If you haven’t heard of polygel nails yet, you are missing a trick. Whether you love your salon manicures or prefer to DIY your fingernails, polygel nail colors or clear polygel nails will change your life. Think of them as hair extensions for your nails. Polygel nails have all the advantages of acrylic nails and hard LED gels, but they are easier to apply. They offer flexibility and durability, but at the same time can be customised to any shape or color you may want. With a bit of practice, you can even use polygel nail colors at home if you want to avoid the salon visit.
Are Polygel Nails Better Than Acrylic?
If you are already familiar with acrylic nails you may be wondering what’s so different as to be worth the change. Polygel is as versatile as acrylic, and it will protect your nails exactly like traditional hard gels. And it accomplishes this while being 23% lighter than acrylics and 16% lighter than your traditional hard gel manicure.
Polygel is also monomer and 7-free, and doesn’t create dust during the application process.
Speaking of the application process, Gelish PolyGel (the original brand that launched this formula) is a one step process which makes it much more user friendly than acrylics and hard gels, and quicker to apply.
So yes, polygel nails are better than acrylic without a doubt.
Does Polygel Ruin Your Nails?
PolyGel itself won’t ruin your nails, but as with any other long lasting manicure there are several things that could go wrong and damage or weaken your natural nails.
- Filling or buffing too hard
- Soaking for too long on acetone
- Incorrect removal techniques
As long as you learn how to remove Polygel nails properly (it’s a very similar process to removing SNS nails) your nails will be safe. In fact, if you have naturally weak or damaged nails, polygel can act as a protective layer against the elements and help your nails become stronger.
How Long Do Polygel Nails Last?
PolyGel are one of the longer lasting types of manicures, easily comparable with SNS nails. With the correct application techniques, polygel nails last between 3 and 5 weeks. You will likely need infills as your natural nail grows and you may want to remove them earlier to change the style or color.
If you use clear polygel nails you can then paint on top using your regular nail polish, and change your nail art without removing the polygel nails. Just make sure you remove your regular nail polish without acetone. So even if you enjoy changing your nails often, you don’t need to go through the process of removing and re-doing your polygel nails until they grow out or they break.
What Do You Need To Do Polygel Nails At Home?
If you want to explore the world of PolyGel manicures from the comfort of your home, you will need a few different supplies:
- Polygel (either clear polygel for extensions and tips , or polygel nail colors)
- Forms You can use PolyGel with dual forms and regular nail forms, or you can even use PolyGel over glued tips. The choice is yours!
- Base and Top Coat Usually those will come with your PolyGel kit.
- LED Nail Lamp You will need a LED Nail lamp to cure your PolyGel manicure.
- Spatula and Brush PolyGel, before it’s cured, is a thick paste.You will use the spatula to pick up the gel, and the synthetic brush to smooth it over or into the dual forms to achieve a smooth finish.
- Rubbing Alcohol Or Slip Solution You will need some sort of slip solution to dip your brush so you can use it to shape and smooth the polygel without getting stuck.
In order to remove PolyGel nails at home, you will need similar supplies as the ones used to remove gel manicures at home.
- Nail clippers (to remove any nail enhancements you applied)
- A set of nail files and buffer Unless you are a very experienced user, leave the powered nail drills to the professionals to avoid causing damage to your natural nails
And don’t forget a great nail cuticle oil to treat your nails afterwards! The acetone will remove all the moisture from your nails otherwise.
Polygel For Beginners Using Dual Forms
Most people use PolyGel nails to give themselves some extra length. Dual forms are often used with acrylics, and are easier to use than paper nail forms, so they are often more accessible to people new to this kind of manicure.
Start with the following steps for PolyGel Nail Prep:
- Push back your cuticles to prevent the polygel from sticking to your skin instead of your nail plate
- File your nails and lightly buff the surface
- Use rubbing alcohol or dehydrating solution to remove all oils and dust from your nails
- Apply the PolyGel base coat, and cure it under the LED lamp for the recommended time (usually around 60 seconds)
Once your nails are ready to go, this is how you use Polygel with dual forms
Polygel is usually supplied in tubes. I find it easier to place the tubes in a flat accesible surface, and making sure they are not closed too tight. It’s much more difficult to open a stubborn tube while fiddling with forms!
- Start by choosing the form that fits the width of your natural nail plate.
- Squeeze a bit of polygel out of the tube and apply it to the inside of the dual form with the spatula. Use the brush to spread it evenly.
- Place the dual form against your nail, and press lightly and evenly over the surface.
- Remove excess polygel that squeezed out and smooth the gel under the free edge with the brush.
- Cure on the LED lamp for the recommended time (Usually 60 seconds)
- Remove the dual form, file and shape your now longer nails as usual
- Apply the top coat and cure as per the manufacturer instructions
If you are more of a visual person, watch this video for step by step instructions.
Polygel Nails Using Nail Forms
This type of nail forms are also often used with acrylics, and are more versatile than dual forms but require more practice to use.
Start with the same prep steps as if you were using dual forms. Afterwards:
- Wrap the forms around your fingertips, fitting underneath the free edge of your natural nail.
- Place a small amount of polygel on top of the nail using the spatula .
- Dip the brush on rubbing alcohol or slip solution and shape the polygel, smoothing the surface carefully.
- Once you are happy with the shape, cure it under the LED lamp.
- Repeat as many times as you need to build the nail to the length you want.
- Use an alcohol wipe to remove any sticky residue, file and shape the nail.
- Buff the surface lightly to smooth any ridges or bumps.
- Apply your nail art design, embellishments or decorations.
- Finish with top coat, curing as per the manufacturer instructions.
The sculpting bit is what takes a fair amount of practice. Check this video out before you start so you have some better ideas on technique.
Polygel Nails Using Nail Tips
The quickest way to lenthten your nails using PolyGel is probably using nail tips instead of building the nail using forms. You can glue the tips first, and then use PolyGel on top to build a smooth nail surface without that telling ridge in the middle.
Here you can see how it’s done
Removing Polygel Nails At Home
The easiest way to remove polygel nails at home is by using an acetone soak exactly like when you are removing acrylic nails.
Salons often use electric drills to remove nail extensions but unless you are professionally trained and well practiced you can do a lot of damage to your natural nail.
Applying PolyGel nails at home opens a whole new world of possibilities in terms of what you can do with your nails. If acrylics intimidate you, give polygel a try instead and you’ll be surprised at how much you love it.