When you decide to make gel nails, you may have heard of its advantages: fast drying, long duration, shine, less wear, etc., but what is gel nails? It has different meanings because of the region, nail salon, etc., but they have one thing in common, all gel nails must be cured by LED lights or UV lights, and any nails that have not been cured by lights are not gel nails.

What gel is best? There are many product names for gel nails, which are also easy to confuse. How to judge whether the real gel is obtained? You can judge according to the following terms: Gel Polish, Gel Manicure, Hard Gel, Builder Gel, Structure Gel, Sculpting Gel.

Are you more confused when you see here? Why do so many products belong to gel? Although they are cured under LED or ultraviolet light, they will be different depending on their consistency. First, they can be divided into at least two categories: soft gel and hard gel.

SOFT GEL (Gel Polish)

The most common product people are looking for when they ask for the gel is gel polish, which is considered a “soft gel.” The advent of gel polish was quite the revelation of its time. Until then we only had nail lacquer (regular nail polish), the kind we often paint our nails with at home. The biggest problem with nail polish is that it doesn’t stay on very long. Some find it chips within a day or two (although proper nail prep and application should allow nail polish to remain on for 7-10 days). So, the major innovation with gel polish was that it stays on for 10 days to 2 weeks. gel polish does not protect our nails from bending and breaking. Just think of it as nail polish that stays on longer.  


If gel polish is a soft gel, then what is hard gel? Remember how we said that soft gel (gel polish) won’t protect your nails from bending and breaking? The hard gel will. Hard gel is a nail enhancement that is applied to your natural nails to give them strength and structure. It is often painted on with a brush, but your nail tech may apply it differently depending on the length, style, and shape of your nails. It can be clear or colored. It can also be used to extend the length of your nails (nail extensions). Other terms people use to describe hard gel include builder gel, structure gel, sculpting gel, and resin. These are all hard gel, just by different names. The main difference between soft and hard gel is that hard gel is stronger and harder, so it better protects your nails from bending and breaking, and it stays on longer than soft gel (gel polish). The cons are must be filled or removed by a professional, difficult to shorten or fix at home.

Types of Gel Nail Polish

Hard Gel

Soft Gel

Gel Polish

What is it used for?

Extending nails, strengthening, nail growth

Strengthening, nail growth

Long-lasting polish

What nail length is it best for?

All lengths

Short to mid-length

Short to mid-length (on natural nails)


Thick gel

Medium gel

Runny gel


Pulled over the nail with a brush

Pulled over the nail with a brush

Brushed on

How long does it last?

3-4 weeks

2-4 weeks

2-3 weeks

How do you remove it?

Removed by filing

Soaked off with acetone

Soaked off with acetone




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