Gel nail polish provides a smooth finish with even, saturated color. But gel polish manicures are different from acrylic dips or traditional liquid nail lacquer treatments. Here’s what to expect when trying soak-off gel nail polish.
The Difference Between Hard and Soft Gel Nails
There are three different nail treatments referred to as “gel nails.” They all must be cured under UV or LED light to dry and harden, so sunscreen or special gloves that expose only the nails are recommended.
There are some important differences between types of gel treatments. Hard and soft gel nails are enhancements that either lengthen or strengthen natural nails. Gel nails are applied as a drop and then dragged with a brush to form the desired shape. Gel nail polish is thinner and basically just a newer version of liquid nail polish. Gel polish is sometimes referred to as “shellac.”
Summarized, the significant differences between the three are:
- Hard gel: adds length, is long-lasting, can’t be soaked off
- Soft gel: strengthens nails, can be soaked off with acetone
- Gel polish: doesn’t strengthen or add length, good for color, dries faster
Applying Gel Nail Polish
You can apply gel nail polish directly to the natural nail, but that’s not a good idea. The most successful manicures use a base coat to prepare the nail to accept and bond with the polish.
For gel polish, use a soak-off base coat compatible with the brand of polish you’re applying. Cure the base coat according to label instructions before you start applying gel polish color.
Gel polish must cure between coats. The curing process takes less time than traditional polish or adding nail art to hard gel nails.
How To Soak Off Gel Nail Polish
Hard gel nails can’t be soaked off. A nail technician must file them off. Soft get nails and soft gel polish soak off with nail polish remover.
If you’re at a salon, your nail technician will first protect your cuticles with petroleum jelly or cuticle cream. Next, they’ll place a cotton ball soaked in acetone atop your nail. Then, your tech will wrap it with plastic wrap or foil. After about 10 minutes, the nail tech will unwrap the nail, and the polish should come off. The technician will then wash off any excess polish and dry the nails with a clean towel.
Which nail product you use is a matter of personal preference and may depend on how long you want your color to last or if you want to create dramatically long nails. Now you know what to expect when trying soak-off gel nail polish in the salon or at home.