You want the polish on your nails to last as long as possible. However, not all nail polishes last up to two weeks or more without chipping or peeling, and you wonder if there is anything that keeps the polish on your fingernails to last.

Overlay nails are natural nails without any nail tip extensions are covered with a thin coat of artificial nail enhancement product. The two main reasons for this application are nail polish on overlay nails can last from two to four weeks without chipping or peeling and the natural nails are also strengthened with this overlay.

There are several artificial nail products that you can create overlay nails. Which product you will use to give your natural nails an overlay depends on your preferences and your daily activities. I explain all of these products in detail in the following sections

Overlay acrylics

Acrylic overlaysOpens in a new tab. on natural nails are one of the strongest and most durable artificial nails. Not only the nail polish stays on acrylics for more than two weeks, but overlay acrylics also strengthen the natural nails so there will be less chance for them to break or split.

That is why nails with acrylic overlay are the most popular compared with other overlay nail products.

Another advantage of overlay acrylics is they allow a nail technician to create different lengths of the natural acrylic overlay. They can do short acrylic overlay to long ones and the thickness can be modified accordingly.

Another benefit of the acrylic overlay on short nails is they are more natural-looking than those with nail tips. That is why they are also called natural acrylic overlays.

Acrylics are one of the nail enhancement product that requires a lot of practice.

Any nail technician who is skilled in acrylics can do an acrylic overlay. So you should not have any problem finding a nail technician who can do a good acrylic overlay near you.

Gel overlay nails

When people say gel overlay, they are likely to refer to overlay nails with either hard gel or builder gel. These two terms are different names of the same gel product that needs to go under a UV light to harden or cure.

Gel overlay nails are used by people who prefer to wear short nails and do not like or can not tolerate the strong odor of acrylic nails.

Similar to acrylics, a person at home or a nail technician needs a lot of practice before he or she can be proficient at creating a good-looking set of these hard gel overlay nails. Otherwise, it will require a lot of sanding and filing to remove the gel excess or creating nail shapes that look the same on ten fingernails.

The natural nails that are enhanced with a coat of overlay gel are stronger and the nail polish stays on for up to two weeks.

As with acrylics, many nail manufacturers create gel overlay kits for home use. You can find them on Amazon.

The biggest drawback of gel overlay is it takes a lot of effort to remove it. To take off this hard or builder gel, you need to soak it in acetone and manually file the top gel layer as it is softened with acetone so the lower layer can come in contact with acetone.

Because of this, people are less likely to use this hard gel as an overlay on their nails.

Similarly, with acrylic overlay, you should not have a problem finding a nail salon that can do good gel overlay near you.

Polygel overlay nails

Polygel is a combination of hard gel and acrylic powder and it was available in 2017. Polygel is much thicker than hard gel so it is easier to apply.

The polish will stay on polygel nails for at least two weeks.

Since polygel is a part gel and part acrylic, removing polygel overlay is easier than removing hard gel, but you still have to soak them in acetone and file away the softened top layer so the lower layer can come in contact with acetone quicker.

Polygel overlayOpens in a new tab. should be used on short nails. Polygel overlay on longer nails should not be avoided because it will take a lot of time to file all ten nails into similar shapes and thicknesses.

Polygel overlay does not have a strong odor so it is one of the products that people can use at home without stinking up their homes like acrylic nails.

Dip powder overlay nails

Dip powder or SNS nails are another artificial nail enhancement product that can be used as an overlay. Dip powder overlay nails are relatively easier to apply than acrylic or gel overlay. The technique can be mastered after you do a couple dozens of sets of dip powder overlay nails as opposed to a few months for acrylic and gel.

You can get dip powder overlay nailsOpens in a new tab. at a salon near you or you can do it at home because it does not have a strong odor and dip powder is relatively simple to apply.

One advantage of dip powder is you do not have to apply nail polish because dip powder has a lot of different colored powder shades for you to choose from.

Another advantage is dip powder overlay nails are easy to remove. All you have to do is remove the top sealer and soak your nails in acetone for 5 to 10 minutes. Acetone will soften the dip powder that you can push it off your nails with a cuticle pusher or an orangewood stick.

Gel polish overlay nails

These are my favorite overlay nails.

Gel nail polish can be used as overlay nailsOpens in a new tab. for two specific reasons: the nail polish stays on natural nails for more than two weeks and it also strengthens the natural nails.

Gel polish can be called thin gel so it offers some of the gel qualities like strength and durability.

Gel nail polish is easy to apply on nails, you can just brush on the nails like you would with any nail polish. Therefore, you can master gel polish overlay if you know how to polish your nails well and know to do a basic manicure.

The gel base coat bonds onto the natural nail much longer than the regular base coat.

Gel topcoat gives the nails a superior, long-lasting shine.

Gel base coat, gel nail polish color, and gel topcoat together create a strong overlay that helps strengthen the nails.

You can easily take off gel polish overlay in less than 20 minutes. Remember to remove the gel topcoat and soak or wrap your nails in acetone, it can be pushed off after it is softened by this strong nail polish remover.

I would prefer this gel polish overlay nails because they are easy to put on and remove so they do not require a lot of training and do not damage your nails as much as other products. You can read more about this in this STRENGTHEN NAILS AFTER GEL POLISH: ONE SIMPLE HACKOpens in a new tab. article.

Silk wraps as overlay nails

This is the oldest form of overlay nails.

The process is rather tedious which involves gluing a piece of fabric on each nail.

You can use different kinds of material for silk wrap overlay: teabag, paper towel, thin fabric, etc. for nail wraps.

The reasons silk or fiberglass are most commonly sold are they are pre-cut and with adhesive so they are easier to handle than other products.

The main chemical in silk wrap is nail glue that is odorless and can be easily and quickly taken off with acetone.

When I was starting out my nail technician career in the mid-1990s, silk wrap was one of the most popular overlay nails because many people could not get used to the acrylics’ strong smell.

Nail textbooks back then even had a chapter about how to do silk wraps which were removed in the later editions due to its low demand and popularity.

If you want to give silk wrap overlay a try, you have to do it yourself since not many nail salons near you would offer this time-consuming and tedious nail service.

You can purchase your silk wrap kit on amazonOpens in a new tab..


There you are. In a few minutes, you know the overlay nails’ history, all the available products out there and you can choose which to use at home.

Happy overlaying.

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