iGel Academy

Common Mistakes Beginners Make With Gel Polish

Gel Jitters? Don't be afraid to try! Say goodbye to chipping lacquer. There’s no other manicure that can beat our favorite gel mani when it comes to durability. Not only is gel polish stronger, it lasts way longer too!

Need step-by-step instructions? Try our article: Gel Polish 101 - How to Apply & Remove.

– and now, you can learn how to do it at home easily! If it's your first time and you're a little cautious about making mistakes, we warmly encourage you to keep reading.♡

Not Mistaken. Read our tips below!

We’ve asked our experts what the most common mistakes they made as beginners with gel polish.

1. Not Prepping Properly. Set Your Canvas.

    Most beginners think that prepping is only for acrylic and dip manicures. Our experts disagree! Prepping is vital for every nail occasion. It sets the clean canvas for your next nail masterpiece! Do it for gel as well.

    Clip and file your nails. Afterward, gently push back your cuticles. We don't recommend cutting cuticles for beginners as this could result in infection or injury. 

    Finally, remove the shine by filing the surface of your nails gently. We love buffing as well. However, keep in mind that over-filing may thin your nails. Not only will you be left with thin nails, once it grows it will look lopsided. 

    Well what happens if you don’t prep properly at all? All your hard work will be chipped or peeled away due to your body's natural oils.

    If you've yet prepared your nails and would like a more detailed article, we highly encourage you to read How to Prep Your Nails Like a Pro. ♡

    2. Fragile Foundation. Building Bases.

    Whether you're using extensions or not, pay close attention to your nails. Examine your nails and find out whether they’re strong and firm or weak and flexible. If you have strong and firm nails, you’re good to go. You just need one layer of basecoat.

    Apply the base coat twice and cure each coat under UV (2 minutes) or LED lamp (30 seconds). Applying two layers of basecoat can give more strength to your nails. In turn, the gel polish will stick properly to your nails.

    Using flimsy fragile nail tips? Try builder gel! Strengthen your nails for a good foundation. If your nails are fragile due to natural nail thinness, we recommend vitamins like biotin prescribed by your physician. However, keep in mind that over-buffing may cause thin, fragile nails as well!

    3. Neglecting Top Coat. Short-lived.

    The durability of your gel manicure depends on whether you’re applying the top coat (and basecoat) or not. Don’t skip the top coat. It will make your gel manicure last longer.

    “Skipping the topcoat not only cuts down on the shiny finish of the manicure but also shortens the longevity of your manicure,” says Danielle Candido, the manicure expert for Gelish.

    4. Thick-Coated. Weakening, Bubbling, Hanging Bits.

    Don't get us wrong, we love all shapes and sizes! However, thick coats cause weakening and bubbling. Why? It wouldn't cure properly under the UV/LED lamp.

    If you've read Gel Polish 101, you may have read that nail polish should not touch your skin. Well, What does this have to do with thick coats? 

    When the gel is too thick, it often spills over the creases. Although dried, the gel polish will not stick to your skin for long. The natural sweat and oils from your hand along with the natural exfoliation alone will simply not let that happen. It simply won't stick. It would definitely turn into that one loose end that ruins your masterpiece with cracks and hanging bits.

    5. Incurable. Not Bringing Bright Light.

    Curing problems? There may be a problem with your UV/LED lamp. Kindly ask yourself how long and how often you have been using your lamp. Light bulbs have a life too. If you notice that they have gone visibly dim or are dead, kindly change them as soon as possible. Why? If your UV/LED lamp stops working properly, bubbles, lifting, or peeling may occur. 

    If you've one of our lamps, you may email us at cs@igelbeauty.com for further assistance or repair. 

    6. Using Longer Strokes. Good Call, Make It Small.

    It's not a long shot, you need not make longer strokes. Keep it short and sweet! The longer your strokes, the more likely it could get under your cuticles. This may cause serious problems.

    By using small strokes, you’ll be able to prevent the nail polish from reaching the under your nails and the over the sidewalls. Basically, it would go everywhere. Plus! You’ll get a more even application with smaller strokes

    7. Forceful Filing & It Wash Too Much!

    Although you need to make sure your nails are completely dry and oil-free before applying the gel manicure, don’t wash your hands with soap before the gel polish application. If you start to apply the gel polish on wet nails, the polish will not adhere properly.

    “If there is oil on the surface of the nails before the polish is applied, it’s much easier for the polish to peel-nothing sticks to an oily surface.” says Candido.

    As mentioned above (Fragile Foundation), avoid excessive filing. Take a nail file and file the surface of your nails gently. Buff with love! It is only so you could leave a texture that your gel could adhere to, like a hug between nail and polish! If your nails are very smooth, the gel polish won’t adhere properly– much like a slippery hug.

    8. Forgetting To Cap The Edges. Cap Your Smile Line with a Smile.

    After applying the base coat, color, and topcoat to your nails don’t forget to cap the edges. Skipping this step, may cause lifting.  Be sure to cap the edges of your nails after every single coat you apply. Each coat is important!


    Remember, the best tip of all is remembering that it is okay to make mistakes. The journey isn't always linear. Don't let the fear of making mistakes dishearten you from doing what you love. Remember, if you need iGel Beauty, we are here for you! Kindly reach out to us at cs@igelbeauty.com, or join our Facebook Group for more tips, tricks, and inspiration.

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