What Is Gel Nail Polish? All About Gel Manicures

Gel Colors Londontown

Dark-wash jeans. A glass of wine. The original soundtrack. Some of us are purists who prefer to keep things simple in life. 

Enter the gel manicure, whose magic lies as much in how easy it is to apply as it does in how impossibly long-lasting the results are.

Join us on this deep dive into what gel nail polish is and how it works. Whether you're a beauty trendsetter or a busy human craving low-maintenance beauty solutions, we’ve got you covered.

What Is Gel Nail Polish, Anyway?

Gel nail polish is a type of nail lacquer that needs to be cured under a UV or LED lamp to create a durable, long-lasting manicure. Gel polish also offers a high-gloss finish that, unlike traditional nail polish, can stay chip-free for around two weeks. Gel manicures are also much loved for their speedy drying time, resistance to nicks and dings, and near endless color options. 

The application process involves multiple layers of gel polish, each cured under the lamp to create a hard, shiny finish that can withstand daily wear and tear.

When Did Gel Manicures Start?

The first gel nail systems were introduced to the beauty industry in the 1980s. Developed initially as a solution for weak or brittle nails, gel manicures quickly revolutionized the manicure as we knew it with that signature resilience and nonstop shine.

As the demand for gel manicures grew, nail technicians and beauty professionals began to experiment with different formulations and techniques to enhance the quality of gel nail treatments. Forty-odd years later, research and development have advanced gel manis even further. Hard gel and soft gel formulations are two examples of the many varieties of gel systems that now exist, each with its own advantages: Anyone who prefers extra nail protection will benefit from hard gel strength, while those seeking a more flexible, natural-looking finish might want to consider soft gel.

Gel manicures are now popular in salons all over the world because they provide a low-maintenance way to get beautiful nails that won’t quit. Gel manicures are also a favorite among those who want their nails done by a professional and don't want to deal with at-home polish removal. 

What Are The Benefits Of Gel Nail Polish?

  1. Long-Lasting Wear: Much more durable than the traditional kind, gel nail polish can last two weeks or more without chipping or fading.
  2. High-Gloss Finish: Gel manicures have a sheen that stays, giving nails a sleek, professional look day in and day out.
  3. Minimal Chipping and Smudging: Thanks to the curing process, gel polish hardens to create a strong, chip-resistant surface, reducing the likelihood of dings and nicks.
  4. Quick Drying Time: Under the UV or LED lamp, gel nail polish dries almost instantly, allowing for a quicker, more efficient manicure appointment.
  5. Versatile Color Options: Gel polish comes in a wide range of colors and finishes, from timeless shades to trendy hues, for almost endless creative possibilities.
  6. Low Maintenance: Once cured, gel nail polish requires minimal touch-ups, making it an ideal choice for people with busy lifestyles (that is to say, everyone) or those looking for long-lasting beauty solutions.

Can You Use Gel Nail Polish Without a UV Light?

Gel nail polish is intended to be cured under a UV or LED light to achieve optimal results. Some brands offer "no-light" formulas that can air-dry and harden without a lamp, though results don’t rival real gel nail polish. 

Does Gel Polish Work With Acrylic Nails?

Yes, gel polish can be used effectively with acrylic nails to create super long-lasting manicures. Applying gel polish to acrylic nails creates a solid foundation for the polish, which enhances adhesion. The result: the ultimate strong, glossy, lasting, and customizable nails. 

Just as you would on natural nails, when applying gel polish over acrylics, be sure to properly prep the nail surface, apply smooth layers of gel, and cure each coat under a UV or LED lamp. 

Are Gel Nails Better On Natural Nails?

Extra strength, resilience, and long-lasting color are just a few ways in which gel polish can elevate natural nails to new heights. Gel polish is a savvy choice for natural nails because it prevents them from chipping, peeling, and breaking. Gel polish forms a protective coating that boosts the appearance and growth of natural nails while minimizing damage caused by constantly applying and removing nail polish. So if you love your natural nails and want a mani that lasts, gels are the way to go.

Do I Need To Use a Base Coat or Top Coat For a Gel Manicure?

Yep, using a base coat and top coat is vital for a proper gel manicure; together, they ensure longevity, adhesion, and a capital-F flawless finish. Apply your base coat before the gel color and a top coat after to seal in strength and shine. Incorporating both a base coat and top coat into your gel manicure routine is a key part of what gives you pro-level results.

How Does Acetone Remove Gel Nail Polish?

Breaking Down The Polish

When acetone is applied to gel nail polish, it works to break down the chemical bonds in the gel, causing it to soften and become easier to remove from the nail surface.

Soaking Process

Acetone-soaked cotton balls or pads are typically placed on the nails and wrapped in foil to help the acetone penetrate the gel polish.

Time and Patience

Acetone can take up to 15 minutes to fully dissolve the gel polish and lift it off the nails. Pack your patience to avoid damaging the natural nail.

Gentle Removal

After soaking, the softened gel polish can be gently pushed off the nails using a cuticle pusher or an orangewood stick. Again, avoid any forceful scraping or peeling the gel.

To Gel or Not To Gel?

Understanding how gel nail polish works, from application to removal, makes a difference when your aim is an enduring, professional-looking manicure. Clearly, gel polish offers a durable alternative to regular nail polish, providing loads of benefits like chip resistance, high-gloss finishes, and loads of color choices. 

On natural or acrylic nails, gel polish excels at enhancing the strength and appearance of your nails while remaining shockingly low-maintenance. By leaning on the right techniques—using base and top coats, removing correctly with acetone—you can have the beauty of a fresh-looking manicure for longer than ever. 

When You Think Nails, Think Londontown

Upgrade your nail care with Londontown. We’re here to help you prioritize health and beauty with our luxe lines of high-quality beauty essentials. From sheer nail concealers that blend right in to striking, bold shades that beg to be noticed, our range of nail lakurs suits every preference. 

Trust Londontown for a clean beauty routine that delivers on style.


  1. https://www.pblmagazine.co.uk/news/different-nail-systems-in-2022
  2. https://www.newbeauty.com/types-of-gel-manicures/
  3. https://www.wikihow.com/Cure-Gel-Nails-Without-a-UV-Light

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