Gel Nails: Everything You Need To Know Before Getting A Manicure

Well-groomed nails are a sign of coquetry. Let’s face it, having pretty hands with perfect nails makes us feel good and lifts our spirits, so why deprive ourselves! So we pamper them with a manicure, and not just any manicure: a gel manicure. Here’s everything you need to know about this manicure.

What is a gel manicure?

Like a traditional manicure, nails are trimmed and filed, and cuticles are maintained, but the difference lies in the application of gel nail polish. This transparent paste is the main element of this technique. It is molded onto the surface of your natural nails to obtain the nail pattern you desire. Next, your nails are put under a UV or LED lamp to dry and harden the gel. Gel does not air-dry like resin. Each layer of gel must be cured for 30 to 60 seconds. As soon as the last finishing coat has hardened, you can leave the salon without waiting any longer for your nails to dry.

The advantage of gel nails is that they are more resistant to chipping and breaking, as Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder of Olive & June salon, explains. Nails also stay shiny throughout the manicure.

How long does a gel manicure last?

Gel manicures can last from 10 days to 3 weeks, thanks to the hardening process. After this time, the manicure becomes less beautiful as the natural nails grow back.

How much does a gel manicure cost?

For a simple overlay, the cost can vary between $45 and $70. The cost may vary depending on the finish. (Choice of semi-permanent varnish, simple varnish or nail art).

Are UV lamps dangerous?

The UV lamps used to cure gel are not without risk to the skin. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic Research, confirms that UV light is responsible for premature aging of the skin and exposes it to a higher risk of skin cancer. Dermatologist Brendan Camp explains that ultraviolet rays can damage skin cells and proteins such as collagen and elastin. For this reason, it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen to hands and fingers for 15 to 20 minutes before a gel manicure, to protect them. For added protection, Dr. Camp recommends wearing dark opaque gloves without fingertips.

Can gel nails damage natural nails?

According to manicure expert Jaclyn Duguay-Gordon, gel manicures are not bad for natural nails, when performed by professionals. But it can be harmful if gel nails are not properly prepared, applied and removed. If you’re having your nails done at the salon, make sure your nail technician doesn’t polish or file the nails to remove the gel. If you too think that gel prevents natural nails from breathing, don’t worry! According to Duguay-Gordon, this is just a myth. Nails don’t breathe anyway.

To keep your nails strong and healthy, be sure to take breaks between manicures. It’s a good idea to apply cuticle oil between manicures to keep the area moisturized and healthy. This way, the skin around your nails and the bed will be protected.

Can a gel manicure be applied to short or long nails?

Everyone can enjoy a gel manicure: whether your nails are short or long. Especially since gel is simply a substance applied to the nails. Whatever the length of your nails, the result will be perfect.

Can I do my own gel nails at home?

To do a gel manicure at home, you can use gel manicure kits. This may seem like a good idea, but be careful. Duguay-Gordon advises against using these gel kits at home if you’re not familiar with proper nail preparation and application. Indeed, if not properly applied, gel polish can peel off and damage your natural nails.

If you think you can do your manicure at home, be sure to follow the instructions to the letter and use a steady hand to ensure a salon-like finish.

How to do gel nails?
Here’s how to do a gel manicure at home:

  • Equipment
  • UV or LED lamp
  • Without a lamp that emits UV light, you won’t be able to harden your gel nails. Choose an LED lamp, as it emits less UV light and dries the gel faster.

Glass or crystal nail files
There are several types of nail file.Choose glass or crystal files, because they last longer.They don’t wear out.These files are for personal use only, so don’t share them. Don’t forget to clean them after a while, for good hygiene.

Cuticle oil
Before starting your gel manicure, it’s important to moisturize your nails.They often dry out and crack due to sun, soap or chlorine.Cuticle oil helps moisturize your nails, making them smoother and easier to polish.

Nail polisher
As nail surfaces are not always smooth, they need to be polished first to enable gel varnish to adhere properly, but also for longer.

Rubbing alcohol
For gel polish to last, you need to prepare your nails properly before applying it.To do this, use rubbing alcohol to remove any traces of oil on the nails, allowing the varnish to adhere more easily.Base coatNot to be confused with the top coat, the base coat is a transparent varnish that acts as a base between the nail surface and the gel varnish.This base coat is important, as it gives your natural nails greater resistance so they can withstand the varnish longer.The top coatThe top coat is the final layer of clear varnish applied to protect the gel varnish from external aggression.

Gel varnish
A variety of gel varnishes are available. You can choose a brand renowned for its long-lasting formula or a varnish that contains no aggressive ingredients.

The steps

Here are the steps to follow for a gel manicure at home.

  1. Prepare nails

It’s important to prepare your nails before applying the gel, as you won’t be able to do this after you’ve applied the gel varnish. You risk damaging your manicure. File your nails into the shape you want: round, oval, almond, square or pointed.

  1. Apply cuticle oil

Apply a few drops of cuticle oil and massage into your nails. Then gently push back your cuticles, using the edge of the file. Then wash your hands to remove any traces of oil that might cause your gel nails to peel off.

  1. Polishing nails

Polish your nails gently. This will make your manicure last longer.

  1. Use rubbing alcohol

Before applying the gel, wipe your nails with rubbing alcohol to remove any dust left by polishing. Use 90° rubbing alcohol.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water and dry them thoroughly;
Soak a cotton pad in rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the surface of your nails. Alcohol dries quickly, of course.

  1. Apply base coat

This is an important step in a manicure. Without this base coat, your gel won’t adhere well to the nail plate. Apply a thin layer of base coat evenly over the entire nail so that the gel varnish adheres completely. Then use the LED lamp for about 30 seconds to dry and harden the nail. This time may vary depending on the lamp used. Note that after hardening, the base coat remains tacky, not dry.

  1. Apply gel varnish

After the base coat has hardened, apply a thin layer of gel polish evenly over all your nails. Be careful not to apply the polish to your cuticles. Use your lamp to harden your nails. Follow the time indicated by your lamp. 30 seconds is the usual time.

  1. Apply top coat

Apply a light coat of top coat over the gel varnish. Carefully seal the nail tips. This will make your polish last longer. Harden the coat using your LED lamp.

Apply a few drops of cuticle oil for a good, moisturizing finish.

  1. Take care of your nails

After your manicure, take care of your nails. Massage your fingers and cuticles with cuticle oil. This will nourish your skin and prevent it from drying out. Avoid using hot water, as it removes gel polish more easily.

How to care for gel nails

Here are 7 practical tips to make your gel manicure last.

  1. Avoid hot water
    Hot water, such as that used in hot baths, is not recommended. You’ll end up with flaking polish. We recommend short showers and avoiding high temperatures.
  2. Avoid hand sanitizers
    Disinfectants dry out skin, cuticles and nail beds. They can also strip the top coat of your manicure. That’s why it’s best to use soap instead.
  3. Moisturize daily
    When nails are dry, they can break and this is what damages your manicure. It is therefore advisable to moisturize your nails daily with cuticle oil.
  4. Filling nails
    Filling involves filling in the area near the base of the nail with gel. This is where the regrowth of your natural nail is visible. This way, your manicure will last a long time and you won’t need to remove the gel each time and have it replaced.
  5. Opt for clear nail polish
    Light-colored nail polishes are recommended, as they won’t show cracks, chips or imperfections.
  6. Clean and care for your nails
    It’s important to keep your nails clean and tidy when you’re having a gel manicure. Trapped dirt and debris are unsightly. On top of that, they’re bad for the health of your nails.
  7. Apply the top coat
    Top coat means last coat. It’s a transparent top coat applied to protect the manicure and prevent the main coat from chipping off quickly. Every 2 or 3 days, apply your top coat to keep your manicure shiny and in good condition.