If great accessories can make the outfit, then having a shiny nail job is the beauty equivalent. We tested out some of latest manicures on the market – and here’s what we found.

Dry manicure

What is it: A dry mani is much like your typical manicure, only your nails don’t get soaked in soapy water.

Pros: A dry
manicure will last longer than a wet version and results in better looking polished nails. How? When you soak your nails, the layers that compose your nail soak up the liquid, making it expand and then shrink back as the layers dry, says Cathy Mancini, owner of Lux Spa in Toronto (where dry is the only way they do manicures). This expansion and contraction of your nails leads to your nail polish buckling, and soon after, chipping much more easily.

Cons: In our experience, you’ll enjoy a perfect manicure for more days with a dry version compared to a wet version, but you can expect some chipping after about five days, depending what you put your hands through on a day to day basis.

Cost: Same as your average manicure. Available at Lux Spa in Toronto. Call your local nail bar to check if they offer dry manis

OPI Axxium Soak-off Gel Lacquer

What is it: A soak-off gel lacquer – this means your manicure will be seem similar to a typical manicure, only after each coat of this specialized gel lacquer formula, you cure your nails under a UV lamp for two minutes. Only available in salons.

Pros: Stays shiny and chip-free for at least two weeks. You will notice nail regrowth during this time, but since the 34 shades available are OPI
nail colours (many of the ones we all know and love, such as Lincoln Park After Dark and You Don’t Know Jacques!), you can easily touch up the bit of exposed bare nail using your matching OPI polish at home, says Wendy Cho, co-owner of Salvatore Leonetti salon in Toronto. (“Touch up the regrowth and then apply a coat of polish to the entire nail,” recommends Cho). And did we mention the advantage of zero dry time? Get used to having your nails completely dry after that final two minutes of curing the top coat under the UV lamp‹no more leaving the salon keeping your fingers daintily in the air!

Cons: Axxium’s durability can also be a curse if you’re not someone who wants to stick to the same nail colour for two or more weeks. Plus, there’s more time commitment involved since you have to return to the spa to get Axxium removed (a process very similar to Shellac removal‹see below).

Cost: Starting from $50. Call 1-800-341-9999 to find a salon that offers Axxium near you.

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CND Shellac

What is it: Similar to OPI Axxium, Shellac (developed by the folks at Creative Nail Design) is a hybrid nail colour that is only available in salons that is applied much like regular nail polish only each coat is cured under a UV light, resulting in super durable nails with zero dry time.

Pros: Shellac, available in 12 colours, is much less toxic and damaging than gel nails, not to mention more natural looking, too. Lasts two weeks with high shine and no (or very minor) chipping. Plus, like Axxium, you can reach into your handbag after your appointment to pay for your mani without worrying about ruining your fresh paint job.

Cons: Be prepared to live with your nail colour for two weeks or longer – for this reason, many people shy away from the bold shades and opt for the paler, more versatile shades. Plus, you’ll notice nail regrowth between the polish and your cuticle and for some ladies, this is a pet peeve. And make time in your calendar for removing Shellac. To remove this mani, you have to return to the salon where the aesthetician will apply pieces of cotton soaked in acetone to your nails and warp each nail in foil as the acetone does its work for about 10 minutes. Then the foil and cotton is removed and the flakey Shellac product is then gently scraped off by the aesthetician. Removal appointments start from $10.

Cost: Starting from $45. Visit cnd.com to find a Shellac salon in your area.

Minx nails

What is it: A thin decorative film is applied onto your nail bed by a pro (Minx is a salon-only manicure) and a special UV lamp is used to activate the film’s gentle adhesive backing to adhere it to your nail. The excess Minx nail is then filed off.

Pros: You can get super flashy, intricately designed nails without the cloud of chemicals associated with airbrushing. Said to last about two weeks. Removal is simple: gently warm your nails using a blow dryer and peel off.

Cons: Depending on how cleanly your nail pro files off the excess Minx nail, you may find the nail will start peeling away from the tip before two weeks are up.

Cost: Starting from $45. Visit minxnails.com to find a salon near you.

Tip: If you’re looking to get the graphic prints and bold patterns at home, try Sephora by OPI Chic Print for Nails. Developed in collaboration with Minx, this at-home alternative is easy on the wallet (at $19.50 for 16 precut strips) and easy to use: you simply rub the strip with your fingers to warm the nail strip before pressing it onto your nails.

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OPI Axxium Soak-off Gel Lacquer

CND Shellac on the next page…

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CND Shellac

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Minx nails

Lady Gaga image courtesy of Meeno from Interscope 

An alternative to Minx nails? Find out on the next page…

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Sephora by OPI Chic Print for Nails

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OPI Miami Beet

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