If you love the look of acrylic and gel manicures but don’t risk damaging your natural nails, Polygel could be the Goldilocks solution for your manicure game. Hybrid polish essentially takes the best of the longer lasting options – i.e. endurance and flexibility – but does so without damaging your nails so much in the process.
Polygel is a real blend of acrylic and gel nail polish formulas. âIt combines the durability of acrylic with the elasticity of the builder gel application,â says Syreeta Aaron, educator at LeChat Nails. The durability is also impressive – a Polygel manicure should last an average of around four weeks, which is longer than most gel extensions. And, despite the hold of the polish, it actually looks thinner and lighter on the nail.
One of the most appealing benefits of using Polygel, however, is how little damage it does to the nail. âGel manicures and acrylics can cause trauma and weaken your natural nails, so if you’re looking for a healthier alternative, Polygel is definitely to consider, âsaid Keesha Clark, owner and designer at Born Noir Nails, in Bustle.
You don’t even have to go to the salon for this kind of manicure – read on to find out how to do Polygel nails at home.
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How to make polygel nails
1. Stock up on Polygel Essentials
First of all: acquire Polygel. Aaron’s favorite is Gelish polish, a brand that makes things easier with their PolyGel all-in-one trial kit. You can also try the ModelOnes at-home kit, complete with a standalone UV lamp – and if you’re looking for nail extensions to paint your long-lasting manicure, they sell them as well.
2. Prepare your nails (or extensions)
Then set up your workspace just like you would any other DIY manicure. For reference, the majority of the Polygel process is similar to that of ordinary gel. âPrepare the nail surface the same way you would apply gel polish, including applying a dehydrator to the natural nail,â says Clark. âAfter that, a base coat of gel is applied and cured with a UV lamp. Â»Standard cure time is 60 seconds per coat, but follow the specific instructions for the product you are using.
If you are using nail extensions, you will need to apply and prepare your “form” (aka the extension) before applying your base coat. Once in place, the base adheres to the length of your nails.
3. Apply Polygel
Now is the time to apply the Polygel, which Aaron says can be done in two ways depending on whether or not you are using extensions. For your natural nails: Squeeze a small amount of gel onto a metal tool, such as a cuticle pusher or skin spatula (these make it easier to apply thick polish), then transfer the gel to your nails. From there, apply the polish to the nail and let each coat harden.
For extensions – or “tips” – brush the polish onto the shape and length of your favorite tip, then set. (It just means less formatting later.)
4. Shape, polish and cure again
Once your nails have been coated and hardened, it’s time to shape and / or polish. It comes after the Polygel because the polish is so thick, Clark says, so it’s easier to work with the end product and smooth out any rough or uneven edges. A nail drill isn’t necessary, although Aaron adds that it could be beneficial if you’re less experienced with manual filing.
Once you’ve got the perfect shape, apply and cure a gel top coat, and voila!
How to remove Polygel
No special technique is required to remove your manicure – polygels can be removed by soaking your nails in acetone, just like gels. But before soaking, Aaron recommends filing down the hard topcoat with a file to aid in the removal process. A regular nail file should suffice, although an “electronic file” (or an electric nail drill) may be needed if the gel is on the thicker side, she says.
âOnce this layer has been broken off, soak your nails in acetone and continue filing until the application is completely gone,â says Aaron, noting that you will need to be patient and careful during this process. âWhen it comes to damage to your nail plate, removal makes all the difference,â she says. Whether you use Polygel, regular gels, acrylics, you risk damaging your nails if you peel or tear them off.