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Gel Nails: The Complete Guide

Gel nails have become a staple in the beauty industry, offering a long-lasting, natural look for those looking to elevate their nail game.

In this article, we will take a close look at gel nails, covering topics such as the differences with acrylic nails, pros and cons, application, how to make them last longer, and more.

Gel Nails refers to a synthetic resin that is cured under LED or UV light. This process yields a glossy, robust manicure which lasts for two weeks and, depending on the case, over four weeks. Gel nails stand out for their natural look, rapid curing time, and chip-resistant properties. However, the removal process, due to their strong adhesion, can be challenging and potentially damaging to the natural nail.

Acrylic Nails are formed by mixing a liquid monomer with a powder polymer, creating a hard layer over the natural nail that's shaped and then air-dried. Acrylics are noted for their strength and ability to extend nail length, but they require regular maintenance to manage the gap from nail growth. Acrylic removal involves soaking in acetone, which can be harsh on the nails and skin. It is also important to note that since Acrylic nails contain substances which won’t come off with just acetone, an advanced machine removal process is necessary.

The choice between gel and acrylic nails often comes down to your personal preference and desired look. Gel nails offer a more natural appearance and flexibility (less likely to chip), whereas acrylic nails are preferred for their durability and elongating capabilities.


  • Durability: Known for lasting around two to four weeks.

  • Quick Drying: The curing process under LED or UV light is much faster than air drying.

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Provides a natural look with a glossy finish and thickness.


  • Removal Difficulty: The strong bond to the natural nail can complicate the removal process and risk damage.

Gel nails come in three primary forms: hard gel, soft gel (soak-off gel), and gel polish.

Soft gel nails provide a glossy, long-lasting finish and are removable with acetone. Soft gel nails offer a convenient option for those who frequently change their nail style.

Hard gel nails are popular due to their exceptional durability. Hard gel nails cannot be removed with acetone alone and needs to be filed off.

Gel polish is thinner than the other two types of gel nails. This type of gel nail resembles traditional nail polish and typically lasts up to two weeks.

As mentioned before, the process of applying soft gel nails involves using a synthetic resin that is cured under LED or UV light. This is a meticulous procedure, which takes us generally about an hour for a single-color design.

Our removal process involves gently buffing the nail surface to allow acetone to penetrate effectively. Additionally, we recommend leaving the base layer of gel intact to minimize potential damage from frequent removal.

Extending the life of your gel nails involves several strategies:

  • Optimal Nail Preparation: Clean and prep nails thoroughly before application.

  • Protection from Water and Chemicals: Minimize exposure to water and harsh chemicals by wearing gloves during household tasks.

  • Regular Moisturizing: Apply cuticle oil and hand lotion frequently to maintain nail health.

  • Careful Use: Avoid using nails as tools, like peeling stickers, to prevent damage.

  • Avoid High Temperature Environments: Try not to spend long periods of time in places like saunas or steam baths.

Following these guidelines can help ensure your gel nails remain beautiful and intact for as long as possible.

It is important to be aware of potential health risks, particularly concerning the use of UV light for curing gel nails. At J Flow Nail, we avoid the use of UV lights, and opt for the much safer LED light in our application process.

Gel nail design trends are constantly evolving, with magnet nails (cat eye) and custom designs gaining popularity. Despite changing trends, classic designs like the French manicure remain popular.

J Flow Nail offers an innovative fill-in method that minimizes damage to your nails. By shaving off the top and color gel layers and leaving the base gel intact, we avoid using acetone, which can lead to thinning, drying, and weakening of the nails. This technique ensures minimal stress on the nails, preserving their health and the beauty of the nail art.

This approach is rooted in allowing customers to enjoy nail art while maintaining healthy nails, preventing the need for breaks due to damage from traditional acetone removal methods.

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