How Much Do Gel Nails Really Cost?

How Much Do Gel Nails Really Cost?

Do you know how much gel nails really cost? Did you know that there are several types of gel manicures available? Depending on which gel mani you choose, the cost ranges between $40 to $125. We’ll explain why the cost ranges so broadly and the differences between the types of gel below.

What Are the Two Types of Gel?

There are two types of gel, hard gel, and soft gel. The main difference between the two gels is the removal process. 100% pure acetone removes soft gel and filing removes hard gel.

Soft gel molecules have more space between them, making them easily broken down compared to hard gels. Hard gel molecules are tightly knit, making it impossible for acetone to break them down.

An example of soft gel is gel polish. Hard gel builds long nail extensions.

PolyGel nails and dip powder nails are two types of nail systems that people often refer to as “gel” nails, but these are not technically gel. 

PolyGel is a hybrid system consisting of an acrylic powder and clear gel combination. Dip powder consists of an acrylic-based powder and activator polish. Read on for the details.

What Types of Gel Nails Are There?

When it comes to gel nails, there are several types of gel available. Gel nails range in price based on the type of gel used, the permanence of the gel, the application process, and the caliber of the nail salon you are visiting. Let’s take a look at the different types of gel nails and the cost of each.

Gel Polish Nails

Gel polish manicures usually start at a price of $35. They typically cost $5 to $10 more than a traditional nail polish manicure. Gel polish lasts longer than regular polish because it does not easily chip, so it is higher in price. Some nail salons charge more for their nail services depending on the location and the nail tech’s expertise. 

Gel polish is a thin, soft, pigmented gel. Every gel polish manicure finishes with a gel top coat in a matte or glossy finish. Apply gel polish to the natural nails in one or two coats the same way you apply traditional nail polish. 

Gel polish does not dry without being exposed to UV or LED light. The nail tech will place each hand into the UV/LED lamp after each coat of polish, and the lamp will dry the nails to a hard, glossy, or matte finish. 

Gel polish manicures last for two to three weeks, and when it is time to remove the polish, the nails are soaked in 100% pure acetone. The acetone breaks down the gel and leaves it soft enough to be wiped away.

After the polish removal, apply a new gel polish or leave the nails in their natural state. The natural nails are damaged when the gel polish is improperly removed. Never peel or tear gel polish away from the nails. Doing so will cause long-term damage to the delicate nail plate. 

Dip Powder Nails

Dip powder nails range in price between $30 to $50 depending on the nail salon. This price is close to the cost of a gel polish manicure. Dip powder manicures generally cost a few dollars more than gel polish manicures because of the amount of work involved in creating the nail set.

During a dip powder manicure application, the natural nails undergo a dipping process between colored acrylic-based powder and an activator adhesive polish. The nails are dipped back and forth between the powder and activator polish until the level of color opacity deepens. This type of manicure will air dry and does not require a UV or LED lamp. 

Dip powder polymers are more complex than those found in gel polish; therefore, they last longer. Dip manicures last up to five weeks when adequately maintained.  

The dip powder removal process requires a few extra steps than gel polish. Simply buff the top layer of colored gel from the nails and soak them in acetone. The dip powder consists of acrylic polymers, so soaking the nails in acetone is necessary to remove the powder.

Dip powder nails dehydrate the nails, so using a cuticle oil and hand cream is beneficial. Damage to the nail plate will not occur when a professional nail tech removes the powder properly.

Soft Gel Overlay

Gel overlays begin in cost at $40 and go upwards of $100. The price is dependant on the length of the natural nails, the choice of color finish, and whether or not you add crystals or designs. The gel refills average around $35 and up.

A gel overlay includes the application of a clear or colored soft gel placed over the client’s natural nails. Extensions are not applied. The gel acts as a layer of strength and protection for the nails. A gel overlay is ideal for the client that is trying to grow out their natural nails.

The soft gel used for an overlay is thicker than gel polish yet thinner than the hard gel used for gel extensions. It is easily removed by soaking the nails in acetone.

Refills begin at $35 in price and are applied every two to three weeks if the client prefers to keep the overlay. 

PolyGel Nails

PolyGel nails average from $55 to $150 per set, depending on the type of PolyGel used and the nail salon location. PolyGel nail sets require fill-ins every three to four weeks. These refills range in cost exceeding $80. 

PolyGel nails are a hybrid nail system that has the durability of acrylic, with the flexibility of a gel. It is a paste-like mixture of acrylic powder and clear gel. PolyGel is effortless odorless and easy to work with, which makes it a favored preference for nail techs.

PolyGel applications consist of a regular nail prep first, and then the PolyGel is brushed onto the nails. The nails are then cured under a UV or LED light, filed into a smooth shape, painted with gel polish, and cured again. The process of application is more time-consuming than gel polish and dip powder nails. Apply PolyGel as an overlay for natural nails or over nail extensions.

PolyGel does not damage natural nails like other nail systems do because it does not contain harsh chemicals, therefore, no odors. With proper application and removal by a professional nail tech, the natural nails will remain healthy and strong. 

The removal process for PolyGel is simple. Trim the nails and file the PolyGel away from the nail, making sure to leave the natural nail unfiled. Soaking in acetone is not required. Complete the removal procedure with cuticle oil. 

Hard Gel Extensions

If a longer-length nail set is what you’re seeking, then hard gel nail extensions are what you need. Single color gel extensions begin at $80 for the very basic style. The average price is around $125, and they go up from there. Since gel extensions involve more product use and require more time to design, their price is higher.

The gel extension application process includes nail forms and hard gel to build the long nail extension. The technique uses several products, including a nail dehydrator, primer, builder gel, one-step gel, base, top coats, and color. 

Each layer of gel is cured under a UV or LED light and filed to a smooth finish. Popular nail shapes in almond, stiletto, coffin, and square complete the extensions, and nail designs, gems, and charms add extra sparkle.

Gel refills are needed every two to four weeks, depending on how quickly the nails grow. Refills include a new application of gel and touchups to cracks and chips on the nails. The nails are buffed and reshaped, and a fresh coat of polish is applied. Refills cost $40 and up depending on the nail salon and nail tech.

Gel extensions do not damage the nails as long as they are applied and removed correctly by the nail tech. The removal process includes trimming, filing, and soaking the nails in acetone. The use of cuticle oil rehydrates the nails afterward. 

Summing It Up

There are several types of gel manicures available. Some nail systems perform similarly to gel, but they aren’t actually gel. Each manicure involves the use of different products and application techniques, and this affects the cost of each set.

V Beauty Pure offers a beautiful array of gel polishes, one-step gel, builder gel, and other tools necessary to build a beautiful gel nail set for your client. Shop all of our professional nail products, including acrylics, on our website today.


  1. The Dip-Powder Manicure Trend You’ve Been Seeing On Instagram Isn’t New | Self
  2. Your Ultimate Guide to Polygel Nails (2021) | The TrendSpotter
  3. Gel Nail Extensions: Pros, Cons, and Gel vs. Acrylic Nails | Byrdie