"Overlay Nails" Are the No-Chip, Longer-Lasting Alternative to Traditional Manicures

Manicures have evolved in a lot of ways over the years, so much so that going to a nail salon these days presents you with many more options than just a typical application of nail polish and top coat. There are a handful of ways to extend the life of your nail polish via nail extensions, gel polish, and one of our personal favorites, acrylic overlays.

An acrylic overlay is a protective layer formed on top of the nail from a mixture of acrylic powder and a liquid monomer. When the acrylic dries, a hard shell is formed over the natural nail that holds on to polish for about two to three weeks longer than natural nails, and also protects the nail from easily breaking.

"Overlays are great for providing strength over the natural nail as they are strong and durable," Sally Hansen ambassador Hannah Lee told POPSUGAR. "The most important thing is to make sure they are being removed properly. So not over-filing or peeling/popping of the acrylic. Improper removal can cause damage to your natural nail."

Overlay nails work best for people who want long-lasting options outside of gel nails (though gel polish can be applied on top of acrylic as well), but Lee notes that you should apply a top coat to the nails every two to three days to prolong the polish's life and prevent chipping.

These kinds of manicures take slightly longer than traditional manicures, and they cost a little more too, but the great thing about them is that there's no limit to how you can shape, color, or decorate them. Keep scrolling for some overlay nail inspiration ahead of your next trip to the salon.