Gel nails— they’re the traditional manicure with a twist. After decades of domination by the acrylic nail, a new leader is staging a take-over.

Gel nails, a type of artificial nail, are creating a buzz in the beauty world. This manicure method, when compared to an acrylic manicure looks more realistic. Along with this more natural appearance, gel nails typically last for about 10-12 days. However, when compared to acrylics, they tend to be a more expensive manicure option. The starting price is around $25 but can be as expensive as $35.

When looking into gel nails there are two main types, “soak-offs” and “file-offs. Appearance wise they’re the same, but it’s mainly in the removal process that they differ. If you’re getting them professionally done, this isn’t too big of a deal, but if you are planning on removing them at home, “soak-offs” are the better choice. Another advantage that they have over acrylic nails is that you don’t have to endure all of those killer fumes while trying to get pretty. You’re helping the environment and getting pampered — kudos!

If frequent trips to the nail salon aren’t your thing, you can always purchase gel nail polish. Sally Hansen and OPI carry various colors. But you must be warned that this process is easier said than done when at home. In order for the gel polish to work, you need to dry them under a UV light for about five minutes. If you don’t have one, don’t bother trying the gel polish at home because it won’t work. UV lights can be purchased at beauty supply stores like ULTA.

Now for the dreaded removal aspect. For those brave souls attempting this at home instead of going to your nearest manicurist pay attention. DO NOT RIP OR BITE OFF YOUR GEL NAILS! It’s disgusting, and it destroys your natural nails. To remove “soak-offs” you will need cotton balls, pure acetone, a cuticle stick, foil, a nail file and a nail buffer.

You are first going to file through the clear coat surface of your nails until you’ve reached the gel. Then, you’re going to soak cotton balls in acetone, one for each finger, and place them on top of the nail. It’s best to do one hand at a time. Now, take your foil, wrap it around each finger, and let it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes take your cuticle stick and gently scrape off the gel. It should come off easily, but in the event that it doesn’t, put the foil and cotton back on your finger, and let it soak a bit longer. Finally, use your buffer to clean off any excess residue.

Although this seems like quite a process, you’ll be much happier with the results than if you took the cannibal route with your fingers.

(5) comments


Interesting piece. Thank you for explaining what gel nails are.


can anyone tell me if there is any difference in LED bulbs sold for household use and the new trend for specific gel nailpolish curing? those LED or UV lamps cost $70 and up and how are they different than the LED bulbs I already use in my home? i dont want to invest in a lamp until I try the gels and all our bulbs at home are LED--does anyone have any info on this? an actual BULB company could not give any info as they were not aware of the gel trend.UV and LED lights. go figure, another idiot in this world


To cherylzt:
LED is a type of bulb (light emitting diode). Other types are incandescent (plain old fashioned light bulbs), fluorescent, halogen. It refers to HOW electricity is turned into light. Some use more electricity than others. LEDs use very little electricity and last a long time but cost more to buy.

UV (ultraviolet) refers to the KIND OF LIGHT the bulb gives off. More specifically, the wavelength of the light. The bulbs we buy are almost always VISIBLE light. UV light is different from visible light. It is shorter wavelength and can damage eyes if you stare directly at it. It is the part of sunlight that causes sunburn and sun damage if you get too much. You may have heard of UVA, UVB, UVC. These are all part of UV light. UV light "cures" gel nails by making the chemical hardening process go much faster than without UV light.

Focus on buying a UV light for nail curing. It does not have to be LED.


Has anyone tried NaiLuv? I found a kit on sale at their website but i wanted to see if anyone has tried it and what they thought before i buy it...

Mellisa Louise

Excited to try this at home. I think I ordered an easier to use product though because you only need to cure it under the UV light for 1 minute. It lasts up to two weeks and stays shiny and chip free.

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