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November 17, 2017

11 Manicuring Words You Should Know

You love relaxing spa services, and so do we! We believe that each person should take time to pamper themselves regularly. If you like to treat yourself to a mani/pedi, you may know what you want, but if you’re new to getting your nails done, you might be wondering what exactly the words on the service menu mean. We’ve got your guide to nail terminology that you should know before your first manicure or pedicure.

  • Manicure
  • Pedicure
  • Cuticle Detailing
  • Paraffin
  • Acrylic
  • Nail Tips
  • Sculptured Nails
  • Gel Nails
  • Lamp
  • Nail Art/Design
  • Airbrushing
    • Manicure

      If you’re looking to book a nail service, you’ll need to choose a manicure, pedicure, or both. A manicure is a treatment referring to your hands. Depending on what the spa or salon offers, this service may include nail shaping, cuticle detailing, a light hand massage, and polish application. They may also include paraffin treatments or scrubs, as well as nail art, but it depends on where you are. Extra add-ons to the treatment may also mean the price is a bit higher.


      A pedicure is essentially a manicure for your feet. Typically, a large, comfortable chair is provided for you to sit in while the service is performed. You will usually start out with your feet in a pedicure basin filled with warm water. Relax and enjoy!

      esbc - purple nail art

      Cuticle Detailing

      This includes pushing back, trimming dead areas, and adding oil to your cuticle. This will help keep your nails and cuticles healthy and free of hangnails. This is also a necessary process if you are getting acrylic or sculptured nails.


      Paraffin is an oil-based wax that is used to help soothe and soften hands and feet. Paraffin and other types of treatments, like scrubs, are usually offered as an additional service to manicures and pedicures. These can be ultra relaxing, and a great addition to an already pampering mani/pedi.


      When used in the nail world, acrylic is most often referring to fake nails. Acrylic is used to create a hard, smooth surface on the nail. Usually, acrylic is created by using a powder and an activator liquid on a brush, forming a ball. This is then applied and shaped onto the nail. The nails can also be dipped into a powder and activated using a liquid after.

      Nail Tips

      Nail tips are used when applying acrylic nails to extend the length of the nail. They are made out of plastic, and can be “natural” or “white” in color. White nail tips are typically used for traditional French manicures, and natural colored tips are used for unpainted or painted nails. Nail tips add strength and length to the natural nail.

      Sculptured Nails

      Sculptured nails are similar to acrylic nails but differ by the fact that they do not use tips. Acrylic nails use tips to create the same shape across all nails. Sculptured nails start out with a similar base on the nail plate made up of acrylic, like acrylic nails do, but the manicurist builds up the sculptured nail free handed. This means that you can get a variety of shapes on each finger.

      Gel Nails

      Gel nails are created by a process involving a UV light and specific polishes. Gel nails are applied in a few steps, starting with a base coat, followed by a color coat (or two), and then finishing with a top coat. After each layer the nail is cured under a UV lamp.

      esbc - edgy nail art


      No, your manicurist is not asking you to sit under a heat lamp! When your manicurist puts your nails under a UV lamp, you are getting a gel manicure. Each time you sit under the lamp, it is curing the polish they just applied. Curing means that the polish is reacting to the UV lamp and is hardening.

      Nail Art/Design

      Nail art is all the fancy stuff you see on Instagram. Manicurists really get their moment to show off their creativity and art skills when doing nail art. Nail art or designs might mean a unique nail shape, color pattern, or detail! Nail art can be done during a manicure or pedicure, and most of the time they can be on any and all nails.


      Airbrushing is used in creating nail art, and it’s exactly what it sounds like! You may have seen this technique used in street art, car striping, makeup artistry, or even cake decorating. This method of application uses polish and an airbrushing tool to apply color on the nail. This dries on contact, so you don’t have to wait for your nails to try before nail art is created. An artist might freehand, but usually a stencil is used for precise application.

      airbrushed manicure

      Book Your Mani or Pedi Now!

      Here at Elaine Steven Beauty College, we offer nail services including manicures, French manicures, pedicures, and basic polish changes. Whether you’re looking for your first mani or pedi or you’re a seasoned spa-goer, we’re sure we can provide you with a relaxing experience! Contact us today!

      If you’re interested in learning more about how to provide these services, check out our Manicuring program.


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Manicuring 400 Clock Hours (Not Currently Offering)
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