Gel Nail Polish FAQ's

  • Gel Nail Polish FAQ's | essie gel articles


As gel nail manicures have become all the rage, more and more manicure lovers are introducing gel nail products into their lives each day. But with all the innovation, there are sure to be many questions about how to best use new gel nail polish and products. As your gel nail color authority, essie is well prepared to answer whatever questions you may have. Read on!

Are gel nails right for everyone?
If you have healthy nails and nail beds, gel nail manicures are a fantastic way to get 14-days of gorgeous color and brilliant shine. However, if your nails are damaged, chipped or in need of TLC, it might be your best bet to nurse them back to health before trying gel nail products.

What should I do to prepare myself for gel nails?
All you need are healthy nails! Good nail care and hygiene start with keeping cuticles hydrated with essie apricot cuticle oil. essie also suggests you talk with your favorite nail technician about which services are right for you. The resident nail experts at your local salon should be a go-to resource and will always help tailor your nail care to your specific nail concern.

How are gel nail manicures different from traditional nail enamel manicures?
Gel nail polishes are formulated differently from traditional nail color and cure under artificial light, so they dry faster and last longer.

Like a traditional enamel manicure, most gel nails are applied with a base, color, and top coat, but the gel polish process begins differently than a traditional manicure because nails should not be soaked in water. Soaking nails causes them to become waterlogged, which will keep the gel basecoat from properly adhering to your nail bed.

The key “gel” ingredient in gel nail polish is photo-reactive, so once applied, it requires curing under a light-emitting diode (LED) lamp or ultraviolet (UV) lamp. essie•gel nail products are only compatible with LED lamps and cure to a gorgeous, glossy finish in just a few minutes. The essie•gel top coat is applied last, and then the nails are cleansed to remove any residue. The gel top coat protects nails while giving them the strength to take on your daily activities, without chipping, peeling or looking scratched.

Should you shake essie•gel products prior to application?
Your manicurist should shake the bottles of essie•gel base coat, nail color, and top coat vigorously, especially the base coat, before application to ensure the formula is thoroughly mixed and homogeneous.

Can essie•gel nail color be used with the base or top coat from another gel brand?
The full essie•gel system is specially formulated to work together: each layer of gel nail polish works seamlessly with the previous to create a powerful bond. Mixing varieties could compromise the strength of your essie•gel manicure, so we don’t recommend it.

Can you use rubbing alcohol at the end of the service to remove gel residue?
We recommend our manicurists use essie•gel prep + finish cleanser to remove any sticky gel residue for best results.

Can you use traditional essie nail enamel to fill in gel manicures if you need to?
Gel nail polish and traditional nail enamel don’t make a smooth, seamless match. Also, as close as they may seem, essie•gel shades are not an exact color match with traditional essie nail polish shades due to the differences in technologies.

Is essie•gel only LED lamp compatible or can you use UV nail lamp to cure?
essie•gel is only LED compatible. Some UV gel brands require that you cure the nail color and top coat for 2 minutes per layer – essie•gel is only a 30 second LED cure for the color coat, and a 1-minute cure for the topcoat. With cure-times that fast, we think the essie•gel professional LED lamp is clearly the way to go!

How long do gel polish manicures last?
With the proper care, essie•gel manicures can last for two weeks—that’s up to 14 days of brilliant nail color and shine! Of course, the result will vary depending on how well you care for your nails. Exposing your gel nails to cleaning products without wearing gloves, or peeling gel nail polish when it starts to grow out will affect how long it can last. essie recommends 14 days between essie•gel applications—leaving essie•gel on longer than that can result in longer removal times.

How is gel nail polish removed?
Though gel manicures are an amazing way to enjoy 14-day brilliant essie color and super-glossy rock hard shine, removing essie•gel nail polish is a process that’s best left to our salon experts and certified nail technicians to ensure the health of your natural nail. These are the step-by-step gel nail polish removal instructions that we recommend to our salon partners and essie nail technicians.

1. Thoroughly saturate an absorbent pad with acetone polish remover and place on nail.
2. Wrap nail in aluminum foil snugly. A secure fit is essential for thorough removal. Soak for 15 minutes.
3. Gently lift foil and check if polish has lifted away from the nail. If not, re-wrap and soak another 5 minutes.
4. Gently massage the foil at top of nail and pull foil wrap away from nail. When gel has lifted from nail, carefully remove any gel excess on nail with an orangewood stick (from cuticle to tip).
5. Rub nail with a lint-free nail pad soaked in polish remover to remove any residue.
6. Re-hydrate nails & cuticles with apricot cuticle oil.
Bear in mind that essie•gel nail products should be removed within 14 days to prevent longer removal times.

Is there anything like gel polish that can be used at home?
Believe it or not–there is! essie is very excited about essie gel couture. It’s a gel-like nail polish, (sometimes called long-wear enamel) that air-dries without an LED or UV lamp. This new nail technology combines the strength of gel polish with the simplicity of traditional nail enamel so that you can apply your favorite essie shades at home!

essie gel couture is an easy gel nail 2-step system–just a color and top coat–no base coat needed. Choose from 42 streak-free shades to compliment any look. Finish with the cutting-edge, glossy top coat that air-dries in record time—with all the shine and rich, glassy gel qualities you love. The top coat seals in the shade, delivering 14 days of chic essie color that comes off with nail polish remover and a cotton ball, just like traditional enamels.

Want to find out more? Brush up with more essie expertise like Gel nail polish Dos and Don’ts.

Excited to try the gel nail polish look at home with essie gel couture? Click here to browse the entire nail collection.

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