Gel nails are extremely durable and long-lasting which is one of the main reasons why they are one of the most popular forms of manicures.
In this article, we are gonna explore how long a gel manicure should last you. And most importantly give you some tips on how to make them more durable and long-lasting.
Now we are gonna be looking at 2 kinds of gel nails:
- Gel manicures made from Gel Polish &
- Gel Nail Extensions
How Long Does Gel Nail Polish Last
A gel manicure made using a gel nail polish can last you 2 to 3 weeks without peeling, chipping, or lifting.
Now the exact lifespan of your gel manicure will vary greatly with each individual. The lifespan will vary based on:
- How well you take care of your gel manicure.
- If they were correctly applied using proper nail prep.
- The environment that your gel nails are exposed to.
- How oily your natural nails are.
How Long Does Gel Nail Extension Last
Gel Nail Extensions made using a hard gel can last you for 3-4 weeks. Hard gel is the most common form of Gel used to make gel nail extensions.
Now Soft Gel also known as soak off gel can last you for 2-3 weeks.
Hard Gel is more durable and can’t be removed using acetone instead it needs to be filed off. Whilst soft gel isn’t as tough as hard gel but is easier to remove with acetone.
Tips to Make Gel Manicures Last Longer
Most of these tips are applicable to gel nails made from either gel polish or gels used to make nail extensions.
1- Properly Prep Your Cuticles
The cuticle is the area of skin at the back of your nails and it needs to be pushed back and aligned before applying your gel nail polish. If you dont your gel manicure will be prone to lifting.
You see gel or gel polish are made to bond to your nail plate and if it rests on the cuticle instead of your natural nails it will come off easily which will lead to lifting and peeling.
This is why it is essential that you or your nail tech prep your cuticles before applying the gel polish. Now to prep your cuticles you need to use a cuticle pusher and push back and align your cuticles.
You can check out the video below to see how it’s done.
2- Buff Your Natural Nails
Once your cuticles have been dealt with the next step is to buff your nails using a medium grit nail file.
Buffing helps your gel or gel polish to bond to your nail plate allowing them to last longer. Buffing your nails help to:
- Make the surface of your nails more rough – allowing the gel to grip onto the nails better. You see if the nail plate is too smooth the gel won’t have a good surface to hold onto.
- Remove any dead cuticle skin on your nails – any cuticle skin on your nails can prevent the gel from bonding directly with the nail plate.
- Take off the sheen from the natural nails – the natural sheen that your nail has makes it hard for the gel to adhere to which is why it needs to be removed.
For nail prep, I recommend using a 180 grit nail file. You can click here to see the price for a great 100/180 grit nail file on Amazon.
3- Clean Your Nails Before Application
The final step for prepping your nails is to clean them. To clean I recommend wiping your nails with a cotton pad soaked in either rubbing alcohol or acetone.
This removes dust, dirt, and any oil on your natural nails allowing the gel to bond better to the nail plate.
4- Use a Nail Primer & Dehydrator
Nail primers and dehydrators are optional but if you want your gel manicures to be extremely durable and long-lasting, I highly recommend using them.
Nail Dehydrators work by removing all of the moisture and oil from your nails.
They are different types of nail primers, some work by making microscopic holes on your nails allowing the gel to grip onto your nails. Whilst some work by acting as an adhesive bonding the gel to the nails.
Now if you are gonna use them, you need to apply the nail dehydrator first and then a coat of the nail primer.
I recommend Mia Secret Nail Primers & Dehydrators, they are budget-friendly yet very effective as a primer and dehydrator. You can click here to see the price for their combo set on Amazon.
5- Use a Gel Base Coat & a Gel Top Coat
Both a gel base and a gel top coat are essential for a gel manicure. You see gel polishes and gel extensions were designed to work with both a gel base coat and a gel top coat.
Gel Base Coats work by making the gel polish adhere better to your nail plate. They do this by bonding firmly to your nails and then forming a sticky layer for your gel to hold onto.
Gel Top Coats work by forming a hard protective glossy layer over your gel manicure protecting it from getting damaged easily.
Now if you are looking for a great Gel Base & Top Coat I highly recommend Gelish. They are one of the best and they will work with any brand of gel polish or gel.
6- Keep Your Gel Manicure Moisturized
It’s essential that you keep your gel manicure moisturized, if not they have a tendency to dry out which can lead to peeling.
Now the best way to keep your gel moisturized is to use a cuticle oil which will not only keep your manicure in a good condition but will also make your cuticles and natural nails strong and healthy.
I highly recommend using a cuticle oil pen, it allows you to keep your nails moisturized even on the go.
Or you can click here to learn more about cuticle oil pens.
7- Properly Cure Your Gel Manicure
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when working with gels is not curing them enough.
You see if your gel polish or gel isn’t cured well they will be hard on the outside and soft on the inside. This means that they can be damaged easily.
To avoid under-curing your gel nails I recommend that you:
1- Follow the instruction of your gel – you absolutely need to read and follow the instructions that come with your gel polish or gel. If the instructions say that you cure for 60 seconds then you need to cure for 60 seconds
Now if you want to be extra cautious I recommend curing for a bit longer like an extra 10 seconds to ensure that the gel is cured completely.
2– Use a Good Nail Lamp – if you have a very old nail lamp that is going dim or if you have a weak nail lamp with a low wattage then I recommend getting a new more powerful one.
If you want a great nail lamp I recommend going for a 48 watt or higher lamp which would be powerful enough to quickly cure any type of gel.
8- Apply Your Gel Polish in Thin Layers
Gel Polishes shouldn’t be applied in thick layers instead you need to use multiple thin layers.
You see thin layers allow the UV light to easily penetrate and cure your gel polish. Whilst thick layers tend to be harder to cure since the UV light won’t able to penetrate so easily.
Plus with thick layers, the polish has a tendency to pool and become uneven.
9- Cap The Free Edges
The free edges are the ends of your nails and are one of the areas that are susceptible to lifting and peeling.
This is why I recommend that you apply some gel polish to seal it off which prevents it from peeling off.
You can see how to cap a free edge in the video below.
10- Wear Gloves When Your Nails Are Exposed to Harsh Conditions
Certain conditions tend to increase the wear and tear on your gel manicure which can damage them or lead to premature lifting and peeling.
Now one of the easiest ways to avoid damaging your gel nails is to wear gloves to avoid exposing them.
You should wear gloves when you are:
- Cleaning or doing the dishes – You see detergents such as bleach and strong soap can over time wear away at your nails
- Gardening – pesticides and other strong chemicals can damage your gel nails.
- Washing Meat – Vinegar which is commonly used to wash meats can also damage your gel manicure.
- Coloring your hair – The dyes used when coloring your hair can discolor your gel polish
11- Avoid Exposing Your Gel Manicure to High Temperatures
If your gel manicures are constantly being exposed to heat they can be damaged. So avoid taking hot baths and exposing your gel nails to heat when cooking.
Other Articles Related to Gel Polishes