In the past, if your clients wanted nail extensions it seemed like acrylics were the only option. Today though, they have another choice – soft gel nail extensions. They’re not exactly new, but they’re still a fairly obscure technique, with a lot of confusion surrounding them. So, what exactly are soft gel nail extensions? Keep on reading to find out.

What exactly are soft gel nail extensions?

Sure, you know what press-on nails are. You’ve probably given a client a gel mani before now. But what happens if you combine the best of both into one service? You get soft gel nail extensions. 

Soft gel nail extensions are made from the same type of gel that gel polish is made of. They also add length to your nails just like regular press-on nails. Plus they are as strong and as long lasting as regular acrylics. And, because they don’t involve the powder or harsh chemicals associated with acrylics, they’re healthier for your nails too.

If you’re not already offering soft gel nail extensions as a treatment, you should definitely put them on your radar.

Kiara Sky's Gelly Tip Kit is a great way to get started with gel nail extensions

Are soft gel nail extensions the same thing as gel polish?

No. A gel polish is just that – a gel polish. Gel polishes don’t enhance the nail or or change its shape of length. Gel polishes are painted directly on to the natural nail. 

Soft gel nail extensions on the other hand are for adding a stronger and durable protective layer over the nail, changing its length and shape.

However, both gel polish and soft gel nail extensions are cured and hardened by a UV or LED lamp, and both are removed using acetone (although we recommend this is done in a salon rather than at home).

Kiara Sky offers a wide range of different tip sizes and shapes

How do soft gel nail extensions compare to acrylic?

Acrylics have been around since the dawn of time (or at least it feels like it). You might be asking yourself, ‘are gel nail extensions really better than tried and tested acrylics?’

To answer that question, let’s compare the two treatments.

First of all, what separates the two is the structure of the nail. With acrylics the tip is made of plastic and requires a monomer liquid and polymer powder to create the finished sculpted nail.

In comparison, soft gel nail extensions are pre-shaped nail tips that are made completely out of gel and which cover the entire nail (a bit like press-ons but without the nail glue).

The Kiara Sky Gelly Tip Mini Lamp provides freehand flash curing convenience

How long do soft gel nail extensions last?

If your client is going to spend their hard earned money on a gel nail treatment, then they may want some reassurance on how long they’ll last. 

Thankfully, soft gel nail extensions have a good track record of being durable and able to withstand everyday wear and tear.

When done professionally, they can last up to four weeks – but this of course also depends on the lifestyle of your client. If they lead a very hands on, active lifestyle then naturally their nail extensions will have a shorter lifespan.

Kiara Sky Gelly Tip Prep dehydrates nails to ensure maximum adhesion

How are soft gel nail extensions applied?

As we mentioned above, soft gel nail extensions do vary quite a bit from acrylics. The way in which they are applied also differs from acrylics. 

Below is a brief outline of the application process of gel nail extensions:

  • Step 1 – Nail Prep. The nail tech will file the client’s nails, push back the cuticles, and buff the nails. They’ll also ensure the nails are free from any dirt or detritus that could impact the application process.
  • Step 2 – The nail tech will then assess each nail and find the right size tip for each.
  • Step 3 – The next step will involve filing the inside of the nail tips and applying a layer of acetone.
  • Step 4 – Bonder is then applied to the natural nails. The bonder acts as a dehydrator, soaking up any natural oils that may be sitting on the surface of the nails.
  • Step 5 – Primer liquid is applied to the nails next. The primer makes the surface of the nails sticky so that the gel has something to attach to.
  • Step 6 – Following the primer liquid, a thin layer of extend gel is generally applied to the nails.
  • Step 7 – The nail tech will place the client’s hand in a UV/LED lamp for at least 60 seconds.
  • Step 8 – Gel is applied to the tips. The gel tip is then pressed to the natural nail to form a bond. The nail is then exposed to a handheld LED light for 30 seconds. The client then, once again, places their hand inside a UV/LED lamp for 60 seconds to finish the curing process.

Kiara Sky's Gelly Tips primer removes oils from the nail bed to ensure your Gelly Tips stay on as long as possible.

How are soft gel nail extensions removed?

When it comes time to remove gel nail extensions, it is absolutely advised to have them removed in a salon. This is because the removal process can have a big impact upon the health and strength of your client’s natural nails. 

At a salon, a nail tech will use a professional nail drill to break through the hard top seal of gel. On average around 90% of the gel will need to be drilled off. The remaining gel can then be removed by soaking the nails in acetone and dusting off with a nail file.

Many nail techs recommend that once the gel extensions have been removed, you should let your nails breathe and recover for at least a week before having more extensions.

The Kiara Sky Gelly Tip Top Coat is a non-wipe formula that gives you ultimate shine without wrinkling or bubbling!

What are the best soft gel nail products?

There are a number of different brands that offer gel nail extensions, but by far our favourite here at Salons Direct is Kiara Sky. Kiara Sky’s Gelly Tips range offers everything you need to start offering gel nail extensions in your salon.

Plus, not only do Kiara Sky offer a brilliant range of products, but they are also releasing some great educational content to help you get to grips with this new treatment. For example, here’s a video outlining Gelly Nail tips and techniques.

Is it time to offer gel nail extensions to your clients? Then get yourself set up to do so with Salons Direct.

Shop the Kiara Sky Gelly Tips range now.

Read more nail advice on the Salons Direct blog…

Do Acrylics Damage Nails? The Signs to Look Out For In Your Clients | Our Best Glitter Gel Nail Polishes for Serious Sparkle | The Best Gel Nail Polish Removal Products for Salons