How to Make Gel Nails Last Longer: Tips and Tricks You Should Know!

As a professional Nail Technician, your goal is to provide services that not only look stunning but also stand the test of time. Gel nails are a popular choice among clients for their durability and shine, but ensuring they last requires skill and knowledge. This guide is designed to equip you with expert tips and techniques for extending the longevity of your clients’ gel nails, enhancing satisfaction, and boosting your business reputation.

There are a few different ways in which you can prolong a gel manicure, and they come under 4 different areas: Pre-application, during application, curing, and aftercare. 

Pre-Application Best Practices

Proper nail preparation is key to a lasting gel manicure and can make or break the results.  So, what should you be doing to guarantee perfect nails for weeks?

Thorough Cleaning: Ensure clients' nails are free from oils and previous polish residues. This can be done with acetone and is vital for adhesion. If your client is having a gel polish removal, it’s crucial that this is done thoroughly, as any leftover product will affect the longevity of the future nail design.

Gentle Buffing: Buffing the nail surface creates a better foundation for the gel polish. Make sure you buff the entirety of the nail to the point that the whole nail is matte. If there is any shine, this means there are still oils present. Be careful not to over-buff or file the nails, as this can be painful, take your time and pay attention to detail during this step.

Nail preparation

Nail Prep Products:There are some products you can utilize to elevate your retention. The first one is the Miss Dolla pH bond, which balances the nail's pH levels, enhancing the adhesion and durability of nail products. Then, use a coat of the Hybrid Nail Primer to effectively cleanse the nail surface, removing oils and impurities, as well as creating a sticky layer for the polish to grip. This combination is essential for achieving long-lasting, professional results in your nail treatments.

Application Techniques for Durability

Mastering application techniques is, of course, absolutely essential. Here’s what to remember when applying gel nail polish:

Thin Layers:As the saying goes, less is more! Thin, even layers are the key to preventing lifting and peeling. Whilst it may be tempting to apply lots of gel polish to get perfect coverage, this is actually counterproductive. Of course, this rule doesn’t apply if you are applying a builder layer, as that is designed to be applied as a thick coat.

Capping the Tips: Something that often gets forgotten is the free edge of the nails. Carefully sealing the tips of the nails with gel color as well as your top coat is a crucial step for reducing chipping and lifting around the edges.

How to make gel nails last longer

The Curing Process

A proper cure is non-negotiable, and if you know you’re following all the above tips and are still struggling with how to make gel nails last, this could be the culprit:

Correct Curing Time: The recommended curing time stated on a gel nail polish product is always there for a reason. Adhere strictly to the recommended curing times for each polish layer, as different products may require different timeframes. Make sure you know whether your nail lamp is UV or LED, as the curing time is different for each.

Quality Equipment: Invest in high-quality UV or LED lamps for consistent results. Often, you may be following the suggested curing time, but your lamp is simply not up to scratch. Nail lamps from non-reputable sellers may be of poor quality, or your lamp may just be old and need replacing.

Post-Application Care Advice

Remember to educate your clients on aftercare. Whilst we can’t control what our clients do when they leave the salon, it’s in their best interest to follow your advice if they want their manicures to last! If their gel nail aftercare is poor, then it’s likely they’ll run into problems with their nails chipping and lifting.

Moisturization: Advise clients to regularly moisturize their cuticles with nail oil. This is particularly important in the colder months. Dehydrated nails can cause nail curling, which causes the gel polish to lift away from the nail. 

Cuticle oil for gel nail aftercare

Protective Measures: Recommend wearing gloves during activities that could damage their gel nails, such as washing the dishes, gardening, or using any harsh chemicals. Hair Stylist clients, we’re looking at you!

Discourage Picking/Peeling: Inform clients about the risks of peeling off gel polish. Not only will this ruin how their manicure looks, but it can actually cause long-term damage to their nails. Such issues can include the dreaded fungal infection, which causes a ‘green’ discoloration if moisture is present underneath the gel.

Professional Maintenance

One reason that often gets overlooked when it comes to gel nail peeling or lifting is a lack of maintenance. Regular soak-offs or infills are required, depending on what products you use. Anything past 3 weeks can be at risk of breakage and can be extremely painful!

While clients may be tempted to push their appointment as far back as possible to save money, it’s not worth the potential consequences. Remember, if you are performing a soak-off, follow the correct practices to ensure you maintain nail health, as damaged nails are grounds for poor retention… and so the cycle continues! Check out this blog about maintaining healthy nails underneath gel manicures.

Nail Technician

For Nail Technicians, ensuring the longevity of gel nails is a combination of skill, quality products, and client education. By implementing these expert tips, you can guarantee your clients enjoy their beautiful gel nails for as long as possible, enhancing their overall experience and your salon's reputation.