How Do I Choose the Best Gel Manicure?

Angela Farrer

You can choose the best gel manicure based on the current condition of your natural nails, the quality of the products to be used, and the expertise of your nail technician in this particular type of manicure. Different types of gel manicures are often recommended for stronger versus weaker natural nails, and some products are can also be chemically harsh on sensitive fingernails. Performing a gel manicure requires more steps than some other nail services, and professional manicurists typically perfect this procedure only after completing at least one training course in it. Applying uniform and smooth gel nails often takes practice.

Past clients who are happy with their gel manicures results can be some of the best endorsements.
Past clients who are happy with their gel manicures results can be some of the best endorsements.

Before making an appointment for a gel manicure, examine your natural nails without polish. Nails that seem brittle and that chip or flake easily usually have structural weakness. The compound applied for a gel manicure shrinks in varying degrees as it dries and cures, which can sometimes lead to nail problems, such as splitting or cracking. Noticeably weak and unhealthy nails can often be improved with nutritional supplements, such as B vitamins, iron, and calcium. This preliminary step can often bring much better manicure results.

A woman with gel nails.
A woman with gel nails.

During your initial consultation with your nail technician, ask about the average shrinkage percentage of the gel product to be applied. Most of these compounds have a shrinkage percentage of around 12%. Those that have higher rates close to 18% or 20% often carry higher chances of later nail problems after the manicure is complete. The normal shrinkage of a gel manicure should cause a temporarily tight feeling without noticeable pain or discomfort. If you are considering a manicure that includes acrylic tips with a gel overlay, the tips should be of good quality and easily filed to a length and shape that fits your lifestyle.

The experience of your nail technician can usually make a significant difference when you want to select the best gel manicure. Past clients who are happy with their professional manicure results can be some of the best endorsements. If you are able to watch manicurists perform this service, a quality gel manicure is applied with three to four thin coats of gel at a time rather than one or two heavy ones. Thicker coats of gel compound generally do not cure as evenly and are prone to over-shrinking. An expert nail technician should also be able to complete gel manicures with or without acrylic nail tips.

Gel nails curing under a UV light.
Gel nails curing under a UV light.

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Discussion Comments


The nice things about gel manicures is they don't chip nearly as easily as regular nail polish. You can put enough top coat on nails to fill up a cosmetics store and it won't keep it from chipping. But gel nails will last so much longer.


I would definitely ask around for the best places to get a gel manicure. Most people are very willing to tell you whether they had a good or bad experience in a particular salon, and will even recommend a particular manicurist who does a good job.

I've never had a gel manicure because I have such short nails, but I do like the way they look, and I've heard they last a lot longer than regular manicures. They always look so professional and neat.

The only thing I wish is that gel manicures weren’t so expensive. I’d try one, short nails or not.

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