You may have noticed quite a bit of buzz around a new(ish) nail extension service. Some know it as ‘Gel-X Nails’ while others call it ‘Soft Gel Tips’. Regardless of what you name it, it’s the process of adding length to natural nails using full cover nail tips. Keep reading to find out why both clients and nail techs are absolutely in love with this method of creating nail extensions!
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What Are Nail Tips?
Using nail tips to create extensions is nothing new to the beauty industry. For many years, nail technicians have used nail tips made out of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or what we know as plastic. These tips are attached using nail glue, and are positioned anywhere from the free edge to the lower half of the natural nail. The positioning of the nail tip depends on the desired look, as well as hiding any imperfections like bitten nails. Once the nail tip is secured, gel or acrylic is applied over top to add strength to the nail extension.
Here are some of the most commonly used types of nail tips:
Author's note: Nail tips are often mislabeled in shops, especially on Amazon.com. Use our guide below to visually see what each of these types of nail tips should look like!
Full-Well Nail Tips
The ‘well’ of a nail tip is the indented area where nail glue is applied and makes contact with the natural nail. Full-well tips have the biggest well area and therefore provide the best ‘grip’ to the natural nail. This type of nail tip is good for camouflaging conditions such as bitten nails and other imperfections. Since the well is so large, blending the nail tip into the natural nail is very difficult. In most cases it’s better to just use an opaque nail color on top.
Half-Well Nail Tips
The ‘well’ area of half-well tips are half the size compared to full-well nail tips. This type of tip is attached to the free edge of the natural nail, and can be blended quite easily. When done properly, you can’t even tell where the tip starts and ends on the natural nail! That’s why half-well nail tips are so popular - they can create a ‘natural nail’ look or be used as a foundation for sheer colors or nail designs.
Well-Less Nail Tips
As the name implies, well-less nail tips don’t have wells. Therefore, they can be applied to any position on the natural nails. Since they don’t require blending, they usually come pre-designed. For example, white well-less nail tips are great for classic white and pink French nails. Well-less tips also come in different colors, and patterns.
What Are Full Cover Nail Tips?
Full cover nail tips provide full coverage to the natural nail plate and are attached using glue, gel or acrylic. This type of nail extension method has become very popular because it trims down the time of service compared to sculpting extensions using nail forms, and gluing and blending traditional nail tips.
The reason why full cover nail tips require less application time is because they are pre-shaped. Not only are they available in a huge variety of nail shapes (like square, coffin, stiletto, almond, etc.), they can also be found in different lengths! Most importantly, the structure of the nail (apex and thinner sides) is already built into the nail. This means, you don't have to create it yourself, or worry about breakage due to stress.
Just like any other type of nail tip, full coverage tips usually come in a box of at least 10 different sizes. The sizes of the nail tips are etched underneath the free edge. The sizing typically ranges from 0 (biggest) to 9 (smallest). If you're in between sizes, you'll have to find the closest fit and then file it down to fit your nail. If your natural nails are too big for any of the tips, you'll need to source a kit that is made for wider nails.
The sizing will vary from brand to brand, so some companies will provide a chart of how their nails fit.
What Are Full Cover Nail Tips Made Of?
There is a bit of controversy over what full cover nail tips are actually made of. Many nail supply brands are marketing their product as ‘soft gel tips’, which is a great concept, but is there any truth to it? Young Nails, a nail supply company in the USA, took the question straight to their chemists. According to their independent research and analysis, it turns out that these so-called ‘soft gel tips’ were actually made of plastic.
How Do You Use Full Cover Tips?
One of the reasons why full cover tips are so popular is because they can be used in so many different ways. Here are four different ways you can use full cover tips:
Nail Art Samples
Nail artists love using full cover tips to show off their nail art capabilities. By using full coverage tips, they are able to create sets of 5 to 10 nail designs, which gives clients a better idea of what the design would look like on them.
Press On Nails
Press on nails are pre-designed, full coverage nail tips that can be worn for as short as an evening to up to a week. They are applied with nail glue, sticky tabs, or a combination of the two. Celebrities such as Ariana Grande and Chrissy Teigen have shared their love for press ons, especially during the pandemic when nail salons were closed.
Applied with Nail Glue
This technique is similar to press on nails, but the difference is that the full cover tips are applied to the natural nails first with nail glue, then color and/or design is applied. These nails will usually stay on for about a week.
Applied with Gel Or Acrylic
For longer wear, nail techs attach full cover tips to the natural nail with gel or acrylic. They will use techniques such as etching the nail plate and the back of the full cover tip to help the nails last up to 3-4 weeks. Once the full cover tip is attached, gel polish and designs can be applied on top.
How Long Do Full Cover Tip Extensions Last?
Depending on the application method used, full cover tip extensions can last anywhere from a day to up to 4 weeks. Here’s a breakdown of how long different applications will typically last:
How Do You Remove Full Cover Tip Extensions?
There are different ways to properly remove full cover tip extensions. Here’s a breakdown depending on how they were applied:
Removing Press On Nails
Soaking in warm, soapy water (or taking a bath) should ease the nails off. Alternatively, they can be trimmed short, and soaked off in acetone. Check out our Press On Nails Guide for more details!
Removing Full Cover Tips Applied With Glue
Tips should be trimmed first. If there is gel polish on top, buff off the shine with a 100-150 nail file, then soak in acetone.
Removing Full Cover Tips Applied With Gel Or Acrylic
If the full cover tips were attached with soft gel or acrylic, they can be filed down, and soaked off with acetone.
If they were applied with hard gel, they will have to be filed off with an e-file by an experienced nail tech.
Are Full Cover Nail Tips Better?
Yes, in many cases, full cover tips are better than traditional tips. One of the main reasons being that they cut down the length of the service time for applying nail extensions - a huge bonus for both nail artists and clients!
Full cover tips have been received quite well into the nail industry, and we predict that they are here to stay! Not only do they help cut down on service time, they also create beautifully shaped, and strong nail extensions. A huge win-win for both nail techs and clients!