Overlay nails are becoming very popular this is because they make your natural nails; thicker which allows you to create an apex and shape your nails to your liking and makes them stronger preventing chipping and breaking.
And one of the most popular forms of overlay uses gel. Now in this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about gel overlays. Such as:
- What is a Gel Overlay
- The differences between gel nails, gel polish & gel overlays
- Cost and How long you can expect them to last.
- How to DIY gel overlays at home
What is Gel Overlay
Gel Overlay is where gel that is typically used to make nail extensions is applied over your natural nails to create a very hard, durable, and thick layer.
This is done to:
- Reinforce and protect weak natural nails to prevent them from breaking which allows them to grow out
- Make your natural nails thicker which allows them to be shaped to your liking and even allows you to create a nice apex.
- Create a long-lasting base for other nail products.
One of the best gel overlays to use is BIAB – click here to learn more.
What is the difference between gel polish and gel overlay
Gel polish is not considered an overlay nail. This is because gel polish is too thin. So it won’t provide any form of protection or reinforcement for your natural nails as an overlay should. Or allow you to shape your natural nails or add an apex.
Gel polish is less durable, it is primarily used to add color and design to nails. But a simple gel polish manicure will cost less than a gel overlay manicure.
What is the Difference Between Gel Nail Extension and Gel Overlay
Gel Overlay uses the same gel you would use to make gel nail extensions. But the main difference is that with gel overlays you don’t extend your nails.
With gel overlays, the gel is only applied to cover your natural nails. This is to protect your natural nails and allow them to grow out without breaking.
A Gel Overlay manicure will cost less and last longer than a gel extension manicure
Types of Gel For Overlay Nails
You can either use hard gel or soft gel to make your gel overlay.
Hard Gel Overlay
Hard Gel is the most durable and long-lasting way to create gel overlays. And is the most popular form of gel and is primarily used to make extensions. But is commonly used for overlays.
They are extremely tough and the only way to remove them is to file them off with an electrical nail file. You cannot soak off hard gel with acetone.
I recommend using a hard gel as an overlay if you need a lot of strength and if you won’t be in a hurry to remove them.
Soft Gel Overlays
Soft gel overlay uses soft gel which is a type of gel that can be removed using acetone. It tends to be weaker than hard gel so it won’t last so long.
Now some forms of soft gel can be used as an overlay one of the most common soft gels used as an overlay is BIAB or Builder in a Bottle.
What is the Cost For Gel Overlay Nails
Gel Overlay nails by themselves cost around $40-55. But most nail salons will quote a price that includes the gel overlay with color from polish or dip.
The price will vary based on the location and type of salon and type of gel used.
Gel Polish and Gel Extensions typically cost around: Gel Polish Manicures ($25-55), Gel Nail Extensions ($45-100)
You can click here to read about How Much Does Gel Nails Cost & How Much to Remove Them
How Long Does Gel Overlay Last
Gel overlay made from hard gel can last for 3-4 weeks. And even longer if you do a fill-in to cover the gap at the back of the nails once your natural nails have grown out.
A gel overlay made from soft gel should give you 2-3 weeks.
Also, you can read my article on How Long Do Gel Nails Last & Tips to Make them Last Longer
How to DIY a Gel Overlay
Gel Overlays are much easier to do when compared to creating gel extensions. This is because you don’t need to have to worry about using nail forms, tips, or creating an apex.
- Firstly, you need to push back and align your cuticles.
- Next, use a medium-grit nail file (180 grit would work) to file your nails.
- Now, you can apply a coat of nail primer and then a coat of gel base coat, and then cure.
- Next, take your brush and take a small amount of builder gel in form of a bead.
- Apply the bead to the cuticle area of your nails and then gently pull it down.
- The great thing about gel is that it is self-leveling meaning it naturally spreads out.
- Once the builder gel has smoothly covered the entire nail, cure under a UV Led lamp and wipe away the sticky layer with rubbing alcohol.
Once the overlay is applied you can further add other nail products such as polish or dip powder.
Related Article – 5 Best Gel Base & Top Coats For Any Brand of Gel Polish
Video of How to Apply Gel Overlay Nails at Home
Best Gel For Overlays
Hard Gel for Overlays
For a good affordable hard gel, I recommend the Morovan Hard builder gel. It is great for beginners with a nice easy-to-apply formula.
Builder in a Bottle (BIAB) Overlay
BIAB gels are very easy to use since it’s applied similarly like nail polish. Now it won’t be as strong as a hard gel but it would protect your nails and function as a good overlay.
Beetles have a nice affordable BIAB gel. You can click here to see the current price for a bottle of BIAB gel on Amazon.
Can You Apply Gel Polish On Gel Overlays
Yes, you can apply gel polish on gel overlays. And if you used hard gel you can remove the gel polish at any time and apply a different last needed without having to remove the overlay.
- Apply your gel overlay
- Then apply a coat of gel polish and cure under a UV led lamp
- Reapply as many coats of gel polish until the color is satisfactory
- Finally, apply a gel top coat and cure and then wipe away the sticky layer with rubbing alcohol.
Can You Apply Gel Overlays on Short Nails
Yes, you can apply gel overlays on both long and short nails. The length of your natural nails doesn’t affect the application of gel overlays.
Related Article – 5 Alternatives to Gel Nails: Safe, Healthy & Durable
Can You add Length with Gel Overlay
The same gel used to make a gel overlay can be used to add length to your nails. But you will have to remove your overlay before building out an extension.
If you attempt to build an extension on an existing overlay the extension will be weaker.
Related Article – BIAB Extensions are they good: Pros, Cons & How to DIY
Is Gel Overlay Better than Gel Polish or Shellac
Gel polish and gel overlay have different purposes so you can’t directly compare them. Gel overlays are meant to protect your natural nails. Whilst gel polish won’t protect or reinforce your natural nails in any way.
But Gel polish on the other hand will do a better job at adding color and design to your nails.
Related Article – Soft Gel Nail Tips 101 – What are they & How to Apply Them
Benefits & Who Should Get Gel Overlays
1. Strengthen Weak Nails
A gel overlay would prevent breakages which allows your natural nails to grow. This is especially useful if you are trying to grow your natural nails out but they are constantly breaking and chipping.
A gel overlay also allows you to file and shape weak and brittle nails into the shape that you want. If you file too much on weak nails you risk breaking them.
An overlay will reinforce your weak nails allowing them to be shaped as you want.
Another great type of overlay nail which is just as strong as gel overlay is Acrylic Overlay, click here to learn more.
2- Allows you to Shape Your Natural Nails
A gel overlay will make your nails thicker which allows them to be filed and made into the shape that you want regardless of how weak, thin or brittle your nails are.
Gel overlay will also allow you to create a nice apex on your nails.
3. To Serve as a Strong Base for Nail Polish
Since hard gel can’t be removed by acetone. You can use a hard gel overlay to constantly apply different products without affecting your natural nails.
This is because the gel would protect the natural nails from the acetone during the removal of the polish. Only the polish would be exposed to the acetone the hard gel would serve as a buffer to protect your natural nails.
4. Light & more Natural Feel
Gel overlays tend to be lighter and feel more natural compared to acrylic.
5. Nice Glossy Effect
Gel Overlay by itself without nail polish can give your nails a nice neat, glossy natural look.