An honest, brief history on gel polish–Gelish, Shellac, Gelez, Gelac, Axxium, you name it!

Gel Polish review

Gel Polish in 2019!

This is by far my most popular article on my blog! I wrote this article back in 2011 not too long after I had been licensed as a new nail technician. Times were so different in so many ways. Shellac was the first gel polish I bought and it was a game changer for me! I started researching like crazy and found Axxium by OPI and Gelish, which wasn’t available locally yet. Instagram hadn’t come out yet, so beauty products were only discoverable through trade shows, internet research, or industry magazines and publications.

The nail industry has seriously EXPLODED since I became licensed, and I honestly think the largest contributor has been Instagram. If you are a licensed technician, I’d love to hear your take on the growth and evolution of the nail industry!

Check out this “vintage” article I wrote and let me know if you have any questions! I used to be scared to death about giving out tips to un-licensed readers but that’s another aspect that has changed so much. Product is readily available to anyone who wants to pay for it. And if you want to do your own nails, I’d rather you do them correctly. So ask away! πŸ™‚

Laura Anna Shellac Negligee

Becky Gossip Girl and Vegas Nights Gelish Gel Polish

Julie French Manicure-Gelish, Shellac, Axxium Gel Polish

Julie Shellac Negligee after 3 weeks-Still Beautiful!

I am inspired to write this article because it seems like all I do lately is gel polish. AND, I had a customer this week that really got the wheels spinning. She was in town visiting from Houston, Texas and it was VERY interesting to see how my technique varied from her nail tech at home. I included some pictures of my clients from yesterday too because everyone’s nails turned out so pretty!

So, let’s get it started!

Gel polishes are all the rage right now for a good reason. They dry instantly, last at least a good two weeks, and are relatively easy on and off. Axxium by OPI has been out for several years and is a great product, but the newer products are more like a nail polish that brush on easily, whereas with the Axxium the product is in a pot and you apply it with a gel brush, just as you do a full set of gel nails.

So Shellac by Creative Nail Design came out about five or six months ago and I rushed out to by the full kit as soon as possible. It was a hit right from the get go. I am not certain if Shellac was the first of it’s kind, but I do know that there are many varieties to choose from. I should say as well that Shellac is not technically called a “gel” polish. Creative Nail Design (CND) Β calls it a hybrid nail polish. The other brands, such as Gelish by Nail Harmony, Gelac by IBD, and Gelez by EZ Flow, do actually call themselves “gel” polishes. I cannot clarify what the difference is nor do I really want to get into that kind of detail because in my opinion, for the most part, they are all the same πŸ™‚

My favorite brand that I have used so far is Gelish by Nail Harmony. I think it may have actually come out before Shellac did, but without the marketing power of CND, it was a softer introduction. Gelish actually advertises a THREE week manicure, not a two week like Shellac. I believe it is a little more durable-the base coat seems to be very similar to actual builder gel products I use. Gelish offers almost a hundred colors as well! Shellac only offers 12 at the moment, with 12 more coming out in March. I do not currently own all the colors from Gelish because my husband would divorce me if I spent that much money on nail supplies (they are not cheap!) but I am building up my collection. I am trying to stick to one brand, but I have mixed all the brands in one application, and they turn out beautifully. Julie’s french manicure above is Gelish base and top coats, Shellac Negligee color, and Axxium Alpine Snow white on the tips. Gelish doe advertise that you can use ANY other system with their system and it will work! Another ten points for Gelish!

Another AMAZING quality about the gel polishes are that they seem to really help with nail growth. Companies do not market them in this direction, but take my client Julie for example. Her nails are featured in two photos above-the three week Shellac photo and the new French Manicure photo. She has absolutely gorgeous nails right? Well, when she came to me, they were all broken down really short and she could not get them to grow. These photos are her third and fourth application of gel polish, and look at them now! And Julie is not a pampered princess who never uses her hands-she is a hair stylist and a full time mom who I am sure is ALWAYS on the go! I have MANY clients who have long, beautiful nails now due to the gel polishes. I should say that the gel polish will not keep your nails from breaking, but they do strengthen them significantly.

So now how do you change your gel polish after a few weeks of wear? Well, if you want another new set of gel polish, I would recommend seeing a professional nail technician who will soak it off with acetone. Do not ever let anyone file or drill it off entirely!!!!! This could potentially damage your nail bed. I always rough it up with a soft file, and my client from Texas last week said she remembers them using the electric file to rough it up, but just make sure they don’t keep going. After I have roughed it up (to break the top coat) I soak a cotton ball in acetone and wrap it over the polish with a piece of aluminum foil. Then it will sit for 10 minutes. Β After it has “processed”, the nail tech should scrape it off GENTLY with a cuticle pusher. Make sure he or she does not peel it off with force as this could damage your nail bed. Β After the product is removed and the nail bed is prepped, you would then receive a new application of gel polish!

I charge $20 for the gel polish by itself and $30 with a manicure. Β I recently had a client that was surprised there was an option, but I have found a lot of people only want the polish, they don’t want the full manicure which includes an additional sugar scrub, deluxe cuticle treatment, and massage. I can do a NEW set of gel polish in about a half hour. If it is with removal, it takes anywhere from 45-60 minutes for just the gel polish, and then with a manicure it would take between an hour to an hour and a half.

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear from anyone on their opinion of the gel polish craze! I am passionate about my industry and love learning as much as possible from the consumer as well as the producer! πŸ™‚

UPDATE 1/28/2014


I did a new post about all the products you need to get started on gel polish…click on the picture below to check it out!

Everything you need to get started!

Everything you need to get started!

And HERE’S an updated article I wrote a few years after this article about all the different brands and what brand is best for your nail type!

I hope everyone has a beautiful Martin Luther King weekend–it has been absolutely gorgeous here in sunny St. George! I forgot about the holiday and should have worked this weekend because the salon was hopping with everyone down to enjoy our sunshine! But I am going to hang out with my sisters and let my little boy play with all his cousins and have a wonderful weekend! Crossfit tomorrow morning is going to be a blast–I highly recommend it!


by Anna

153 thoughts on “An honest, brief history on gel polish–Gelish, Shellac, Gelez, Gelac, Axxium, you name it!

  1. Cathy Muela says:

    I LOVE Gel polish too! I have been using the Shellac – and was looking into Gelish – since they offer more colors. I do like the Shellac top coat better than Gelish because I think it is shinnier – Do you know if I can use Shellac base coat and top coat with Gelish color??? I have exhausted all the colors and layering to make new colors with Shellac!! lol

    • admin says:

      Hi Cathy,
      Thanks for commenting! I haven’t used Gelish colors with Shellac base and top yet–I do the opposite a lot-Shellac with Gelish base and top. Does that make sense? πŸ™‚ Do you have the Gelish base? I would do Gelish base and colors, and then try just the Shellac top. I hear ya on the layering and the color options for Shellac! I am excited for their new colors coming out, but still like the Gelish colors better in a lot of ways, I also like that you get twice as much product in a Gelish bottle….anyway, hope that helps! Gel polish has been quite the adventure for us nail techs! πŸ™‚


  2. allison says:

    Hello. Wondering what wattage uv lamp you need for the gelish and are there any dvd’s you can get showing the product and procedure of gelish? I’ve used regular gels but not the gel polish. Also what if a client has had acrylic for years. Do theese people like this or is it not strong enough for them since they are used to how strong acrylic is. Would love to switch over. Thanks for the article.

    • admin says:

      Hi Allison,
      I use a single bulb 9 watt UV lamp for fingers and a single bulb 6 watt UV lamp for feet. In the 9 Watt lamp, I cure the base and color coats for 2 minutes each and the top coat for 3 minutes. In the 6 watt lamp it is double the time. It would be the same cure time in a four bulb 36 watt lamp, but they are nice because they give you a very thorough cure, whereas my 9 watt single bulb does not cure the thumb thoroughly so I always have the client cure it seperately. There are new LED lamps that I believe work with all gel polishes that cure in a fraction of the time–20 seconds for base and color coats and 30 seconds for top coat. They are FABULOUS! But they are PRICEY. A fellow nail tech bought one and I used it and I am in LOVE with the LED lights. However, I don’t believe they work for hard gels (vs. soak off soft gel polishes.)

      As for converting acrylic nail clients over to gel polishes, I would say 50% of my clients have switched and the other are die hard acrylic fans. I have clients that do a quick acrylic overlay and then the gel polish over that, and they are really happy with this application. They provide a totally different product and experience. I think it is really hard to take a set of acrylic nails off completely and try to replace them with a gel polish set. The transition is too sudden and their nails are probably weak, but I have read about people growing OFF acrylic nails with gel polish. The nail tech would file off the lifting acrylic as gently as possible at the regrowth area and then apply a new set of gel polish until the acrylic is off completely. Another option to add strength is to do Harmony Gelish Structure on the nail. It is a like a builder gel but it soaks off. I also do two base coats on clients that have really weak nails, and this provides strength as well. (I don’t know if the company would want me to advertise that though! πŸ™‚ )

      Hope this helps! I would love to answer any more questions you have!


      • admin says:

        Oh I forgot to mention, I do not know if there is a dvd available with instructions, but the product I bought came with very thorough written instructions….

  3. Stacey says:

    I was wondering if the opi axxium uv light would work with the gelish product?? just bought that lamp and now wish I would have gotten a led one but maybe later.. Im a 19 year nail tech just starting out on the gel polish, was worried it was more harmful than good but now Im ready to try it out I cant wait…

    • admin says:

      HI Stacey,
      Thanks for commenting–the OPI Axxium UV Light should work just fine with Gelish. Gelish works with a UV light source as well as the LED light source. Do you work with the non soak-off hard gel systems? It’s probably better starting out that you bought the UV Light because it is my understanding that the LED lights don’t work with hard gels…however, I could be wrong about this.

      Just to let you know, I LOVE Gelish and gel polishes over an acrylic overlay for clients that love their acrylic nails. In fact, I have a client that just can’t seem to keep the gel polish on her thin, peeling nails, but we did a short acrylic overlay with the gel polish, and it has lasted a month! I have not had many clients that the gel polish doesn’t work on, but for those few that have had problems with it, the acrylic overlay is a great option. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  4. Stacey says:

    Thnaks for the reply so fast. I have been doing IBD regular gel for years.. Great product but I do more CND acrylic, clients seem to want gel polish due to marketing that states safe and non damaging, if I put an acrylic light base down that would be defeting the purpose of natural nail and non damaging. I like the idea for myself, but not sure how to get clients to understand the product in not totally natual and non damaging. so you are a huge fan of gelish, I have been studing for a week straight night and day trying to figure out which line to invest in, so many choices, the product is so pricey I want to get it right. have you heard of the line bland new? I saw it when looking into LED lights and its a line from china I think?? lots of colors and less money?? great prices, also I found a led uv lamp but I have to buy 2 of them. I think the price was $325 plus shipping, Im thinking about it and than maybe can sell the other.. they wont sell just one. what are your thoughts on the lines of gel polish? where do you get the best price? thanks again stacey

    • admin says:

      I totally understand where your coming from Stacey! I have agonized about buying more brands, but have finally decided to stick with what I have–which is Gelish, Axxium by OPI, and Shellac. The last couple weeks I have actually been using a lot of Axxium for some reason….

      I do really love Gelish–I love the product durability, and the fact that they have so many colors! If you buy in bulk, the price actually comes down to around $12.00/bottle–something to consider if you are buying a lot.

      I usually Google it and whoever all the products I need I buy from them. I bought some from Beauty West last time because I needed a Footsie Bath product and I wanted to try Light Elegance gels as well as some Gelish and they carried all three brands. Pure Spa Direct is a good reputable website and I’ve also ordered from Nail Tech Supply, who I liked. Oh, another reason I like Gelish is they have their Structure product that is a soak-off strengthening product for people with really weak nails. It would be a good alternative for acrylic wearers because you can do a sort of builder coat either over or under the color. I ordered some and it should be here any day-I am excited to try it! Half my gel polish clients do two base coats to strengthen their nails, so I know the Structure will come in very handy πŸ™‚

      Where did you find the LED lights from? That is a good price for two of them! I really, really want one, but my UV lights do a good job for now, however, I might have to look into those! I used an LED light once, and fell in love with the speed on cure times–I am curious how much time it would shave off a full set (I only did one nail πŸ™‚ )

      Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with! Thanks for commenting!


    • admin says:

      Hi Kelley,
      I frequent put gel polish over acrylic! It’s great for people who are super hard on their nails! Thanks for commenting!

  5. Deborah says:

    I have big problem and it’s really bothering me. I bought all the colors available from Gelac and i’ve put it for several clients but all of them had chipping, peeling or cracking. My clients had everything happen to their nails that Gelac swore wouldn’t happen within 14 days. I am very annoyed with this brand but there should be a way to make it work.

    Does anyone know what I can do to make it stay for AT LEAST 1 WEEK? geez…

    My sister uses Shellac and that does deliver what’s promised. I tried using the Shellac basecoat and then color and topcoat from Gelac but still nothing changed. My next step is to try using the basecoat and topcoat from Shellac but color coat i will use Gellac. If that doesnt work then i’m clueless.

    If there is anyone that can give me some advice i would really appreciate it.


    • admin says:

      Hi Deborah,
      I am so sorry about your frustrations! I have not actually used Gelac yet, but i have had problems with chipping and peeling too soon with other brands. Here are some of my suggestions:
      Do you have fresh UV bulbs that have been changed within the last 3-4 months?
      How long are you curing your coats? I do 2 minutes for base and color coats and 3 minutes for top coats…
      Are you prepping the nail bed extremely thoroughly?
      Are you applying a dehydrator/ph balancer? I always do two coats of Bond-Aid by OPI….
      Do you remove all the product off the cuticle area before you cure?

      I am sure you are doing everything you can! I hope this helps!


  6. Hope says:


    I’m from northern Utah, salt lake area, I was wondering where you get your gelish product from? Is there a distributed in Utah at all? Or do you have to look for online resources?

    • admin says:

      Hi Hope!
      Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you–there is a lady that distributes Nail Harmony up in your area–I buy a lot of mine online, but she pointed out that she will guarentee her product if you have any problems, which would be great. The name of her business is U Need It Beauty Supply and her phone number is 801-870-3421. Good luck!

  7. Carmen says:


    I ve been using this gelish nails by harmony for 3 months. And it s true the nails are more healthy. The colour stays on even for 4 weeks if you take care of them.

    The problem i have is that i would like to do it myself is that possible. the problem is i don t know how to cut the cuticle. If i don t cut the cuticle is it ok or not.



    • admin says:

      Hi Carmen,

      You really shouldn’t cut the cuticle–push it back off the nail bed and clean the nail bed thoroughly. If there are huge, obvious hang nails, you can nip those with a pair of cuticle nippers VERY GENTLY πŸ™‚ When you are done applying the gel polish, use OPI Avoplex Exfoliating Cuticle Treatment or CND has a cuticle treatment as well that removes the cuticle with AHA’s. Also, apply cuticle oil and advise your clients to use cuticle oil daily πŸ™‚ Thanks for responding!

  8. Katrin says:

    @ Deborah, I am not a nail tech, but the tech that does my nails told me that over curing can lead to peeling and/or difficulty with soak off. Also, she said it’s very important not to get any product on the cuticle or outside the nail bed so she is VERY careful when applying.

  9. Barbara says:

    Great site. In reference to the first gel polish actually came out 1999. But, I believe that there was one as early as 1992! It’s just that CND has promoted Shellac to the heavens and now gel polish is all the rage. I will admitt that gels have come along way. I have been doing nails for 17+ years as well as instructing nail tech classes. I have tried every product I think out there at one time or the other. I love, love gels and do more gels than acrylics. There are now more than 17 brands of gel polishes to choose from, how exciting!

    • admin says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Thanks for the awesome comment! It’s funny because I actually just saw a brand in Nails Magazine that has been out for a lot longer than anyone realized! πŸ™‚ I love gel as well–I do both gel and acrylic but prefer gel as well. I’m curious, what is your favorite brand of gel polish? I would love to hear more from you!
      Thanks again,

  10. BJ says:

    Hi Anna!
    I am growing out my acrylic-damaged nails. I recently had OPI Axxium gels put on over my natural nails. I love it!

    I would like to do gels myself (I had a manicuring license a loooooong time ago!) Which do you recommend- Axxium or Gelish? If I just wanted black nails, what Gelish products would I need? And what is “Structure Gel?”

    Thank you!!!

    • admin says:

      Hi BJ,
      Thank you so much for commenting on my post! I love hearing from new people! πŸ™‚

      Unfortunately, because I am a licensed nail technician, I have to be really careful and although I know I have given out tons of information on gel polish, I don’t want to get into trouble with my state’s licensing system, so all I will say is that I prefer Gelish over Axxium because it is easier to apply in my opinion. πŸ™‚

      I’m so sorry I can’t be more helpful, I just don’t want to get in trouble–does that make sense? πŸ™‚ There are tons of great tutorials on YouTube, if that helps!

      Thanks again,

  11. hann says:

    I just got a french shellac and I hated it. However, I LOVE the idea of shellac and I’m planning on purchasing all the components and doing it myself, I’m getting absoultely sick of these girls doing manicures ALL WRONG?! I don’t understand what back-yard school they went to but honestly, it’s ridiculous! And the prices!!!! And the girl was all confused and had no idea what she was doing, whereas I’ve been researching it for two days and I could do it a million times better than her, it’s crazy hahaha. So I’m completely smitten with this amazing new polish! It looks so gorgeous and is so easy to do!

    • admin says:

      Hi there!
      I am so sorry you had such a bad experience! πŸ™ That stinks! I had someone approach me just the other day that does her own Shellac at home (she is an ex-nail tech) but she wants to get it done in the salon soon for more color options–kinda the opposite situation as yourself πŸ™‚ . I just went out of town and researched all the nail techs in my area just in case I wanted to get my nails done while on vacation–I would be super, super picky before I let someone work on my nails. I’m sure there is a highly competent nail tech in your area–but your right, the nail tech’s education makes all the difference! It sounds like you would make a great nail tech, maybe you should look into getting licensed! πŸ™‚ And I love your enthusiasm for Shellac! It’s amazing! πŸ™‚

  12. anita says:

    i recently bought ibd gelac base & top coat but bought colors from gelish. can i mix those together?

    they were final sale =

    • admin says:

      It is my understanding, according to Gelish’s advertising (Nail Harmony) that their base and top coats work with any other system, and a lot of systems do work together, but I have not used IBD’s base and top coats with other systems, so I’m so sorry, but I don’t know if they would work or not….you could always try it on a friend and see how it holds up….so sorry I’m not more help! πŸ™

  13. sherrie carter says:

    do you know any beauty supply locally that sells the jellish polish i live in orange park, fl and i do have a license

    • admin says:

      Hi Sherrie,
      I live in Utah, so I am not sure of your local suppliers–have you Googled “buy Gelish in Florida” and see what comes up? You could also contact Nail Harmony directly,, and find out if they can recommend a distributor in Florida…thanks for asking and let me know if you need any more help!

  14. Beth says:

    I too am having trouble keeping my Gelish on more than 5 days. I will admit a few months ago of peeling it off and probably did damage my nails making the Gelish not stay on well. The last several months a use Solar oil 2 times daily and want to know if structure will make the Gelish stay on better. I also picked up a great tip on a forum. If you use regular nail polish base coat before the foundation layer the soak off process is a breeze, maybe only 5 minutes with no scraping needed. Just twist the foil and it all comes off !

  15. Destiny says:

    Hi! I’m a nail tech and I have just started using shellac….it’s definitely been a lot of trial and error so far but I’m finally getting to the point where my clients are happy with their nails for the full 2 weeks! Phew! Now my problem is removal….we are a health spa so I have been trying to remove them in a way that will be the healthiest for their nail….this includes a lot soaking in wraps, scraping some of it off with an orange wood stick, replacing the wraps and add more acetone and soak some more…it’s frustrating for me and the for the client. It usually takes about 20 mns! What can I do differently??

    • admin says:

      Hi Destiny,
      Good job on happy clients! πŸ™‚ The secret to taking it off quickly is lightly filing the top layer before you apply the wrap–it should scrape right off in 7-10 minutes. Try that and let me know if it helps! πŸ™‚
      Thanks for commenting–Tootles,

  16. Sarah says:

    I love gel polish as hell but I have some strong opinions on different brands I’ve tried. I’ve tried OPI, Shellac, Gelish and Calgel. OPI lasted the longest, but was nearly IMPOSSIBLE to remove, after soaking in acetone for about 15 minutes the polish had not budged one bit and manicurist had to remove it entirely with a file. Never again. Gelsih was also very hard to remove. Calgel and Shellac are by far my favorite brands, although they don’t last as long (2 weeks and after they start to chip and my nails underneath break) they are so much easier to remove and simply melt away in acetone. I wish i tried those brands first before damaging my nails by file removing. I also do not like to mix different brand top coats color coats and base coats because i feel each company works best with eachother, and mixing brands has proved harder to remove when soak off time comes.

    • admin says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚ I have not had a problem with soak off whatsoever with any brand. OPI does take a little bit longer to remove, but they advertise this. To be honest, I do not use Axxium at all anymore except the Alpine Snow for French manicures. I heard OPI was releasing a brush on gel polish though and that would be awesome. πŸ™‚

      In the past few months, I have moved away from mixing brands as much simply because I have built up my color supply of Gelish enough that I do not use Shellac as much anymore. I LOVE Shellac, but Gelish offers more colors and that is what it comes down to. I have not had any problems mixing Gelish base and top with Shellac colors and I have clients that get six weeks of wear (their nails are not necessarily beautiful at six weeks, but hey, it works…)

      I really, really, really like Young Nail’s ManiQ as well, fyi. They have unbelievable colors and the wear is fabulous.

      Thanks again!

  17. Maharani says:

    im glad that i can ask here. i just start to use gelish harmony for my clients in Bali – Indonesia. but i have problem for the application, the gelish doesn’t cure after 4mins under the uv lights and i use 47watts uv bulbs from rapidcure. i did all the steps and its taking so long to cure and i feel bad for my clients. do you think its the lights?


    • admin says:

      First off, I am soooooo excited I have a reader in Indonesia! It is my dream to travel to Indonesia one day and snorkel the coral reefs! πŸ™‚

      Ok, here are my suggestions for you on your Gelish curing:

      1. When did you change your bulbs last? Typically bulbs need to be changed every 4-6 months. You would need to change them more if you do ALOT of services, less if you don’t do very many.

      2. I don’t mean to offend you, but you wipe the final top coat with 99% alcohol, right? I’ve heard a few ladies in the beauty supply store say it never cured even in a brand new light. I knew they just didn’t wipe the nails clean with alcohol. The gel polish feels like it is still tacky and sticky after it is fully cured but after wiping with alcohol, they are hard and shiny.

      3. Some dark colors take longer to cure. I have to leave blacks in for ALOT longer than other colors.

      4. Buy a LED light. I know they are super pricey, but they cure gel polishes PERFECTLY. Even dark colors cure hard in 30 seconds. They are simply amazing.

      I feel for you. My heart sinks into the bottom of my stomach when I realize the colors aren’t curing properly. Sometimes the clients fingers aren’t positioned correctly in the UV lights too. You need to be sure that their nails are flat and even under the lights.

      Hope this helps! Gelish is an amazing product–I am going to order a few more colors tonight! πŸ™‚


  18. curious says:

    Does anyone know if the new LED UV lamps. ie Harmony’s 6g or 9g lamps will work on regular gel, such as IBD or STAR gel? I dont have too many clients who are looking for gelish, but have a few. Wondering if I commit to the the price of an LED light can I use it for both, or will I have to switch lamps based on the gel product? Thanks for any help!!!

    • admin says:

      Here is what I have heard on the LED light. It only works on soft gels such as Shellac, Gelish, OPI’s new GelColor coming out soon, etc….

      I would not count on it to cure most HARD gels, i.e. builder gels, base gels, etc…

      I talked to a rep for Young Nails and she said their LED light will cure a few of their hard gels, but not all of them. Also, the gel “burn” with the LED light is extremely intense with hard gels and too much to bare.

      So I have put my UV lights away in my cabinet behind my desk for easy access but to save room on my desk. I do not use a lot of hard gel except for gel toes, but I still hang on to them for when I do gel full sets. I use my soft gel/LED light as much I can though because I LOVE it sooooo much….

      I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!


  19. Mariah says:

    Hello, I was just wondering your opinion as a manicurist on Gelish. I have medium lengypth nails and they are fairly strong ( i use nail tek intensive therapy) and I have the horrible tendincey to put on and take off nail polish and I found Gelish and I am wondering if it is really worth it I mean will it weaken my nails? While i am at it I want to ask your opinion on OPI Nail Eny Nail Strenghtener. rhanks! -mariah

    • admin says:

      Hi Mariah,
      I love Gelish and as long as you do a proper removal it won’t damage your nails, especially if you have stronger nails. Did you read my post about fish oil? Read it and that will help strengthen your nails even more πŸ™‚

      Any professional nail strengthener will work great, I would personally recommend finding one without formaldehyde in it, which I know OPI Envy has one with and one without, I believe anyway. You could not use a nail strengthener when you have Gelish on, but you wouldn’t need one if you keep your Gelish maintained properly.

      Good luck with everything and thanks for commenting!


  20. Chameleon says:

    hi, great chat on here this has answered so many questions.
    I just wondered for all my gel clients can the Gelish/ shellac still go on the top?

    • admin says:

      Hi Chameleon,
      When you mean on top, do you mean on top of the hard gel extension/overlays? Yes, you can put the gel polish on top of a hard gel, just make sure it is roughed up good and totally clean–it will last forever! Thanks for commenting!

  21. Ciarrai says:

    Hi Anna

    I have a IBD 1000 UV lamp (two 4 watt) bulbs. I love the gel polish. Do you know if Gelish will work with this lamp? I know Shellac does not as I tired.

    I am looking for a brand that will work with this lamp.


    • admin says:

      Hi Ciarrai,
      When was the last time you changed your bulbs? If it hasn’t been recently, I would change the bulbs and retry the Shellac in that lamp. I have a 6 watt lamp I use for toes and it cures the Shellac just fine, I just have to leave the toes in for twice as long. Are you swiping the top coat with 99% alcohol after it has been cured? Or another gel polish cleanser? I hear people in the beauty supply store say their Shellac isn’t curing in their lamp even with a brand new lamp and I am positive they just aren’t swiping it with alcohol because any UV light source works just fine, you just have to increase the cure time for less wattage….

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!

  22. Ciarrai says:

    HI Anna
    The lamp is brand new and when I went to place the top coat on the color smeared like it was still wet.

    I am wondering if the Gelish will work with the 4 watt bulbs? If so how long do I cure it for?
    With the Shellac (i returned) I attempted to cure the color for 6 minutes with no luck.

    • admin says:

      Hi Ciarrai,
      That is so strange it didn’t cure–if it doesn’t cure Shellac I don’t think it will cure Gelish. I can’t understand why it wouldn’t work because my 6 watt lights work for toes, no problem. You can get a great 36 watt light at CosmoProf and other beauty supply stores by Star Nail for $60 that will cure anything for sure. Some colors are funny though–they don’t always cure as well as others. Some colors cure GREAT no problem and others don’t seem to cure as well, ecspecially black. Oh, one other thing, are you doing EXTREMELY thin coats? All of your coats, including base and top, need to be VERY thin. I took a Young Nails class this weekend and they recommend doing THREE very thin color coats as well.

      I hope this helps! Let me know what you find out!

  23. Linda says:

    Does teh Shellac Solar Oil work with the Gelish system?
    I am having trouble with dry, brittle nails and white spots on nails. Thanks for any input.

    • admin says:

      Hi Linda,
      Yes the Solar Oil will work just fine with the Gelish system. It’s a cuticle oil that nourishes and protects the skin, which is great to use with any salon service. Let us know if you have any more questions!

  24. Ciarrai says:

    They were very thin coats. I ended up getting a starter kit for gelish. Does the getlish base and top coat work with CDN and the led light?

    • admin says:

      Hi Ciarrai-Yes the Gelish base and top will work with the CND and the LED light. I do 30 seconds cure for all coats in my LED light, even though it says 10-20 for some coats….Young Nails actually recommends curing the base coat 2 minutes….Let me know if you have any more questions!

  25. Tina Campbell says:

    Hi all! I am a nail tech in Tulsa, OK (20+ yrs.). I’ve been enjoying all your comments πŸ™‚ I have been using Shellac, Gelish, Gelac and Jessica. Has anyone else noticed that it is not so much the brands, but the actual *colors* that differ in ease of application, durability and “temperament?” For instance, I ALWAYS have wrinkling trouble with the high-frost reds like Red Baroness (Shellac), Rose Garden (Gelish), Queen of Hearts (Gelish). It’s so frustrating! Then there are other colors that are perfect every time. I have tried new bulbs, shaking the bottles, watching for hand placement in lamp, but it’s always the same colors that I have trouble with. Also, some people, no matter how I prep their nails, will have a problem with the polish/gel pulling or shrinking away from the edges of their nails. Same people, different colors!! Aaaack! Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks for listening. Tina

    • admin says:

      Hi Tina,
      Great point! Yes, certain colors USED to make my brain hurt! That was until I got my LED light! πŸ™‚ None of the troublesome colors, like reds, blacks, whites, give me any more headaches in this light. I am telling you it is THE BOMB! But no matter what I did in a UV light certain colors would always shrink, and when the colors would shrink and look terrible and cause me to redo them, I would NEVER see those customers again. No matter how much I apologized to the ladies, they acted happy when they left, but I haven’t seen them again πŸ™ So, so, so, so sad πŸ™

      And yes, some people just do not cure well! I am convinced it’s their moisture levels in their skin. My mom has the driest skin of anyone I know, and gel polish does beautifully on her! Her toes go on flawlessly, but I have another client that no matter what I do the polish pulling and shrinking away from their free edge. Sometimes I do think it might be the polish. If I know someone is harder than others, I will do extra PH bond in hopes of it helping, but it usually doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

      I LOVE gel polish, but I HATE when I don’t get flawless application. For the most part every single one of my customers is always happy. But it would be nice if flawless application were guarenteed on every single client every single time, right? πŸ™‚

      Thanks again,

  26. Jaime says:

    This might be a silly question but why can you not use a gel base, regular nail polish, and a gel top coat? I am just asking because of the price of the Gelish polishes and hoping you can help with that answer.

    • admin says:

      Hi Jaime,
      There are no silly questions πŸ™‚ You can try doing your idea….I have not had very good luck with it. You would want to wait for the nail polish to dry completely before you put the gel top coat on. I know a few girls taht do that same thing constantly and love it. I don’t think it lasts that long and isn’t worth the waiting time for the polish to dry. But that’s just me πŸ™‚ The gel polishes are expensive to buy, but most professional beauty products have always cost a little more than the average consumer products. I am sure you are referencing to the availability of my favorite brand at a local public supply store, right? πŸ™‚
      Thanks for commenting!

  27. Monica says:

    Honestly, I do see a difference in the brands.. I’ve tried Shellac and Gelish, and my experience with Gelish is worse than Shellac. I LOVED my Shellac manicure, I got a French Manicure done, and it didn’t tinge in color at all. Right now I have a solid color done in Gelish, and it’s starting to look dirty at the tips, and it started getting a strange green tint to it too, and also lines from where the nail bends. It’s so hard to find salons who actually use Shellac =(

    • admin says:

      Hi Monica,
      Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚ I love Shellac as much as Gelish in many, many, many ways–in fact I use Shellac primarily on toes….but I personally have greater success with the Gelish system on nails. I have started using Young Nails Mani Q system and I like it a lot too. Thanks again!

  28. Ciarrai says:

    Thank you for the tips.
    I love my LED light and love the gelish. I am on day 13 of good gossip. No chips, no wear on the tips or anything other then the grow out of my nails.

    Thanks for info. You rock!!

  29. Erica says:

    Hi, i just bought and did shellac on myself for the first time. it went pretty smoothly, but i did get some “pucker’ing” on one of my nails. i thought that this meant that i didn’t cure this nail long enough or that my nail wasn’t lying even. I just covered it with another layer and it was ok. but what is the correct thing to do? Thanks

  30. Faith says:

    Hi Anna,

    I love Gelish! Can anyone tell me which color would most likely match to a “maroon”? Gelish Black Cherry Berry, Stand Out or Rendezous?

    • admin says:

      Hi Faith–I actually haven’t used Rendevous yet–but I do have Black Cherry Bing and I would say it probably isn’t the maroon color you are looking for. It is a very, very, almost blackish reddish color. Really dark. If you are looking for a popular maroon color my clients actually love Queen of Hearts (it’s very similar to Shellac Red Baroness) and Elegant Wish is very pretty as well. I think they sell Rendevous at Sally’s so you could go in there and look at it if you are near one. OPI is coming out with their GelColor soon, which I am really, really, really excited about, and I think they are going to release Bogata Blackberry, which is probably one of the most popular maroon colors.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!


  31. Gabby says:

    Hi Anna, I’m very new to using gel products and I’m not a professional either, I purchased a 9watts uv lamp a really small one, and I don’t think its doing the job well.
    I really want to use it for gellac products, so when i was trying out the gelac polish, as i opened it, it was dry and and gooey. what can I do to fix it?

    • admin says:

      Hi Gabby,
      I have to be honest, I haven’t used Gelac yet, so it might not work the same as my products with the 9 watt lamp—however, that being said, I am unsure if you mean your product in your bottle is dry and gooey or after you put it on their nails. If it’s in the bottle like that, I would send it back because it sounds like it is ruined. Make sure you are holding the nails under the light right when they cure it–it needs to be directly under the light. Try that and see if it helps!

  32. CHAME1IA says:

    I always come back to this – great pics and great info.
    I have brought all the stuff and am up and running doing nails. Great product i love it – i def made the right choice ( helped by you).

    However i have one client who’s nails seem to peel on the odd finger – why is this?


    • admin says:

      Oh wow, glad I could help! Do you have the Structure gel from Gelish? I use that on nails that peel and it makes a big difference. I will also do two base coats and two top coats on clients that can’t keep their nails beautiful for as long. Make sure her fingers are under the light correctly too-sometimes people hold their fingers away from the light just enough that they don’t get a full cure. Try those and see if it help!

  33. Lori Doughty says:

    I’m just trying this polish out for the first time, I’m using the Harmony polish, which is beautiful. It seems like I’ve got a lot of oil in my nails and the colors, even regular polish seems to lift off and peel off. I don’t have the base coat, just a couple of colors and the top coat. I recieved them as a gift. i’m trying to find out if adding that base coat would help the polish adhere to my nails and make it stay. I literally put the polish on last night and let it cure, it felt fine, then this morning after my shower I noticed a few places around the tips that already looked like they needed a touch up. I’ve heard nothing but great results from everyone I’ve spoken to about this, but I just can’t seem to keep the polish on my nails, and it’s too expensive to just keep trying and getting the same results…any suggestions?

    • admin says:

      Hi Lori,
      First off, you definitely need the base coat. That alone will make a huge difference. There are hundreds of little tips and tricks it’s taken me two years to perfect my technique on the application of this product.
      Hope that helps!

  34. Melony says:

    Hello. I recently start using the shellac, but having a few clinches, please email me some advice. On 2 clients i had the problem with the shellac peeling on the thumbs and a chip on a finger, but the other fingers still in tack.What do you suggest?Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Hi Melony,
      I think one of the best things you can do is register with CND and watch their Shellac tutorials. They are extremely informative. Young Nails has a great tutorial as well on their Mani Q gel polish. Try that out, I know it helped me a ton!

      Here is the link for Young Nails, CND is password protected.

      Thanks for posting,

  35. Sarah says:

    Hi there, please can you advise my as to the curing time needed for using gelac top and base coat along side cnd polishes. Is it still 10 seconds or should I be curing them for longer.
    Many thanks

    • admin says:

      Hi Sarah,
      If you are using a 36 watt UV light, the base coat is 1 minute and the top coat is 2 minutes. If you are using a LED light, the base coat is 10 seconds and the top coat is 30 seconds, depending on the light. Thanks for writing and checking out my blog!

    • admin says:

      Hi Jessica,
      I would not recommend this. I’ve tried putting the top coat over regular polish and it only lasts a day or two before it starts cracking all over and peels off. I’m always experimenting with different methods, and this is one that was a failure for me πŸ™‚ Hope that helps! Thanks for writing!

  36. Barbie says:

    As soon as I found out that Sally’s was selling Gelish, I ran right out and bought the starter kit! It’s been the best thing I could have done for my nails. I’m not a professional, just your average housewife, so if I can do it, anyone can. I was also able to learn a lot about the technique from youtube.
    Over the last few months, I’ve bought 5 more colors. I get so many compliments and they look like I had a professional mani for weeks. I actually enjoy doing my nails and playing around with the different layers of color.
    Gelish is a great brand – I highly recommend it!

  37. Patrice says:

    I wore pink and white tips for a while and now that I have taken them off my nail beds look pretty sad. I have been getting the gel nails since and I am wondering if I am wasting my money since my nails are constantly breaking because the entire damaged nail hasn’t grown out just yet. I was hoping the gel polish would help the growth process and about half of my nail has grown out now, but should I just use regular polish and wait for the nail to finish growing out or continue with the gel polishes?

  38. L says:

    hi. im using ibd just gel, with a top coat gelac, it last one day. using a 9 volt light. i need suggestions. wanted to change to shellac, but purchasing these gels are a little pricey

    • admin says:

      Hi L,
      I dont’ know for sure what your doing wrong. Are you prepping the nail really well? Scraping the cuticle off completely, cleaning it really well, etc? There are hundreds of reasons why it’s not lasting. Can you provide more details?

      • Anna says:

        Awesome thanks Tasha! I have been wanting to try IBD gel polish…a lot of the nail techs I follow on Instagram use it and they have so many amazing colors! Good to know about the base and top too! Have you tried Orly GelFX by chance? I have been loving their base coat–my manis are holding up so well lately! Haven’t used their top coat yet but it’s on my list! Thanks for the info! πŸ™‚

  39. Marissa says:


    I just wanted to say thanks for your informative blog and being so generous with your time to answer everyone’s Qs! It’s been really helpful for me in trying to figure out whether to buy the Shellac system or the Gelish. I think Gelish sounds like the longer-lasting product but trickier to apply than Shellac. However it sounds like you use primer etc with Shellac anyway, even tho the instructions for Shellac don’t specify that?

    Anyhow, thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi Marissa!
      I’m so happy to hear from an Australian! I want to come visit your country one day soooo badly—and there are some very talented nail techs down there! It is my dream to come snorkel the Great Barrier Reef one day πŸ™‚ What part of the country are you in?

      Ok, as far as Gelish Vs. Shellac–I really LOVE a lot of the Shellac colors, but I never use their base and top coat anymore unless someone specifically asks for it. I don’t use a primer with the gel polishes ever though, I just use a dehydrator, such as OPI’s Bondaid. I was using Young Nail’s Acid Free primer, but it seemed like it almost caused the polish to lift worse or something weird, so I no longer use that anymore. I am really loving OPI’s new Gelcolor as well lately, and I love Young Nail’s Mani-Q. I love that there are so many options available!

      Thanks for checking out my website!

  40. Shena says:

    Hello! I got the Gelish kit for Christmas and I love it. I have a question-when removing the tacky layer from the nail after the foundation (the dry wipe step)what do you reccomend using? Everything I read says ‘a clean brush or lint free wipe’. What kind of brush? And does a makeup sponge work as a lint free wipe? Also, some things I read say to do this dry wipe after you cure the color before you put on the topcoat while others say not to. What do you do?

    • admin says:

      Hi Shena,
      I use a dry gel brush to wipe off the dispersion layer on the base coat. You can get one at Sally’s. A makeup sponge might work pretty well, but you don’t want it to have any type of residue that will stay on the nail after. I have used a lint free wipe when I misplaced my brush, but there are always little strings all over the nails when I do, which drives me CRAZY! πŸ™‚ I have never wiped the dispersion layer off the color coat, but I can’t see why it would hurt. Maybe I will try it and see if it helps at all! Thanks for the tip! πŸ™‚

  41. Lynne says:

    Hi all,
    Love reading all these comments. I am a hairdresser who has done fiberglass nails & tips on myself for years. Tired of it all, so took my tips off, trying to get used to short nails lol Took a Shellac class, have their light & everything they suggested getting. $$$ Again I do hair so not a nail tech by any means. I have been having a hard time with getting it thin enough, my top coat was getting real thick so was told I probably wasn’t “shaking” it enough & that I would need to purchase another bottle of topcoat. $ I did purchase another bottle & I have been shaking it before every use & it’s gotten thick on me again. I bought the Gelish top coat & have been using that because it stays the same consistancy without all the shaking. I have a fair amount of Shellac colours but truly am thinking as I replace them I will do it with Gelish. The Shellac basecoat doesn’t seem to get as thick but stil, I’m thinking of getting the Gelish basecoat. It sounds like the Gelish is a different type product than just a basecoat. Would appreciate any comments on the Gelish basecoat, need help :o)

    • admin says:

      Hi Lynne,
      I have noticed as well that Shellac tends to get thick. A lady at CosmoProf, our local beauty supply, told me I could add polish thinner drops to it to thin it out, but I am hesitant to try that. Maybe I will try it on some of my older bottles and see how it holds up???? I do like Gelish because it stays the same consistency and it seems like it holds up a little bit better than Shellac. The base coat does not get thick at all–it is pretty thick to start with but not annoying–it just reminds me of a thick builder gel or something. I do like it a lot. I have been using Mani Q by Young Nails a lot and OPI GelColor–I really like both of those brands as well, although I have noticed OPI GelColor base coat is starting to get a little thick….I hope it doesn’t get too bad πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading my blog and let me know if I can help with anything else!

  42. Lynne says:

    Thanks so much for your reply. There was a comment left here, someone suggested using a nail brush to thin coats, that is helping me a lot, Thanks! So far am liking the Gelish better, little frustrated that the color on band of bottle & the brochures with colors don’t seem to match the color in bottle. It feels like a bit of a guessing game, did look online to view colors which helps some. Also the only place to get it in my area is Sallys & they seem to not carry all of the colors & frequently are low on colors. (know I can order online if need to) Next question I really miss my longer nails, which were tips. I used a fiberglass system called Back Scrathers, there was no powders. I have Asthma & the powders with acrylics were something I have to stay away from. Know I can file color off if I want to keep my tips & use Gelish. Was wondering is there any gel system out there that I can use with tips that will hold up with the acetone gel polish removal? Thanks all, Lynne

  43. Angie says:

    You mentioned you don’t use shellacs base and top coat. I was wondering which one you prefer? Do you feel it gives you better results?

    • admin says:

      Hi Angie,
      First off I love your website and concept! Very cool!

      I should clarify–this post has evolved so much over the past few years since Shellac first came out and I do not want to give anyone the wrong impression or mislead anyone.

      Shellac is a wonderful product. I LOVE all their colors sooo much! However, unless someone has beautiful strong natural nails that do not break, Shellac usually only lasts about 10-12 days. This has been my experience and I have been using it from the day it came out. I feel like I know as much as anyone does about this product. I have found that Gelish, Mani Q, and OPI Gelcolor tend to last longer. I have read from other nail techs that have had great success with Shellac though. I tend to wonder if our dry desert climate doesn’t allow the product to live up to its fullest potential as a humid climate might. This is just my theory and possibly no substantial evidence to back it up πŸ™‚

      Sooooo, to answer your question, I use Shellac base and top coat on feet and it does wonderfully! I have a lot of bottles that I have not used up so I am trying to use them up. I use Shellac base and top if someone is specific about their gel polish and they must have Shellac. I use it on a few of my lucky girls that have strong, beautiful natural nails. They can go three weeks with NO problems, no matter what product I use on them. I am so jealous of these women πŸ™‚ For most of my clients I have been using Gelish, Young Nails Mani Q, and OPI GelColor, depending on what color they choose. I would like to stick with one system, and think I might fade out Gelish since anyone can buy it at Sally’s now, but I want to be able to offer my clients as many colors as possible.

      One other reason I do not like Shellac as much as the other brands is it gets really thick and unusable as the bottle runs out. The other brands have not done this except for OPI’s base coat.

      I hope this helps! I feel like I might have rambled a bit πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading!

  44. adrianne says:

    Ive been using gelish by harmony for quite some time and love it!!! im having one small problem. Some clients are experiencing burning during the first coat (base) it doesnt last long. I have the led lamp that came with the harmony system. Im curing it the proper amount of time and doing everything as directed. If anyone has any answers for me it would be greatly appreciated!!!!

    • admin says:

      Hi Adrienne,
      I think maybe you are doing the base coat too thick possibly. It does get just a little hot in the LED light, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable for your clients. Try that!

  45. Mia says:

    Hi! Love this blog….. I’ve been a nail tech for 15 years, I’ve always worked at a spa were all my products were supplied for me. I’m now going the booth rental route and looking into this wonderful gel nail arena. I have a huge amount of product to buy, so although I would very much love to have the opi led light for $400 I just can’t swing it at the moment. I really want a led, perferably five finger, 36 watt. I’ve spent hours online looking for something that compares to the opi led, but no luck so far. Any suggestions?

    • admin says:

      Hi Mia,
      Thanks for checking out my blog! I love hearing from other nail techs! I have been keeping my eyes open for a cheaper LED light comparable to OPI’s, and so far, I haven’t seen anything I am impressed with. It’s so funny because some of my clients won’t use the LED light anymore, they prefer the UV. They claim their polish didn’t hold up as well in the LED. I like the LED for really dark solid colors though, so I switch back and forth between the LED and UV. I still have my Nail Harmony 6g, which is sort of a pain after using the five finger cure by OPI. Soooo, long story short, I would wait until a really great five finger LED light comes out (or you can dish out $400 for OPI’s) and let me know if you find one right away! πŸ™‚

  46. Bri_North Carolina says:

    Hi, I have been doing my own nail for the past year or so and love it! Its very relaxing. I just started looking for ways to get a longer lasting wear 10-14 days would be nice. I like to try different colors but dont want to be doing nails every week. After using the most expensive top coats i could find i am still only able to get aroun 5-7 days of wear.

    I tried the Axxim from a professional salon and loved it got about 2+ weeks out of it. But the $35 price tag will not work for me πŸ˜€

    Now for my Question cani get 10-14 days out of just the Gelish top coat? or is my best bet the Shellac Base & Top Coat (i just ordered the Shellac system)?

    • admin says:

      Hi Bri,
      I’m a little confused about your questions πŸ™‚ Were you getting 5-7 days out of just regular polish? That’s pretty darn good if it is just regular polish…

      Did you mean that you paid $35 at the salon for a professional to apply Axxium? Or you paid $35 for the Axxium top coat and did it yourself?

      You will get 10-14 days with Shellac and Gelish both if it is applied properly. They are both great products πŸ™‚ Best of luck to you!


  47. Bri_North Carolina says:

    Hi Anna!!! Thanks for responding.

    Yes, i used the Barelli top coat/ or RUSH 1min dry top coat (it has the best shine for a quick dry polish) from Sally’s and the Sally Hansen 5 in one nail polish. I also used a small desk fan to dry in between coats. I would get about 5 days of wear before the first chip and peel. I have to admit for the first day after i do my nail i am very careful not to rough house with my nails… if i can make it past 24hrs i am good to go.

    I am a long dry person it takes me forever normally even when i go to salons. So the nail lights really help me get all the way dry vs. the fake dry.

    Also i paid the salon $35 for Axxium. That system is very expensive. Thats why i never thought i could do it at home until i found Gelish @ Sally’s. Its a great system and truly does last the 14-21 days. I think i got 3 wks out of min (but by that time it looks really bad though because of the grow out)

    Have a good one!

  48. Angie says:

    Hi Anna,
    I love all your tips! I haven’t bought any of the new OPI uv gel because I’ve had clients come in saying they got it and didn’t like it. How does it differ in your opinion? Do you like it as much as the gelish and shellac? Is it worth adding in addition to using gelish and shellac?
    Thanks so much!

  49. Pam says:

    I’ve been using the gelish for almost a year now and my nails have never looked better. However, my normal nail technician is on leave and the last several manicures and gelish applications have left me with chipped nails and some of my nails peel off quite easily within a week. It looks like they are doing the same process, but something is definitely wrong. I’m getting frustrated with having to go back for a “fix” between appointments so I’m considering buying the LED lights and polish and trying myself. Any suggestions? Thanks, Anna.

    • admin says:

      Hi Pam,
      If you want to keep going to a professional, I would keep an eye out for people in your town who have great nails and ask them where they go. I think a referral is the best way to find a good nail tech. Don’t just get the salon name but get the nail techs name. If you want to do it yourself, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot. It’s a bit of an investment, but that would totally be up to you πŸ™‚ Let me know if you have any other questions.

  50. luz says:

    I LOVE YOUR REVIEW! It helped me to decide on getting the Gelish Set… But now I Have a Problem I can’t make it last on my nails for more than a week I read on you review that it last you for 3 weeks that’s amazing! I’m following the directions step by step even went to YouTube and watched a bunch of tutorials on how t apply it. I tried buffing it more, applying extra PH Bond and curing it for an extra minute and I can’t seem to make it last for more than a week!! (I’m using a 36w UV light) Hopefully you can give me some tips on how to make it last longer..

    • admin says:

      Hi Luz,
      It sounds like you are doing everything you can….the real secret is to make sure you don’t file the free edge AT ALL after you are finished. You could try an extra top coat and see if that helps too. Good luck!

  51. Tanya K. says:

    Hi! I just wanted to add my two bits and give Anna some other alternatives I have found for the OPI LED light. I found a Nova LED light on amazon for US$199
    here’s the link

    ( I say US because I live in Australia and the Nova light doesn’t come with the right plug for me! and the LED technology is so new here and expensive most lights available here start at $300 – have just ordered one- was on sale from $600 to $328! ) I use the Artistic Color Gloss range with a UV light and so far really like the quality of the product and it does last up to 21 days like they say on their website. However I am thinking of getting some Gelish, just to have some other colors, and using the ACG base and top coats. Anyone have any thoughts about that? Just as an aside note, I often paint my clients with regular polish and then use a UV top coat ( I used IBD Intense Seal) and they find it can last up to 2 weeks.Thanks for the great blog!!

    • admin says:

      Hello Tanya! I love getting International readers! One of these days I will make it to Australia for a pedicure! πŸ™‚
      Thanks for the great info! I’m going to try the IBD Intense Seal tip–I’ve tried OPI gel top coat and didn’t have very good results with it so maybe IBD will work better. I think you will love Gelish once you try it! I have a lot of DIY readers who buy it from Sally’s, but I am not thrilled they are selling it there because I am licensed and work in a salon. I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes, but it just takes away a certain level of professionalism when anyone can buy it. However, that being said, I still love it and use it because it is one of the best products I have found.
      Good luck in your endeavors!

    • admin says:

      I’ve tried a gel top coat over Dashing Diva Nail Wraps and Babe Nail Wraps and don’t love the results, but I haven’t tried Sally Hansen yet. Let me know what you find out! πŸ™‚

  52. Nathalie Nolde says:

    I started using gel nail polish about 6 months ago. I love this product, but now i have very weak nails. I have never had weak nails before. I suspect soaking my nails in acetone for so long to remove the gel nail polish has weaken my nails. My nail tech also uses an electric drill to completely remove the gel polish. I read in your web site that this method is very bad for your nails because it damages your nail bed. What shall I do? go back to regular nail polish? or just ask that they don’t use an electric drill on my nails? I like my nail tech otherwise, he does a great job.
    Please give me your opinion. thank you,
    Nathalie Nolde

    • admin says:

      Hi Nathalie,
      I have a lot of clients who will give their nails a break from gel polish for a few weeks because they feel like they aren’t as strong as they normally are. I believe that right after the gel comes off the nails are slightly weaker because they have had a strong, durable product protecting them for a few weeks and it takes them a few days to “pop” back to their regular strength. That’s if the gel polish has been removed the right way. If you are worried about the health of your nails, I would ask your nail tech not to remove the old polish with his E-file. I know a lot of nail techs do that, and if they are good they won’t damage your nail bed. If you soak the polish off in acetone, make sure to replenish the nail bed with lots of oil and lotion after the service is completed. I have a few clients who will soak their polish off at home themselves and drench their nails in oils and lotions before they come in for their service.
      Hope this helps! Thanks for reading!

  53. Vanessa says:

    I just found gel nails…. amazing… after getting the gel nails, I mixed up 21 bags on concrete, dug a 2 ft endless trench, ran a drainage system, reset landscape blocks,,etc… I like working in my yard and had thing that I had to get taken care of before hurricane season… and, I might say beautiful nails just as the day they were polished. My stylist used OPI but I am sure any other brand of gel would have performed just as well.

    • admin says:

      That’s awesome Vanessa! I really like OPI GelColor a LOT! It sounds like you are a busy lady! I love working in the yard and love that gel polish holds up so well while doing it! Thanks for reading!

  54. Rachel says:

    If you have thin nails I have been researching this stuff called structure gel that goes on before polish after base coat … It’s worth a try! Otherwise I have been doing gelish in my salon for a few months and it has been a hit in this small town!

  55. Trena says:

    I’ve been doing my own nails with the OPI GelColor recently and just can’t seem to get it right. Within a week, they are peeling. I think I’m going to try the Gelish. Also, I’m noticing that my OPI sometimes has clumps on the brush. Do you have any idea why that happens?

  56. Jill says:

    Love Gelish!!! Tried Shellac once on my own but wasn’t thrilled with how it held up. When I had it done at the salon I did get a 2 week wear though. Random question… Do you know what the difference between the Gelish Builder Gel and their Structure Gel is? I use the structure gel over glitter to really seal it in and smooth it out. Wasn’t sure if there was a difference between the two and if one would be better than the other. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi Jill-the builder gel I believe is not part of their soak off line. You can use it under the soak off polish and I know some people that use it over but it does not soak off–you would have to file it off. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚ Anna

    • admin says:

      Hi Sarah–try searching out gelish UK on Facebook–I’ve seen a lot of users over there on their Facebook page πŸ™‚

  57. Sarah says:

    I am loving my gel nail polish. For removal I just pour a little acetone in a small glass dish and soak one hand at time. It only takes about 3 minutes and is much much easier than trying to wrap foil around cotton balls on each nail. Way too much trouble.

    • admin says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for the response! It probably would be a lot easier if you are at home by yourself to soak it in a bowl of acetone. My clients prefer the foil wrap method at the salon but I can totally understand at home DIY removal being easier the way you stated. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi! Just be sure not to soak longer than necessary and replenish with lots of cuticle oil and lotion after the service is complete. CND came out with a nourishing remover that doesn’t dry as much if you are extremely concerned πŸ™‚

  58. Raman says:

    Can someone tell me if u can use Gelish and IBD together? I wanted to use ibd builder gel with the top it off sealer and foundation gel by gelish together. Will it work??

    • admin says:

      Hi! I wouldn’t use the Gelish base with the IBD builder gel, but you could use the gelish top it off over the builder gel. Are you looking to increase a lot of strength in your nails, hence the reason for wanting the builder gel?

  59. Adriana says:

    Has anybody experienced anallergic reaction to Gelish? I had my first Gelish application at a salon in Atlanta 16 days ago and love, love, LOVE!the way the nails turned out and how well the polish is holding up.

    But :(, after a couple of days I got a poison-ivy like rash on all of my fingers. A couple of days of using a prescription steroid ointment got the rash under control, but now more than 2 weeks later, the skin on all of my fingers is peeling and cracking. I am horrified at the prospect of removal with acetone.

    I know I can never use Gelish again since once you are sensitized to something you will react over and over. I hate it since it was the best manicure I have ever had, perfect for my weak nails, and they are growing like never before.

    I know I will probably need another two weeks for the skin to heal before I attempt removal. Questions:
    1. Is there anything I can do to speed healing?
    2. Can I use regular polish over the Gelish in the meantime to cover up the growout?
    3. What is the next best alternative for hard, long- lasting finish? Colors are not important as I use only clear or neutral.

    • admin says:

      Hi Adriana,
      One of my clients experiences those symptoms with every system other than CND Shellac. So that is the only product I can use on her. She is very sensitive to many beauty products and is currently on steroids for a reaction to eyelash extensions! πŸ™

      *To help with healing I would do whatever your doctor recommends

      *Yes you can put polish over
      the Gelish

      I’m so sorry you had a reaction! That stinks! Maybe CND Shellac might work for you. Make sure the nail tech doesn’t use any acid primers with the application….that seems to be the primary culprit in many instances. Good luck!


  60. Donna says:

    Can anyone tell me the difference between the Gelish .5 oz foundation (pink label) and the same thing by Harmony with a gray label? The first is $22 the second is about $12…
    what is the reason the one product is twice as expensive … I am shopping om Amazon. Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hi Donna,
      There is not a difference between the two except for quantity. They are both by Harmony–one is twice as big as the other and that’s the only difference. They created the smaller size to retail at outlets like Sally’s. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions πŸ™‚

    • admin says:

      Oh shoot I just re-read your post….I wonder if one is the smaller…it just might be that they are charging different prices but make sure that the less expensive one isn’t a much smaller quantity. They do make a smaller size for Sally’s and other retail outlets. Thanks again!

    • admin says:

      Oh goodness sorry for the confusion….I think the less expensive one is a smaller size and that is the only difference between the two. I don’t know for sure what you are looking at but I suspect it has something to do with that. They did just come out with a Vita-Gel product but I doubt this is what you are looking at. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  61. Tami says:

    I have had clients nails breaking on side of nail, by nail bed. And sometimes it’s hard to get off gelish even after setting acetone on nail as you do for 10-15 mins . Any suggestions why it doesn’t lift very easy? And breaks nail?

    • admin says:

      Hi Tami,
      Did you rough the gel polish up with a file before soaking it off with remover? Shellac is the only gel polish I have found that soaks off easily without filing the top coat off. Be sure to replenish the nail with lots of cuticle oil on a daily basis, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. There are tons of reasons why our nails break, unfortunately. It’s hard to pinpoint just one exact reason. If the nail keeps breaking, it might be good to do a hard gel base, or if you are extremely concerned, take all the product off and use a nail strengthener like Nail Envy or Hard as Nails. Hope this helps!

  62. Nichole says:

    Just curious if you can use the opi gel base with the gelish and cure it under the opi lamp? I tried and the polish kind of shrivels on top.
    Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Anna says:

      Hi Nichole,
      Are you using the OPI Gelcolor base? Or the Axxium Base? Either one of those should work with the Gelish color. What top coat are you using? And what OPI light is it? Is it the LED or the UV light? Certain Gelish colors will wrinkle in the UV light. They don’t normally in the LED light. If it does wrinkle it’s most likely because the color coats need to be applied thinner. Gelish and Shellac will wrinkle if they are applied to thickly. OPI Gelcolor doesn’t normally wrinkle but it can if the coats are too thick. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!

    • Anna says:

      Hi Sheila,
      My white Gelish is thickening too…unfortunately I don’t think there is a sure fire way to thin it. The beauty supply store told me to add polish thinner drops but I think I tried that once and it didn’t really work…this is just a suggestion and don’t come after me if it doesn’t work but you could possibly mix a little bit of white with a little bit of top coat on a tile and see what happens…try that and maybe someone else will comment with another suggestion.

      I hate when polish gets old but a year is probably about the shelf life of this product.


    • Anna says:

      Hi Char,
      You can change the color as often as you like πŸ™‚ it would just depend on how often you want to do your nails. That’s the great thing about gel polish–it lasts a solid week at the minimum but it’s easy to change when your ready for a new color πŸ™‚

  63. Karen says:

    Can you tell me if Harmony Gelish and IDO Gelish are the same product? Is it to do with which country you purchase from perhaps? On eBay there are both and I don’t know if the IDO is genuine.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


    • Anna says:

      Hi Karen,
      I had never heard of IDO Gelish so I looked it up and I am 99.9% certain it is not manufactured by Hand and Nail Harmony. It looks like some sort of knock off. I have found that it is very easy to find a manufacturer overseas that will create the gel polish for a company and label it however they want….sometimes closely resembling major brand name companies. That being said if the price is right and you are only using it for your own use and they guarantee the products safety I would give it a try. If you are a licensed nail tech I probably would stick to brands your clients recognize. Just my opinion πŸ™‚ let me know if you have any more questions!

  64. Leanne says:

    Hiya, Iv been buying this IDO GELISH for a while now. My clients love this. The longest it has stayed on some of my clients nails is around 3-4 weeks. I suggest you give it a try. I did do my homework obv before i bought and was a bit cautious. They are MSDS and SGS certified and are environmentally safe. Just a heads up. Its cheap but it is very good

    • Anna says:

      Awesome Leanne! Thanks for letting us know! I seriously think there are only a few factory’s worldwide that develop gel polish and it all comes from the same place…that’s just my theory…I could be wrong πŸ™‚ But it’s worth trying for the price!

  65. JAY says:

    hi, thanks for your website. I want ask about shrink. that was Fedora (CND). when we apply will often got shrinks. any idea how to apply it?
    thanks for any idea.

    • ChicAdmin says:

      Hi! Darn it that’s so frustrating when gel polish shrinks! GRRRRRR!!!! Yes Fedora has shrunk on me before…I think the biggest secret is just to do SUPER thin coats. I usually would do 3-4 VERY thin coats of any dark color…the only brand I’ve found that I’ve NEVER had a shrinking issue with is Orly GelFX but I’ve only used four colors so it’s hard to say if all their colors are non-shrinking. Let me know if you have any questions and good luck!


  66. Valerie says:

    I have mainly been concerned keeping my nails nice and strong as they are now. I have naturally very thick nails (dog toes) LOL! I don’t want to damage my nails. I paint my own nails and haven’t yet found anyone that does it better. I’m an artist so my taste is above average. I heard that Shellac lets air get to the nail whereas Gel types don’t. Do you know if this is true?

    • ChicAdmin says:

      Good for you I’m jealous I wish I had naturally thick strong nails! I don’t think that’s necessarily true about Shellac for a couple reasons–first off from everything I’ve read from industry experts nails don’t actually need air or need to “breathe” and a thin coating of polish or gel polish or even acrylic actually protects your nails and helps keep them stronger. I personally do think Shellac is the most gentle of the gel polishes I have tried mainly because removal is the easiest. I know a lot of girls who have been wearing gel polish for years and as long as they remove it properly their nails continue to be nice and strong when they are bare.

      I hope that helps! Thanks for writing!

  67. mariamma says:

    Hi Anna I’m so happy that I found your blog. I have my certificate in nails; i stop doing nails for about two years ago. I just start doing my friends and neighbors nails, but when it comes to gel polish it doesn’t last long. I does everything that you suppose to do because I know; prepping nail is important. I use the gelaze by china glaze it chip three days later. So can I use the gelish structure gel before I use any brand of gel polish? Gel polish wks well with acrylic but on natural nails….. it gives me headache. Not all my clients like acrylic and I want them to have a long wear with gel polish. I take pride in what I do I need your help asap(in my hot line bling voice) lol thank you.

    • ChicAdmin says:

      Hi I’m so sorry it took me so long to respond back! Gel polish can be very frustrating! I’ve found a few tricks you have to make sure you do in order to get a good wear.

      First, make sure your bulbs are still good. Are you using UV or LED? If they are UV, make sure you are changing them every 4-6 months depending on use.

      Second, the Structure gel will help the gel polish hold up a little bit longer. I’ve done the Acrygel method where I sprinkle a little acrylic on the structure and then cure it to achieve even a little more support.

      Third, your clients must wear gloves when cleaning and doing dishes to get maximum durability. I have an 85 year old client who has a maid who is the only one I know that can wear gel polish longer than two weeks. Everyone else either needs a little bit thicker base coat or can only get 7-10 days wear.

      I hope this helps! I’m sorry you are so frustrated!


  68. LaTanya Fine says:

    Hi I love to do my own gel polishes because I don’t have a ride to go to the nail salon near my house or the money. This is my first gel polish set I did last night, and it did not take too long like acrylics and gel nails. I want to keep mines on between two weeks or a whole month until my fill in or I can soak off and wait 45 minutes until a new color set.

  69. Jessica Wilshusen says:

    After reading this article I hope and plead with you that you don’t remove the gel EVERY Single Time! That is so damaging to the nail bed and health of the nails, I’m sure you’re amazing at your job. But I hope since this article you have transitioned into gel overlays. You can still charge good money but you don’t scrape and soak the nails every time which is traumatizing for the matrix and nails. I’m so confident you probably know what gel overlays are so I won’t explain it. Great article!

    • Anna says:

      Hi Jessica,

      I did write this article years ago when gel polish first hit the market. I was the first nail tech in my city to offer it…I’ve been using the products for as long as I can remember. That being said, I was also performing gel overlays at the time. Gel overlays are nothing new. Even though I am retired from doing nails full time, I would argue with you that it’s “so damaging” to remove the gel polish every single time. There are ways of removing gel polish completely every 2-3 weeks and not damaging the matrix or the nail bed. A lot of my clients didn’t like the removal process so they transitioned to gel overlays and a lot of my clients loved the feeling of a thinner, more natural application. It’s an individual choice for the customer. A gel overlay is not the best choice for every single person. I love it but there is not a one size fits all nail product.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my website. I need to give it a little love and attention it’s slightly neglected. I wish you the best!


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