I live in the Bronx, a part of New York where bold nails are absolutely everything. I’m talking about rhinestones, unique shapes, designs inspired by street art, all. And although I love and admire a beautiful nail look, I never get my nails done in a salon (my natural nails are short which is not the best canvas for nail art ~ dramatic ~, you know?). Recently, however, I hear more and more aboutt gel nail extensions – a * supposedly * easy way to make your nails look longer in seconds.
But, tbh, I didn’t know how it all worked. So I reached out to Kaddy Aaliyah, a London-based nail tech and co-founder of Nuka Nails, for his expert advice on everything to do with nail extensions, including what exactly they are, how they’re applied, how long they last, and more. So if you are curious about gel nail extensions as well, keep scrolling through all the impt info.
What are gel nail extensions?
There are two methods for gel extensions: the first is to glue a shape under the tip of natural naturalness, then paint a hard gel on top and cure (or harden) it with UV or LED light; The second (and most popular) method uses a preformed gel tip that is glued to your natural nail., like an inflated pressure. “Gel nail extensions basically act like an overlay on your natural nails,” says Kaddy. It’s an easy way to add instant length to your nails, try out a different shape (coffin nails?), And play around with intricate nail art.
Gel or acrylic nails, which is better?
Acrylic nails look great, but if you are concerned about nail health, gel extensions are the 100% solution. “When clients come, I always advise them to get gel extensions,” says Kaddy. Why? Because gel extensions act as a protective layer on your natural nail, causing little to no damage. “In fact, they can even help your natural nails underneath grow longer and stronger,” she adds.
Acrylic extensions, on the other hand, are notoriously damaging. The application process requires potentially aggressive chemicals, and the removal process often involves aggressive polishing and drilling. There is also the time factor: gel nail extensions are faster and easier to apply and remove than acrylics.
How are gel nail extensions applied?
The process is similar to applying regular gel polish to the nails except that the polish is in gel form. Your nails are first prepared (filed, polished and cuticles neat), then painted with a binder and primer. A layer of gel polish is painted on the back of the nail shape before it is pressed on natural nail and hardened with light. Once all ten gel extensions are applied, you can change their shape and length and add some cool color and nail art. (PS, you should definitely check out Kaddy’s IG for some epic nail art inspiration).
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How long do gel extensions last?
Most gel extensions will last three to four weeks, says Kaddy. “By this time your nails will have grown and there will most likely be a gap between the natural nail and the gel.” It is worth nothing that the longevity of your gel nail extensions depends on how well your nails are prepared before applying the gels.
“The cuticle and the way you file the nail are all critical to the life of nail gels,” says Kaddy. “Your nail technician can’t rush the process, or your nails just won’t last. After the three week mark, you can either get a refill (adding color to the natural nail just about your grown cuticle) or remove the gel completely.
How to remove gel nail extensions?
Each nail technique has its own approach, but Kaddy usually removes any heavy pattern on top of the nail first (in some cases this requires a drill, but don’t worry, it’s just a matter of remove the nail bed) then wrap each nail in cotton wool soaked in acetone and foil to break down the gel. Once the gel has come off, an orange stick or metal tool is used to gently scrape off any excess gel. The entire removal process should take around 15 minutes and your natural nails should look healthy at the end of the process, says Kaddy.
How much do gel extensions cost?
The The cost of your gel nail extensions can depend on several factors, including location (gel extensions tend to cost more in big cities like NYC and LA), design (the more detailed the designs, the more you’ll spend), and the nail tech experience . For example, gel nail extensions at your local manicurist can cost as little as $ 20, but if you see a nail technician who has prominent clients, the price can be $ 80 or more. FWIW, Kaddy charges the equivalent of $ 54 for gel nail extensions in London.
Are gel nail extensions worth it?
When I asked Kaddy this question, his immediate response was “Yes! Sure! Gel nails healthier for your nails than acrylic nails and last almost a month too. to book my first gel nail extension appointment ASAP.
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