Nail Pros Weigh in on Working with Hard Gel



There’s a lot to love about hard gel: It’s essentially odorless; the premixed formula ensures consistency and enables one-step application; it’s self-leveling; and the non-porous surface is unaffected by acetone, dyes and other chemicals, promoting durable wear. That said, hard gel isn’t without its drawbacks. Common roadblocks like heat spikes, sidewall flooding, free edge lifting and over-filing come removal time are a result of using the wrong tools, working too quickly or skimping on education. Here, we’ve rounded up a selection of high-quality hard gels, along with some expert tips to ensure service success.

Stiff Stuff

“Use a thicker brush with stiff hair when working with medium-viscosity hard gels. The appropriate tool makes scooping and landing the product much easier compared to using a thin, soft brush. I recommend a gentle gliding and pressing action to build an even surface, which helps reduce filing time.” —Jamie Yin, Akzéntz educator.

Full Coverage

“Prime your gel brush by completely covering the bristles with gel, including the ones in the center, for a bubble-free application. Before curing, turn the hand over so gravity helps level the apex and overall 7 structure.” —Robert Nguyen, Entity creative director.

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Edge Out

“To prevent lifting at the free edge, I sometimes use a very thin amount of acrylic on the free edge only and then apply hard gel over the rest of the nail.” —Vicki Ornellas, ibd educator.

Level Up

“Use a low-viscosity, self-leveling hard gel to your advantage. Let the gel work for you to create a perfect shape before filing to save both time and money, as you’ll only need to make small adjustments before moving onto the next step.” —Celina Rydén, Light Elegance ambassador and international educator.

Soft Touch

“Work slowly and with a light touch. A common mistake I see with hard 5 gel is heavy handedness with the brush. The pressure applied is too hard, making the gel ‘push out’ from underneath the brush, flooding in the sidewalls.” —Darlene Tewitz, NSI global educator.

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Slow & Hard

“Working in layers while sculpting your gel is important. Thin layers help control the movement of the gel, while sculpting the nail in one large bead can generate uncomfortable heat spikes for your clients and won’t yield a strong enhancement.” —Darlene Tewitz, NSI global educator.


1) CND Brisa Sculpting Gel Neutral Pink

2) Akzéntz Pro-Formance Balance Foundation Nude

3) ibd Builder Gel Pink

4) Entity Studio One Gel Clear

5) Light Elegance Lexy Cosmetic Pink Builder

6) NSI Balance Body Builder Cover Pink Warm

7) Gelish LED Dark Pink Builder Gel

8) Christrio Basic One Clear Gel

–by Lotus Abrams


This story first appeared in the April issue of Nailpro magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

[Images: Courtesy of Brooks Ayola]

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