What Are The Different Types Of Gel Manicures?

Gel Colors Londontown

The allure of gel manicures is that they deliver a perfect look that lasts. But there’s more than one type of gel manicure out there to choose from. We’re here to demystify the different gel manis, arming you with the intel you need to make the best decision for your lifestyle.

What Is a Gel Manicure?

A gel manicure uses a gel-based polish that’s dried under a UV or LED light to create a durable, high-shine finish that can last up to three weeks without chipping or peeling. Gel polish is applied in layers that are cured individually under the light to harden the formula and secure it to the nail, resulting in a strong coating that not only looks amazing but also protects the nail below. Gel manicures are popular for their long-lasting results and the variety of colors and finishes available.

What Are The Benefits of Gel Manicures?

  1. Long-Lasting Durability: Gel manicures can last up to three weeks without chipping or peeling.
  2. High-Gloss Finish: The curing process under UV or LED light results in a glossy finish that stays that way for the life of the manicure.
  3. Quick Drying Time: Unlike traditional nail polish, gel polish dries almost instantly under the curing light, lowering the odds of smudges and dents.
  4. Strength and Protection: Gel manicures strengthen natural nails, helping to stop breakage and splitting.
  5. Versatility: Gel polish comes in a broad array of colors and finishes, allowing for endless customization and creativity.
  6. Minimal Maintenance: With proper care, gel manicures require hardly any touch-ups.
  7. Smooth Application: The gel formula goes on fluidly and evenly to deliver that flawless appearance.
  8. Flexibility: Soft gel nails are physically flexible. Hard gel nails can withstand daily wear and tear better than traditional polish. Both are good if you tend to put your hands through their paces every day.
  9. Easy Removal: Soft gel polish can be easily removed by soaking in acetone, which means a quick and easy transition to a fresh, new manicure.
  10. Reduced Dry Time: The curing process nixes the need for extended drying, letting you get back to your routine quickly.

What Are The Different Types Of Gel Manicures?

Soft Gel Manicures

Soft gel manicures, also known as soak-off gels, are well liked for their ease and flexibility. These gels are applied similarly to traditional nail polish but are cured and hardened under a UV or LED light. The biggest pro: soft gels can be removed with a soak in some acetone, making them super convenient for anyone who likes to change up their nail color a lot. Soft gels also give the most natural look and feel of the bunch, if that’s your vibe.

Hard Gel Manicures

Hard gel manicures create stronger, longer nails. Because they’re thicker than soft gels, hard gels allow nail technicians to sculpt and extend what Mother Nature gave you. Hard gels get cured under a UV or LED light too, but unlike soft gels, they require filing for removal, which takes time to do right. Their durability is really what makes hard gels a stellar choice for a longer and longer lasting manicure that can take life’s wear and tear.

Builder Gel Manicures

Builder gel manicures are a type of hard gel used to create really strong, long-lasting nail extensions along the lines of acrylic nails. These gels are thick and viscous for the ultimate in creating more length. Builder gels are cured under a UV or LED light and require filing for removal. They’re great for you if you want to add length and strength to your natural nails, or if you’re trying to solve for weak or brittle nails.

Should I Get Soft Gel or Hard Gel?

Deciding between a soft gel and a hard gel manicure hinges on your needs, wants, and lifestyle. Think about your daily activities, nail health, and how often you like to switch up your manicure.

If you prefer a natural look and like changing your nail color, soft gels are great because they’re flexible, authentic-looking, easy to remove, and less damaging to the natural nail. 

If you need strength and durability or have weak or brittle nails, then hard gels are the better bet. They let you extend your nail length and can take some wear and tear—although they require filing for removal, which is a time commitment. 

Do Gel Nails Last Longer Than Regular Polish?

Yes, gel nails last significantly longer than regular polish. While traditional nail polish typically lasts about a week before chipping and losing its luster, gel nails stay glossy and resist chips for up to three weeks. This durability comes from curing the gel polish under a UV lamp or LED light, which hardens the gel and creates a strong coating that adheres firmly to the nail. That’s what makes gel nails such an excellent choice for a longer-lasting manicure that can handle lumps and bumps.

How To Choose The Right Gel Manicure

Choosing the right gel manicure comes down to a few factors that help net the best results for your lifestyle and for your nails’ health. Let’s help you decide…

  • Consider Your Lifestyle.
    • If you’re constantly on-the-go or work with your hands a lot, hard gels may be for you because they’re the most durable.
    • If you gravitate toward a natural look or change your nail color often, soft gels or gel polish are the way to go because they’re faster and easier to swap out.
  • Think About the Maintenance Required.
    • Soft gels and gel polish are easier to remove, so they’re lower-maintenance.
    • Hard gels and builder gels have to be filed off, which can be more time-consuming but offers longer-lasting results.
  • Find Your Look and Feel.
    • If you want a high-gloss, chip-resistant finish, go with gel polish.
    • If you want longer nails or intricate nail art, hard gels and builder gels have the strength and flexibility to deliver.

Gel Nails in a Nutshell

Whether you prefer the flex and ease of soft gels, the strength and durability of hard gels, or the elevated finish of gel polish, there's a gel manicure out there with your name on it. By weighing your nail health, maintenance preferences, and day-to-day activities, you can hone in on the kind of gel manicure that will get—and keep—your nails looking immaculate. 

At Londontown, our mission is to give you everything you need for flawless nails. Our wide array of high-quality, clean beauty products is designed to be tailored to your personal style. With our selection of one-of-a-kind nail concealers and stunning lakur nail colors, you can constantly, effortlessly enjoy the confidence that comes from having beautiful nails. 


  1. https://www.ellisons.co.uk/uv-and-led-nail-lamp-buying-guide
  2. https://www.byrdie.com/gel-nails-4692962
  3. https://www.salonsdirect.com/blog/how-much-do-you-know-about-builder-gels/

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