How to Dry Gel Nail Polish

How to Dry Gel Nail Polish

Have you thought about getting gel nails but weren’t sure if you could pull it off or properly maintain them?

Have you heard or read online that they are quick-drying and last a while but weren’t sure if that was accurate? There is a lot of information and misinformation online, so we absolutely understand the hesitation.

Gel nails have become increasingly popular at virtually every nail salon or with DIY nail enthusiasts for many reasons such as the following:

  • Lasts a lot longer - Gel nail manicures definitely last a lot longer than traditional nail polishes, which means they last longer carefree wear. 
  • Easy to apply and dry - Because gel nail polish is cured, the process of applying the polish and drying them is not only easier but faster than when you use other nail polishes. This is due to the chemical make-up of gel polish that reacts with UV/LED light to speed up the curing process. 
  • Cuts down on upkeep - Gel polish stays hardened and virtually chip-free within the two weeks after it was first applied as long as you take proper care of them, which means you don’t have to go to the salon as often to get them maintained, thus saving you time and money in the long run.

Beyond gel polish’s ability to last longer, dry quicker than other polishes, and cut down on your nail maintenance costs, you can also adorn them with whatever designs, colors, and arts that you would typically have done with your other polishes. 

You can create any type of nail art or design that your heart desires, as you would normally do on your other nail polishes. 

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that gel nails are the way to go.

However, if you’re still curious about certain aspects of the gel nail process, such as how they are able to dry, we’ve got all your answers below. 

What are Gel Nails?

If you are not aware of gel nails and are interested in learning more about them, we can explain exactly what gel polish is and why it has become extremely popular with DIY’ers and are used in salons everywhere.

First, let us run through how the gel polish is created on the nail:

  • Gel polish is composed of acrylic monomers and oligomers, which are bonded together when placed under a UV/LED light, creating the signature hardened look.
  • The process of using UV/LED light to harden the gel polish is called curing, which turns the liquid gel polish into a hard coating. This causes the hardened nail to be resistant to other chemicals.
  • Although slower, you can also use an UV light instead, which will take about two minutes to harden.

LED light is thought to be the best method because it only takes 5 to 45 seconds to harden. 

Because of the gel polish’s ability to harden so quickly under the UV/LED light and to last as long as it does, gel polish is becoming the preferred method of polish. 

The Process of Curing

The curing process, which is the process of hardening the gel nail polish, is done through a couple of steps.

While curing the nails, you will notice that a manicurist will coat the gel polish, put your nails into the UV/LED light to harden, and repeat this process a couple of times.

The reason this is done is because of the following:

  • Gel polish has plastic material - Gel polish has something called methacrylates and photointiating compounds ,which when exposed to UV/LED rays goes through a process  called polymerization.
  • Monomers - Small molecules called monomers will react in chain reactions to form long plastic molecules with one polymer chain that can be made up of thousands of monomers.
  • How it hardens in UV/LED light - During the process of curing, the photoinitiator (which are the ingredients that absorb light and convert it into energy needed to drive the polymerization process) in the reason reacts with the wavelengths emitted by the UV/LED lamp, which causes the process of hardening. 

The gel nail is also part of the acrylic nail family, which means that they are a family of monomers, oligomers, and polymers used to create gel nail enhancement products, including UV/LED gel nails. 

Now that you know the process of the gel nail priming, you need to know the best procedures for making them last as long as possible.

How Long Gel Polish Lasts

Gel polish can last up to 14 days without needing any additional application.

This gives you about two weeks in total where your gel nails will be the hardest and look as great as the day you had them applied to your nails.

However, one thing to remember is even if your gel polish is still looking great after two weeks, you need to be aware that you run the risk of experiencing adverse effects of using for a longer period than that recommended. 

There are a couple of reasons why you would need to redo your gel polish after two weeks, such as the following:

  • The polish will continue to cure or harden in any UV exposure or direct sunlight, which we all know is constantly around us.
  • The longer you keep your polish on, the longer it cures, making it that much harder to remove when you are ready for a new gel color or design.

The best thing you can do for your nails is to go to your manicurist after the two weeks are up from when you initially had the gel polished applied so that they can safely and gently remove the polish without damaging the nail.

If you decide to try this yourself, be aware of the following that could happen to your nail:

  • Brittle nails - By taking the hardened gel nail polish off yourself, you risk pulling off part of your natural nail attached to the gel polish, leaving your natural nail extremely weak.
  • Your natural nails will be left looking not so great - When you remove the gel polish without removing it properly, either by not following the proper steps or not going to a manicurist, it can cause your natural nail to look flaked, cracked, and all-around unhealthy. 

Even though you may think that you can remove the gel nail yourself and cover it back up with polish, your natural nail will still be too weak and will need a chance to either grow back to its natural form or you will need a manicurist to help with regrowth of a healthy nail.

Thinking About Removing It Yourself? Don’t Try It!

If you are getting that itching feeling to take off the hardened gel polish once your natural nails begin to grow back, we definitely advise against that. 

We understand that it’s hard not to take the hardened gel nail polish off, especially when it looks so easy once the natural nail starts to grow and pushes it outward.

However, we are here to tell you NOT to do that, and we’ve got the following reasons why:

  • Pulling off the gel polish will cause peeling - When you remove the gel nail polish yourself by pulling it off, you are stripping away layers of nails that have become attached to the hardened gel polish, which can make them break and tear easily.
  • Cause and sustain injuries - When you remove the gel nail polish yourself, since it is very strong and attached to your nail, you risk pulling off much of your natural nail either from the cuticle or near the top layer of skin on your fingers, which could result in cuts, tears, and bleeding. 
  • Constantly peeling off gel polish over time weakens the natural nail - If you have been indulging yourself and peeling off your gel nail polish yourself since you started getting gel manicures, you have probably noticed that your nails are very weak. If you are continuously peeling your gel nail polish off yourself, you will weaken your nails over time, and this can turn into permanent nail damage if you continue to do so.

Wanting to pick at your nails is a natural thing for some people and can sometimes be an alluring or habit-forming thing. 

However, we always advise against picking your nails in general, especially with gel nail polish, because it can leave lasting effects on your natural nails.

Instead, opt for scheduling an appointment or walk-in with your manicurist so that they can properly remove and restore your gel nails so you can continue to enjoy them for a long time and keep your natural nails in the best shape possible.

Give Gel Polish a Shot

You should definitely give gel polish a shot if you want something new and exciting to try with your nail art hobby.

Not only do gel nails retain the same beauty as traditional polish does, but they are stronger and will retain their beautiful look longer, as long as you take care of them.

Also, if you don’t have a UV light, you can purchase special gel polish made for use without a UV/LED lamp. 

So, what are you waiting for? Next time you are at the nail salon or shopping for a new nail look, definitely consider indulging in a gel manicure.