What is a Gel Manicure? What You Should Know

Are you decoding ways to impart mega-watt shine to your nails? If you're nodding ‘yes', then get ready an extra beauty boost with a gel manicure which promises flawless and durable results. Here's what you should know before getting a gel manicure.
1999 House of Nails
November 21, 2022

Key takeaways

  • gel manicure is a technique to improve the appearance and length of your nails. It utilise a gel-based polish and require a UV or LED light to cure and seal them onto your nails.
  • Gel manicures usually last between 10 days to 3 weeks depending on how well the gel polish has been applied
  • Express gel manicure cost around $45, whereas deluxe (spa) gel manicure cost around $60

What is a gel manicure?

gel manicure is a technique to improve the appearance and length of your nails. With gel manicure, your nail paint sparkles for weeks without smudging, even when you're opting for the long or extra long nail sets. 

The steps of a gel manicure and a regular manicure are almost alike, the key difference lies in material used and how gel polish is cured. 

To begin, the technician cuts your nails, then soaks your hands in warm, soapy water. He/she would then trim your soft cuticles and completes your hand cleansing. 

Once the preparation is done, the technician applies a base coat layer to your nails to prepare them for the gel. Once the gel polish is applied, the technician puts your hand under UV light for 30 seconds up to five times. The purpose of the UV or LED light is to harden and cure the polish on your nails. Once the gel polish is UV-cured, glossy topcoat is applied in the final step.

With gel manicure, there’s no need to wait for your nails to dry. You are ready to go after the final coat has dried under UV light!

How long do gel manicures last?

Gel manicures usually last between 10 days to 3 weeks depending on how well the gel polish has been applied, which mostly depends on the skill of the technicians themselves. However, due to natural nail growth and wear and tear, you might need an infill after about 3-4 weeks regardless of how well the polish has been applied.

The lifespan of gel manicure also depends on how well you maintain it. Those who loves swimming and hands-on sports might see a shorter gel manicure lifespan than those who aren't super active with their hands.

Although gel manicures are a lot more durable than normal manicure, there's still a possibility for chipping and breaking them. So it's handy to keep a nail file to shape them in case a nail chips or breaks.

We also recommend keeping a bottle of your favourite polish color to fill in any color gaps yourself - but only if you're comfortable with nails DIY. If you prefer to get it professionally done, then it might be time to visit your local favourite nail salon!

How much do gel manicures cost? 

The price of a gel manicure varies depending on where you live and what style you like. Simple gel manicures start at about $40 to $45. But if you want outrageous celeb-level nail art plus gel extension, it may cost up to $100 or more.

Most salons offer two types of manicure services, i.e. express gel manicure and deluxe gel manicure. 

An express gel manicure costs about $45. This service includes nail trimming, filing, and shaping; then cuticle care, hand lotion, cuticle oil and lastly, gel polish application.

The deluxe gel manicure costs about $60. It includes everything in the express gel manicure, but also adds a refreshing warm water soak, sugar scrubbing to remove dead skin, and finally, a soothing hand massage to relieve muscle tension.  

What's the difference between gel and acrylic? 

Acrylic nails are composed of a mixture of liquid and powder brushed over your nail. After applying the mixture, your nails are filed and sculpted to resemble natural nails. Gel nails involve painting your natural nails with a base coat, nail polish, and top coat. Although gel and acrylic nails produce similar results, they differ in many aspects.

Applying gel nails is far quicker than acrylic nails. The nails dry instantly and frequently seem more natural. When finished, gel nails typically remain intact for 2-3 weeks or more. They may begin to peel or lift from corners at the end of this period. 

In contrast, acrylic nails offer you a hard, protective covering with a hybrid powder and liquid mixture. Due to the thickness and sturdiness, they're less likely to chip but more easy to break due to inflexibility. 

How do you safely remove a gel manicure?

Cuticles and nail beds are the most crucial parts of your nail so pay extra attention to them whilst getting your nail polish removed. If you visit a salon, ensure the nail technician removes your gels with care. The polish should gently flakes off and your nail tech shouldn't be vigorously scrubbing your nail bed.

If you can't book a last-minute appointment to remove your nails, and have to do it yourself at home, make sure to do it properly to avoid damaging your nails (note that you will need acetone to do so).

Firstly, pour a moderate amount of acetone in a glass bowl. Crack the top coat's seal of your nails with a light grit file and soak your nails in acetone for around three minutes. Then use a wood stick cuticle pusher to scrape the jelly-like substance on your nails. Once the polish is removed, softly buff your nails. Lastly, moisturize your hands and nails with cuticle oil or a nail lotion.  

Can gel manicures damage your nails?

Although gel manicures look lovely and last long, they can be hard on nails if you don't give them a break. Specifically, gel manicures can cause nail brittleness, peeling, and cracking. So to keep your nails healthy before, during, and after gel manicures, dermatologists suggest the following: 

  • Be proactive with your manicurist: Ask if tools are sterilised and cleaned after every client, as well as if they are cleaned and disinfected. Cuticle cutting can sometimes results in minor bleeding so make sure to pick a technician with steady hands.
  • Give yourself a break: If you have recurring nail problems or are allergic to acetone, you should opt for traditional nail polish. Acetone is required to remove gel polish, so this is especially important if you experience repeated nail problems or are allergic to acetone.
  • Avoid peeling gel polish: It is advisable to avoid gel nail polish when it begins to chip off as you should not pick at it or use other nails or tools to remove it. Make an appointment with your manicurist to have the polish removed rather than picking at it or soaking your whole hands or fingers in acetone. 
  • Be mindful when using acetone: When removing your nail polish, only soak your fingertips in acetone to protect the surrounding skin. If you prefer, you may use cotton balls to do so. Soak the cotton balls in acetone and place aluminum foil around your fingers.

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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