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What Are Encapsulated Nails? [And What Are The Options]

Encapsulated nails. It just sounds so technical. But what are they exactly and what does it entail? Here is what you need to know.

So, what are encapsulated nails? Encapsulated nails are a type of nail art, where something is set inside two layers of nail product – whether that be liquid and polymer (L&P) or gel. Common things encapsulated include small gems, glitter, or a small personal memento.

Encapsulation is relatively new and certainly a trend in the nail industry.

But it does offer the opportunity to have something a little bit different. And highly personal.

In fact, the process of encapsulation has enabled almost limitless designs.

You’ll be surprised how far some have taken it.

Its been reported that even strands of hair have been used.

Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Let us now take a closer look at the process of encapsulation; how its done and how is removed.

This way you’ll know exactly what is involved. And perhaps, even come to a decision on whether or not you want them done!

What Does Encapsulated Mean In Nails?

Encapsulation in nail terms means adding something personal to your nail manicure.

Besides, here is the definition of the term ‘encapsulated’.

‘To enclose (something) in or as if in a capsule.’

So, imagine placing a keepsake or a collectable inside two layers of your nail product.

There are no limits and boundaries to what can be included; outside of the skill of the nail technician and quality of the product and application, of course.

Here are some of the most popular things that people decide to have encapsulated:

  • Small pieces of jewellery,
  • Photo of a loved on,
  • Lock of hair,
  • Hand-painted letters 
  • Hand-painted floral designs
  • Small gems,
  • Crushed Shells
  • Glitter,
  • Precious Stones.

And these are just the most common ones.

Truth is, there are many other items that can be encapsulated.

So long as, they do not touch the skin directly and they are safe.

Its also important that the item would work with the nail product.

For instance, some items may have chemicals or coating that may damage or lose color when reacting with the nail product.

So, when it comes to choosing an item, its a great idea to test it first on a tip!

The sooner you find out, the better.

Equally, the longer the nail enhancement, the easier encapsulation is – there is more surface area for the technician to work on.

So, there is an element of judgement here on what will realistically work.

And encapsulation will work better on some nails, and some enhancements, compared to others.

What Is Used To Encapsulate Nails?

What will be used to encapsulate nails will depend on the type of nail product used. Generally, it will be either Liquid and Powder, Gel, or Acrygel.

Nevertheless, let us now take a look at what is typically involved with each application:

Liquid and Powder

Will often use the general supplies of Acrylic nails, so this will include:

  • Clear Tips,
  • Buffer,
  • Nail Clipper,
  • Acrylic Powder,
  • Primer,
  • Acrylic Brush,
  • Orange Wood Sticks

To add the encapsulation, the item will need to be pressed into the clear acrylic.

The technician will need to work fast to secure the item and will often use the back of a brush or orang wood stick to put the item into position.

It’s important that it grips and does not move when the covering layer is added.

Gel or Acrygel

Will often use the general supplies for gel nails, so this will include:

  • UV/LED Lamp
  • Cuticle Oil,
  • Nail Buff
  • Top Coat
  • Base Coat
  • Gel Polish.

To encapsulate, a thin layer of clear gel or acrygel will need to be applied, before adding the item itself.

It will then need to be cured for a short amount of time.

Generally, the ideal amount of time to cure for is when the product is no longer liquid but is also able to hold the item you press in.

You can also use glue for this type of manicure, especially if the item to be encapsualted is larger or heavier.

If using glue, this will be added when the gel is fully cured. The glue will then be applied on the and the item will be pressed in until it dries.

The excess will need to be trimmed away to prevent any overhang and gap in the gel.

How Do You Remove Encapsulated Nails?

You can remove encapsulated nails in two different ways: with an e-file or a regular nail file and nippers.

Using an e-file is considered the most effective, safe, and time-efficient way, but it does require access to such apparatus.

If using an e-file it is generally recommended to use a carbide; with dull teeth (flutes).

Removing encapsulated nails can be done at home with the right technique and with car, although it is generally advised to head to the salon.

The expertise and additional pair of hands of a nail technician will ensure safe, clean removal.


Encapsulated nails have become quite the trend.

And its easy to see why.

Creating an almost 3d design, and with countless different options to spruce up a manicure.

So, if you did want to give them a try, visit your nearest salon and inquire.

They should be able to provide this service, or at the very least, learn how to do it for next time!