While each length and shape gives us a lot of possibilities in the nail department, sometimes the goal is just to add long, durable tips to the end of each nail or even provide more space for nail art and polishes in general. That’s when they come in handy.

This nail technique may very well be the answer to our beauty-inspired prayers, but of course it has its pros and cons. Like acrylic nails (one of the first salon-approved ways to extend your natural nail), it can last up to four weeks, but both are reputed to be harmful.

That’s why it’s important to understand what they are before diving deep into the world of nail extensions.

Read on to learn everything there is to know about gel nail extensions , including how they are applied and how they differ from acrylic nails, straight from the experts.

What are Gel Nail Extensions?

Gel nail stretching is a process that involves hard gel built into a natural nail and cured with UV light. A manicure uses a nail shape, which is basically an adhesive that goes under the free edge (the tip) of the nail, to extend the length of the nail.

Some manicurists also rely on a newer method. It is an already molded soft gel nail tip that you attach to the natural nail with gel.

Nail extensions can be in different sizes and shapes as

  • stylus ;
  • round ;
  • coffin ;
  • square .

The only prerequisite is that your nails cannot be bitten all the way to the quick. For a nail extension, your nail needs to be a little long, not a ton, but just a little.

If your nails are too short, there’s nothing for the extension to stick to.

elongated gel nail image
nail model with gel extension

Benefits of nail stretching

  • Long and strong nails
  • light nail tips
  • An easier and faster removal process
  • Safer and healthier than acrylic nails

The disadvantages of nail stretching

  • Can weaken nails over time
  • May not work well on very short nails

How are gel nail extensions applied?

When it comes to getting a pre-shaped or truly created-from-scratch gel nail extension, the manicurist needs to prepare the nails first (sanding, cleaning, and buffing).

Then she applies a shape underneath the natural nail to create the length one by one with a gel builder, a gel primer and a gel top coat, letting them dry under LED or UV light.

If a pre-molded kit such as Apres Gel X is used, in the second step; she will use a bonder, which dries her nails and a primer, which makes her nails sticky so the gel can stick to her. All these products come with the kit. In- Third step; she applies a layer of gel to her real nails and let it dry in the light for about 60 seconds.

After choosing which length of stretch fits the real nail, I apply the gel inside the gel extension and place it on the real nail.

Now it’s time to press and hold and sit in the light for 60 seconds.” poof! Nails are ready for your nail polish and favorite designer.

gel nails and acrylic nails.jpeg

Gel Nails vs Acrylic Nails: What’s the Difference?

Both acrylics and gels can be used to create nail lengths. They also often have a similar appearance, although the tips of the gel may feel lighter.

It’s mostly about the structure of the nail, but the real difference is in the polymerization process, ease of removal, and density. The process of using the gel is definitely faster. There are no strong odors and you won’t have the hassle of sanding or dealing with dust.

In acrylic nails, you need to mix a liquid called monomer and a powder (polymer) to shape the artificial nail.

Some salons have manicurists applying nails with gel extensions when those nails are actually acrylic. The gel comes in a jar and feels thick like honey; acrylic is a powder. Know the difference, always watch!

Acrylic nails tend to be stiffer than gel nails, which also means less flexibility. They can also be more harmful to the nail, especially as it requires more difficulty removing it with acetone soaking and polishing. Too much polishing also means thinner nails over time.

How long does gel nail extension last?

The lifespan of gel tip stretches depends on how you use your hands – for some women, they last two weeks; for others, they last four to five days. I suggest getting a manicure every 12-16 days. You will have natural growth after this period.

How to remove gel nail extensions?

Gel nails are only harmful to the health of real nails if they are not removed properly. Aprés are soft gel, so they absorb completely like a regular gel manicure.

Noting that intense polishing is not required. However, like regular nails and gels, it is recommended that gel extensions be removed by a professional – preferably the one who applied them so they know exactly what type of gel they are removing so that the damage is less.

To remove the gel stretch, the nail professional will file about 85% of the extension and soak the remaining gel in acetone with aluminum foil and wait 15 minutes. Then gently push the product and buff the natural nail. 

Are Gel Nail Extensions Safe?

If applied and removed correctly, gel extensions are very safe. They are considered a healthier version of acrylic nails, especially as they are free of dust or harsh chemicals like methyl methacrylate and toluene.

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