Beauty

A Hard Gel Manicure Is the Secret to My Long Nails — Here’s Why

Because of the strong outer covering and tough wear time, “hard gel is better for those who prefer long nails for a longer time,” says Inzerillo. 

What Is the Difference Between Hard Gel And Gel Extensions? 

Hard gel and gel extensions are used in tandem, which makes them easy to mix up. Gel extensions require a hard gel manicure to attach to the nail; however, a hard gel manicure doesn’t require the use of extensions.

“A gel extension can be built using hard gels and sculpted onto a form or with a full coverage tip,” explains Inzerillo.

In my case, the technician applied the hard gel manicure just to the base of the nail — no extensions required.

My Experience with Hard Gel 

After the removal of my three-week-old gel manicure (with the usual filing, soaking, buffing, etc.), my barely-there tips were ready to be painted. But instead of painting on a classic polish with a brush, my manicurist spooned out a thick glob of clear goop right into the center.

The texture of hard gel is a much thicker consistency than a soft gel, so that single dollop of translucent gel was smudged around to the edges to coat each nail.

After just one layer, my nails looked abnormally thick, but I remained patient. My nail artist filed down the top and the edges to make them look more natural, but even after that there wasn’t a drastic change. The hard gel creates a much thicker layer over the top of the nail — even thicker than past manicures I had had with dip powder. 

Before the polish, it looked like my nails were wearing a shield, and after the polish, the gel acted like one.

With my fresh blue French manicure and accent flowers, I left the salon impressed with the added strength to my nails  (don’t expect any bend after getting this treatment) but still skeptical about the longevity.

Anneke Knot’s bare nails. 

Anneke Knot

Anneke Knot’s nails after a hard gel manicure. 

Anneke Knot

A week passed, and my manicure was still pristine. The everyday digging into my wallet or prying open a lid on a jar didn’t cause the regular chips. Two weeks passed and my nails looked just as fresh as the day I left the salon, other than a little bit of growth at the cuticle. By week six, I was pushing it, but they were still chip-free and had doubled in length. 

How to Remove Hard Gels

Leave it to the professionals. Hard gels are built to last, so Inzerillo cautions against peeling or picking at your paint job. “Gel manicures can damage your nails if they are applied incorrectly and removed incorrectly,” Inzerillo says. “Peeling or biting off a gel manicure ensures damage to the nail bed.”