However, with a gel overlay, your nails are shielded from any harsh chemicals that might be present in the polish.

This means that even if you have weak or sensitive nails, you can safely use gel polish over your gel overlay without causing any damage.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to use a compatible and suitable gel polish brand that works well with your gel overlay system. Using incompatible brands may result in poor adhesion or other issues.

When applying the gel polish, remember to use thin, even layers for an aesthetically pleasing finish. Be cautious not to apply too many layers, which could result in a bulky or unattractive appearance.

Finally, to maintain the health and appearance of your gel overlay, it’s essential to follow proper maintenance procedures.

Regularly fill in any areas where the overlay has grown out, remove any lifting, and routinely check for any signs of damage or infection.

How to Remove Acrylic Overlay Nails at Home

How to Remove Acrylic Overlay Nails at Home

Removing acrylic overlay nails at home can be a straightforward process if you follow the right steps. By being gentle and careful, you can remove them without causing any damage to your natural nails. Here’s how to do it:

1. Gather the necessary supplies

Before starting, make sure you have everything you need. Gather the following items:

  • Nail clippers
  • A nail file with two grits (100/80 grit, if possible)
  • A nail buffer
  • A glass or ceramic dish
  • Acetone (avoid non-acetone polish removers)
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Aluminum foil or plastic wrap

2. Trim and file your nails

Use nail clippers to cut your acrylic nails as short as possible without causing discomfort. Then, carefully file down the surface of the nail using the 100-grit side of your file.

The goal is to thin out the acrylic layer without touching your natural nails or causing damage.

3. Soak your nails

Fill the glass or ceramic dish with enough acetone to submerge your nails. Place a cotton ball or pad on top of each nail, and then soak them in the dish for about 15-20 minutes, to make overlay nails easier to remove.

Alternatively, you can soak the cotton balls in the acetone, apply them to your nails, and wrap them with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to keep them in place.

4. Gently remove the acrylic

After soaking your nails, gently use a cuticle pusher or an orange stick to peel off the softened acrylic. If it doesn’t come off easily, soak your nails for a few more minutes and try again.

Never force the acrylic off, as this could damage your natural nails, and make your nails weaker.

5. Buff and moisturize

Once the acrylic is removed, use a nail buffer to gently smooth out your natural nails. Rinse your hands with water to remove any remaining acetone, and then apply a cuticle oil or moisturizer to help rehydrate your nails and cuticles.

This will help prevent any dryness or damage that may have resulted from the removal process.

Can I Grow My Nails Longer if I Have Overlays?

Yes, you can grow your nails longer even if you have overlays. Overlay nails are designed to provide strength and protection to your natural nail surface, without the need for extensions, whilst still giving extra length to your nails. 

This means that your nails can continue to grow underneath the overlays, and keep your nails healthy.

However, it is essential to ensure you maintain proper nail care to facilitate healthy growth. Here are some essential tips to help your nails grow longer while wearing overlays:

  • Regular salon appointments: Make sure to visit your nail technician for regular maintenance. This includes filling your overlays and addressing any lifting or damage that may have occurred.
  • Healthy diet: Eating a well-balanced diet can support the growth of strong and healthy nails. Include foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Biotin supplements: Biotin is a type of B vitamin known for promoting hair and nail strength. Taking biotin supplements can help improve your nail growth rate, especially if you have a deficiency.
  • Avoid biting your nails and cuticles: Be mindful of biting habits, as they can cause damage and hinder healthy nail growth. Instead, keep a nail file and cuticle clipper nearby to address any rough edges or hangnails.



Overlay nails are a great way to protect and enhance your natural nails without adding length or extensions. They are applied with either gel or acrylic, depending on your preference, and they provide excellent durability and strength for long-lasting wear.

Plus, caring for your overlay nails is essential for preserving their appearance and quality. With the right supplies, you can remove them safely at home without damaging your natural nails.

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