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Gel Nail Polish Guide - All You Need to Know

Written by: Ellie Simmons

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Time to read 7 min

Now we all love gel polish here, and it’s undoubtedly the most popular types of nail polish out there. But what exactly is this mysterious, magical gel we all hear so much about?

Well, we are here to explain it all! At Mylee, we’re experts in all things gel nails, and we’ve got the answers to some of your most asked questions, including how to use gel nail polish, what it is, and a whole lot more.

So whether you’re a newbie to gel nails, an experienced user looking for more info or just want to learn about the basics of this magical product, read on!

What is Gel Nail Polish?

What exactly is gel nail polish, you ask? Well, gel polish is made up of a mix of monomers and oligomers (chemistry jargon) which bond together and ‘cure’ when exposed to a UV or LED light.

Gel polish is so versatile it can be applied to your natural nail, on top of nail tips, extensions, acrylics and Magic Extender Gel.

Gel polish has the ability to last for up to 3 weeks with no chipping, smudges or dents. I mean, what more could you want from a polish? Strengthen your nails, you say? Well, it actually does that too.

What is the Difference Between Gel Polish and Regular Nail Polish?

Gel Polish Regular Nail Polish
Thicker consistency & Smoother application Thinner consistency & (Sometimes) lumpy application
Does not air dry Air dries
Very durable (no chips, nicks, or dents) More likely to chip and scratch
Needs to be cured with a nail lamp Does not need to be cured
Manicure lasts up to 3 weeks Manicure lasts up to 7 days

How much time do we have? There are several differences between gel and regular polish, but we’ll cover the main ones.

Gel polish is a thicker consistency to nail polish which allows for a smoother application.

When applying nail polish, you need to act fast as it air dries and could cause the polish to become lumpy if not applied quickly.

Gel polish does not air dry, so there’s no rush in painting, you can take your time to get the most luscious streak-free application.

Gel polish is also very durable, so you won’t have any chipping or denting in the polish.

Gel polish needs a UV or LED light to dry (cure) it, so once you’ve applied your top coat, you're ready to go (minus the tacky wipe-off layer), whereas nail polish dries in the air and can take up to 2 hours to be completely dent-resistant and dry.

Nail polish lasts for up to 7 days maximum, whereas your Mylee mani will last up to 3 weeks.

Can You Use Gel Nail Polish on Natural Nails?

Yes! Gel polish was designed for the natural nail – as long as you apply a base coat (or Builder Gel) underneath the polish colour, your natural nails will benefit greatly from gel polish.

Gel polish is also great for painting on top of extensions and acrylics, so you can create beautifully long gel nails, too.

How to Use Gel Nail Polish

To perfectly apply gel nail polish, follow our steps below:

Step 1) Using a wooden cuticle pusher, gently push back your cuticles, and if necessary, apply the Mylee Cuticle Remover to remove any dead skin.


Step 2) Shape the free edge of your nails with a nail file and remove the shine from the nail plate with a buffing block.


Step 3) Cleanse the nails with a lint-free wipe soaked in Mylee Prep & Wipe to remove any oil and dirt on the nails.


Step 4) Apply a layer of Mylee Base Coat and cure your nails for 30-60 seconds using the Mylee Pro LED Lamp. (Note: remove any gel on your skin before curing).


Step 5) Apply one coat of your chosen Mylee Gel Polish and cure your nails exactly like you did for the base. Repeat to build up the colour and opacity.


Step 6) Apply a Mylee Top Coat and cure your nails in the same way as before.


Step 6a) Remove the sticky layer by wiping the nails with a lint-free wipe soaked in Mylee Prep & Wipe.


Step 7) Wash your hands, then apply Mylee Nail & Cuticle Oil on the nails and cuticles to keep them nourished and hydrated.

Are Gel Nails Bad For You?

This is a really common question that’s asked time and time again, but the answer is no – gel nail polish is not bad for your nails.

Wearing gel polish can actually benefit your natural nail underneath by allowing them to grow freely and protecting them from everyday elements. It can help to strengthen your nail bed, encouraging long and healthy natural nails.

Most of the damage that comes from gel polish is in the removal. Incorrect or poor removal of the gels can cause damage to the nail plate, but this won’t be an issue if you follow the right steps.

How to Properly Remove Gel Nail Polish

We have got some fantastic video tutorials on how to correctly and safely remove your gel polish using our gel removal products, so we really recommend checking those out.

Our blog post on how to remove gel polish at home also details the different methods you can remove your polish, so there’s a wealth of tips and tricks for you to take advantage of.

Can You Use Gel Polish Without a UV or LED Light?

No, you cannot use gel polish without curing it under a curing lamp. Gel polish needs to be cured under a light for the formula to set and harden. Otherwise, you won’t be able to build up layers, and your mani won’t last those 3 weeks.

Once cured, you will be left with a tacky layer that will need to be removed before completing your mani.

Unlike regular nail polish, gel polish cannot dry naturally in the air. But once you’ve added and cured your No Wipe Top Coat, your nails are ready to go. No pesky drying time or wandering around the house waving your hands frantically waiting for the polish to dry!

How Often Should You Take a Break from Gel Nails?

Never! Because our nails don’t ‘breathe’, they don’t necessarily need a break from gel polish. If the nail bed is prepped and the polish applied correctly, there’ll be no damage to your natural nail at all.

However, it is recommended that you remove gel polish every 2-3 weeks as this will allow you to maintain your cuticle care and refresh your polish.

Can You Infill Gel Polish?

If you don’t want to remove your gel polish, infilling is a great alternative. So, yes, you can infill gel polish, if you base your mani with Magic Extender Gel or Builder Gel.

Infilling is exactly as it sounds – you’re ‘filling in’ the growth of your polish. When your natural nail grows underneath, the gel will grow with them. You can fill in this growth with the same colour you originally had on your nails, so your mani looks just as perfect as it did when you first applied it.

This will allow you to keep the length and strength of your nails by refreshing your mani without having to remove any of the base you created.

How to Infill Gel Polish

To infill your Magic Extender Gel or Builder Gel, follow these steps:

Step 1) File down the top of your nails firmly to remove most of your gel polish.


Step 2) Push back your cuticles and trim any dead white skin.


Step 3) Buff the natural nail being infilled so the gel can grip to the nail bed. You should then use a nail wipe to remove any dust.


Step 4) Start at the end of the nail and apply your Builder Gel, pushing towards your cuticle. Float the Builder Gel over the rest of your nail polish.


Step 5) Cure under your Mylee LED Lamp for the correct amount of time.

To Sum Up: The Whats, Hows & Whys of Gel Nail Polish

We hope this article explained all you need to know about gel nail polish – what it is, how you can use it and why it’s the best choice for salon-quality manis at home.


We have a beautiful collection of over 190 gel polishes for creating salon-worthy nails right at home, so make sure you explore our range of colours and polishes to get started on your own perfect mani.


To get our top tips on all things gel nails, follow us on Instagram, subscribe to our newsletter, and regularly check back in on our blog.

FAQs

How Do I Use Gel Nail Polish?

After prepping your nails, apply a base coat a cure under a Mylee LED Lamp for 30-60 seconds. Next, apply your chosen Mylee shade, using a smooth gliding motion to sweep the polish across your nail. Cure under your nail lamp again. Finish with a No Wipe Top Coat and cure for a final time.

Is Gel Polish Different from Normal Nail Polish?

Yes, gel polish is made with a formula that's a thicker consistency than regular polish. it must also be cured underneath a UV or LED lamp for the gel to properly dry, unlike regular polish, which can take around 2 hours to fully dry.

How Long Does Gel Nail Polish Last?

Mylee's gel polish will last up to 3 weeks without any scratches, chips and dents, giving you beautiful nails for longer! This is unlike regular polish, which typically lasts around 7 days.

How Long Does Gel Polish Take To Dry?

Our regular Mylee polishes and Top and Base Coats will take 30 to 60 seconds to dry (cure) under a LED lamp, or 120 seconds under a UV lamp.

Ellie Simmons

Ellie is the Brand Manager at Mylee, where she immerses herself in all things gel nails. 


Alongside being a skilled and certified nail technician, Ellie's expertise extends to gel manicures and nail extensions. Her heart and soul are devoted to all things nail-related, and she loves flaunting her own long, natural nails with captivating nail art. 


Ellie's ultimate favourites are iridescent and sparkly designs!

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