Choosing the Correct Gel


Gel Junkie
A gel is a gel isnt it?

Well wouldnt it be nice if only it were that easy?

You've got ...
one phase gels - one gel does the job of bonder, builder and gloss layer
three phase gels - you have a different gel for each job of bonder, builder and gloss layer (each gel is designed to work to maximum efficiency for you)
self levelling gels - these are gels that are easier to work with, but some level so much that building an apex is hard as they flood out very easily. They can be hard or soft gels
builder gels - these tend to be the layer that gives the gel strength and build your apex
Sculpting gels - are completely non levelling so they do not move on the sculpting form
top glosses - a very thin finishing gel designed to give maximum permanent shine
bonder - to increase adhesion to the natural nail and minimise lifting
hard gels - see below
soft gels - see below
coloured gels - these are usually soft gels
french gels - again they can vary in viscosity from a "tippex" consistency to a non levelling scupting gel
coverage gels - these have varying degrees of opacity to hide any blemishes on the nail, or to "extend" a nail plate to give the illusion of making it look longer
soak off gels - can be removed with acetone and are soft gels
file off gels - have to be filed off as they are non porous hard gels

.................CONFUSED??:irked: No need, just read on !

I started out using gel some time ago, and have tried most brands on the market:green: this is the time consuming expensive way around it.

Here are a few pointers that MAY help you decide ...


An example of some of the 'soft gels' on the market are

  • Calgel
  • Bio scuplture
  • Akzentz options range
Soft gels are relatively easy to apply, most apply like polish and are typically ONE PHASE gels.

Normally at the top end of the scale pricewise.

ONE PHASE means no seperate bonder, builder etc. They adhere to the nail plate without the need for a 'bonder' (in most cases).

They are generally 'self levelling' so not much need for filing, but creating an apex can be a tricky task as they are not very viscous (ie they are quite thin in consistency)

They come in a wide variety of colours or french.

They can be 'soaked off' in acetone, which means they are 'porous'. This can also lead them to be more sensitive to anything you may put your hands into ie cleaning chemicals can 'dull them'.

They are very flexible (some say rubbery), perfect for natural nail overlays.

They are NOT as strong as FILE OFF gels, so you 'may' struggle if you do extremely long enhancements or if you have a heavy handed clients.

They 'can' loose their colour ie: the white's dull and the colours 'can' fade.

They 'can' shrink if take a while to apply the gel and get them into the lamp, i find its sometimes easier to do 2 nails at a time and 'lock' for 10 seconds.

However they are great if your client wants a "permanent" colour and/ or some added strength but without having to go the whole hog of having tips applied. They are difficult to pick off and so great for those terminal pickers!


An example of some of the HARD gels on the market are

  • Brisa
  • LCN
  • IBD
  • Gel It (ezflow)
  • NSI
  • Akzentz
  • Light Elegance
  • Pro nails
Hard gels are normally VERY STRONG. There is quite an art to the application. They can be one phase or 3 Phase, often requiring a bonding, builder and gloss layer of application.

The builder gels tend to be thicker so they are easier to build an apex without it flooding the side walls, some are completely non levelling at all and these take real skill to apply.

They are non porous, which means nothing can penetrate through it including acetone, so the correct way to remove them is to file and buff them off. Filing off is generally quite easy, not too scarey you just have to take your time concentrate and make sure you increase the file grits the closer you get to the natural nail, ie start with 120 and work your way up to a 240. As always keep the file moving over the nail so that you reduce the risk of friction burns.

They normally have great colour stability.

You can get them in a variety of colours, French whites and 'coverage' gels which are fab for nail biters or hiding imperfections on the nail bed.

Perfect choice for Tips and Sculpts.

I hope thats helped !!! Please feel free to add to it!

Amb xx


Well-Known Member
Wel DOne. WHat a great starting point for peeps that want to know about gels.

Jen Smith

Nice one Amber. I have often wondered what the different gels were about and I really didnt want to spend loads of money trying different ones out. Your guide has clarified a few things that makes me think I am ok with what I am using at the moment (the grass isnt always greener over the fence!).



Shopaholic Geek
Explained brilliantly Amber!!!


Sleepy Geek Zzzzzzzz
nice one


Positivity rules!
fab Amb... :D xxx


Well-Known Member
An easy and understandable read Amb. Cool stuff!

Urban Geek

Mobile Nail technician
Really useful Amber. THANKS!:hug:

lotus blossom

Well-Known Member
god amber!!! even i understand about gels now!!!! very well thought out and easy to understand, god on ya xxx


Well-Known Member
excellent Amber, a true working nail tech with much experience. Know what a shopaholic you are so you have sampled it, tried it and learnt from it..Well done, great


Well-Known Member
Great thread hun, very helpful and acurate.


Still dont know what one is best to use but the information is fab!!! Thanks


Well-Known Member
Thanks that will be a brilliant referencexxxxxxxxxxxx


Strictly Scottish Geek!
Great Tutorial Amber....I can see this one getting copy,cut & pasted onto a few threads....answers a lot of questions in one go.

gr8 tut ambxxx


Gel Junkie
had a 'ickle bit of help' from Sass on the 'grammer front' cant take all the CREDIT just thought it needed clarifiying.

Amb xxxxxxxxx:hug:


New Member
that is a great starting point. It really clarified gel nails. Thanks for th info.


This was very helpful to me. Thanks

fingerz & toz

Fantastic, this helps to take out some of the guess work on which gel to consider. Thnx


New Member
This was very useful.
Thanks a lot!