If you're committed to keeping your real nails, the choice is between regular and gel nail polish. In this guide, we'll outline the differences so you can make the right choice. Keep reading to learn more!
If you get a manicure that uses traditional nail polish, it goes something like this. The technician will remove any old polish from your hands, shape and prime your nails, give you a little hand massage, then apply the base coat, polish, and top coat.
Of course, you don't need to go to a salon for a manicure. Many people love traditional nail polish because it can easily be applied at home, without any extra equipment. Regular nail polish is easy to apply and remove, so you can change the color as often as you'd like.
However, traditional nail polish has one major drawback: it's easy to chip and damage. It can take a long time to dry, but even if it dries without issue, it doesn't tend to stay on the nails for very long.
This can result in frequent touch-ups and reapplications, which can get frustrating. But luckily, this is where gel nail polish comes in.
Gel manicures cost more in the salon than regular manicures do - and you almost always need to get them done in a salon.
Gel manicures also take much longer to finish. The process to apply the polish is much the same as the traditional manicure. Your nails will get shaped and clean, your hands will be taken care of, and the base coat is applied before the color.
Then, the application process changes. After the gel base coat has been added, your nails will be placed under a UV light to "cure" the polish. Each new coat gets set in the UV light after application, right down to the top coat.
Why go through this long process? Many people love the gel nails because they last much longer than standard manicures. Gel polish doesn't chip, so you can keep it on for weeks at a time. You'll only need to get it changed or removed when your nails grow out too far.
If you're trying to grow your natural nails out, gel is also a good choice. The gel adds a layer of protection that helps keep your nails from breaking.
However, one drawback of gel polish is that it's very hard to get off. You might even find yourself going back to the salon for gel polish removal. The polish has to be soaked off. And, if you get gel manicures often, you'll want to use sunscreen to protect your hands from the potential UV light damage.
That said, gel manicures are great if you use your hands a lot and want your nails to last.
The main difference between gel polish and normal air-dry nail polish is the length of wear. When applied correctly, gel nail polish can last up to two weeks without chipping. Another big difference is the drying time. Because you use a LED lamp to harden gel nail polish, it dries much more quickly, so you can go about your life right away, without worrying about smudging.
Gel polish lasts between 2-3 weeks at the minimum, while the regular polish is lucky to go a week without chipping. With light wear, your gel nails last at least twice as long as a normal polish, but realistically they get you four to six times a standard manicure mileage.
In terms of retained wear and tear, the gel polish will not chip the way regular polish is known to. If applied correctly, it is also not likely to smudge. The strength of this type of polish is evident in its removal process, and it's clear that you have to be very intentional about removing your gel polish to prepare for a new application.
Gel nail polish has only been on the market since 2010. Still, the gel manicure has quickly become a salon staple. Nevertheless, for all those who are unsure about trying new gel polishes, we collected a list of their benefits for you:
1. Quick To Dry
Gel polish is thicker than ordinary nail polish. The primary feature distinguishing it from a classic manicure is a part of the curing application process since gel nail polish does not dry naturally.
Curing refers to placing your nails under an LED or UV light to activate the chemical process that dries each coat of polish. Given that gel nail application has additional time for the polish to cure, you can leave your appointment or at-home application immediately with perfectly dried nails.
With a quick-drying, durable formula, gel polish hardly chips. Your gel manicure is highly resistant to chipping or smudging, and the color will stay as bright and shiny as it was on day one.
While gel polish is generally said to last at least two weeks, your gel manicure may last as long as one month — or as long as you want to keep it. The only long-term side effect of wearing gel nails for a while is that your nail will eventually grow out.
Removing gel nails is a slightly longer and more complicated process than removing regular lacquer, but the ability to get a manicure done once is worth the time it takes to remove.
Whether you're applying gel or regular polish, it's a good idea to prep your nails first. Gel nail polish can be applied either to natural nails or acrylics. If applying to your natural nails, first remove all traces of your old polish and lightly buff your nails to help the polish stick.
To avoid applying color to your cuticles, gently push the cuticle back with an orangewood stick. Wash and thoroughly dry your hands to remove any residues. You might also want to use a nail cleanser and a primer.
Applying a base coat will help create the perfect finish for your gel nail polish. Start applying one-third of the way up the nail, upwards in a single stroke. Repeat at the sides of the nail, then push downwards towards the cuticle, avoiding actual contact with the cuticle itself. You can do this with regular nail polish too, but the main difference is that when using a gel base coat, you'll need to cure it under the LED lamp for 15 seconds.
Now to apply your chosen color. Apply two coats, curing under the LED lamp between each coat. This is where gel nail polish is way easier than traditional nail polish. With regular polish, you have to wait for each coat to air dry, whereas with gel nails, you'll be all done within a couple of minutes.
Once the color is dry, apply a clear top coat and cure again under the lamp.
It really is that simple. The tricky bit is choosing your color from our huge range of shades! If you want a kit to get you started, try RONIKI Gel Polish Starter Kit.