What are gel nails? What to expect

If you love taking care of and pampering your nails, you're probably familiar with gel nails. Read on to learn more about everything you should know about gel nails.
1999 House of Nails
November 8, 2022

Key takeaways

  • Gel nails use gel polish which is stronger than the traditional lacquer, making your nails last much longer
  • Compared to acrylic nails, gel nails offer a more natural look, is easier to remove and faster to apply
  • Gel manicure costs between $50 and $60; while gel pedicure costs between $55 and $65 in New Zealand

What are gel nails?

Gel nails utilises gel polish which is made of stronger ingredients that grasp the nail tighter than a traditional lacquer, ensuring that the nail does not chip from daily wear and tear. A UV or LED light is used to cure gel-based polish onto the nails to ensure durability. While regular polish may chip within days, gel polish can stays chip-free for up to 3-4 weeks.

Gel nails are different to acrylic nails. Both types of nails are made with monomer liquid and polymer powder, but gel nails contain additional short-chain monomers called oligomers. These oligomers play the crucial role of making gel nails more flexible and similar to natural nails.

Like acrylic nails, you can also paint and design gel nails as you want. You can even wear French tips on them and airbrush whatever design you want. Similarly, like acrylic nails, you can shape gel nails into whatever form you desire, whether square, round, or pearl.  

How are gel nails applied?

To makes gel nails, your technician would go through a three-step process, which includes brushing the base coat, applying nail polish, and applying the top coat over your natural nails. 

While doing your gel nail, you will also have to place your fingers into a small machine that emits ultraviolet light for between 30 seconds and two minutes after the application of each coat. 

However, as soon as the light dries it off, the gel polish layer hardens. The result of gel nails is often glossy nails that look freshly manicured. It is up to you to let your nail technician apply gel polish directly on your nails or extensions, commonly known as clips. 

What are the benefits of gel nails?


First and foremost, gel nails are more long-lasting when compared to a regular acrylic manicure. The reason is that gel nail polish can last on your fingers for as long as four weeks without peeling off, chipping, or breaking if properly applied and taken care. 


Gel nails can also give your nails some added protection, so if you have nails that are weak and prone to splitting easily, you should consider always going in for gel nails. 

Many of us likely batter our natural nails while doing our daily chores and activities, and gel nails can be a protective layer for your nails.

Range of colors

Another advantage of gel nail is that it is incredibly versatile, allowing you to experiment with various colors and designs. The reason is that it is a lot easier to apply layers to create different designs on gel nails compared to acrylic nails. With gel nails, your technician must ensure that each layer is thoroughly dried under UV light before applying the next layer. You can use whatever colors you like to make your gel nail designs come to life, whether bright colors, metallic colors or any color that genuinely expresses your vision. 

What's the difference between gel nails and acrylic nails?

Faster application

Applying gel nails is much faster than acrylic nails, especially because gel nails dry instantly. Unlike acrylic nails which allow you to wait for about an hour before it gets dry, each layer of coat in gel nails takes about 30 seconds to 2 minutes to get dry under ultraviolet light. 


Also, gel nails are more long-lasting than acrylic nails. On average, you could keep gel nails for up to four weeks without peeling off or chipping. On the other hand, acrylic nails can start peeling off as early as two weeks after it is done. 

Easier to remove

In addition, gel nails are easier to take off than acrylic nails. All you need to do is soak gel nails in acetone, and they will quickly come out after about 10 minutes since they are softer. On the flip side, you can only remove acrylic nails in a nail salon by a nail technician because trying to remove them without taking proper precautions could easily result in broken and brittle claws. 

Natural look

Also, unlike acrylic nails, gel nails look more like natural nails since your technician applies them by putting different layers of light coats. Acrylic nails, on the other hand, look more artificial since they are an extension.

Do gel manicures damage your nails?

Some people think gel manicures are risky, but this actually depends on how well your nails are applied. Inexperienced and careless technicians rushing through the application can cause brittleness, peeling, and cracking.

Keeping your nails healthy before and after a manicure can go a long way to minimizing the effects of gel nails. For example, you must always be proactive with your nail technician by finding out if he/she has sterilized the tools and ensuring they clean and disinfect equipment after every client. 

In addition, ensure that you soak only the tips of your fingers in acetone whenever you try to remove gel nails. Consider giving your nails a 'polish holidays' from time to time to let your fingers breathe in their natural state and recover if there have been damages. 

About 1999 House of Nails

1999 House of Nails is one of the top nail salons in Christchurch, New Zealand. We offer an exotic comfortable space and highly talented nail technicians who are always committed to ensuring that every client is 100% satisfied. If you're looking for long-lasting & beautiful nails, book an appointment with us.
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