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Nail Forms Vs Tips

by Gabbi

What’s the most efficient way to create a nail extension? The nail service industry provides countless ways to accentuate and elongate your natural nails. Acrylic and gel products are commonly used to sculpt nails and create a new canvas.

However, it can be challenging to form your nails without a little bit of help. You can create the base of your nail enhancement with nail forms or tips. These items help develop the initial extension shape for your gel or acrylic nails.

What is the difference between nail forms and tips? Nail forms are generally placed under the nail and used to free-sculpt the extension, while tips are pre-made extensions that can be glued on and shaped into your desired look.

Nail forms and tips are the most common ways to accentuate your nails, especially if you’re looking for something long or with a unique shape. Each tool provides flexibility and a specific outcome for your fresh set of enhancements.

Not sure which enhancement is right for you? We’ll break down the differences between nail forms and tips so you can make the best choice next time you’re at the salon.

What Are Nail Forms?

Nail forms are an essential tool used to sculpt nail enhancements and offer durability. They are sticky tape with a guide placed under your natural nails to help create the initial structure of your nail enhancement.

Nail forms are only a quick guide while sculpting and are removed once your gel or acrylic is completely cured.

How To Apply Nail Forms

Nail forms can be tricky to apply because it can be difficult to lay all of them down uniformly. A nail form needs to be torn down the middle to fit. It’s almost like a ring but underneath your nails. The form also has guides on where to tear and place.

Then you’ll want to place your nail form under the natural nail and ensure that there are no gaps. The form should also lay straight out instead of pointing up or down. Finally, you can secure it with the sticky wings you tore earlier to keep them in place.  

Here’s a great tutorial from Kiara Sky Nails on YouTube.

Nail Form Texture

Nail forms are a sticky and tape-like texture. They’re used to apply gel which has a thick and gooey consistency. Forms may also come in handy while applying acrylic, except acrylic has more of a paste-like texture.

Pros Of Nail Forms

While nail forms sound tricky to master, they provide numerous benefits to the nails. Forms offer full coverage, so your entire nail will help create the base of your extension. Nail forms are also long-lasting and durable to minimize lifting.

This is an excellent option if you want a natural and seamless result.


Nail forms offer durability. We mentioned that nail forms provide full coverage, and your entire natural nail plate is used to help sculpt the nail. For example, if you’re doing gel extensions, the gel will cover the nail from the cuticle to your sculpted tip.

This will minimize the chance of your extensions popping off because they’re more secure.


Because nail forms offer immense durability, they are also long-lasting. 

On average, extensions made with a nail form are meant to last at least 2-3 weeks. In addition, you may notice these extensions can handle impact or hands-on activities more efficiently. 

Fewer Products

Nail forms can downsize your extension application process. The essential tools you need are your forms and other products to sculpt your nails. 

For example, if you’re applying hard gel, you’ll need the basic prep tools and hard gel to bring the extensions to life.

The form acts as a base for your gel or acrylic and offers a guide so you can create the ideal shape and length. 

Natural Result

Nail forms provide a natural result. They are more likely to look thin, sleek, or similar to your natural nail plates. In addition, there shouldn’t be any line of demarcation giving away a partial extension. 

Negatives Of Nail Forms

All nail services have their pros and cons, including nail forms. Not everyone will prefer nail forms, especially if you’re attempting to do your nails at home. Using nail forms requires a lot of time, practice, and effort to get a flawless finish.

Nail forms involve more freehand sculpting, which can prolong your nail application.


Nail forms do involve some freehanding. Therefore, the nail form should have multiple lines on the tape that act as a guide to pull out your product to the desired shape. 

However, it can be tricky to lay each nail down evenly, especially for beginners.


Sculpting your nails alone can be a lengthy process. It may be wise to visit a nail tech if you’re adamant about receiving nail extensions via a nail form. Otherwise, it can take a couple of hours to do each nail and ensure they are uniform.

However, once you get the hang of applying nail forms, the process becomes more accessible and quicker.

What Are Nail Tips?

Nail tips are another product to help create nail extensions. Tips are often placed on the nails’ edge or tips to add length to your natural nails. Nail tips offer partial coverage and do not incorporate the entire plate like nail forms.

How To Apply Nail Tips

Nail tips have a completely different application process than forms. Nail tips are premade, so much of the sculpting or shaping work is already done. All that is necessary for you to do is attach the tip to your natural nail plate.

Nail tips mainly adhere with nail glue. You should also carry out all other basic prep techniques to ensure your nails last.

Here’s a great tutorial from YoungNailsInc on YouTube.

Nail Tip Texture 

What can you expect from a nail tip? Nail tips are usually made of a plastic-like material. They may feel more flimsy or lightweight to avoid dragging down your natural nails because they’re only placed halfway on the nails. 

Pros Of Nail Tips

Nail tips offer convenience and ease. They’re ideal if you don’t want to spend too much time applying your nails or you’re looking to get into extensions. In addition, nail tips are beginner-friendly and quick to use, so you get an excellent outcome.  


Nail tips are more convenient than forms. Nail tips should be fitted to your nails and can be filed to tidy up the shape. However, all you need to do is apply the glue and secure the tip. In a few minutes you can have a fresh set of nail extensions. 

Quick To Apply

The nail glue is simple to use and apply. You can apply a dot to the nail and tip to ensure maximum adhesion. There won’t be any need to free-hand your ideal shape or length. This method is perfect for doing your own nails at home.

Uniform Finish

You won’t spend hours shaping or filling your nails to get the desired finish with tips. Nail tips are pre-made, and most of the work is already complete. Also, each nail will be the same size, shape, and length without putting in much effort.

Cons Of Nail Tips

Unfortunately, nail tips do have their downsides. Nail tips may not be as durable or long-lasting as forms because there will be a lot of pressure and product focused on the edge of the nail, which can lead to breaking. 

Also, you may not achieve a concealed or seamless finish while applying nail tips.

Partial Coverage

The nail tips don’t cover the entire nail. Instead, it is used to add length to the free edge. This can pose a problem when the nails grow out because it creates an unbalanced effect that can potentially harm your natural nails.


Nail tips are premade, and not all of them will have the best quality. In addition, it limits you to what shapes or lengths are available, so you may not always get what you want. Finally, it can lower or restrict creativity while applying a fresh set.

Artificial Finish 

Nail tips can look chunky or expose their lines. This can lead to an artificial finish; you may notice your nails look thicker or more artificial once you’ve completed your set. They also don’t provide the same natural finish or durability as forms.

How To Choose The Best Nail Tip For You 

Are you stuck between nail forms and nail tips? 

Nail forms are ideal for those looking for a durable, long-lasting, and natural finish. While they may be challenging to sculpt, you can quickly perfect them and achieve full nail coverage. They can handle daily activities well and offer a creative canvas.

Nail tips are suitable for beginners getting into nails or those looking for something fuss-free and temporary. Tips offer a uniform finish, but they can look artificial. They aren’t meant to last long, but they can be great for a special one-time event.


Nails are personal, and your chosen extension should fit your comfort levels or lifestyle. Nail forms and tips have pros and cons, but they’re worth trying out if you’re interested in learning more about nail enhancements.

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