I would never get fake nails but holiday SNS was the best beauty decision I made

Beauty editor Kelsey Ferencak recently discovered the solution to chip-free holiday nails, and she’ll never go back to Shellac again. 

When it comes to my nails I’d say they’re au-naturel, or very, very natural. The most I do is a quick file to whip them into some kind of presentable length and shape. There’s no buff or polish and I rarely get fancy manicures. Heck, the last time I had them done was for a ‘clean manicure’ AKA not like a manicure at all. And the time before that would have been French tip acrylics for my year ten school formal.

However, since I was heading overseas for two-and-a-half weeks of rest and relaxation I didn’t want to worry about having ‘pretty’ fingertips while out for dinner, or dealing with weak nails from too much swimming, so I did some digging and came across SNS (Signature Nail Systems), created to rival traditional acrylic, gel and shellac nail methods, it’s said to help reduce the amount of liquid monomers (the chemical odour you can smell in salons) and toxins in the air (and on your fingers) and to improve overall nail health.

How does it work?

“Instead of applying liquid colours to the nail, an adhesive base is used instead, then the nail is ‘dipped’ into fine coloured powder [to harden and smooth your nail], before being sealed with a special top coat,” explains Lilli Vo, SNS Australia Manicurist.

So it’s kind of like Shellac or Gel, but without the liquid layers?

Exactly. According to Vo the main difference is in the application process. “Shellac and gel require drying under UV light which can expose your skin to potentially harmful UV damage. But another major point of difference is that these dipping powders contains numerous vitamins, including calcium to promote stronger nail beds and vitamins A, E B5, D3 and Calcium to help the natural nail grow stronger and healthier,” she says. “They also contain benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent that prevents bacteria from breeding, therefore, preventing any chance of cross-contamination or fungus on the nail.”

Traditional acrylics can feel clunky, are almost always too long and are prone to cracking and breaking, where gel can chip or leave your natural nail damaged and stained. The dipping method works to thicken and strengthen your natural nail shape while limiting the amount of pressure on your actual nail. You’ll be in the chair from around 45 to 60 minutes and it costs anywhere from $45-75 depending on the salon and location.

The verdict

I went for my own natural shape and length in a nude-y pink shade, ideal for all Summer holiday outfits and occasions – I can confirm this mani went through handling luggage, a cooking class, swimming and a hell of a lot of lifting-cocktail-to-mouth actions with no damage or worse – annoying interruption. I didn’t feel like I wanted to rip them off with my teeth, which is a win for low-maintenance people like me.

No chips, cracks or colour damage, they lasted three weeks before they started to grow out and couldn’t be disguised by the natural-looking shade, so I just went to my local nail salon and they took them off in ten minutes with some remover and a buff. My nail bed, cuticles and nails looked like nothing had happened, if anything they looked and felt stronger. I’m sold!