Gel Nails 101



Ladies, what’s the longest you’ve gone with a chip-and-smudge free manicure? For me, it’s about 5 days max, and that’s when I’m having a really good week. Manicures and pedicures are luxuries that women treat themselves to but it’s an unwritten law that we’ll have to maintain that luxury with  a fresh mani/pedi within about 7 days of the initial procedure. That mentality is changing with the growing popularity of a new wave of nail technology called soak-off gel nails.

At first glance, soak-off gel nails look like nail polish but they last almost twice as long because an ultraviolet lamp is used to cure the color to the nails which yields results that can go chip-free for at least 14 days.

The process of getting a soak-off gel set applied and removed should be done by a professional. It is similar to a regular mani in many ways but has a few distinct differences. A base coat, two color coats and a top coat are applied by a manicurist, but between each coat the soak-off gel is briefly cured using the UV light. We already know that depending on the number of coats of color and other accents that are used, it can take anywhere between 10-30 minutes for nail polish on a regular mani to completely dry. The UV light on gel nails allows polish to completely dry within seconds of exposure to the lighting.

While several brands such as Shellac, OPI and Bellisma have embraced the trend, nail companies like Butter London believe it’s a fad that if improperly removed could damage nails.

Having long-lasting color at your disposal is very appealing yet removal of the color is a process. Each nail must be covered with a pad drenched in acetone or a remover made specifically for the gel for about 10-25 minutes. In addition to the time-consuming removal process, you may have to dish out some extra cash for this service. Application costs about $40 and having the color removed is about $30. In addition to the price, be cautious of the amount of UV light that you allow your skin to be exposed to because UV light is a known carcinogen (cancer causing agent).

Have you tried Gel Nails? What do you think of them?

-Margaret Francois

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  • Anonymous

    I used to LOOOOOVVEE getting gel color on my nails. My nails wouldn’t break off like they normally would and the color lasted for a good two weeks. I also liked that there were so many colors to choose from. I got them done every two weeks, right after pay day and they didn’t cost as nearly as much as this article says. I paid $18-$20 for the application and removal was free. I will say the removal process did take about 15-20 minutes because the gel really adhered to the nail. The only reason I stopped was because I just decided to do my own nails for a while

  • Bronze

    I’m wearing them now and I do love them but warning: it is soo important to make an appt when the gel color starts to peel. I peel the cured color off one day and it has taken two weeks for my nails to get strong again. But they are great option for busy women.

  • LJinBK

    Got them done twice and my nails were wrecked afterwards. They buffed down the surface of my nail to make the gel more adhesive…and one of my nails was literally sensitive until it grew out.

    Maybe it was the place I went to, but I’m okay with regular manis :)