‘How To Guide’ Gel Nails by Marie-Louise Coster www.allaboutmi.net

One of the biggest trends the beauty industry has ever seen is that of Gel Nail Polish. This remarkable innovation allows the wearer to get longer wear out of their polish, minimal damage to the natural nail (this varies from brand to brand) and sees them leaving the salon with instantly dry nails – so no fear of the client catching your hard work and you having to re-do their nails by the time you reach reception!

But what are the precautions and procedures required for you, as the beauty therapist, to ensure you get it right?

Nail prep is crucial when it comes to gel polish, any remains of product or dust from filing will either cause the polish to lift or provide you with a lovely bump in your otherwise smooth polish. And because it isn’t as easy to remove as normal nail polish, it can cost you a lot of time to correct it.

Follow these 10 simple steps to ensure long lasting, smooth gel polish:

1. Remove all of the client’s current nail polish – even if she isn’t wearing polish wipe over the nail plate with a nail polish remover to ensure you have a clean nail plate.

Remove Nail Polish

2. File the nails – in one direction, as you normally would – to the desired length and shape.


File Nails
3. Treat the cuticles – most companies who produce a gel form of polish will have their own cuticle preparation product. Some of them can be quite abrasive and continue to work after you have finished doing your cuticle work so be sure to wipe over the nail plate with some damp cotton pads to ensure all product has been removed.

Cuticle Work
4. Wipe over the nail plate with a dehydrating product – again your chosen supplier will produce one that is designed to go with the polish.

Dehydrate the Nail
5. A good gel polish will not require any filing to the natural nail plate and should not cause any damage – once the polish comes off the nail underneath should appear the same as it did before the polish went on. If anything it may be a little stronger as it has had the protection of an extra armour.

Healthy Nails

6. Before using your polishes give them a good shake. Each polish will have UV polymers in that enable the polish to set underneath the lamp – if you don’t shake them you will end up with polishes that separate and will have to be replaced as they will go thick and gloopy. I would also suggest shaking them between hands – so once you have applied the polish to the right hand, for example, replace the lid and shake it again before you apply it to the left hand.

Shake Gel Polish

7. Try and keep the lids on the polish as much as possible to stop the air from drying them out between coats, and also stop the natural light from getting to the polish itself as it contains UV and will make them go gloopy (that’s why the bottles aren’t see through!)

Gel Polish Lids

8. Apply your base coat and set it under the lamp for the time as instructed by the manufacturer, follow this with 2 coats of colour and a coat of top coat setting each layer as you go as per the manufacturer’s instructions. In my experience you get a better application and longevity of the polish by applying the layers thinly, as otherwise a thick layer will struggle to cure in the time under the lamp.

Gel Polish Application
9. Go over with your isopropyl alcohol based product – each manufacturer will have their own name for it – to remove any sticky residue, harden the polish and maintain the shine.

Remove Sticky Residue

10. Finish the treatment with the application of cuticle oil and encourage your client to use a cuticle oil at home to maintain hydration of the nail and the skin surrounding it. Application of cuticle oil will also lengthen the life of the polish.

Cuticle Oil

It is essential that you don’t cut corners with your product and that you use all of the products developed by your chosen brand that they recommend for the treatment. These products have been specifically designed to work with each other – by substituting you will affect the finish and life span of the polish application, this is also true of the lamp.

If clients don’t get the wear they are expecting and you question the manufacturer the first thing they will ask is if you are using all of their products and their lamp. I know that sometimes there are cheaper options but they aren’t the best options, the companies have developed the tools and products together for a reason so if you are going to invest in such a treatment do it properly. As my father always says “you buy cheap, you buy twice‚” and he is right.

What you must remember – and what the client must remember – is that even though a gel polish (or gel type polish) is longer lasting it is still just a polish at the end of the day and can still be damaged and will come off if it is not looked after correctly and that she most follow your aftercare advice.

It is also wise to remind your client that she needs to return to the salon for correct removal of the product as standard nail polish remover will not remove it and peeling at it and picking at it will damage the natural nail, and should she choose to have it applied again it may not last as long because of the damage.

View our full range of salon nail supplies