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What is a Manicure? A Professional Manicurist's Guide

Updated: Feb 29

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Well manicured hands

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Let's go get a manicure! But, what is a manicure exactly? Well, let's explore what they entail, their significance in hand and natural nail care, and the different variety of manicure options available to you. Get ready to pamper yourself and discover the wonders of a well-executed manicure!

A manicure is a meticulous beauty treatment that focuses on the hands and the natural nail preferably done at a professional nail salons. Beyond enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your nails, manicures also promote nail health and overall well-being. Regular manicures contribute to stronger, healthier nails while giving your hands a polished and refined look.

manicure bowl

Why Are Manicures Important?

  • Nail health: During a manicure, a professional nail technician will shape your nails carefully, trim, shape, and file to remove any rough edges or unevenness. This promotes healthy nail growth and reduces the risk of snagging or breakage.

  • Cuticle care: The cuticles, the thin layer of skin around the base of your nails, are an essential part of nail health. Manicures involve the gentle pushing back or removal of cuticles to maintain their neat appearance. This process helps prevent hangnails and potential infections.

  • Hydration and moisturization: Manicures often include a relaxing hand and nail massage, which not only feels wonderful but also stimulates blood circulation. This promotes oxygen flow and nutrients to your nails, keeping them healthy and strong.

  • Additionally, the use of nourishing creams or oils during the massage deeply moisturizes your skin, combating dryness and maintaining a youthful appearance.

  • Enhancing your overall look: Well-groomed hands and nails can greatly enhance your appearance. A professionally executed manicure provides a polished, put-together look, and the application of nail polish adds a pop of color or sophistication to your style.

What Is Included in a Manicure?

A manicure typically includes several steps and treatments to groom and beautify the hands and nails. The specific services included may vary depending on the nail salon or nail spa and the type of manicure chosen. However, here are the common elements you can expect in a standard manicure:

  • Nail shape: The nail technician will carefully shape your nails using a nail file. They can customize the natural nail shape based on your preference, such as square, oval, round, or almond.

  • Cuticle care: The cuticles, the thin layer of skin at the base of your nails, will be gently pushed back with a cuticle pusher and trimmed to create a clean nail bed. This is done with a cuticle remover solution and a cuticle trimmer. This helps prevent hangnails and maintain the health of the nails.

  • Nail buffing: The surface of your nails will be lightly buffed to smooth out any ridges or imperfections. This step prepares the nail beds for the application of nail polish or other nail treatments.

  • Hand soak: Your hands may be soaked in warm water or a soothing soak solution to soften the skin and cuticles. This can help with relaxation and further prepare the hands for subsequent treatments.

  • Exfoliation: A gentle scrub or exfoliating treatment may be applied to the hands and lower arms to remove dead skin cells and leave the skin feeling soft and smooth.

  • Hand and arm massage: A moisturizing lotion or oil will be massaged into your hands, wrists, and lower arms. Depending on the type of manicure, it may include a soothing hot stone massage and paraffin wax. The paraffin wax helps to promote relaxation, improves blood circulation, and hydrates the skin.

  • Nail polish application: You can choose from a wide range of nail polish colors and finishes to apply to your nails. You can opt for just a couple of coats of nail strengthener if you want to go natural and not have any colors. If you do decide to go with colors, the manicurist will typically apply a base coat, followed by two coats of your chosen nail polish color, and finish with a top coat to enhance shine and extend the life of the manicure.

  • Drying and finishing touches: After the nail polish is applied, the technician will allow it to dry or use a nail dryer to speed up the process. Any excess polish on the skin or cuticles will be cleaned up with a brush or cotton swab. Finally, a cuticle oil or moisturizing product may be applied to nourish the cuticles and promote overall nail health.

French Manicure
French Manicure

How Much Does a Manicure Cost

The cost of a manicure can vary depending on several factors, such as the location, the salon's reputation, the type of manicure, additional services, and any included add-ons. On average, a basic manicure can range from $20 to $40.

However, prices can go higher for more specialized or luxurious manicure options, such as gel manicures, acrylic nails, or nail art. It's best to check with local salons or nail technicians for specific pricing in your area.

How Long Does A Manicure Take

The duration of a manicure can vary depending on the type of manicure, the condition of your nails, and any additional services you choose. Here are some general time estimates:

Basic manicure: A basic manicure typically takes around 30 to 45 minutes to complete. This includes nail shaping, cuticle care, a hand massage, and nail polish application. If you opt to go with regular nail lacquer, instead of gel polish, approximately 15-20 minutes of additional drying time is be needed.

Gel manicure: Gel manicures usually require a bit more time due to the additional steps involved. The process can take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. This includes nail shaping, cuticle care, gel polish application, and curing each layer under a UV or LED lamp. No additional drying time is need since gel polish cures in less than 60 seconds. Once cured, you're all set to go.

Nail art or intricate designs: If you opt for nail art or intricate designs, the time required will depend on the complexity of the design. Additional time may be needed for detailed painting, applying embellishments, or creating 3D designs.

It's important to note that these time estimates can vary depending on the salon, the experience of the nail technician, and other factors. Additionally, if you choose to add extra services such as a hand scrub, paraffin wax treatment, or nail repairs, the overall duration of the manicure may be longer.

To ensure an accurate estimate of the time required, it's best to consult with your nail technician before your appointment. They will be able to provide you with a more specific timeframe based on the services you request and the condition of your nails.

What Are 4 Types of Manicures

Now that you understand the basic manicure process, let's explore various manicure options available to cater to your unique preferences and needs:

A basic manicure is a classic option that covers all the essential steps mentioned earlier. It includes nail shaping, cuticle care, a relaxing hand and nail massage, and nail polish application. This manicure is perfect for anyone seeking a clean and natural look with well-groomed nails. It's a versatile choice suitable for both casual and formal occasions.

French Manicure

The French manicure is an elegant and timeless style that has been popular for decades. It is characterized by a nude or pale pink base with white tips. This understated and sophisticated look goes well with any outfit and suits various skin tones.

French manicures can be customized by adjusting the length and shape of the nails and experimenting with different shades of nude and white. They are particularly favored for weddings, special events, or for those who prefer a more subtle and classic nail style.

Gel Manicure or Shellac Manicure

  • If you want a longer-lasting manicure that maintains its pristine appearance for an extended period, a gel manicure or shellac manicure is an excellent choice. Gel polish, also known as soak-off gel, is a type of nail polish that requires curing under a UV or LED lamp.

  • The application process involves applying several layers of gel polish and curing each layer, resulting in a chip-resistant and glossy finish. The advantages of a gel manicure include:

  • Durability: Gel polish can last up to two weeks without chipping, allowing you to enjoy flawless nails for an extended period.

  • Immediate drying: Since the polish is cured using a lamp, your nails will be dry and smudge-proof as soon as the curing process is complete.

  • High shine: Gel polish offers a high-gloss finish that remains intact throughout the wear time, adding a beautiful luster to your nails.

  • It's important to note that the removal process for gel polish requires professional assistance, as it involves soaking the nails in acetone and gently scraping off the softened gel. Attempting to remove gel polish at home can cause damage to your nails, so it's best to seek professional help to ensure safe and effective removal.

Dip Powder Manicures

  • Known as a dip powder manicure, is a type of manicure that uses a colored powder to achieve a long-lasting and durable nail finish. This technique has gained popularity due to its strength, versatility, and ease of application.

French nails with colorful leopard print
French Nails With Colorful Leopard Print

For those seeking unique and expressive nail designs, nail art is a fantastic option. Nail art allows you to showcase your personality and creativity through a wide range of designs, patterns, colors, and textures. Some popular nail art techniques include:

  • Stamping: Designs are transferred onto the nails using special nail art stamping plates.

  • Freehand painting: Intricate designs are hand-painted directly onto the nails using thin brushes and specialized nail art paints.

  • Embellishments: Rhinestones, glitter, beads, and other decorative elements are applied to create eye-catching and textured designs.

  • Cat-eye gel nail art: A unique and eye-catching technique that combines gel polish, magnets, and special magnetic particles to create a mesmerizing cat-eye effect on your nails. This technique has gained popularity in recent years for its ability to create a stunning 3D optical illusion that resembles the glow of a cat's eye.

  • Chrome nails: Known as mirror or metallic nails, are a trendy metallic nail design that creates a reflective, mirror-like effect on the nails. This technique involves applying a chrome powder or pigment over a base coat of gel polish or regular nail polish to achieve a highly reflective, metallic finish.

  • 3D nail art refers to the creation of three-dimensional designs and decorations on nails, adding depth and texture to enhance the overall look. It involves using various materials and techniques to create intricate and eye-catching designs that go beyond traditional flat nail polish. 3D nail art allows for limitless creativity, with designs ranging from simple and elegant to elaborate and whimsical.

  • Nail art can be tailored to your preferences, whether you prefer a subtle accent nail or a bold and intricate design on every nail. Your manicurist can provide suggestions, assist in choosing designs, and bring your nail art visions to life.

Hallographic Ombre Nails
Hallographic Ombre Nails

The Manicure Treatment Area

When you visit a nail salon for a manicure, you'll enter a dedicated nail treatment area designed to provide a comfortable and relaxing experience. Here are some key aspects of the manicure treatment area:

  • Sanitation and cleanliness: Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment is crucial in a manicure treatment area. Salons adhere to strict sanitization protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of their clients. Manicure tools, such as nail files, cuticle pushers, and clippers, are properly sterilized or disposed of after each use. Disposable or sanitized nail buffers and files are provided for individual clients to prevent cross-contamination.

  • Comfortable seating: The treatment area is equipped with comfortable chairs or recliners to ensure that you can relax and enjoy your manicure experience. The seating is designed to provide proper support for your arms and hands, allowing you to rest them comfortably during the treatment.

  • Adequate lighting: Adequate lighting is essential to ensure that your manicurist can work with precision and accuracy. The treatment area is well-lit to provide optimal visibility of your nails and cuticles, ensuring that every detail is taken care of during the manicure process.

  • Ambiance and decor: Salons often pay attention to creating a soothing and pleasant ambiance in the manicure treatment area. Soft music, calming scents, and tasteful decor contribute to a relaxing atmosphere, allowing you to unwind and enjoy your pampering session.

The manicure treatment area is thoughtfully designed to create a serene and enjoyable atmosphere, allowing you to fully indulge in the manicure experience while receiving top-notch nail care.

Maintaining Your Manicure at Home

To prolong the life of your manicure and keep your nails looking their best, it's essential to follow proper at-home maintenance. Here are some tips to help you maintain your manicure:

  • Protect your nails: Avoid using your nails as tools for tasks such as opening packages, peeling off stickers, or scratching surfaces. Using your nails in these ways can cause them to chip, break, or lift the polish.

  • Moisturize regularly: Hydrated nails and cuticles are less prone to damage. Apply a nourishing hand cream or cuticle oil daily to keep your hands and nails moisturized. Focus on massaging the cream or oil into your cuticles and nail beds to provide deep hydration.

  • Wear gloves for household chores: When engaging in household chores, such as washing dishes or cleaning with harsh chemicals, protect your manicure by wearing gloves. Exposure to water and chemicals can weaken the polish and damage your nails.

  • Use a non-acetone polish remover: When it's time to remove your nail polish, opt for a non-acetone nail polish remover. Acetone-based removers can be drying to the nails and cuticles, leading to brittleness and dryness. Non-acetone removers are gentler on your nails while effectively removing the polish.

Health Benefits of Getting Regular Manicures

A manicure is a meticulous beauty treatment that focuses on the hands and fingernails,

promoting both nail health and aesthetic appeal. Regular manicures provide the following benefits:

  • Improve nail health: Manicures involve nail shaping, filing, and cuticle care, which contribute to healthier, stronger nails. Trimming and shaping your nails prevent snagging and breakage, while cuticle care keeps them neat and reduces the risk of hangnails. The removal of dead skin around the nails also enhances overall nail health.

  • Aesthetically pleasing nails: A well-executed manicure transforms your nails into beautifully groomed works of art. With a wide range of nail polish colors and finishes to choose from, you can express your personal style and enhance your overall appearance.

  • Mental health booster: Taking time for self-care and indulging in a manicure can provide a significant mental health boost. The pampering experience, relaxation from hand and nail massages, and the simple act of focusing on self-care can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. When you look good, you feel good.


  • In conclusion, I hope you understand what a manicure is now. A manicure is much more than a mere cosmetic beauty treatment. It is a comprehensive care routine that nurtures your nails, promotes their health, and enhances your overall appearance.

  • Whether you choose a basic manicure for a clean and natural look, a French manicure for timeless elegance, a gel manicure for long-lasting perfection, or embrace the creativity of nail art, each option allows you to express your personal style and indulge in self-care. Regular manicures not only provide aesthetic benefits but also contribute to the overall well-being of your hands and nails.

  • Whether you're getting ready for a special occasion, seeking relaxation and pampering, or simply want to boost your confidence with a fabulous set of nails, a manicure is the perfect choice. Visit our salon and let our skilled manicurists transform your hands into works of art, leaving you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to conquer the world!

Ready to experience the benefits of a professional manicure? Treat yourself to a manicure and enjoy the pampering and transformation of your nails. Book an appointment at OMG! Nails & Spa at and prepare to be greeted by our skilled manicurists and experience a relaxing and rejuvenating manicure treatment.

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