How to Apply Harmony Gelish Structure Gel  Instructions on How to Apply Gelish Structure

Gelish Structure is intended for use on natural nails and just adds a bit of extra strength. It’s great for people with brittle nails that chip easily, and I especially recommend using it after removing acrylic nails. It is applied just like a polish, and also soaks off easily just like all other soak off gel (SOG) products. I personally like to use it in the winter time because my nails tend to be a little more brittle in the colder months.  The picture above shows my nails with two coats of Structure.  It’s just a clear gel that you could top off with the Gelish Top coat, or you can apply color on top of it.  Either way, it doesn’t make your nails look or feel thick.  They are harder and stronger, but they still feel natural.

Gelish StructureGelish Structure comes in a small pot, and it’s important to note that it DOES NOT come with a brush so you will have to supply your own. I have a set of Bundle Monster brushes and these work just fine for this use, however a professional gel brush is ideal.

When to Apply:

Structure should be applied AFTER you have applied the Gelish Foundation and cured it.  For the best application, wipe the tacky layer off of your foundation with a lint-free alcohol wipe prior to applying Structure.

How to Apply:

Applying Structure is much like applying any polish except it’s a bit thicker.  To apply Structure, dip your brush into the pot and pick up just a small round ball of the gel, and apply a thin coat to the nail just as you would a polish.  Cure under a UV light for 2 minutes, or 30 seconds with a LED light.

Repeat this process with a second thin coat if desired.

After your Structure is cured, proceed with the regular Gelish polish application.


  • When you are curing your nails in the light, remember to cover your pot of Structure and the brush, or move them away from the light because they could harden!
  • To clean your brush after applying Structure, just wipe it off with a lint-free wipe and some alcohol.  Always store your brush in a dark place so it doesn’t harden in the sun light.
  • Be sure to avoid getting Structure or gel polish on the cuticle area.  If you do get some of the product on your cuticles, clean it off with a brush and acetone (or alcohol) prior to curing under the light.  Curing with the product on your cuticles can cause premature peeling/lifting of your manicure.  If applied cleanly, your gel manicure should last at least 2 weeks.

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61 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    I am in love with your blog! After not wearing nail polish for about 6 years (because of having babies), I finally started doing my nails again. I was getting really frustrated with having my nails chip so quickly after painting them (as in the same day or the very next day), and then my mom bought me a gel mani from a salon and that changed my life! I researched getting my own products and quickly fell in love with Gelish. I recently became interested in (simple) nail art as well, and your blog incorporates everything I love about having my nails painted! I have a ton of non-gel polishes, and I don’t want to throw them out. My question for you is this: if I use the foundation gel and a layer or 2 of structure gel and the top coat, could I then use regular polish and still maintain the strength of gel? I don’t mind painting my nails every 3 or 4 days, but I really don’t want to be painting them every day or two. I love having my mani last for a week or more, which gel lets me do – but sometimes it would be nice to change up the color after a few days but not have to go through the entire gel process. Thanks for the input!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Nancy! I’m glad you found my site. The answer to your question is yes! The Gelish folks probably wouldn’t approve of this, but you can use regular nail lacquer on top of the Gelish foundation and top coat. I do this frequently because the Gelish foundation and top coat provide amazing strength, but I like to change the designs and colors on my nails every few days. I don’t recommend using a lacquer that has glitter in it because you have to soak the glitter off and that usually damages the gel base. Just use regular nail lacquer and non-acetone remover to take it off and leave the gel base in place. It’s not going to last nearly as long as a regular gel manicure, but it will last at least a few days. :) Let me know how it goes for you if you try it out.

  2. Kate says:

    Dear Andrea.
    Could you be so kind and post a quick video how do you apply Structure gel? I love to do my manicure with many layers of this type of gel and it looks great, but it might be interesting to see how do you do that. And also for many other people. I haven´t found many video with Structure gel on youtube, so may be it can be also great to find some new fans this way ;)
    Thanks in advance’

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Kate! This is on my to-do list :) I’ll try to do it in the next week or so. Thanks!

      • Kate says:

        Perfect! :) I am so much looking forward! Anyway – love your nails and your ingeniousness. All the time new ideas and new nail art – love it.

        • Kiri says:

          Thanks so much for all the info. I am qualified in Gelish but was never shown how to use the structure gel which I think would benefit alot of my clients. Would really appreciate a video too.
          Many thanks
          Kiri x

  3. Delina says:

    I have a question I hope you can answer… I have just purchased the Gelish hard gel system, as well as the Harmony vitagel recovery and strengthener. I am wondering if I can use the vitagel under my base and still use the structure gel that comes with the kit???

    Thank you.

    • Andrea says:

      I’m sorry, I don’t know enough about Vitagel to advise you. I recommend asking your question on the official Gelish facebook page.

  4. I’m pretty sure looking at all your past post is bad news for my wallet right now! I really want to get this because I had a whole processes with my nails when I painted before I jumped to gel polish which made the nails tougher. Now that I’m using gel polish, the coats aren’t as thick so my nails feel a little weaker.

  5. meg says:

    Hi, nail tech since 2011 here, am fast becoming a huge Gelish fanatic! Just heard about the Gelish hard gel, and when googling it, your site popped up…again! (anytime I google anything about gelish, chickettes pops up :) ) First let me say, thank you for your wonderful informative site, I LOVE IT! My question is, can the gelish hard gel top coat be used on top of the regular gelish minis and full sized gel polishes? I would love to not have to wipe at the end!!! Thanks so much in advance!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Meg! I’m glad you find the site helpful. Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with the hard gel, so I’m not sure if you can do that. I recommend asking on the Gelish FB page, they are usually pretty responsive.

  6. meg says:

    One more question….Can you use the structure gel with a plastic tip, almost like artificials? my clients would love this option…Im thinking maybe, blend a clear tip first then apply the structure???

  7. June says:

    I use the hard gel just like you use the structure gel and I love it.
    I literally spend all day at a keyboard and the strutcture gel didn’t quite do the job. I was still getting breaks and chips because of the typing.
    The hard gel is just that. HARD. it also doesn’t soak off. you have to buff it. I’m ok with that because my nails stopped breaking.

    I’d never use the hard gel OVER polish because it is a buff off. you’d have a heck of a time getitng off the color! I’m no expert, just know from playing and doing my nails.

  8. meg says:

    ok i see now i think…hard gel doesn’t soak off, and its for artificials?

  9. June says:

    No i put the hard feel over my natural nail. It’s just stronger…
    But no, it doesn’t soak off .. so in that sense it acts like artificial nail, but its not…

  10. Kari says:

    Hi just wondering if you’ve noticed if the structure gel makes your Gelish nails last longer? My Gelish nails never last longer than a week and I’d do anything to keep them another week. Also, can you layer different Gelish colors to create new colors? I know you can do this with Shellac and wondered if you could do the same with Gelish…

    Btw, I absolutely LOVE your site! It’s my go-to for anything Gelish!

    Thanks in advance!

    • Kiri says:

      Hi Kari,
      I have been using Gelish gel polish since November last year & have only just started using the structure gel. It definatly makes the Gelish gel polish last longer. I first tried it on my sister. I did one hand with structure gel under the Gelish & one without. She’s a hairdresser so the Gelish on its own doesn’t normally last that long ( normally a week) after a week the hand without it was terribly chipped & the other hand was perfect. She couldn’t even pick it off so I’d defo recommend you to use it. It’s amazing.
      Hope this helps
      Kiri ( Essex)

      • Kari says:

        Thanks so much!! Yeah, I’m actually a hair dresser as well so that must be my problem. That advice helped a bunch though thank you!

  11. christine monteleone says:

    Hi, I’ve used Gelish products for quite awhile. I tried it mainly because I have a LED light that works great and I knew it would work for the Gelish products. The gel polish and gel itself comes out great and lasts forever, well, 2 to 3 weeks. But I fell in love with the dual forms and I have read and watched every video I can find and I can’t get the gel to cure. The time varies in some videos so I’ve tried different amounts of time. What in the world could I be doing wrong? I hope you have some suggestions. Thanks, Christine

  12. christine monteleone says:

    love your information

  13. Carmen says:

    I love your YouTube videos and website… Hopefully you can help me after you do all the steps to the gel structure gel have you painted your nail with gelish nail polish? And if you do, do you go through the whole process of redoing the gel structure when your polish change? I’m new to this so any suggestion will help thanks!

    • Andrea says:

      Yes, you polish your color on over the structure gel (or under it, which ever you prefer). The structure gel also soaks off when you do your polish change.

  14. Amy says:

    Hi Andrea,

    LOVE your site, so informative and helpful. Just wondering what the differance is between structure gel and Arcygel? Is one better than the other?

    Thanks :)

  15. Maya says:

    Hi ^^
    I am sorry if someone else already asked you this (and for my poor english, I am a french girl ^^’).
    I started using gel polish to reinforce my natural nails and do my regular manicure on top of it. But sometimes I find it is not enough, so this Structure Gel sounds interesting. Do you use it instead of the Foundation or with it ?
    Thank you !

  16. Dobrila says:

    Hi Andrea, I love your blog and your nails are amazing! Can you tell me which IBD gel is the same as Gelish structure gel?
    Greetings from Serbia!

  17. Anna says:

    Interesting… are you saying to apply Foundation, cure it and *wipe it*? And then to apply Structure?
    I played with Structure when it first came out and I noticed that when I used it the color coat soaked off the Structure super fast leaving the Structure (and Foundation below) intact. Do you have similar experience?

  18. Chantelle says:

    You mention that the bundle monster brushes will work fine, but that it’s better to use professional brushes. Do you have any suggestions for brands or where to get them? I am not too knowledgable about them, but I’d rather invest a little more for ones that will last/produce a better result for gelish structure gel and nail art in general.

  19. Isa says:

    Hi Andrea , is a bit ‘ of time I follow your blog and I find it wonderful … as I find wonderful brand Gelish .. I have a question for you : in addition to the line sempipermanente , Gelish also created the line gel ? I’d like to rebuild / Nail Extensions , so as to make them even thicker … I thank you in advance if you wanted to answer . Keep it up , you are strong !

  20. Kay says:

    Hello I wanted to know what’s the difference between the gelish hard gel, structure gel and the soak off minis? I am new to gel nails but I wanted to get gel overlays to strengthen my natural nails and grow them out and make them stop peeling. I did the acrylic overlay and they grew my nails a lot but were weak and brittle when the acrylic came off. Thanks!

    • Andrea says:

      Hard gel is meant for sculpting nails and doesn’t soak off – it has to be filed off. You can use it as an overlay too. Structure Gel is a clear gel that is applied over your natural nails to add strength. You apply Structure gel over or under your colored gel polish and it soaks off. The soak-off MINIs are colored gel polish – same as the full size Gelish polishes, just in a smaller bottle.

      • Melanie Carter says:

        Hi Andrea, I also had a question about the hard gel from gelish as I just purchased a gel polish kit and only use harmony products at the moment. I have already tried the structure gel and it worked really well but I wanted to also have something a little stronger. I see that the hard gel can’t be soaked off which is strange as an acrylic nail can be, is there a different kind of liquid that would soak it off? If not when would be the best time to apply the hard gel so it’s easy to get off? And if it’s put over the foundation should you wipe the nail of the tacky residue first them apply the hard gel or can it be applied once you are finished such as after the top it off? I also just purchased the PH bond pro any thoughts or instructions on that?

        • Andrea says:

          Most builder gels don’t soak off, they are hard gels and require filing. They’re meant to last and be filled in regularly, and not removed each service. The only hard gel-type product that I know of that can be soaked off is CND Brisa Lite, but it requires 30 minutes to soak off. I haven’t tried using a hard gel over a soak-off base and don’t know if that would work. If you apply hard gel over a soak-off foundation it could cause cracking.

  21. Teresamarie says:

    Hi Andrea…. justa quick question…. I’ll b doing acrygel and wanted to build a little bit more arch… think this harmony gelish on top of the acrygel be ok?

  22. lori says:

    Hy! I have a question for u. I currently use ibd hard gel sistem. Is it ok if i use an ibd gel polish color with the ibd hard gel sistem?thanks!

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t have much experience with hard gel systems, but I know you can use gel polish over top of the enhancements. Soaking the gel polish off may cause some issues with the enhancements so you might have to file it off. Perhaps someone with more experience with hard gels can chime in with a better answer. :)

      • lori says:

        Thank you for your answer. And sorry for my english. I’m new in this, i used before the ibd gel polish, it works great for me, on short nails it lasts more than 3 weeks without any kind of issues. But now i bought the ibd hard gels, and somehow i find the gel polish better. The hard gel seems to chip, and i don’t know why.i use the gel polish color, but the rest of the items are hard gel.i use dehydrate and gel bonder, and still have the problem. Also, do you think it would be ok if i use together in a manicure hard gel products, with soak off gel?

  23. Danell says:

    Is it necessary to use the Gelish Base, or will any gel base do? I know that they recommend to use all the same brand.

  24. Csrol says:

    I recently did a service with a new bottle of Gelish base/top coat. Hard little dots appeared after I applied the base coat. Never have had this happen. Any ideas?

  25. Samantha says:

    Hello, can I use regular polish over this structure gel or do I have to use gel polish?

  26. Jill Bonn says:

    I am new to the gel system after wearing (and destroying) acrylics for 20 years. I have purchased everything i need (I think) for gel nails but am wondering if they make a soak off pink structure gel? Everything pink seems to be a hard gel. I’m still a little confused as to what all of these do, mostly the foundation gel. All I’m after is strength right now.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Jill – I’m not aware of a pink structure gel, but you can apply a pink gel polish color on top or below Structure to get the desired color. The Foundation gel is the base coat that adheres to the natural nail. Also, check out this article for a different technique that helps add strength:

      • Jill Bonn says:

        Thanks so much for your reply. I did find out after I e-mailed you what the Foundation Gel was, so I apologize for not checking into that first. I love the idea of the Acrygel, but now I’m a little confused about what to buy. I clicked on the links you offered, but two of them wouldn’t open. I see someone used So Fine, but it sounds like that’s UV only from one of the comments on Amazon. Can you just tell me what kind of buy for LED?

        • Danell says:

          I wanted to make a suggestion for a soak off structure gel that you could also try, that I have found works better for me instead of Gelish. It is called Akzentz and it is a Canada based brand but they do have retailers here in the states. I purchase from Gellipop because she is the closest to me. And they also have a pink gel for a more natural look. I also like this gel because the structure is also the top coat and it is fileable. so you can smooth out any unevenness.

          • Jill Bonn says:

            Ok, my last e-mail. I’m so sorry for bugging you, but the entire gel system can be overwhelming. I finally have all of that figured out but still have one question. I bought almost all of the
            Gelish products to prep, including the Foundation, but now should I buy the Vitagel Recovery or Vitagel Strength to do the Acryogel? I seriously have a mini salon downstairs now which cost me a small fortune, so if it necessary to buy more products, that’s fine. I think I’ll try the Acryogel system first.

          • Andrea says:

            You don’t need either of those products to use the acrygel technique. You just sprinkle the acrylic powder into the base/Foundation. I’ve heard from many Vitagel users that it causes the polish to peel prematurely.

        • Andrea says:

          I’m unsure which products you are looking to purchase? Acrylic powder for acrygel?

  27. Jill says:

    Could structure gel be used for “glitter toes”? If so, do you apply the glitter on top of the cured structure gel layer? Or at another point? Or is it an entirely different product? Thank you!

    • Andrea says:

      You can use any tacky gel polish or Structure Gel for this – you burnish the glitter into the tacky layer after curing.

  28. Nicole says:

    Hi! This post has been really helpful to me, thanks so much for all of the info. :) I’m just wondering if you can use the Gelish Structure Gel with Shellac polish on top…like Shellac base coat, Gelish Structure then Shellac color and top coat?

    Thank you so much

  29. Marlena says:

    Can I do structure gel without using the foundation base coat, then after cured put on gel harmony nail polish. And at the end use top it off.

  30. Jill says:

    HELP! I have been using the Gelish system (hard mostly) and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Right after I finish with my fill, wipe off sticky layer and buff, I see white (lifting) around my cuticle. I can literally take the nail off with a nippers in about 6 pieces. I’m doing all the steps and am more than thorough with prepping. I don’t wash my hands before, I clean with alcohol, no oils, lotions etc. and am sure not to touch my nail bed after prepping to avoid getting oil on my nail. I’ve watched a zillion Youtube videos and just don’t know what I’m missing. I am considering switching to acrylics. Please help!