Gel Nail Polish – How to Apply, Remove, UV, LED, OPI Kits, Colors, Best Brands, Soak-Off Secrets at Home, Safety, Pros, Cons

Gel nail polish ends with gel nails, a traditional manicure that comes with a pleasant twist. Now here is everything you need to know about gel nails, from doing the polishes at home, choosing the best brands of gel polish, getting natural gel nails, best colors and even trends, best removers of nail paint to dangers/side effects/risks of gel polish for nails. In short, the article will answer the following questions and areas:

  • How to apply gel nail polish
  • How to remove gel nail polish
  • What are the types of gel nails?
  • Is gel polish for nails safe? Can it cause cancer? Any risks and dangers?
  • What are the best gel nail polish brands?
  • How to make and do gel fingernail paint at home
  • What is UV gel nail paint?
  • Where can I buy gel polish for nails?
    Gel Nail Polish Pallette

    Gel Nail Polish – OPI Nail Polish Pallette

Truly, acrylic nails dominated the manicure scene for almost a decade, but today, something else is taking over. With trends of nail art, designs and decorations such as matte nails coming and going, everything is bound to change. By the way, trends such as glow in the dark fingernail polish and others are also still around and competing effectively with gels. But let’s get down to what gel nails are.

What is Gel Nail Polish?

Gel polish for nails is one of the many types of manicure buzzing the fashion world. It is a nail varnish that is usually cured using UV light, normally supplied by UV lamps. In a simple definition, gel polish for nails is a light-sensitive lacquer. It quickly dries to form a shiny and indestructible finish, especially when done under salon quality curing lamps.  Unlike some manicure paints such as matte nail polish, gel nails are said to last for about 10 to 12 days, hence arguably last longer without chipping. There are two types of gel nails: file offs and soak offs.

2 Different Types of Gel Nail Polish

Note that there are two types of gel nails, but you may not be able to distinguish them by appearance. The difference comes in gel nail polish removal. Soak-offs are known to be the best for DIY enthusiasts since they are easy to remove at home. File-offs can be trouble and will need a good gel nails salon. Some people or salons categorize gel polish manicure, gel manicure overlays and gel enhancements as types of gel polish for nails.

How to Apply Gel Nail Polish – How to Use/Do Gel Nail Lacquer (at Home)

Gel Nail Polish – How to Apply, Remove, UV, LED, OPI Kits, Colors, Best Brands, Soak-Off Secrets at Home, Safety, Pros, Cons

UV Gel Nail Lamp

  1. Clean your nails and cuticles to remove dust, previous polish and oils. Apply a nail sanitizer and use a nail file to buff your nails and remove any shine.
  2. Apply a gel foundation or base. Ensure it is thin and seals the edges of your nails. The base gel will create a nice bond between the nail and the gel polish for nails.
  3. Cure the nails under LED light. An example is Harmony LED Gel Light. Do this for about 10 seconds. If you are using a UV light, cure them for one minute.
  4. Apply your favorite brand and color of gel polish for nails.  Do this by brushing lightly to make a thin layer from the cuticles to the free edges. Ensure that the edges are completely sealed.
  5. Cure the nails beneath LED light for about 10 seconds, or beneath UV light for 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Apply a top coat of gel polish for nails. Make it a thin and light layer covering the whole fingernail. Cure the nails beneath a LED light for about 30 seconds, or beneath UV light for about 3 minutes.
  7. Cleanse your nails by wiping the surface with a good gel nail paint cleanser such as Gelish Harmony Cleanser in order to achieve a high-shine finish. The cleanser will also remove residue, if any.

How to Remove Gel Nail Lacquer – At Home or In the Salon

How to Remove Gel Nails

Removing Gel Nails

Whether you want to remove gel nail polish at home or in a salon, you will need to follow a certain procedure in order to get it right. It is important to use a gel nail polish remover in order to get the best results. Here are steps on how to remove gel fingernail paint at home – DIY process.

  1. First, file the surface of your nails to remove the gel polish you had applied in the second last step of the “how to apply gel polish for nails” tutorial/guide above. This will remove the shine and break the seal.
  2. Soak a small ball of cotton wool with a gel nail polish remover, such as Gel Harmony Soak off Gel Remover. Place it over the nails.
  3. Use an aluminum foil to wrap the covered nail for about 10 minutes.
  4. Use a wood stick to remove the cotton ball and the gel paint from the nail.
  5. Lightly buff your nails using a 220/280 grit nail file.
  6. Apply a moisturizer for hands and fingers on your nails. A good quality pick would be Nail Tek’s Renew Natural Antifungal Cuticle Oil.

Read more tips on gel nail polish removal, the best removers and more.

Advantages/Pros/Benefits of Gel Nail Polish

Long lasting nail polish: Without a doubt, you can hardly find nail lacquer that lasts more than gel nails paint does. About 12 days on your nails is quite a long time, a huge advantage of gel polish for nails.

Easy to layer polish on top: Just in case you want to change the color to something trendy, while still in the middle of the application process, you can do it without worrying. Simply paint over the soak-off gel nail polish using your best regular nail polish. You can remove it using non-acetone remover.

Gel nails are less demanding: You do not have to go through the drills or filing that your nails will require.

Shortest dry time: Absolutely one of the biggest advantages of gel polish for nails. UV gel nail polish dries within a few seconds, between 30 seconds to two minutes. This depends on the curing nail lamp you are using.

Combos are possible: With gel polish for nails, you can combine different colors to achieve different designs, effects and even unique colors. It is even possible to achieve a shimmering nails effect and even magnetic effects with gel nail polishes.

Disadvantages/Cons/Risks/Dangers/Side Effects of Gel Nail Polish

Although gel polish for nails is considered the best when it comes to nail lacquer, dermatologists warn of dangers and risks of using it on your fingernails. It also has its own cons that you should consider before going for it.

Negatives/Cons of Gel Fingernail Polishes

  • Best quality gel nails lacquer can only be done in professional salons. This is especially true of soak-off gel. The service is costly although if you are skilled at doing gel nails, you can buy UV lamps and even gel polish for nails online. Still, that’s not a cheap set up. Cost makes it difficult for those who want to do gel nails polish at home.
  • How to remove gel nails polish is also difficult and may have to be done in a professional manicure salon. Even the aluminum foil method is known to have issues if not done carefully. You always have to file off the polish even after soaking the nails in acetone.
  • Nail growth is obvious with gel nail polishes. For instance, if you choose a dark, solid color, fingernail growth will be apparent by the second week.
  • It takes long to apply a soak-off gel nail polish especially if you are working with darker colors in your nail art. Most reviews show that a darker shades of color require several coats to get them right.

Side Effects, Risks and Dangers of Gel Nail Polish

Though these polishes for nails are known to last longer for about two weeks without chipping, they are said to be dangerous or carrying risk factors to the user. Dermatologists warn that the UV lamps used to dry the fingernails can lead to cancer, especially for people who do gel nail polish at home using the kits they own.

Buying a Gel Nail Polish Kit

To get started with gel nail polish at home, you will need a gel nail polish kit for starters. UV gel nails paint kits are good for anyone who wants to try a DIY (do-it-yourself) approach to home manicure. The items that will be included in the kit mostly depend on the brand of the gel polish you choose. There are various best gel nail polish brands (discussed below) that you can choose from. The gel nails kits can cost a little bit more, but they are surely cheap compared to going to the manicure salon. The items you will need in the gel nail polish kit include:

Gel Nail Polish – How to Apply, Remove, UV, LED, OPI Kits, Colors, Best Brands, Soak-Off Secrets at Home, Safety, Pros, Cons

Choose form a wide range of gel nail polish colors

  • Nail buffer
  • Orangewood sticks
  • A LED a UV nail lamp for curing nails
  • UV gel polish for nails top coat
  • UV gel nail base coat
  • UV gel polish for nails, the best color of your choosing
  • Lint-free cleansing pads
  • A nail cleanser – any brand you can work with, though some are recommended for use with their brands of gel polish for nails. Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) can also do.
  • Cuticle oil for nourishing the skin around your fingernails

The kits may vary depending on the brands of gel polish for nails you buy. OPI, Sally Hansen, Shellac are some of the top brands. Also, cheap gel nail polish kits may differ slightly, especially in terms of quality of their packages.

Tips: When you want to buy gel polish for nails, it is important to look at the label to see if the manufacturer has indicated the use of a specific nail drier to use with their product. Some manufacturers indicate that you use their nail driers with UV light lamps while others prefer LED light lamps.

Acetone is notorious in drying the cuticles and the skin around your nails. If you include it in the gel nail polish kit, ensure that you buy a moisturizer to use after the application or removal of the nail varnish. Glycerin, cuticle oil or olive oil can be added to the acetone.

Best Brands of Gel Nail Polish

Best gel nails polish is something that is subject to customer preference and consumer reviews. Since brands have a wide array of colors, people prefer different brands and consider them the best. OPI polishes such as You Don’t Know Jacques, Russian Navy, I’m Not Really a Waitress, Lincoln Park After Dark and Bubble Bath are considered to be the top nail polishes in gel form. Other brands include Akzentz, Bio Sculpture Color Gel, CalGel, Dashing Diva Gelife, IBD, and OPI Axxium; with Gelife coming with natural nail gel polish shades giving nails a natural shade. Axxium comes in 26 different colors with some having shimmery nails in the mix.

Sally Hansen, Shellac, IBD gel polish for nails, CND’s Shellac nails, LCN with magnetic nails, Euro-Gel, Broadway Nails Brush On Gel Starter Kit, Calgel gel polish for nails (with 90 different colors), Dashing Diva Professional with Gelife Soak Off UV System mixed with French manicure are all among the top spot gel polish for nails competitors. You can buy these in stores such as Walgreens, CVS or even Walmart. Some kits can be purchased online.

Trending Nail Art, Colors, Designs of Gel Polish for Nails: Best colors for gel nails are a personal choice. Therefore, you can try just about any colors you prefer such as red, maroon, purple, pink, blue, turquoise, gray, black and any other.

See More on Fashion Nail Colors:

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