Gel polish manicures started to become popular in the past 4-5 years as an alternative to regular nail polish manicures. Whereas nail polish requires 20-30 minutes of air drying time (and can still be smudged or dented in the hours after application), gel polish contains a special polymer that must be “cured” under an LED or UV light – allowing it to harden during the curing cycle and become instantly dry. Gel polish is much easier to control as it doesn’t air dry (it only dries when it’s curated under the LED light), that’s why you can take all your time to perfect your application. It’s also much thicker than regular nail polish.
Traditionally, gel polish manicures needed to be done at a salon by a professional nail technician using professional equipment. The cost of a gel manicure would be higher than a regular nail polish manicure as well, but the results and benefits were worth it:
- Brilliant, glossy shine (shinier than regular nail polish).
- Chip-free results (gel won’t chip off like regular nail polish – which can start to chip within 2-3 days – even with activities like dishwashing or excessive typing).
- Up to 7-10 days lasting (salon or professional 3-step gel manicures).
The removal process for gel is also different, as it requires a “soak-off” method vs. acetone "wipe off" removal.