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Everything You Need To Know About Gel Manicures


Posted on May 29 2019

There’s been a lot of questions surrounding gel manicures? Are they safe? How long do they last? What’s the difference between gel polish and regular nail polish? Let’s break it down.

What’s the difference between gel polish and regular nail lacquer?

Let’s start with the basics. The main difference between the two is that gel polish requires an LED/UV lamp to dry. This process is called “curing,” and in a matter of seconds, the polish dries and hardens. A UV light typically takes about 5-45 seconds to cure, according to Allure, while an LED light takes about two minutes to cure.

Can gel polish dry without a UV light?

No. The chemical formula of gel polish is completely different than nail lacquer and requires the use of an LED/UV light to cure.

How long does a gel manicure last?

Typically, a gel manicure can last anywhere between two to three weeks.

What’s the average cost of a gel manicure?

According to Allure, $25 to $45.

Pictured: CND Shellac "Kiss From A Rose" (from the CND English Garden Collection)

How do I make my gel manicure last longer?

It’s important to completely cure your nails to ensure they are dry and firm. If they are under-cured, the polish can become sticky and even smudge. According to cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller, it’s theoretically possible to leave your nails under the light a little longer for more durability.

How safe are gel manicures?

Obviously, everything is great in moderation. So if you’re getting gel manicures every week, maybe it’s time to give your nails a break. Some studies have shown that too much UV light from manicures can lead to skin cancers. Although the risk of developing skin cancer from UV manicures is small, you should still use sunscreens and UVA protective gloves to limit the risk.

Pictured: OPI GelColor "Bare My Soul" (from the OPI Sheers Collection, "Coral-ing Your Spirit Animal", "Mariachi Makes My Day", "Don't Tell A Sol", "Telenovela Me About It", & "Verde Nice To Meet You" from the OPI Mexico City Collection

How do I remove gel polish?

Unlike regular nail lacquer, gel polish is a bit of a process to remove. It cannot be easily wiped away with some acetone. You must soak your nails in acetone for several minutes to loosen the hardened gel. Whatever you do, DO NOT PEEL YOUR GEL MANICURE. This can damage the nails, making them brittle and weak. See the video below on how to properly remove a gel manicure.

Can I use a gel top coat over regular nail polish to get a gel-like manicure?

You can, but you may not get the results you want. Regular nail polish isn’t fully dry for 24 hours (the polish may feel dry, but there are solvents deep inside that are still drying). If you put a gel top coat over regular nail polish, you’re essentially trapping in wet polish, which leads to smudging and ruining your perfect manicure.

How To Apply Gel Polish

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Tags: Gel Polish , Pro Tips ,


  • Joyce : January 12, 2022

    I have been doing gel manicures for quite some time. All of a sudden, one week into the mani the top half of my middle fingernail on my right hand, dulls. Some dullness is also on the two nails on either side. I’m baffled! I have no idea as to what could be causing this to happen. I get my nails done professionally,
    Any suggestions?

  • Liz: December 23, 2023

    What I the best/longest lasting polish for pedicures (without using gels that have to cure)? Base, color or top coat.

  • 💅 Christina - Beyond Polish Team 💅: December 26, 2023

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks for stopping by our blog. Long lasting pedicure all depends on the prep of your nails. We always recommend using the same brand for top, base, and color shade since most of the polishes are made to work well together. If you have any other questions feel free to let us know or email us at HELLO@BEYONDPOLISH.COM

    The Beyond Polish Team

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