Nail Tips vs. Nail Forms: Which is Better & Why?

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Getting beautiful, natural-looking nails is easier than ever today.

The options and possibilities are endless. If you are frustrated with your short, dull, and brittle and bitten nails, then you may need a little nail enhancement in your life.

acrylic nail brush

Two of the most popular ways to get longer, sexier nails are acrylic nail tips and nail forms. But what are acrylic nail tips? And what is the difference between nail tips and nail forms?

Read on for a complete review and guide to help you choose which option is best for you, and how to apply them.

Acrylic Nail Tip vs. Nail Form

Acrylic Nail Tips vs. Nail Forms: What is the Difference?

Nail Tips: A nail tip is a piece of molded plastic that is basically a fake nail. These nail tips are 

glued onto the nail plate. Some nail tips fully cover the nail plate whereas others only cover a portion of the nail. Nail enhancement chemicals, such as acrylics or gel products are then applied over the nail tip for a thicker and stronger nail.

The image above shows what both a nail tip and nail form look like.

How to Apply Nail Tips

1. Sizing the Nail Tip. Once the nail tip is selected, the next step is to ensure that each tip is sized properly to fit each natural nail. If this isn’t done sufficiently, then you risk the nail tip breaking, falling off completely or even damaging the natural nail.

 2. Thinning, Filing, and Shaping. A good nail tech will ensure that the nail tip fits the nail plate properly on each side of the nail. In most cases, a nail tech professional will need to custom-fit each nail tip to the size of the customer’s nails.

This is done by filing and thinning out the tip with a nail file or buffer prior to gluing it to the nail plate.

Thinning the nail and filing it down helps to give the nail tip more flexibility and reduces some of the pressure on the nail plate. This also helps avoid creating a weak point in the nail enhancement, which can lead to damage or breakage.

3. Applying Acrylic Nail Enhancement. Finally, once the nail tips are sufficiently filed, thinned, and shaped, now it is time to apply the final layer of acrylic nail enhancement.

If you have never had nail tips before, then it is normal for them to feel heavy at first as you adjust to them, however, they shouldn’t hurt.

With that being said, you should never see pockets of glue peeking out from under or around the nail tip or feel pressure after the nail tip is glued on. If either of these scenarios occurs, then alert your nail tech immediately.

Watch this video below for some additional tips on how to apply pre-designed nail tips.

Nail Forms: Nail forms are basically large stickers that are applied to the nail plate. Nail forms can be disposable or re-useable. Most nail tech professionals use disposable nail forms as they are more convenient and sanitary than re-usable nail forms.

Additionally, nail forms also come in two different types: horseshoe and CND performance. This image shows the two different types of nail forms; the gold is the horseshoe, and the silver is the CND performance nail form.

No one nail form is better than the other; it simply comes down to the nail tech’s preference and comfort levels.

How Long Do Acrylic Tips Last

Acrylic nail tips can last for up to two weeks, but it depends on several factors. If you take care of your acrylics properly and do not remove them too soon, they should stay intact longer than a few days or even months.

However, if worn improperly such as by using harsh nail polish remover with acetone which will dry out the natural oils in the skin around your nails then this may cause more breakage and chips over time- so be careful!

If applied carefully enough at home without any mistakes that could compromise their longevity (like applying topcoat before letting fingernails air-dry), acrylic nail tips can last approximately 2 weeks.

The type of work that you have can also affect its durability, but what majorly affects is the quality of your nails. Again, there are many factors that determine the life of an acrylic tip, but its average lifespan is 2 weeks.

How to Apply Nail Forms

1. Apply the Nail Form. The nail form is slipped under the edge of the natural nail and is then wrapped around the finger.

The nail form should hug the nail and finger snugly, but not too tight. This is the trickiest part about using a nail form. The placement must be perfect and should avoid gaps under the edge.

Although this takes some practice, once a nail tech masters this, using nail forms becomes faster and easier than using nail tips as no filing or thinning of the nail tip is needed.

2. Blend the Seam. Because using nail forms doesn’t require buffing and thinning the nail tip, the only filing involved is blending the nail to remove the seam of the nail form.

3. Apply Acrylic Nail Enhancement. Finally, the nail tech applies the enhancement chemicals along the nail form to create a longer nail.

Not only are nail forms easier and faster, but they’re also isn’t any pressure on the nail plate; rather the acrylic nail enhancement molds to the natural shape of the nail rather than filing the natural nail to conform to the contour of the nail tip.

Many nail tech professionals and customers believe that nail forms are safer, more comfortable, and have more of a natural look than nail tips.

It’s always recommended to use disposable forms as you can tailor them to natural nails and any nail shape.

The best forms are made with paper and foil because they allow for a C-curve to be created without pinching.

When creating your form, you want the adhesive on it strong so as not to move or pop open when applied onto the finger. Always check the quality of the nail form, the thickness, and the ratio of paper to foil.

If it feels like paper, it will act just like a paper form which tends not to stay in place and easily tear as you use it.

Acrylic nail forms made of plastic can usually break during application and can stain your enhancement. However, clear plastic forms that are made of durable and pliable materials can be the best option without you worrying about your hard gel enhancement being stained by the color.

Nail Tips vs. Nail Forms: Which is Better for You?

Some people believe that nail tips are stronger than nail forms because there is a fundamental structure under the nail. On the other hand, others believe that nail forms are better because they don’t put as much pressure on the nail plate and are less likely to break or damage the natural nail.

Again, it all comes down to the preferences and comfort levels of both the nail tech professional and the customer. A true nail tech professional will be experienced and talented in applying both nail tips and nail forms, helping to give the customer longer, sexier, and beautifully sculpted nails.

We hope that you found this article helpful and informative on the differences between acrylic nail tips and nail forms and how to apply both as well as how to choose the best type of nail enhancement for you.

Do you use nail tips or nail forms? Do you prefer one over the other and why? We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on pre-designed nail tips and nail forms, so feel free to comment in the box below.

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