What is Gel Nail Polish?

Gel nail polish is a special type of nail polish that doesn’t dry in the air like its traditional counterparts and instead requires curing with a UV light. This process hardens and fixes the polish in place, meaning it doesn’t smudge and is much harder to chip. As a result, gel manicures last longer than regular manicures meaning you can get up to three weeks of wear.


Hard gel polish is another type of builder gel. It can be sculpted and shaped to artificially lengthen your nail. It’s not the same as regular gel polish (which is much softer) as regular gel doesn’t cure hard enough to extend nails.
Because hard gel polish is a type of builder gel, it too can be used alongside other gel polishes. Most forms of hard gel polish are hypoallergenic, which is a huge bonus for those with sensitive skin. Acrylic nail extensions can achieve a similar look, but contain more allergens, which is why hard gel is so popular.

Another issue with acrylics is they can cause more damage to your natural nails than gel manicures. Hard gel is more flexible and durable than acrylics. Acrylics use more solvents in their formula, which can be drying to the natural nail, causing it to weaken. This can mean when the acrylic extensions are removed, the health of the nail is worse than before the manicure.

With hard gel, the application is different, and it allows the nail to be better nourished and protected. Gel is flexible, which increases their resilience. Acrylic nails are rigid, which means any movement can damage the nail plate by creating small cracks and chips.


When people talk about using gel polish, it’s most likely they’re talking about soft gel. Soft gel polish is the polish most people think of when they want a gel manicure. It’s the traditional gel polish that is cured with UV light and can be soaked off.
Soft gel isn’t strong enough to build nail extensions or be used as a builder gel. While it does offer some protection for your nails compared to regular nail polish, it’s not as hard as builder gel or hard gel.
Regular gel polish is the type of gel that provides the most variety. There are hundreds of shades of gel polish available. You can even buy glitter gel polish in clear or coloured formulas, as well as shimmer topcoats for something different. 

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