The Difference Between Gel Polish and Nail Polish
If you’re tired of your nail polish chipping, peeling or simply not lasting the week, it may be time to make the switch to gel polish. Our guide takes you through the differences between gel polish and regular nail polish to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing when it comes to at-home manicures.
What’s the difference between gel polish and regular nail polish?
The biggest difference between the two is how long-lasting gel polish is compared to regular nail polish. With the correct application, your gel nail manicure can last up to 2 weeks (and beyond) with no chips or cracks. With regular polish, you’re looking at 5-7 days wear maximum – and you’re likely to get chips along the way.
The long-lasting qualities of gel polish mean that your nails can withstand breaks. Gel polish can also help your nails to grow, with the gel protecting the nails and encouraging growth.
How do you dry gel polish?
Drying time is a huge plus when it comes to using gel polish vs nail polish. Gel polish is dried using LED or UV light to harden it, with a curing time of 60 seconds (LED) and 2 minutes (UV) for most gel polish brands - including our gel polish lamp.
This solidifies the gel and means you can move on to your next coat straight away. With nail polish, while the coat may seem dry after 1-2 minutes, the full air-drying process can take 1+ hours. This means if you get a little too ahead of yourself, you can end up with the dreaded smudges!
How do you apply gel polish compared to regular polish?
Just like with regular polish, you’ll want to take care when applying gel nail polish for the best results. Make sure you apply gel using thin coats and cap the free edge of your nails to ensure the coat is sealed to your nail. This is important for the application of base coat, gel polish colour, and top coat to stop the polish peeling.
An important point to note is that gel polish shouldn’t touch your skin. While nail polish can be easily wiped away, or peeled off when dry, gel polish can cause irritation if you repeatedly get the product on your skin. If you get any on your skin, wipe away with a cleanser wipe before curing – and never cure gel onto your skin!
Is removing gel polish different?
The removal process takes longer for gel polish because it adheres much better to your nails than classic nail polish. While nail polish can simply be wiped away in minutes using a polish remover and cotton pads, you’ll need to soak your nails in acetone to safely remove gel nails from home.
The easiest way to do this is with our remover wraps. Simply tear open, wrap your nails and seal shut again. Leave for 10-15 minutes to let the acetone work its magic, and then remove and file/buff the remaining gel from your nails.
You can also soak your nails directly in a bowl of acetone or use cotton pads soaked in acetone and wrapped in foils to achieve the same results.
How long does a gel manicure take?
With proper nail preparation and gel polish application, you’ll need to set aside around an hour+ for your gel manicure from home (plus a little longer if you’re looking at getting creative with nail art or nail extensions!)
Practice does make perfect, and you’ll get quicker and better at applying gel polish as you go along. You’ll also need to consider the best place for your gel polish set up so that you have somewhere to plug your lamp in and a flat surface for your nails.
While nail polish is a great quick fix, but for that salon-quality manicure from home gel polish can give you stunning nails that last longer and grow stronger!
If you’re new to gel nails, make sure you take a look at our guide for how to apply gel polish at home to get the best results, and get your hands on our gel polish Starter Kit so that you have everything you need to get started with gel manicures.