Troubleshooting Gel Nail Problems: Expert Tips for Nail Professionals

Gel nails have become a staple in the beauty industry, offering clients a durable, shiny finish that lasts for weeks. However, even the most seasoned Nail Technicians can encounter challenges when working with gel polish. This article aims to address common gel nail issues and provide detailed solutions to ensure flawless results every time.

Gel Nail Lifting

Problem: One of the most common complaints is the premature lifting of gel polish, especially at the edges.


Nail Preparation: Thoroughly cleanse the nail plate to remove any oils or residues, use a nail primer to ensure a clean surface. We also recommend using Miss Dolla pH Bond before the nail primer to balance the pH of the nail and create the most optimal surface for adhesion. 

Application Technique:Avoid flooding the cuticle area with gel polish. Over-application can cause the product to lift as the nail grows out. If any gel polish touches the cuticle, remove it with acetone before curing, otherwise, your client will experience poor nail retention, it will also be very uncomfortable if the gel is touching the skin when the client places their hand under the curing lamp

Capping the Edge: Ensure that the free edge of the nail is sealed with gel polish. This technique helps to lock everything in and prevent early lifting.

Nail Technician performing nail prep

Bubbles in the Gel Polish

Problem: Tiny air bubbles appearing in the finished gel manicure can ruin the smooth finish and all your hard work.


Gel Polish Handling: Instead of shaking the bottle, roll it gently between your hands to mix the polish without introducing air bubbles to the product.

Application Technique: Apply the gel polish in thin, even layers. Thick layers can trap air, leading to bubbles. Also, avoid overworking the polish on each layer as this also has the ability to cause bubbling as well as uneven coverage.

Gel Polish Peeling

Problem: The gel polish starts to peel off in large chunks, often within a few days of application.


Nail Surface Preparation: Before application, buff the nail surface gently. This roughens the surface slightly, allowing better adhesion of the gel polish.

Avoiding Water Exposure: Advise clients to avoid prolonged water exposure immediately after their manicure. Water can seep into the edges, causing the gel to lift and peel. You should also recommend that your clients use gloves when cleaning or washing dishes.

Discoloration of Gel Nails

Problem: Over time, some clients may notice their gel nails turning yellow or changing color.


UV Protection: Prolonged exposure to UV rays, whether from the sun or tanning beds, can cause gel polish to discolor. Using a UV-protective top coat, such as our Diamond Top Coat, will block the UV rays and keep your clients’ nails in perfect condition.

High-Quality Products: Investing in premium gel polishes, like those at Miss Dolla, can reduce the risk of discoloration.

Incomplete Curing

Problem: The gel remains tacky or doesn't harden completely, even after being placed under the lamp.


Lamp Efficiency: Regularly check the UV/LED lamp to ensure it's working correctly. Over time, bulbs can lose their efficiency and might need replacement. We recommend changing your lamp every 12 months. It’s also important to consider what type of lamp you have, as LED nail lamps are stronger.

Curing Time: Different gel brands and colors might require varying curing times. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. It’s also important to check that the brand you’re using is compatible with the type of nail lamp you’re using (UV or LED).

UV nail lamp to cure gel nails

Nail Damage Post Gel Removal

Problem: Clients' natural nails appear weak, brittle, or damaged after gel polish treatments.


Gentle Removal:Educate your clients on the importance of never peeling or chipping away their gel polish. Instead, advise them to always book a soak-off. It’s also important for you to follow the proper gel nail removal procedure. Never chip any of the polish off, even if it is lifting! Always soak the nails in acetone until the product slides off easily.

Nail Care: After removal, apply cuticle oil to nourish the nails and surrounding skin. Recommend clients use nail oil twice a day to reinforce their natural nails. You can retail nail oils to upsell your treatment - it’s a win/win!

Heat Spikes During Curing

Problem: Clients feel a sudden heat sensation when their nails are under the UV/LED lamp, particularly with thicker gels such as builder gel or rubber base.


Layering:Applying very thin base layers can reduce heat spikes. If a client is sensitive, you can flash cure (curing for a few seconds and then removing) before doing a full cure.

High-Quality Lamps: Some modern nail lamps come with a low-heat mode, gradually increasing the light intensity to minimize heat spikes.

Gel nails offer a beautiful, long-lasting manicure option, but they come with their unique set of challenges. By understanding these issues and equipping yourself with the knowledge to address them, you can ensure top-tier service for your clients. Continuous learning and staying updated with the latest in nail technology will set any Nail Tech apart in this competitive industry.

Send us a DM with any more problems you may have, and we will work with you to troubleshoot!