Confession: I am no nail expert. In fact, I’ve never even had acrylics, gel or shellac (gasp!) due mainly to a deep (and most likely valid) fear of UV nail lamps.
But I’m also hopeless at painting my own nails. So when a beauty editor friend suggested SNS as a sans-UV mani option, I was sitting in a salon, hands outstretched, in less time than it takes for a top coat to dry. For someone with a fervent fear of UV nail lamps, SNS is a glossy, longwearing godsend.
But what does SNS mean? SNS stands for Signature Nail Systems. It’s not nail polish, but nail powder: after a clear base coat is applied, you dip your fingertips into a pot of finely milled powder, which sticks to the still-wet base. The process is repeated to build thickness and colour intensity, then buffed to smooth out any bumps and sealed with a glossy top coat.
Why we love it
I’m not alone in my SNS obsession: a recent poll of the marie claire office reveals the technique has well and truly taken off. SNS benefits include a long-lasting, ultra-glossy finish and plenty of colour choice (though not quite as much as shellac or gel, and I’m yet to find a good neutral beige). The stuff actually does not chip off, ever, and you only need to remove it when the regrowth gets too obvious (see exhibit A above).
SNS is hailed as a healthy manicure, as the powder formula contains nail-fortifying calcium and other minerals. The application process doesn’t damage the nail one jot, and again, no UV lamps necessary. Did I mention I was obsessed? I am obsessed.
… and why we don’t
Like anything, SNS has pros and cons. SNS removal is pretty hardcore as far as I’m concerned – they basically soak your nails in acetone for what feels like an eternity – and a little voice in the back of my head questions the safety of the powder.
That little voice got louder when I realised that none of Sydney’s best nail salons have jumped aboard the SNS bandwagon. “Much of the promotion in the market is that SNS is ‘healthy’ for your nails and better for them than, say, a gel polish system,” says Monika Carvalho, owner of The Nail Lab. “But SNS is essentially the same as acrylic and over time will damage the natural nail the same way.”
Like most mani techniques, the damage is in the removal, and acetone is known to weaken and dehydrate both the nail and surrounding skin.
The Nail Lounge is another Sydney salon that refuses to offer SNS due to health concerns. They abide by the Five-Free rule (avoiding toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor and dibutyl phthalate), which apparently, discounts SNS due to the acrylic in the powder.
So there you have it… it does sound like SNS may be too good to be true, but until I’ve seen hard evidence against it, I’ll still consider SNS my new nail saviour. Foolhardy? Possibly. But with nails this glossy, it’s hard to resist.