3 Hard Questions About Hard Gel

Client cures gel nails in UV light
Client cures gel nails in UV light

With warmer days ahead, what better time to show off healthy nails?

Whether returning from concerts and events like Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival or planning a summer vacation, your clients’ nails will ultimately bear the brunt of regular makeovers. I think we would all rather be soaking up the sun than soaking off gel nails. Am I right?

The great news is, there is a way for your clients to enjoy the sunshine without going hard on their nails, thanks to hard gel. Hard gels have been around for some time and have won the hearts of nails techs worldwide due to their lightweight and long-lasting formula, which leaves clients with strong and durable manicures. With its gel-like consistency, which makes it thicker than traditional lacquer, chemically speaking, hard gels are pre-mixed monomers that harden under light, leaving a glossy shine. Although commonly used as extensions, it is still a great way to maintain the health of natural nails even after multiple applications with correct prep and professional oversight.

To better understand the uses of hard gel and break through the misinformation surrounding the subject, The GelBottle Inc. president and CEO Michael Hollman answers some hard-hitting questions and debunks three of the most common myths in the nail industry.   

Are Acrylics Better Than Hard Gel? 

Even though acrylics and hard gel may give similar results, it is important to understand and educate your clients that they are two different products. The debate about the use of acrylics is as old (and dusty) as the formula itself. While modern dust collectors and nail tools provide nail techs with better protection from chemical acrylic fumes, many are still choosing to make a switch to hard gels. Using acrylics can be a difficult to master skill, but they can provide long-lasting results when applied properly. However, it is important for the tech to assess the longevity factor versus the "cost" of effects to the client’s nail. The product’s relative rigidity in comparison to the flexibility of hard gels is a known fact, and while this might not be an issue for some clients, educating them about the difference of these two products is key to building trust between a tech and their clientele.    

Aren’t UV/LED Lights Harmful to The Hands?  

With skin cancer awareness on the rise, it is understandable that customers may have concerns about lamps or LEDs that emit UV (ultraviolet) radiation. Protecting your skin from overexposure or burns of any kind should always be a top priority (here is looking at you, tanning bed lovers) as health is one thing that money cannot buy. What many may be surprised to learn is that we are regularly exposed to some degree of UV radiation–both indoors and outdoors. UV light can penetrate through the windows—reaching the skin—so being aware of your exposure is very important. What we do know as an industry is that the FDA “views nail curing lamps as low risk when used as directed by the label…In general, you should not use these devices for more than 10 minutes per hand, per session.”

On their website, the FDA provides further advice to reduce UV exposure suggesting the following:

  • Wearing UV-absorbing gloves that expose only your nails.  
  • Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.   

Should I Give My Nails a Break and Let Them Breathe?  

The number of "nail breathing" memes circulating the internet is truly staggering, so let us debunk this myth once and for all. Scientifically speaking, our nails are dead cells without lungs or a respiratory system. Nails are made up of keratin and do not require oxygen unlike our skin, for example. Whether they are wearing hard gel, acrylics or nail polish, our nails will not suffocate. On the other hand, nails might need a breather and can become damaged from overfilling, excessive use of drill bits and regularly soaking in acetone. In cases where clients’ nails are in great need of TLC, you can advise they fully grow them out for six months—going cold turkey without any products for two weeks will have minimal to no effect. Again, be open and real with your clients, and help them achieve their nail goals in the long term.    

As our industry grows and develops, we will face a lot of hard questions and myths in the future. What will always remain the same is the importance of nail health and nail tech education. Whether we are comparing acrylics to hard gels or talking about advancing technologies, nail tech and customer safety should always inform our decisions.

About the Author

Michael Hollman, CEO of The GelBottle Inc. USA, has degrees in accounting and finance, but his passion has always been the arts. He has been leading the U.S. team since its inception in 2017 and took on the leadership of Peacci in the United States in 2019. Michael has always been driven by developing creative individuals and providing an environment where talent can thrive. His 20 years of corporate management experience gives him a unique perspective on the nail industry, its trends and opportunities. He is also a Nailpro 2022 advisory board member.

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