Nail extensions and nail art are becoming so popular these days. With celebrities like the Kardashians showing off incredible acrylics, and influencers demonstrating how to achieve gel manicures at home, we all want a piece of the perfect, polished pie!
But many of the modern manicure techniques are actually damaging to our nails. Gels and acrylics can actually crack and rip your natural nails if they are removed wrongly or pulled off by mistake.
And these popular pampering trends also happen to cost rather a lot of money, and require an awful lot of dedicated upkeep.
This is why silk wrap nails are coming back into fashion. If you have not heard of silk wraps, they are very similar to fiberglass wrap nails but they were developed much earlier, in the 1920s and 30s!
Back then, women would use strips of coffee filter paper and even tea bags to wrap the ends of their natural nails, adding length and strength.
Broken nails, snags and chips, could all be evened out by these thin patches of delicate fabric, and then the wraps could be removed without causing any harm to the nail.
Silk wraps had a boom in popularity during the 1980s but were quickly overshadowed by the emergence of acrylics. However, silk wraps are back, and we have the definitive guide to all their pros and cons!
In this article we will look at how silk wraps work, how much they cost, how long they last, and how they compare to other nail extensions and falsies. So, without further ado, let’s get those silk wraps unwrapped!
What’s Hot About Silk Wrap Nails
- They protect and strengthen your natural nails
- They cover and smooth chipped and broken nails
- They do not damage your nails when removed
- They can be painted in any color and design
- They are lightweight and attractive
- They are cheaper than other types of nail extensions
What’s Not Hot About Silk Wrap Nails
- They don’t last as long as gels and acrylics
- They slide off if submerged in water
- They are hard to come by (not many salons offer them)
- They cannot be extended far beyond your natural nail length
What Are Silk Wrap Nails?
Silk wrapping nails is a method of strengthening and lengthening your natural nails in order to achieve a more consistent finish for your manicure.
If your nails are chipped or broken, silk wraps can smooth and cover them, and if they are thin and weak, they can reinforce and protect them. They can also add length to your natural nails, although not to the same extent as acrylics.
For this reason, silk wrap nails are best suited for those who prefer a shorter manicure with a natural aesthetic.
The wraps themselves are delicate strips of fine silk that are cut to the width of your natural nails and gently attached to your nails using a mild adhesive. The strips extend beyond your nail tip and are then trimmed to the length of your natural nail.
If hardening gel is applied they can be extended beyond your natural nail to create a longer finish, however this requires great skill and is difficult due to the flimsy nature of the silk.
Once fixed and dried, silk wrap nails can be painted in any color you like using regular nail polish. Many people love the natural hue of the silk however, and choose to use a clear or semi-clear nail polish to show off the quality and color that the silk provides.
How Long Do Silk Wrap Nails Last?
Like other nail extensions, silk wrap nails need replacing as your natural nails grow.
The silk tips stay strong and attractive for around two weeks (depending on your rate of nail growth), and certainly extend the effect of any manicure beyond that of natural nails.
After two-three weeks the silk tip will have to be replaced, just as gel and acrylic nails need to be filled in as the natural nail grows.
However, silk wrap nails do not hold up well when exposed to water. If you spend lots of time with your hands submerged in the sink, or carry out rigorous work with your hands regularly, then these nails might not be for you.
The adhesive used to fix the silk wraps to your nails dissolves in water and causes the wraps to disintegrate and slide off. Similarly, the adhesive is not as strong and resilient as cured gel and acrylic, and therefore can damage and become misshapen more easily.
Silk wrap nails are not as durable as other types of nail extensions, especially if you expose them to water.
Do Silk Wraps Damage Your Nails?
One of the best features of silk wrap nails is that they are not harmful to your natural nails. The natural material is organic, lightweight and protective, and it actually helps to strengthen weak and broken nails.
The adhesive used to fix the strips in place is mild and kind to nails, and is very easy to remove. You can actually remove silk wraps at home with little fuss, simply by submerging them in warm water and massaging the strips away from the nail.
It is well known that gel nails and acrylic nails can cause serious damage to your natural nails if they are prematurely or incorrectly removed.
Acrylics and gels are attached so strongly to the natural nail that they can actually pull the nail with them if they are accidentally ripped off! Ouch!
What is more, these nails can drag the top layer of your natural nail off if they are not removed using the appropriate chemicals to dissolve the adhesive first.
Gels and acrylics should be removed by a professional nail technician, and this requires time and effort. Silk nails are most certainly less damaging and less hassle when it comes to removal. Thumbs up!
Are Silk Wrap Nails Expensive?
The exact cost of silk wrap nails will depend on the prices at your local nail salon, however they are generally a cheaper option than gel or acrylic nails.
This is largely due to the fact that the materials are cheap to buy, and the silk wraps tend to last less long than the more expensive alternatives. The difficulty lies less in the cost of these nails, and more in the availability of the treatment.
Many salons do not offer silk wrapping as a service, preferring to train their technicians in the more popular gel and acrylic techniques.
The rarity of the service means that you may have to ring around in order to find somewhere that actually offers it as a treatment. This can be enough to put some people off, however, silk wrap nails are something that you can also try at home.
The method is slightly fiddly, but is certainly simpler than acrylics, and requires far less paraphernalia than gel nails.
If you wish to perform your own silk wrap manicure at home, the silk strips can be bought for relatively little online, and tend to come pre-cut to fit the varying widths of your fingernails.
Always check whether the kit comes with adhesive, because many kits do not. The correct adhesive can be purchased very affordably from Amazon.
What Is The Difference Between Silk Wraps And Fiberglass Wraps?
Many people confuse silk wraps and fiberglass wraps and think that they are the same thing. Although very similar, fiberglass wrap nails are actually made from a different material than silk wrap nails and behave slightly differently as a result.
Fiberglass wraps are also small strips of fabric, and are applied to the natural nail using the same adhesive glue. However, fiberglass wraps are slightly thicker than silk wraps and are also more textured.
You can see the difference when you hold them next to each other, as fiberglass strips show a more distinct weave, where silk strips look like fine linen that has a smooth finish.
However, once adhesive has been applied, the texture of both types of nail wrap is filled in and the finish is smooth and consistent.
- It is important to note that fiberglass wraps are not made from the kind of fiberglass used in construction and boat building! This style of dense, industrial fiberglass should not be filled down as it is dangerous to inhale.
You should always buy the purpose made nail strips if you wish to wrap your nails with fiberglass.
How Do Silk Wrap Nails Compare To Acrylic Nails?
Acrylic nails are created when a fine acrylic powder is mixed with a liquid formula to create a paste. This paste is placed on the natural nail and shaped into the desired form, before it hardens and dries.
The dried acrylic nail is very strong and long lasting, and is fixed securely to the natural nail, so much so that it needs to be professionally removed.
Acrylic nails are so strong, they can be shaped to extend far beyond the tip of the natural nail, and are wonderful if you love long, dramatic nails.
They can be painted and decorated with a wide range of paints and jewels and can last a long time without coming loose or breaking. In fact, acrylics only need replacing when your natural nail grows and causes the acrylic to move far from the cuticle.
Silk wrap nails are not as strong and hard as acrylic nails and are therefore more prone to damage. They also tend to slip off sooner, especially when submerged in water.
Because the silk strips are flimsy, they cannot be extended beyond the tip of your natural nail easily, even with the help of hardening gel.
For this reason they are better suited to short nail manicures. They are far less damaging to your natural nails however, and generally cost less to have done.
How Do Silk Wrap Nails Compare To Gel Nails?
Gel nails are created when a special gel formula is placed on the natural nail and shaped, then cured under a UV or LED lamp until it is hard and dry.
The gel can be colored with a wide range of different nail paints, polishes and finishes, and can be decorated with gems and jewels.
The gel dries incredibly hard under the lamp, and fixes to the natural nail so strongly that it must be removed using a special dissolving chemical.
The strength of the bond means that these nails are long lasting and durable, however they are not good for your natural nail’s health.
If you have weak or damaged nails, then you are much better off using silk wrap nails to create your perfect manicure.
Silk wraps actually benefit your natural nails by patching up chips and snags, and protecting nails from further damage. However, they do not last as long and need replacing every 1-2 weeks.
|Silk Wrap Nails
|Acrylic / Gel Nails
|Cost / value
|Less expensive, although not commonly offered as a treatment in all salons
|Expensive, but readily available in nail salons
|Last 1-2 weeks, but will come off sooner if exposed to water
|Last 3-4 weeks and need to be filled in to cover natural nail growth
|Help to strengthen and protect weak and broken nails
|Cause more harm to weak and broken nails
|Lightweight, and best suited to short manicures
|Strong, and can be created as long and dramatic as you wish
How To Apply Silk Wrap Nails
First, ensure that your nails are cleaned. Use a nail brush to scrub any dirt from the underside of your nails, and a buffer to clear any residue and dirt from the top side of your nails. Then push your cuticles back using a cuticle stick, so that the full nail is exposed.
Next, lay your silk strips against your nails to measure the width. The strips should fit the width of your nail exactly but should not extend beyond the edges of your nail onto the skin.
The strips can be longer than your nail as they will be easier to hold. However they will be trimmed to the correct length later. If your strips are too wide, trim them down.
Now, apply a layer of the silk wrap adhesive to your nail, making sure that you reach the far corners. TIP: only apply adhesive to one single nail, not the whole set, as it will dry too quickly for you to apply all the strips in time.
Using a pair of tweezers (or a nail stick) pick up the silk strip and lay in on the nail, leaving a small gap between the strip and the cuticle (i.e. do not press the strip up against the cuticle). Now use the nail stick to press the fabric down and watch it soak up the adhesive.
(Do not use your finger to do this as the natural oils on your skin will interfere with the adhesive and cause it to fail).
Using sharp nail scissors, trim the excess length away from the strip so that the strip finishes just beyond the length of your natural nail.
Lastly, apply another layer of adhesive over the strip, ensuring that the liquid soaks through the fabric onto the nail and fills in the minute gaps in the linen to result in a completely smooth surface.
Repeat on all the other nails and leave to dry. The silk wrap nails can be painted with regular nail polish and top coat after the adhesive has dried and is hard.
Final Verdict: Silk Wrap Nails, Hot Or Not?
Having looked at the cost, availability, durability, safety and ease of application of silk wrap nails, it seems clear that they are an excellent manicure option.
They do not last as long as gel or acrylic nails, however they are far less damaging and are therefore great for anyone who has weak or broken nails.
These nails are best for those looking for a temporary manicure, and those who prefer short nails to super long nails. They are beautiful and have tons of retro charm. If you can’t find a local salon that offers them, give them a go at home!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Type Of Manicure For Your Nails?
The best type of manicure for natural nails is one that involves organic nail polishes which are chemical free and breathable. If you wish to extend your nails, silk wrap and fiberglass wrap nails are the safest and least damaging option.
Can You Use Gel On Silk Wrap Nails?
Traditional silk wrap nails are created by using a specialist adhesive to fix a delicate strip of silk to your nail. However, gel can be added on top of the silk and cured until it is hard in order to extend the length of your silk wrap nail.
Without gel, silk wrap nails are too flimsy to be extended beyond the length of your natural nail.
Do Silk Wrap Nails Come Off Easily?
Silk wrap nails can be removed very easily simply by soaking them in warm water.
This means that they do not damage the nail in the process of removal as other types of nail extensions can, however, it also means that silk wrap nails are prone to coming off prematurely – especially after you have done the washing up!
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