Traditional gels offer a flexible nail with incredible adhesion. The architecture of a gel nail is the same as that of its powder-and-liquid sibling. Properly applied, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two. As you progress through filling in the regrowth area and rebalancing your original masterpiece, keep the image of a perfectly designed nail enhancement in your mind: thin at the cuticle and sidewall areas, thicker in the stress area, and thin at the extension edge.

File Prep

1. Do a mini consultation. Determine if the nails are too long, have any cracks, or have problems with lifting.

2. Push back cuticles. Cuticle remover will aid in cleaning up the nail and any residue will be removed when you cleanse the nail prior to application.

3. Shorten the nails and refine the outline shape.

4. Thin the entire nail enhancement. Be careful as gel enhancements are softer and file out much faster. File to remove any area of lifting. File to remove any area around cracks for a sturdy repair. Thin the extension’s free edge.

5. Blend the regrowth area and remove the shine from the natural nail regrowth.


1. Use a nail prep cleanser/dehydrator recommended by the gel manufacturer to remove any filing debris, oils, or polish residue from the nail. Take special care around the cuticle and under the free edge where contaminants can hide. Any contaminants left on or under the nail, or along the lateral nail fold will cause lifting of product.

2. If the gel system you use recommends a primer, now is the time to apply it to the natural nail regrowth area and any areas of the nail where you have removed the gel.

Tips for Perfect Gels

 > Replace UV bulbs frequently to ensure a complete cure. Bulbs will continue to light long after their useful life is over. Undercuring can lead to service breakdown and overexposure.

> Work with gel on one side of your brush to maintain better control of the product.

> Gel needs to be applied to either a tacky surface (a previously cured and un-wiped gel layer) or a file-prepped surface for best adhesion. Failure to do so could cause the gel to peel away from the previous layer.

> When building the arch or smile line, freeze the gel in place by curing for 10 seconds before moving on to the next nail. This will halt the self-leveling properties of the gel and hold it in place.

> Consider investing in a second UV lamp. Working with a lamp for each hand allows the nail technician to work more quickly. Gel may be applied to one hand (including freezing) while the other hand is occupying the lamp for a full cure.

> Gel nail wearers still need to use cuticle and nail oil. Regular use of nail oil prevents the natural nail from curling away from the enhancement.

> To get the most from your product, attend any manufacturer trainings available. Also visit tradeshow booths to watch demos and pick up little tricks you can use in the salon.

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