If there is one thing that can brighten up a girl’s day, it’s a pretty set of nails. And gel manicures are all rage in the nail world today!
The second best thing to pep up your day is a pretty pair of shoes, but let’s just focus on the first best thing for now. From basic trimming our nails to shaping them to applying regular nail paint, we’ve come a long way, all the way to gel manicures.
Gel Manicures are so popular for their glossy finish and the length of time they last. They don’t chip off all that easily which is certainly a dream come true for girls all over.
What is Gel Manicure?
Gel manicures use a different type of nail polish which is gel-based and is a lot thicker and shinier than plain, regular old polish. The process involves using a UV light or an LED light to dry up the polish and facilitate it into locking into your nails.
There are some nail parlors that might use a regular polish and a gel paint topcoat. This can give the same results as using a gel polish for both the coats, but keep in mind that this is done by an expert.
Recommended Read: Best UV Nail Lamps
How long do Gel manicures last?
Gel manicures can last about three to four weeks, or in some cases, even longer. If you are wondering how that is even possible, Gel polishes are made of a special formula of oligomers and monomers that combine together to bond when exposed to UV light. These turn hard and lock into your nails, making sure they don’t chip off easily.
To spell it out in simple words, you could say Gel nails are actually artificial nails but not as hard as shellac or acrylic nails. These are more flexible and therefore feel more natural. This is why these are preferred to fake or acrylic nails that might feel like plastic.
This combination of photoinitiators, on being treated with UV light turn quite durable which is a blessing for all of us who hate having to repaint our nails every week. You will have to take some extra care if you want it to last even longer, but hey, I think 3 weeks is a pretty sweet deal!
What is included in a gel manicure?
You could say that there is one magic component added to your normal nail polish that makes it a gel manicure. Polish pro is a UV gel product that is added to the nail polish which then adds on to the shine that it provides.
Other ingredients are Shellac, Gellux, Nobility Orly gel FX and so on.
Gel Manicures for nail art
Gel nails are the perfect base for you to try out various nail art. When the foundation is strong and looks good, everything you put on top of it is like a crown.
Since gel manicures last a long time, they are the perfect base to get embellishments and other work on, as it’s worth it.
For starters, try out some glitter to add some sparkle. You could then stick on some rhinestones to glam it up. When you get more comfortable with the consistency of the polish, you could try out patterns and designs and show off your nails.
There are several styles of gel manicures you can try too!
Gel Nails With Tips
Russian Gel Manicure
Express Gel Manicure
Powder Gel Manicure
Hard Gel Manicure
Can you try out a Gel manicure at home?
Yes, you can. Most importantly you will need a UV lamp for nails that is readily available in a lot of stores online. They are not very expensive and if you are going to be giving yourself gel manicures frequently, I suggest you invest in a good one.
Or, you could get yourself an LED lamp but it depends on the nail polish itself. Almost all gel nail polishes are compatible with UV lamp but not all can be dried using an LED lamp.
Apart from the lamp, you will need some good quality gel nail polishes, some acetone to clean your nails, some cotton pads, a nail trimmer and file, a top coat and a base coat. Of course, if you want to experiment with nail art, you will need tools for that as well as your creativity!
You can even get an at-home gel manicure kit that contains all these items to make things easier for you.
Check out the link below for a UV lamp:
Giving yourself a gel manicure is a lot simpler than removing the polish at home. There is a technique to it that you could try out. However, unless you have learned the right way to do it, I would not advise you to remove the polish at home. Always get a nail technician or an expert to remove it for you if you care about your nails.
Can you use a gel polish without the UV light?
Well, you can but you won’t get the same results as using it with a UV light to dry it out. As gel polish is thicker in consistency, it will not dry as quickly as a traditional nail polish. The ingredients need to react with the UV light to bond and create that hard layer.
It might smudge a bit or seep around your nails by the time it completely dries. And it might take ages to dry. Even then, it would only dry like regular polish, giving you the regular plain look. If the gel polish does dry quickly you can be sure that the quality is not exactly top-notch.
Are UV lights dangerous?
One of the biggest criticisms to gel nails is the use of UV light. This wavelength of light has been linked to skin aging, pigmentation, and even cancer. So you can understand why some women would be reluctant to stick their hands under a UV light machine for a manicure.
But not to worry. There’s a solution to this. Using a broad spectrum sunscreen with high SPF (sun protection factor) before keeping your hands under the UV light machine. This should keep you safe!
Still not convinced? You go to a gel manicure place near you that uses LED light curing instead of the more (supposedly) damaging UV lights. There are plenty of nail salons that use this technology now.
How do I safely remove gel manicure at home?
If you thought to put on gel nail polish was complex, removing it even more complicated.
I know a lot of girls get fidgety and keep scratching their nails to remove the polish. This is a sure-shot way to ruin your nails and make them brittle.
Removing gel nail polish is definitely not as easy as removing regular polish. You could try rubbing acetone soaked cotton for hours together and you may not succeed. It requires a lot of care and expertise. This polish is removed in layers.
First, the nails are buffed with a nail file to remove the top layer of polish that is shiny.
Once that is done, a cotton pad soaked in acetone is placed on the nail and this is further wrapped with a piece of tape or aluminium foil or tin foil to keep it from moving around. This is to get the acetone to soak into your nail bed and do its job of loosening up the polish a bit.
Leave it on for about 6 to 8 minutes and then gently try wiping the polish off your nails. You could use a cuticle pusher to remove the thick substance off your nails. If it doesn’t work, soak some more acetone in a fresh cotton ball or pad and repeat the process.
At the end of it remember that your natural nails have been subjected to enough stress and need some nutrition to recuperate. Nourish them with some nail cream or a good moisturizer to soothe and strengthen them.
Check out this nail remover to help you safely get rid of your gel manicure:
Do UV gel manicures damage your nails?
In a nutshell, No.
Most people assume that it is the gel polish that has ruined their nails but the truth is, its the process not carried out properly that has made their nails weak.
If they are done right, by a trained technician, it should not really affect your nails. If you want to try them out at home, make sure you use products that are of good quality and get trained a bit by an expert.
While the gel polish itself may not really harm you, most women end up with brittle nail plates because they don’t take proper care while taking off the polish.
A trained nail technician will know when to stop buffing, how much of the acetone to use and how long to dip your nails in acetone. And you may not really know how long to buff or how much remover to use.
Expert Tip: Between every manicure, give yourself a week of nail polish free days to let your nails breathe, grow and regain their natural color. Constantly keeping the nails painted can make them brittle and leave stains or discolour the nails. This is applicable to any type of polish, not just the gel ones.
Why is gel manicure so expensive?
It is no secret that gel manicures are something you “treat” yourself to. They are more expensive than regular manicures, almost considered a luxury. This is because the gel nail polishes are different with a unique formula that is more expensive.
Gel manicures also require trained personnel, whereas other regular manicures don’t require much expertise. Removing gel nail polish is also a process that requires time, energy and training, something which you pay for.
However, if you are the kind who gets a manicure every week or ten days, you might as well get a gel manicure once a month. Do the math and you will realise it works out to be the same!
Is gel manicure worth the price you pay?
I would say, Yes! Would you rather have nail polish that chips off every now and then or something that stays on and looks amazing? I personally like it that I have one less thing to worry about before stepping into an important meeting or going on a fancy date.
Gel Nails Vs Acrylic Nails: What’s the difference?
Acrylic nails and gel nails are two different stories. Gel nails are very similar to nail polishes. They come in several shades, and are made hard around your nails by the UV/LED light.
On the other hand, acrylic nails are created by using a powder dipped in solvent. They form another thick layer on the nails and can extend to form long shapes. Think, Kylie Jenner or Cardi B’s long coffin-shaped manicures.
The difference between gel and acrylic is just that in gel manicures a coat of polish-like color is applied to your natural nail plate. And acrylic manicures use a ‘fake’ nail extensions on top of your nail bed.
Gel Nails Vs Acrylic Nails
Gel Manicure Vs Shellac
On first glance, there seems to be no difference between these two. Gel manicures involve using a gel nail color which looks deceptively similar to a nail polish. Only more durable as they’re hardened due to the UV light.
Shellac is actually a brand name for a product by Creative Nail Design. This super popular item is actually a blend of gel base and nail polish. There’s no need for sculpting or filing your nails while applying shellac either.
Now that you have all the facts about gel extenstions at your fingertips, go ahead and treat yourself to a nice one. You deserve it!
Joanna is a writer, poet, stand-up comedian and holds two master’s in arts and history. She founded Discount-age with the intention of providing her readers with solutions to everyday household problems. During her free time, Joanna loves cooking but usually ends up ordering in.