Learn both hard gel nail and soft gel nail application, created by using a nail product to extend the nail past the edge of the natural nail
There are two types of gel, hard gel and soft gel.
Hard gel gets its name because, once cured, it is tough enough to be made into a nail extension. Nail extensions are artificial nails created by using a nail product to extend the nail past the edge of the natural nail.
Soft gel refers to the gel products that are too soft to create a nail extension. This includes gel polishes and thicker gels meant for gel-overlay services. Gel polishes are used for the increasingly popular gel polish manicures. These manicures are gentle to the natural nail and the polish stays intact on the nail for at least a couple of weeks with high shine and no cracking, peeling or chipping.
The product used to create nail extensions using gel or gel nails is gel, not to be confused with acrylic nails, which are created using liquid monomer and polymer powder. All gel services are performed using some form of gel, which usually comes in pots of gel or bottles of gel polish. Gel also comes in a variety of colors. All forms of gel require curing, or hardening, under a UV (ultraviolet) light, which can be either a conventional bulb or LED lamp.
UV curing refers to the chemical process that occurs when photoinitiators within the gel itself are exposed to the UV or blue light. The energy from the light causes certain bonds in the initiator molecules to break, forming free radicals. The radicals begin attacking double bonds in the gel’s component molecules, beginning a polymerization reaction which eventually encompasses all the molecules of the gel. Gels usually contain a mixture of acrylic monomers and oligomers, which combine to form long, interlocking chains during the polymerization, a process known as cross-linking. These long, bonded chains make the gel hard and chemically resistant. Usually, once the nail extension and/or gel manicure has been finished, there is a residual tacky layer, referred to as the “inhibition layer,” that is removed by wiping with a preferably lint-free wipe soaked in high concentrate alcohol. Most gels cure in wavelengths of 340 to 380 nm.
Get answers to common enquiries
A gel polish manicure uses soak off gel that looks and acts like nail polish, but technically it is gel. You must do a base coat, 2-3 coats of the color, then finish with a top coat. Each layer of polish must be cured in a UV or LED lamp. “Cured” basically just means dried. After the top coat has cured in the lamp a tacky (or inhibition layer) must be wiped off using rubbing alcohol. It’s all a bit scientific, but the main thing is this, a gel polish manicure gives you shiny, chip free wear for 2 weeks. Plus, when the top coat has finished curing, it is complete dry! You do have to wipe off the inhibition layer, but after that your gel manicure is dry and won’t dent or smudge.
No, not really. I guess theoretically you could cure your gel polish using UV rays from the sun, but dry times would be extremely inconsistent depending on how bright it is, what brand you are using, the chemistry of your nails, etc. I have never attempted to dry gel polish using the sun and I would not recommend it. It probably takes long enough that it’s not worth it, anyway. Just get a UV lamp or an LED lamp. They aren’t that expensive.
No and yes. No, you cannot cure regular nail polish in a lamp and use it just like gel polish. Gel polish has a completely different formula. That being said, there are a few ways you can use regular nail polish with gel polish. Usually these methods do not last as long as a regular gel polish manicure, but they do last longer than just a plain regular nail polish manicure. First method, Sandwich: Use regular nail polish in between a gel polish base and top coat. The key is to let the regular nail polish dry completely before using the top coat. 24 hours is usually recommended. Second method, Regular Nail Polish over Gel: Do a regular gel polish manicure, but skip the color or just do a sheer color like 2 coats of IBD Cashmere Blush. After removing the tacky layer, paint regular nail polish over the gel polish. Third method, Turn it Into Gel: Use Gelibility to turn regular nail polish into gel.
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