Everything You Need to Know about Gel Nails

Gel nails look much more natural than acrylic nails, which is why they're among the favorites of modern manicurists. Find out what other advantages this option has here!
Everything You Need to Know about Gel Nails
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 28 September, 2022

A beautiful and stylish manicure is possible if you use gel nails, a technique that’s all the rage among nail art regulars. With a wide range of alternatives to decorate or the option of a simple finish, this is an arrangement that brings strength and elegance to the nails.

Also, dressing up this part of the hands is a great way to express yourself or complement your outfits. Also, some people even use nail polish to disguise certain nail conditions.

However, keep in mind that painting your nails isn’t always the right way to hide problems such as those listed by the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV).

What are gel nails?

Gel nails are made with a type of semi-permanent gel or finish that hardens under a special lamp. The substance goes directly on the nail base. There are several layers depending on the desired thickness.

LED radiation guarantees a result similar to a normal manicure, with the difference that the gel extends the grooming for 3 to 5 weeks. During this period, the natural nail still grows beneath it.

If you don’t want to extend your nails, a soft gel is used. On the other hand, to extend them, the indicated gel is the hard one. You can remove it with acetone polish removie, but it comes off better with a lathe and file.

For maintenance, a professional technician simply fills in the new part until it is even.

Instruments for working with gel nails

The application of gel requires some basic equipment: brushes, coarse-grained files, blocks, a cuticle pusher, and a lamp. In addition, the professional has the following supplies:

  • A disinfectant or antiseptic: This is used to prevent the settlement of bacteria.
  • A bonder or pre-base: This cleans and softens the crust to which the gel adheres.
  • Gel: There’s a wide variety of colors, and the texture depends on the brand.
  • Top coat: This is the protective layer that’s applied after the gel. It acts as a shield against shocks and gives shine.
Gel nails
The professional work for the application of these nails makes use of various implements.

How to apply gel nails

Although they could be understood as five simple steps, only expert execution guarantees a first-class finish. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the steps.

1. Cleaning and polishing

This is the preparation phase. After cleaning with antiseptic, the surfaces are filed and polished during this phase. In this way, the nails are ready to receive the jelly.

2. Pushing back the cuticles

At the end of the polishing, all the dust is removed. The cuticles are pushed aside with a cutivle pusher or an orange stick. It’s always better to move rather than cut, as the cuticle seals the skin to the nail, and if removed, there’s a risk of infection, as an article from the Mayo Clinic explains.

3. Gel is applied

A thin layer of gel is applied nail by nail until the desired thickness is achieved. Each coat hardens under the radiation of the lamp for a few minutes. Only heat and light ensure fixation.

4. Coloring

Some people consider this an optional step as they prefer a natural look. Pink and clear types of gel are the best for this purpose; they’re often joined by white if you are looking for a French manicure. If nail art is your thing, you can also play with tones and ideas.

5. Moisturize your hands

Finally, moisturize your hands and cuticles with special oils. Almond, cocoa, sunflower, and coconut oil are all great alternatives.

We think you may be interested in reading this, too: How to Strengthen Your Fingernails Naturally: 5 Tips

The benefits of gel nails

The main advantage of wearing gel nails is the prolongation is the fact that they can last for several weeks when you take proper care of yournails. As for versatility, the method also assimilates any shape, decoration, and length. So what are some other benefits?

  • They’re strong and comfortable.
  • Gel nails cost less than other techniques.
  • You don’t have to go to the salon every week.
  • Gel nails look more natural than false nails.
  • They allow for corrections in the manicure process.
  • They work as an extension that camouflages bitten or short nails.
taking off gel nails
There are some home techniques that can be used to remove gel nails, such as the one using aluminum foil, although it’s best to visit a professional to get them removed. 

Are there any contraindications to gel manicures?

As with any polish option, abusing gel weakens the nails. That’s why it’s important to let some time pass between sessions to prevent any problems.

On the other hand, there are tutorials on how to do your nails without assistance. However, in case of possible risks by using homemade methods, it’s best to go to licensed salons. On the subject, the journal Actas Dermo-Sifilográficas adds that the marketing of nail products formulated with acrylates could precipitate cases of allergic dermatitis.

And as for nail fungus as a result of a manicure, one precaution is to bring your own tools or make sure that they sterilize the site’s tools.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Strategies To Keep Your Children from Biting Their Nails

Care for your nails

Meticulous care comes once you remove the gel, as the nail beneath it is soft. Ask your manicurist what products you can use to nourish your nails after you’ve had gel nails removed.

Some extra tips are to file and trim your nails, moisturize them with oils or petroleum jelly, and to use a hardening polish. Finally, make sure to let your nails rest for a while from polish or just use a base coat to strengthen them.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.