Soak-Off Gel Polish & General FAQ’s

I receive a LOT of emails, comments and messages through social media outlets with questions so I have started a list of FAQ’s.  You can can also find some really useful information over at The Purse Forums in the SOG for beginners thread so if you don’t find your answers here, you might also check there.

Does gel polish damage or weaken your nails?

Gel polish should not weaken your nails when applied & removed properly.  It provides extra strength and prevents your nails from ripping and breaking, allowing them to grow longer and stronger.  The key is proper removal using a soak-off technique.  Don’t chisel, chip, file or peel your polish off… doing this will absolutely damage your nails.  Use an orange stick to aid in the removal if needed, but don’t use tools that will gauge your nail beds.  Also, be careful not to over-buff your nails prior to applying gel polish.  You only need a very light buff (if at all), and buffing too frequently can cause your nails to become thin.

Why is my gel polish lifting/peeling?

Premature lifting or peeling is often caused by improper nail preparation.  Before applying gel polish your nails should be completely dry, so don’t apply just after taking a shower, washing dishes, etc.  Be sure to lightly buff your nails and then cleanse them extremely well with an alcohol-based cleanser to remove any oils from your nails.  Don’t apply lotion or oil to  your nails prior to applying gel polish… use those products after your manicure is complete.  Read this article about proper nail preparation.

Other possible causes are excessive exposure to water and/or steam including washing your hands a lot or wearing rubber gloves.  And if your nails are already brittle, weak or damaged, gel polish may not adhere well.  Gel polish adheres best to healthy nails.  If your nails are peeling, the polish will also peel right along with it.

The brand of base coat could also be the culprit.  Do some experimentation to find the brand that works best for you since they don’t all wear the same on everyone.

Why is my gel polish cracking?

The only time I have ever experienced cracking was when my nails were thin and weak.  If your nails are super flexible and can bend, the polish is very likely to crack.  You could try applying Gelish Structure Gel or use the acrygel technique for added strength to prevent your nails from bending.

Where can I buy Gelish MINIs? Where can I find X product?

I’m often asked where I get my Gelish MINIs.  These are sold exclusively at Sally Beauty Supply and

I’m also frequently asked where various polishes can be purchased in different countries. I recommend contacting the brands directly for a list of their distributors because I generally do not know that information.  The products that I sell can be found at Chickettes Boutique.

What is your favorite brand of gel polish?

This is a very hard question for me to answer because I have many favorites and can’t choose just one.  The brands that are currently at the top of my list are (in no particular order): Gelish, LeChat, Pink Gellac, ibd, Ink, Revel, and Madam Glam.

How do you prevent gel polish “shrinkage”?

You may have noticed that some gel polishes tend to shrink-back or pull away from the edges when you apply them. First ensure that your bottle of polish is well shaken/mixed.  Sometimes the ingredients can separate and cause shrinking.  Another cause of shrinkage can be improper preparation of the nail plate.  Cleanse your nails well with a 91% or higher alcohol solution prior to application.

Some polishes will still shrink regardless.  My solution to this problem is to apply the color onto one or two nails and then put them in my lamp for just a few seconds to give them a partial cure, also known as flash curing.  It makes the polish stay in place while I apply color to the rest of my nails.  Once I have all of my nails polished I cure them all for the full length of time.

How do you work with gel polishes that are thick and tend to “wrinkle” when curing?

Some of the highly pigmented gel polishes are thicker and will sometimes wrinkle when you cure them.  With these polishes you need to apply very thin coats.  Try warming your polish before using it by placing the bottle in warm water before using it.  You can also use a gel polish thinner to make the consistency a little thinner and easier to apply.  I have done this with a few of the wrinklers and it helped a lot.  Here are links to a few gel polish thinners:  LaRosa, Gelos (from Lechat), Glam & Glits thinner

Can acetone be used to thin gel polish?

No.  Gel polish has has a special formula that allows it to cure with UV light technology.  I recommend using a thinner that is made specifically for gel polishes.  See the links above.

Can I mix and match gel polish brands (ie, use Gelish foundation and TIO with another brand of color)?

Yes.  I often use my Gelish foundation and top coat with other brands.

Can gel polish be used for stamping?

In my experience, no.  Gel polishes tend to self-level making it very hard to get crisp lines when stamping.  You also don’t usually get full opacity with one coat, so it just doesn’t work well.  I normally use regular nail polish to stamp on top of my gel manicures.  I apply the top coat, wipe it clean, stamp, and then top coat again.  And if you mess up when stamping you can just wipe it off and try again!

I get a lot of questions about stamping, which is why I created a basic intro to stamping video (watch it here).

Can I use regular nail polish with a gel foundation and/or top coat?

I have applied the Gelish foundation and/or Structure gel on my nails and then polished them with a regular polish and regular top coat.  When doing this it is possible to remove the regular nail polish with a non-acetone remover and then reapply another color.  I don’t recommend using a glitter polish because that requires some soaking and will damage the gel base.  Also, the base will start to wear/peel after a couple of applications/removals.

I have also applied regular polish in between the Gelish foundation and top coat (this is called a gelly sandwich).  When doing this you have to be sure that the regular nail polish is completely dry before applying the top coat.  If it’s not dry you can get some puckering in the polish and you can still mess up your nails if you bump them on something.  Allow the regular nail polish to dry for at least 1-2 hours before applying your gel top coat.  Read more about the gelly sandwich technique here.

There are also some products on the market that allow you to create gel polish colors using regular nail polish.  Read my review of Gelibility here.

As I mentioned above, I also use regular nail polish for stamping.  Since stamping generally doesn’t cover the whole nail my stamped manicures usually last just as long as a regular gel manicure.

What type of lamp do you use and can you recommend a good UV or LED lamp?  Why isn’t my polish curing with XYZ lamp?

I’m currently using the Gelish 18G LED lamp, but previously used a Thermal Spa UV lamp (they’re both great lamps).  Click here to see all of my lamp reviews.

I receive SO many questions about nail lamps, wattage, my opinion on various brands and which polishes cure with which lamps.  I can only provide information about the lamps that I’ve used and cannot answer questions about every lamp available.

Can you tell me which gel polish brands are UV and/or LED curable?

I started a spreadsheet with some of the more commonly known brands, and listed whether they require UV or LED lamps for curing.  Remember that ALL gel polishes are UV curable, but not all are LED curable.  View the list of brands here.

Do you use a matte top coat and/or why does your finish look matte and not glossy?

I do not typically use a matte top coat, but when I do it is clearly stated in the post.  I take all of my photos in a homemade lightbox which filters the light, often causing the finish to appear matte.  I have very recently adjusted my lighting setup so that the light isn’t as heavily filtered.

What type of camera do you use?

All of my photos and videos are taken with my iPhone 5C… no fancy cameras here.  Yes, really.  :)

How do you care for your hands and cuticles and keep them looking good with the frequency of your polish changes?

I always moisturize my hands after applying gel polish and any time my hands feel dry in general.  My favorite lotions are True Blue paraffin lotion from Bath & Body Works and Aveda Hand Therapy.  I apply cuticle oil very frequently, and always have some handy on my desk and in my purse.  I also use CND cuticle remover about once a week, and I occasionally use my heated spa mitts or parafin bath when I want to pamper my hands a little.  ;)

Do you have a list of gel polishes that fade?

The Gelish colors that I have experienced fading with are mostly lilacs, pinks, and mauves.  There is a column on my stash spreadsheet that denotes which colors fade with exposure to natural light.  See it here.

What is a swatch?

A swatch is a demonstration of a color or pattern.  If you were going to paint a room in your house, you might go to the hardware store and look at swatches of paint colors to help find the perfect shade.  On this blog you’ll find swatches/examples of gel nail polish colors.  These swatches demonstrate what the color(s) looks like on a live person’s nails because it’s very hard to decide on colors just by looking at pictures of bottles or little color pops when shopping for nail polish online.

What does SOG stand for?

SOG is an abbreviation for “Soak-Off-Gel” polish.  I also often refer to it as just “gel polish”.  My definition of a SOG is any nail polish that requires UV light technology to cure (aka dry/harden), and soaking for removal.

Here are links to some other articles I have written with gel polish tips & tricks:

299 Responses

  1. Thanks for providing us a sog faq it’s really helpful :)

  2. Deana says:

    I love your website and have become addicted to Gelish! I have a question maybe you could answer… I bought Lady in Red and have found that it bleeds into my skin/cuticles a lot and makes for a messy application. Do you recommend another red that is a bit thicker when it’s applied? Thanks so much! Deana

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Deana. Backstage Beauty is a thicker red that won’t bleed. :)

      • Deana says:

        Thanks so much!!! :D

      • Mal Timmons says:

        Hello, have used you’re so sweet..gelish and it,s faded, apart from that it’s been great! Got it online, so was not sure if it was genuine, and that’s why it’s faded? But then i saw your comment about the ones that fade! Do you buy yours direct from Harmony? When i asked at Sallys beauty shop, she said it was prob because it was not genuine, even though it said 100% genuine..what do you think? Love your site…Mal..Nail Tech

        • Andrea says:

          That color is known to fade, as are a few others. It’s just the formula and has nothing to do with not being genuine.

          • Mal Timmons says:

            Really appreciate your feedback. ..Gonna send it back..been on 12 days, it.’s practicly white now! I want a baby pink like this one. Which one do you suggest, that doesn’t fade? Many thanks. ..Mal

          • Andrea says:

            Pink Smoothie doesn’t fade.

          • Mal Timmons says:

            Thanks Andrea, have ordered pink smoothie! Now i’m addicted too….haaaaaaaaaaaa….x

  3. Tiina says:

    Hi Andrea,
    So glad I found your blog! I’ve been very interested in do-it-yourself soak off gels, but haven’t had much luck with them. First I tried IBD, but I had a dreadful time soaking them off. Next I tried Shellac, but I kept having problems with chipping no matter how carefully I followed the directions. Most recently I purchased the Nailene Sensationail starter kit and I absolutely love it! I’ve had the gel on my nails almost two weeks with only one tiny chip so far. I got tired of the light pink color that came in the kit, so the second week I painted right on top of the gel with my regular nail polish and top coat and my manicure still looks good. I can’t believe how much my nails have grown now that they have the gel protecting them. I never want to be without gel nails again!! The Sensationail kit comes with a small LED light. I wonder if that’s why I’m having better luck with my gels this time? With the IBD and Shellac, I was using a regular UV lamp. Anyway, I’m so glad that you’re starting to post Ink swatches. It sounds like you’re pleased with Ink and you said they don’t take as long to soak off. Thanks to your swatches, I just placed an order for some Ink gels. Can’t wait to try them out. I’m also thinking I might pull my Konad stamps out of storage now that I don’t have to stamp perfect on the first try. I just never could get them placed right, but now that I can wipe my mistake right off and redo, I just might master this stamping thing. Thank you so much for your tutorials and SOG information … it has helped me tremendously!

  4. adele says:

    hi Andrea.
    I must say me and you both have the same addictiion for gel and gel polishes. I am working in a bank and my addiction started soon after a visit to a nail salon. I bought a lamp and got friends with the owner of the salon and she allowed me to buy gel products. Very soon ihad more gel colours than i ended up having pots and pots of bio sculpture. About a year ago i started getting skin dermititus using the uv lamp. My fingers would get swollen,cuticles very sore. Lets just say a sight for sore eyes. So if you have some advise on what i can use to protect hands against the uv i would…. I then heard about the led lamp. The next best thing since sliced bread. I bought the harmony gelish and i once again had gorgeos nails without the rash. Led no bad affect as yet. Do you perhaps have a tutorial on gelish hard gel using the dual forms. Apparently quick way of extending a nail without the hassle. Bought it,but not tried out. Gelish is also not very expensive on ebay. I order to be delivered to south africa. I do want to say your colour swatches is fab… Before your stumbeling across your site, the colours are very misleading… many thanks for doing this.

    • Andrea says:

      I’m glad to hear that the LED light works better for you. Luckily I’ve never had any issues. You can protect against UV by using a lotion with sunblock or using the UV gloves. I haven’t used the hard gel.

  5. Ashlee says:

    Just a quick question… I’m looking to expand my colors outside of just the Gelish brand. I have a 36W UV light, no LED light. What are the possible different brands you have used that work with the UV light? I know some are specifically made for just the LED and don’t want to purchase the wrong brand for the wrong light. Thanks so much, love your blog!!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Ashlee. All gel polishes cure with a UV light. LED is the one that’s spotty :) I really like the Ink and Couture brands as well as IBD.

      • Ashlee says:

        Awesome, thanks for the feed back! My amazon wish list is going to be miles long now! haha. thanks again for having such a great go-to for all us nail peeps!! :)

  6. Dea says:

    I’m making nail color swatches for all of my polishes (with plastic nail palettes). When I get to the gels (it’s all Gellish), what’s the easiest way to do them? Will I have to polish the “nail” with the base, color, & top and cure them like normal, or will the polish dry on it’s own?

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t use foundation when swatching gel on the swatch sticks. I paint the color right onto the plastic swatch stick or wheel and then I apply a thin layer of top coat and wipe off the tacky layer.

      • Dea says:

        So no curing? How long do you let them “dry” before wiping off the tacky layer? And what do you use to wipe it off with? Thanks for your help!!

        • Andrea says:

          You still have to cure each coat that you apply. After curing the top coat, wipe it off with a lint-free wipe and some alcohol.

      • Shauna says:

        Do u use foundation on your enhancements, acrylic n sns?

      • Aimee says:

        Hi,can I ask is it okay to use gel polish to the gel extension I make. It will not easy to take off the gel polish after I make the gel, they are different products. I used lcn gel… To extend the nails and after that the client she want gel color but I only have gel polish harmony brand.

        • Andrea says:

          You can use gel polish over gel extensions, but my understanding is that it will have to be filed off when you do the next fill.

  7. Mal Timmons says:

    Hi Andrea, does the gelish stay as well on Very short nails, where there is really no free edge to cap it under? Also, is there any colours that take any more than 2 mins curing per coat under uv? I saw a few comments from people that very dark ones took longer? Can’t see how, or why! What do you think? Keep up the good work…Mal from the UK…x

    • Andrea says:

      Yes, Gelish will stay on short nails. I have never had to cure any color longer than 2 minutes under a UV light. Sometimes they take longer than normal with an LED light though. :)

      • Mal Timmons says:

        Thanks Andrea…just painted over mine with regular polish, got bored with the colour, but couldn’t be bothered to soak it off! Thanks again for your help!! xx

  8. Mal Timmons says:

    Hi Andrea…does the sheek white work well for french? Have you got a pic on here of french mani? Thanks Mal….

    • Mal Timmons says:

      It’s ok ..found the pic of french! Can you suggest a cream colour ..not glitter. .do they do one? Full coverage. ..xx

  9. Hannah says:


    I’m really stuck trying to find a dupe for Nails Inc Porchester Square. I was originally thinking Medival Madness (as you said it comes up grey in swatches I’ve seen) but it almost khaki, then I’ve seen Cashmere Kind Of Girl but think that’s quite light – is it shimmery/almost silver? Sorry to be cheeky I just struggle as the bottles look nothing like the actual colours at times!

    Many thanks, love your website!

    Hannah x

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Hannah! Medieval Madness is the closest one that I know of, except it seems a little more tan than Porchester Square. Porchester Square actually seems to have a very slight red or purple tint to it. Cashmere Kind of Gal is a light grey cream – no shimmer. I know what you mean about the bottles and swatches not looking like the actual colors :)

  10. Mal Timmons says:

    Hi Andrea, Once nails are topcoated in, can you add extra colour? ie..gossip girl over your red to change it a bit? Do you have to start from beginning with base coat etc? xx

    • Andrea says:

      You can do that – you just have to top coat it again. :)

      • Mal Timmons says:

        Thanks us some more info on the lacquit! Is it as good as the 3 stages we use now? Can’t seem to find it here in the UK at the moment to buy, to see what it’s like. Keep up the good work.. you do an amazing job on here…Mal..UK

  11. Nicci says:

    Hello :) trying to find the best colours to create a nice solid gold and silver glitter combination (separately of course). Any ideas? I just want to be able to have a feature gold or silver glitter nail every now and then. Nicci :)

  12. Yvonne says:

    Hi Andrea! I came across your website almost a year ago while searching for info on Gelish. You are a great inspiration to DIY gel mani and I greatly admire your talent! I recently came across a new product from CND called Vinylux. Have you heard of it and if so are you planning on trying it out? It’s more like a regular polish. No need for LED/UV or base coat. Simply two coats of product and then the top coat… CND claims 7 day no chip.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Yvonne. I’ve heard of Vinylux, but have not tried it yet. A friend tried it and she loved it… said the removal was super easy and it had really good wear compared to regular nail polish.

  13. Jean says:

    Just finished a clients nails (french Shellac) i’m only new to doing shellac, havnt had any problems, but we were talking so much that ive just realised i forgot to apply the base coat! I buffed and used scrubfresh. will it chip or peel straight away?

    • Andrea says:

      Chances are that she will have chips and/or peeling within a few days without a base coat.

      • amber says:

        hi I am a nail tech and like you love gelish! I have just tried gelux base coat and gelish colour followed by gelux top coat.that was today got in the bath tonite and my right hand started to peel? any ideas?

        • Andrea says:

          Hi Amber. I’m not familiar with this brand, but it sounds like either the base didn’t cure properly or your nails weren’t completely dry/oil-free before applying the base.

  14. Suzy says:

    Hi Ange!,

    I’m a self-admitted gobber when it comes to nails but I’m realy giving this gel stuff a go because the results are so fab. Here’s my dilemma: I bought a Royal Nails 54W Professioanl Uv Light gel and acrylic nail dryer. It had lots of great reviews and I successfully used your instructions to remove what was put on at the salon. Now comes my turn to do it myself and naturally the gates of hell opened (ok I exaggerated ). I buffed up each nail gently, then used alcohol whites to clean nails. Each step for topcoat to two color coats to base oat took at least 6-8minutes. I was super bummed .I contacted Royal Nails and they said “0hno” each step should take 2 minutes so , ” it must have been the way I shook the bottles” Right. I tried 3 different brands so unlikely they would react the same..HELP!? I would love to buy the 18w led lamp like you have for time savings and skin protection. I’m very,very fair. I know the one you use and love is about 100.00 more than I wanted to pay . So I guess my bottom line question is there a good led amp that tuns around 100-120.00 . Also,I want to be clear on what gels I can use. I know Gelish (love it) not sure if comd shellac would work anymorem? I rally appeciate you so much and I hope may me my questions won’t too m .,

    • Andrea says:

      It sounds like your light is a dud. A UV lamp should cure ALL gel polishes in 2 minutes (per coat). I’m only familiar with the RCM and Gelish mini LED lamps and the 18G lamp. The mini ones work well and are affordable, but they only cure 4 fingers at once and thumbs have to be done separately. The Shellacs that I tried did cure in my LED lamp. I’ve only used a handful of brands, so I can’t give a full list of LED compatible brands. So far I have tried Gelish, Ink, Couture, Shellac, Daisy, IBD and OPI. I’m pretty sure they were all LED compatible.

  15. Suzy says:

    Yikes, I got your name wrong and made so many typos it looks like my dog took over my keyboard. I’m amazed you could understand all my blunders. Seriously, you are a Goddess for responding so quickly. I agree with you. I think I got a dud. I’ve read most of your website and it seems like you were really happy with your UV Thermal Spa before you made the leap to your 18W Gelish. I think I will give that one a try and save up for the Gelish. I never cared at all about nails until I had them done for a special occasion and now I’m kind of obsessed. I love your website. The istructions are really concise and clear and your passion and positive attitude inspires. Thanks so much. This is going to be so much fun…;-)

  16. Pascale says:

    Hi Andrea,
    I still haven’t buy any UV gel polish, I’m still reading and looking at videos. I found this website where they sale tons of products for nails: If I don’t want to spend to much to start, do you think these (japanese I guess) products are good?

    Another question, can I mix two different colors gel polish to create a new color (example: if I have a red and a white, can I mix them both to get a pink, so I won’t have to buy a pink?)

    Thanks for this very interesting blog and sharing all your tricks!

    (Hope you can understand my average English!)

    • Andrea says:

      Hello – I don’t have any experience with these brands or mixing colors, so unfortunately I can’t provide any advice in this area.

  17. Pam says:

    I’ve just done my first Gelish manicure and I was instantly converted! My question, though, is can I put another base/color/topcoat on top of the old one in two weeks, sort of like a “fill” at a salon? I’m dreading the soak off, because of any type of manicure I do, it’s the dreaded ACETONE that damages my nails. And if I can, do I need the base coat, or just the color and topcoat?

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Pam. I recommend completely removing and reapplying when you are ready to change colors because gel polish is not meant to be permanent like acrylics or hard gel. Your base will eventually chip and peel. You absolutely need the base coat with Gelish for long-lasting wear. Without the base you will have lifting within a few days. There are other brands that don’t require a base coat if you are looking to save time/steps.

      • Pam says:

        I just wanted to come back and note I have had very good luck with “fills” vs. soaking off. I have had no problem with chipping after a light buff of the top surface of the previous gel color and repeating the entire process right on top. And the two manicures give added strength. My nails are now longer than they have ever been (aside from getting professional acrylics) and I don’t have to pay a fortune in the salon. I love Gelish.

      • mariamma says:

        Hi Andrea, 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.

        • Andrea says:

          Prep really is key, and also making sure you’re curing the polishes for the proper time with a good lamp. Some of the lower powered lamps don’t cure well which then causes early lifting. You can use Structure gel under any gel color, but that isn’t going to help the polish last longer.

  18. Torrie says:

    I have been reading your blog for a while now and love it :)
    I have several gelish colors a few IBD colors and two RCM colors :) my issue is I have really fragile nails and the polish doesn’t give me strength like I want :( it stays on my nails well
    just doesn’t add strength…I have the gelish vitagel recovery but haven’t noticed anything with added strength
    I have also tried gelish structure which helps some I just hate applying six layers of product on my nails for extra strength…have any if your viewers experienced gelish polish helping their weak nails? I end up applying harmony hard gel, 2 coats of gelish color, and top coat…and it worx well I just feel like I’m wasting products since I have to use so many layers :(

    • Andrea says:

      Gel polish should give you some added strength while you’re wearing it, but it won’t strengthen your natural nails. You do need something like Vitagel or a nail strengthener. I’ve started using something called Quimica Alemana. I will warn you that it has harsh chemicals in it and some people have severe reactions to it, so it’s not for everyone. I can wear this right under my gel polish and still get the same long-lasting wear out of my polish. You can also try taking Biotin.

    • Mal Timmons says:

      Hi Torrie, like Andrea said, it’s not designed for that much strength and that many coats. You are doing the right thing, just use hard gel, or acrylic, and overlay your own nails, and paint with regualar polish, as it stays on Gel and acrylic anyway! If you want total strength, then use what works for you. I’m lucky, like Andrea to have decent nails, so we can get away with our lovely gel polishes, which i’ve been waiting all my life for someone to invent!!! lol..and they did!! Then i found Andreas fantastic site, and based on her very good knowledge of this product, i bought it for me, and now doing my clients as well, however, it’s not for everyone, and i still have my clients that will always want the length and strength of the acrylics!! Hope you didn’t mind me posting this on your site Andrea? And can you tell me if you have ever had to use any thinners in these gel polishes? Cheers guys…Nail Tech UK…

  19. adele van der mescht says:

    hi Andrea
    i am looking for something i am unable to find and your are actually my last resort. you know the normal gelish size “cutex size” bottles. i am looking to buy some of those gel screw on brushes as i was sitting under a shade when i did my nails and the brushes all of a sudden when like hard and i am battling to apply the you know where on ebay or website i can buy these brushes.i would appreciate it.

    • Andrea says:

      It sounds like your brushes were exposed to UV light (sunlight or the light from your lamp) which made them harden. Unfortunately I don’t know where to buy replacement brushes, but I’ll ask on my FB page and in some of the groups that I belong to. I have a brush that needs to be replaced too.

      • adele says:

        Id really appreciate it thanks. Wanna to tell you to look at the glitter gal halographic nail polishes and the indi enchanted polish range.Its awsome and defn something you would fancy. The polish is so unique but very pricy.

  20. Marcela says:

    Hi Andrea,
    I love your site! I want to try at-home SOG but don’t have the money to invest in the Gelish brand. What’s your opinion on the cheaper brands like IBD?

  21. Natasha Bartholomew says:

    Hi! I love love love your blog! Question… Do you ever get the top coat seperating when putting it on over stamping? I use artistic colour gloss, which is very similar to gelish and do the sames steps as you ie. Top coat, cleanse, stamp, top coat, but the last top coat often has tiny circles that sort of open up like there is oil on it or something….I hope that makes sense…a second coat of top coat usually does the trick covering it all but would prefer not to have to do this extra step…any ideas??

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Natasha. I’ve never experienced that with any of the top coat brands I’ve tried (Kiss, Gelish, Ink, Shellac). You might consider trying a different brand. Kiss is a drug store brand and many of my friends swear by it. I just started using it and it is shinier than Gelish.

      • Jennifer says:

        I have had this happen before, it is because the surface of the nail is too smooth, a good thing in a nail tech’s world but bad for the top coat! :) What I do id kind of push the brush of the top coat around on the nail surface & it seems to make the top coat adhere to the surface better. I usually catch it right away & if you have it happen & you don’t catch it, just put another top coat on and recure.

  22. Natasha Bartholomew says:

    Thanks for your reply! That’s so strange…I’m in Australia so I’ll see if I can source kiss here, or i guess I’ll try it with gelish :-) Thanks again!

  23. Rebecca says:

    Hya I’m also new to gel and currently building a collection of gelish!
    Please can somebody help, I want to paint nail pops with each of my gelish polishes to use as a guide on colours but wondered do I apply the colour straight to the plastic or do I use foundation first? Also dobi use top coat?
    Obviously it’s just for a display on my nail desk help!

  24. Nikolasa says:

    Kia ora Andrea, I have a strange question… have u heard of peope get really sensitive fingertips after using Gel polish? Mine are feeling strange, it’s the small area just where the nail meets the skin on the underside of my nails. I’ve been using Gelish for the last 3 or so months but this is the first time I’ve used the gelish “recovery” vitamin enriched SOG. I used it as a base coat with two coats of My Nightly Craving and then um er topped it of with the same recovery polish (no top coat) – the directions say it can be used as a base with no topping.

    I’ve removed the mani and see what’s going on underneath, nails look fine, no redness underneath, no discoloration but still a weird sensitive tingling feeling (only when I push on them – not so good for typing doh!), but wondered if you have heard of this happening and what to do? I’ve been massaging olive oil into my nails.

    I’m thinking maybe give them 24hours without anything (scary because I have such thin nails, they probably won’t last the day intact!!) and see how we go tomorrow… hmmm.

    • Andrea says:

      I have heard of some people having sensitivity to certain gel polishes and allergic reactions. I’m not sure how to treat it though. If it’s not painful you may want to wait it out and see if it goes away, but if not definitely check with your doctor. I get the tingling (almost a burning sensation) with one non-gel nail product and it usually only lasts up to a day and then goes away.

  25. Nikolasa says:

    Thanks for that Andrea, yep I’m in a FB nail group and some of the ladies said the same thing. Maybe a reaction to the Vitagel Recovery polish, so I took it off and waited till most of the sensation/sensitivity went away (and they did in one had for the most part and the other was better too after about 5 hours). I’ve reapplied a basic mani with Gelish regular SOG and will see how it goes overnight and tomorrow, ammmm so hoping I haven’t just gone and gotten all allergic to what I found to be the best AND most fun nail polishes in the world! Appreciate your quick response :)

  26. Caroline Streeter says:

    Please could you answer a question for me I have gel polished my nails today but there not as shiny as usual can I put seche vite over top to make shiny! Thanks x

  27. Krista says:

    can I add another coat of color after I have topped it off? I realized it was too light and I am not sure if it is okay to do this???

  28. Carleigh says:

    Hi Andrea! First of all, I love your blog! It is so helpful to me.

    I have a quick question, when I am doing my gel nails, after I apply the Top It Off and cure it and go to wipe them with the lint free wipe and cleanser, a small bit of color shows up on the wipe. The nail still looks fine and doesn’t have any bald patches or drag marks or evidence of missing color anywhere. Does this mean that I am not getting a full cure?

    • Andrea says:

      You probably just had a little bit of color that was either on your skin or that wasn’t covered by your top coat. It’s normal to see a little color on the wipe at the end.

  29. Christina Borutski says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I currently have a SOG on my nails that is very pale in color. I don’t have time to take it off for an event I’m attending, is it possible to apply a darker color over top if I buff the nail to take the shine off? Thanks

  30. Lindsay says:

    Hi Andrea!

    I am a Gelish fanatic and your swatches have been invaluable to me! I haven’t tried any other brand of gel polish with my base and TIO but now that I have a good “library” of Gelish colors, I sometimes find myself pining for something new. I have a Mini Pro 45 LED curing lamp, I love it! I saw you said some polish brands are iffy with the LED, do you have a list of those? Just so I know what I am getting myself into before I buy and try!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Lindsay. I don’t have a formal list since I also have only ventured out into a few brands so far, but I know that most brands are coming out with LED compatible polishes now. I believe the older Daisy gels were UV only, as are Shellac and Gelaxy. I’ll ask in my FB groups to see if I can compile a list of UV only polishes and add them to the FAQ’s. Thanks!

  31. Ashlee says:

    Hi Andrea!

    A Few Quick questions… I just bought some stamping plates and a stamper but havent had time to expirement yet. When applying a stamp to gels, do you apply your polish and TIO, whipe dry and then stamp? or do you stamp and then try to apply your first coat of TIO?

    Also i bought some nail decals (like your mustach ones from Lucky Star) and I applied them after my color coats of gel and then sealed them in with my TIO. With in a few days it was as if the TIO chipped off the decal and the decal got all messed up. Have you had trouble with this??

    Thanks for your advice and awesome blog!!!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Ashlee. I usually stamp over the TIO and then apply another layer of TIO over the stamp. The same goes for decals. Some decals last/stay better than others – it’s a bit hit and miss.

  32. p. says:

    have you tried any of the new essie gels yet?!

  33. Robyn says:

    I just started using gel polish & love it!! I’m still learning what works well and what doesn’t. I always buff the nail, cleanse, do base, 2 coats of color and a top coat. It feels good and heavy at the time but after a week starts to chip or feel thin. I am wondering if I can now (no chipping yet this time) can apply a couple more coats directly to already done manicure? I feel like if I add a few more coats I’ll have the thickness it needs. I was going to use the same color and same top coat, etc. Thank you in advance!

    • Andrea says:

      You can do that. Maybe just try adding another layer of top coat so they don’t get too thick. Usually the bond of the foundation to your natural nail is what causes or prevents chipping and not the other layers.

  34. Jacqueline McIntosh says:

    Hi there!
    I love your website! I wonder if you could help me decide between Rose Garden and Queen Of Hearts? I’m looking for a dark red/burgundy colour with some shimmer in it. I see you have swatched both colours but I wonder if you could tell me which is darker? I have Inner Vixen and Elegant Wish, so I’m looking for something lighter but not as light as Good Gossip. Thank you,

    • Andrea says:

      Queen of Hearts is darker than Rose Garden and has a better shimmer finish. It’s redder than Elegant Wish, which has some brownish tones to it. I think Queen of Hearts is one of the best reds.

      • Jacqueline McIntosh says:

        Thank you for that, I can’t wait to try it! Looking forward to your next swatches.

  35. p. says:

    what gelish color would you recommend if im looking for a tiffany’s blue?

  36. Lynne says:

    Hi love your blog,

    I am new to gel polish, can I apply to false nail tips or do I need to apply anything else prior to base coat etc


    • Andrea says:

      I’ve never tried using nail tips. You might check out YouTube for some videos or info. I would think that the soak off process would damage the tips.

  37. Alma says:

    Hello, I am new to SOG and recently purchased a 36W UV lamp to do my gel manicure at home. A friend and I bought Daisy no bond no base SOG. Have you ever used those? So far all the colors seem to work but I’m having a hard time with the black gel polish. I tried applying thin coats, thicker coats, and for some reason either it keeps getting bad wrinkles or not curing properly. Some nails cured properly but some even after applying two clear top coats and curing once I clean with alcohol it comes off :( Do you think I just got a bad polish? Maybe I’m doing something wrong? I didn’t have this problem with any other color.

    • Andrea says:

      I have used some of the Daisy gels and didn’t have an issue with curing, but I didn’t try the black color. You might try writing the manufacturer or store that they were purchased from to get advice or a refund. Sometimes darker colors are harder to cure and all I can really recommend is thin coats and longer curing times. With a UV lamp, it should cure.

  38. p. says:

    if your gel manicure starts peeling, can you put another coat of top coat on it to stop the peeling?

    • Andrea says:

      No, at that point it needs to be removed and reapplied.

      • p. says:

        do you have any ideas on why it would peel? could it be because the nail is too weak?

        • Andrea says:

          Either the nails are damaged and/or peeling or the foundation didn’t get a good bond to the nail which could have been caused by oils on the nail.

          • p. says:

            well i use a dehydrator and i used to use that always and never had a problem but for the last month i cant figure out why they peel three days later. im at a loss of what to do…

          • Andrea says:

            Maybe your lamp is going and the polish isn’t getting a proper cure? Just a thought. Idk.

          • p. says:

            i will look into that hope it works because this is truly irritating that i cant get the full 2 weeks polish!!! thank you for your help! sorry for all the questions all the time! :)

  39. Glenda says:

    Andrea, love your site & blog. I am having a hard time finding a good selection of the Mini Gelish polishes. Any suggestions? Thank You for all your hard work!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Glenda, the minis are only available for sale at Sally Beauty Supply. You can sometimes find a few of them on Amazon or Ebay, but Sally’s is the only place that carries all of them.

  40. Mary Lou says:

    I have a question that I haven’t seen asked.
    I do my Gelish manicure at home. I just got a pedicure using regular polish, and liked the color so much that I bought a bottle.
    My question is, can I apply the regular polish on top of my gel top coat, or only on top of gel polish?
    Thank you

    • Andrea says:

      You can apply it over your gel top coat. You may have to re-apply after a couple of days, but you can use non-acetone remover to take off just he RNP and then reapply it.

  41. Mary Lou says:


  42. Mary says:

    Hi, just found your website today looking up gelish colours and it’s great thanks. Was just wondering do you have to use the gelish base and top coats or is it ok to use a different brand?

  43. Nicole says:

    Hi, I love your site! I’m hoping you can help me. I’ve recently been playing around with stamping and picked up the Matte top it off. I love the matte with glossy stamp look that I’ve seen on Pinterest, but the top coats don’t seem to stamp well. It’s almost like they just smoosh onto the nail. Any tips?

    • Andrea says:

      You can’t stamp with gel polish, color or top coats. Typically the glossy design over a matte finish is hand drawn, not stamped.

  44. natalie says:

    Hi Andrea, im a longtime reader and love your blog! I have a question about black / dark SOGs:
    Can you please share your technique for these types of colors? I feel like no matter what I do (thin coats, extra cure times) it still wipes off after TIO and looks patchy! Its so frustrating! I know you have the answer bcuz you’ve even gotten nail art with black SOGs perfected! I luuuuuuved your edgy Valentines day pink n black nail art!

  45. christine says:

    I love your work. Where do you get your alcohol lint free wipes?

    • Andrea says:

      At the drugstore (Walgreens)

      • Mikki says:

        I was under the impression that you need to be using 99% alcohol (which, to be honest, I haven’t found readily available, but I do get 91% alcohol). Those alcohol wipes from the drugstore only use 70% alcohol. How is that adequate to completely remove the tacky layer or for use in prepping the nail bed before base coat, especially for the latter, because the more dehydrated the nail surface the better for good adhesion. I have a separate question as well. I got introduced to at-home “gelling” about 3-4 years ago when Mally Roncal introduced her system. She included a “primer” step between the “prep” step and the base coat, which is an uncured brush-on step that seems to provide extra adherence for the base coat (and also makes removal more challenging!). For those folks who have written about having trouble with peeling or lifting, even though they indicate doing everything right, would a primer product be helpful in those situations? One tip/trick that I learned about using a primer that still provides the benefit yet not making it impossible to get off the gels later is to only brush it on around the edges of the nail bed, leaving the center of the nail bed “unprimed” (yet certainly still prepped with the dehydrator). This has been a great tip. I’ve done it that way several times now, and it works. Only once have I had an issue with my gels lifting, and this was only on a single finger, and after they’d been done for over a week. I might not have done a great job of priming all the way around.

        • Andrea says:

          Yes, 91% alcohol or higher is recommended for cleansing/prepping prior to application. 70% alcohol can be used for cleansing the tacky layer after application. Primers do help with lifting and peeling and I also recommend only applying it in the trouble areas and not on the entire nail because it will cause your soak-offs to be more challenging.

  46. Nicole says:

    I’ve always had a problem with weak, bendy, and peeling nails. I love SOG because I feel like they’re stronger, but I still have problems with the nails breaking under the gel and then ruining my beautiful manicure. Suggestions?

  47. Fania says:

    Hello Andrea. I do my nails at home and i use only gelish but i have to buy them from ebay as i live in cyprus and the cost here is 32€ per gel :S so i am wondering if you could tell me some brands that i can use with gelish foundation and top coat and have a good result together. Thank you for answering my questions :)

  48. Suzanne C. says:

    Good Morning!
    I purchased some alcohol wipes at Walgreens but they are not lint free and they are kind of thick. Is there anywhere else you have found them or wipes in general? I am having a terrible time with lint on my nails! I have to get tweezers out and pick it all off and it is messing up my polish. I stopped using the fan on my lamp thinking maybe it was dusty. I cannot figure out where this is coming from! Is this the weirdest question ever ?
    Thank you,

    • Andrea says:

      I’m not sure. I would think that a beauty supply store or drug store would sell lint-free wipes that you can just add cleanser or alcohol to. You can also use plain old paper towels (the non-fuzzy kind).

  49. Michelle says:

    Hi Andrea, I recently have had gel polish on for awhile with no resting the nails and a couple of times changed the gel within two days

    • Michelle says:

      I don’t know what happened to the rest of my text… During the last removal I noticed a crack 1/4 up the nail and it was inflamed with pain. I let the nails rest for a week with miracle cure and the nail is no longer inflamed and hurting. The nail did crack all the way to the edge and now has a gap with the split. Is there any way to repair the nail so i can get my gel polish back on?

  50. Patti says:

    Hello Andrea! I’m slow to try new things, so just now learning about the gel nail polish process. Bought a UV light, polish, & top coat. My initial trial run went OK, but I got way too much on my nails & cuticles so a day later off that stuff came. 2nd try seems to be better, however one thumb nail’s polish seemed to thin when I put the top coat on – I’ll allow it to cure longer in the future. QUESTION: Can I reapply polish and top coat over the thin looking one and redo the UV process without first removing the thin looking stuff? Thanks much!

  51. Pamela says:

    I went to nail salon and she forgot to put the top coat on one hand what should I do? The surface is not that smooth as the one hand that has? Can I apply regular shine on top?

  52. Christine M. says:

    Hi –
    I’ve noticed that my nails hurt when I cure the Gelish structure, and then again when I cure the TIO.
    Kind of like a burning sensation… is this normal? If not, what might be causing it?

    • Andrea says:

      You mean you can feel it get hot on your nails while curing, right? I have experienced that with the clear coats – they seem to heat up a bit in the lamp. Apply thinner coats to avoid this. Also, if your nails are very thin or damaged from something like acrylic removal you will be a little more sensitive to the heat.

  53. Christine M. says:

    Definitely feels hot while curing the clear coats. I removed my acrylics back in November, but the nails are taking their sweet time growing back out this time. I was using gel to protect them, but gave up and trimmed them all back for now.

  54. Maria Aquilina says:

    Hi Pamela ,

    I do not have a cleanser to clean off the sticky residue and the result is a bit sticky. Can I use something else meanwhile till I get a proper cleanser?

  55. Phuong says:

    Hi Andrea, what others best gel polish topcoat other than gelish??? I notice they are not as shiny.. Thanks

  56. Debbie says:

    Hi there,
    Using artistic colour gloss.. All goes well up to applying
    the glossing gel/top coat… When I apply there
    Seems to be tiny dents appear? Any ideas?

  57. Mal Timmons says:

    Hi Andrea, I am probably going to buy the 5-45 led lamp, just can’t afford your one yet! Did you use it much?need honest opinion on it. Fed up with how fast the bulbs go, and become intermittent on my uv lamp. Can’t trust it on my clients! Have you ever had, or known of any problems with curing any colours with this lamp? Many thanks Mal

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Mal – I don’t own the 5-45 lamp, but my other two Gelish lamps are great quality so I assume this lamp would have the same quality as well. I’m pretty sure this lamp cures the same as the 18G, it just doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles.

      • Mal Timmons says:

        Thanks Andrea, will just take longer than yours, as long as the curing isn’t intamitant ever. You never get a warning on my uv lamp! Just gone. Was a good make too, asp. So frustrating! The company say to change them bulbs every 4 months. Very costly really. Getting about 30 sets out of bulbs costing£15….will let you know how I go. Keep up the good work…..Mal

  58. Danielle says:

    So I have a question or really a concern. Just got home from the nail salon and looking back I think the lady forgot to do the top coat after applying the gel polish. She did two coats of the gel and cured them under the light and then did the cotton ball with alcohol. They look nice but I’m concerned. Please help. Thank you

    • Andrea says:

      Are they shiny? If you don’t have all of the stuff to do a gel polish mani at home all you can really do is go back to the salon and ask them to apply a top coat.

  59. Laura Sadowski says:

    Quick question about your comment of not using foundation if you only want it to last a few days. Does everything still cure ok? I’m a regular Gelish user but leave thE polish on for almost a month usually but this time I just want to do my nails for a wedding tomorrow and maybe have it last through the weekend without the foundation removal process. Would the no foundation plan work? Does it still look nice?

    • Andrea says:

      You can actually use a regular nail polish base coat and it will work and look the same as normal except you just let the regular base dry. You could also go without a base, but if you’re wearing it for a couple of days you may want something underneath to prevent staining.

  60. Emma says:

    Hi Andrea, you have made my day – Your attention to detail in your information and posts is just fantastic :o) Please can you tell me how you store your Gelish – I have 30 bottles in a drawer (within a plastic cabinet under my nail desk) but have read several posts on other sites on ‘how you should/shoudnt store gel polish’ – Any tips you have would be wonderful :o) Thank you x

    • Andrea says:

      I have a big custom built wall shelf that holds 600+ bottles. They are on a wall that doesn’t get direct sunlight, but that’s about it. :) I wish the Gelish bottles didn’t have the little window. All of my other brands have completely solid bottles so a little light shouldn’t hurt them.

  61. LaneE says:

    What do you recommend for achieving the strongest SOG possible (avoiding any method that has to be filed off like a Hard Gel). Would you go with using Gelish Vitagel Recovry, Gelish Structure Gel, a combination of Gelish Vitagel Recovry in conjuction with Gelish Structure Gel or Ann’s method of using Gelish Foundation then Sprinkiling the Acyrlic Dip Powder (super fine) method? I have finally got my nails to my desired length and I want to do everything I can to prevent them from tearing.

  62. Mal Timmons says:

    Hi Andrea, stamping is going well. What do you think is the best Silver and Gold, most vibrant. I have read that the Konad ones are awful! Have you used them? Other ones like Sally Hansen insta dry, I’m having trouble getting here in the Uk. And Millenium China glaze looked amazing, but can’t find it anywhere! Any suggestions. ? Many thanks…Mal

    • Andrea says:

      I love the China Glaze metallics, but my Konad ones aren’t terrible. See if you can find China Glaze Passion and Devotion. Those are probably the two metallics that I use the most.

  63. Alma says:

    Hi Andrea, I LOVE your site!! Quick question. Have you tried IBD gel color?
    I’m looking for a less expensive brand comparable to Gelish. Or any others you can recommend ?
    Thanks in advance

  64. Emma says:

    Hi Andrea, do you find that particular Gelish colours are very thick and gloppy making them harder to work with (eg Pink Smoothie, You’re so sweet you’re giving me toothache and Brights have more fun) – The consistency of these colours is very different to the likes of Hot Rod Red and Caution and I’m wondering if it’s just me experiencing this?

    After looking online I’m considering buying a thinner solution and wonder if you’ve used one for gelish and if yes, did the polish still look nice?

    Super excited about your reply and THANK YOU in advance :o)

    • Andrea says:

      Yes, the consistency isn’t the same for all colors. The more pigmented colors tend to be a little thicker. You can use a gel polish thinner and they will still work fine.

      • Emma says:

        Thanks Andre, what brand do you use please – Id like to use what you do :o)

        • Andrea says:

          I use Gelish base and top coat and a variety of other brands for color. Gelish, ibd, Ink, and Couture are probably my most used brands.

  65. Brittany says:

    I’ve been searching everywhere but I can’t find anything…can I use a peel off gel nail base (from the essence kit) and then a soak off gel polish? Will I still be able to peel it off because the base coat is peel off?
    I don’t want to buy a soak off polish that I couldn’t use.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Brittany. I haven’t used the Essence products. Generally though the base is what bonds the polish to the nail, so I would think that it would still peel off.

  66. Alma Hernandez says:

    Hi Andrea, quick question. I heard that you can use a gel top coat on top of a 3D texture nail art strip. If I remember correctly, Dashing Diva top gel was the one mentioned? Have you done that before? Do you know if any gel top coat will work?

  67. anncorri says:

    Can you tell me – I just had my nails, including feet, done Gelish on both and I hate the colour. Don’t really have time today for soak offs and new. Can a different colour be applied over the existing one? I have a wedding to go to and no time to start again!

  68. Marina says:

    Hi Andrea!
    I did my frined`s nails with Gellish and 2 days later the color changed from dark red to almost orange and it looks like it faded somehow, it`s almost see through… any ideas?? Thanksss

  69. Eva says:

    Dear Andrea, your website is fantastic. Thank you. I would like to ask you a question your help will be highly appreciated. If a client at the end of the manicure does not like the colour (Gelish) what is correct to do. Do you first file the top coat and then apply new colour and then again top coat and wipe with alcohol. Or just paint the new colour without filing, then top coat and wipe with alcohol. Thank you once again.

    • Andrea says:

      If you’re not going to soak the entire manicure off, I would apply right over top of the top coat. The risk of doing it that way is that the clients nails could be very thick.

  70. Chris says:

    Thanks for doing the video using cnd additives. I have just started to use them and having fun! My question is what is the best way to clean my brushes? I’ve tried using alcohol and acetone. Both methods have left the bristles hard. Thanks,

  71. Laura says:

    Hi Andrea, I wonder if you could please advise.I have been using perfect match uv polish for the last year.I have found that certain colours tend to shrink whilst applying and then wrinkle after curing even when I have applied very thinly.I have changed from using a UV lamp to an LED lamp and initially thought it may have been that uv rays had affected the base or top coat or that my desk lamp was affecting the colours but the problem is still happening with some colours.Also, I have recently purchased a nail stamping kit but it doesn’t seem to work with the lechat dare to wear polish, do I need to apply a specific thicker polish for this to work?Many thanks.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Laura. Wrinkling only happens when the polish is applied too thick. You can’t stamp with gel polish. Please go to my video section and watch the video about stamping. I went into detail about what types of polishes to use. You have to use thick, fast-drying regular nail polish.

  72. Laura says:

    Thanks so much Andrea, it seems to just be the case with certain colours.Would that also be the reason for the colour shrinking after curing?Will check out your nail stamping video, thanks. :-)

  73. Sharkiee says:

    Hello Andrea,

    You made an update stating you use a peel off base coat for swatching. Is this a DIY peel base coat or one you purchased?

  74. DEB says:



  75. Catrine says:

    Hi Andrea!
    Great jobs for the nails and useful tips from the blog.
    I just got a gelish foundation and a gelish colour as a present, but do not have the TIO! Can I use the gelish foundation as a top coat?? Or it won’t do the job??


  76. Jill says:

    Can you give more info about the peel off base coat you are using now? Do you just use it for swatches or does it last and keep the gel polish looking good for several days/a week? Also if it is a DYI can you share the ingredients and directions?
    Thank you!

  77. Wendy says:

    All of the products I used are RCM but at the last stage, wiping off sticky residue, it removes a narrow strip of colour from the sides of my nails. Do you know why this might be happening please?

    • Andrea says:

      You probably didn’t top coat those areas. It’s common to get a little color when wiping, particularly on the sides of the nails.

  78. Dee says:

    Andrea, So great of you to take the time to help us all out with our nail polishes . Thanks for all of the great tips and advice. Question I have is, I went to a nail shop for 6 mos to have gel manicures over natural nails. The technician frequently mixed a color of regular enamel I would select, with gel to do the gel manicure. Any advice on this, do you think she mixed it with the foundation and how would I get it to look uniform in color so I dont waste a lot of the product. I did not notice that this type lasted any less than the gelish colors. Thanks, Dee

  79. sandi says:

    ran across your site when doing a little research. trying to decide to do cnd shellac product or the gelish. one question is do you know if the shellac product can be cured with a LED light or is it strictly UV? i like the idea of the LED lamp better but still not sure what product to invest in. i am also thinking of doing gel nails and was wondering if both lamps can be used in that instance as well. thank you in advance for your time. -sandi

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Sandi. CND recommends using their UV lamp. I have been able to cure some colors in my LED lamp, but there’s no guarantee with that brand. Some work, some don’t. For hard gel, I think it depends on the brand that you use also. I think most builder gels are UV only, but I could be wrong. I don’t use them :)

  80. Donna says:

    I’ve realized I should have applied three coats (dark polish) rather than the two I normally apply, then top coat. Can I go back and apply another coat then top coat again?

  81. Deb says:

    Just curious if anyone has experienced or shared noticing a throbbing or aching in some of their nails after painting a gel manicure. It has happened a couple times to me and I wonder if it could be a sensitivity to the acetone when soaking off old polish or if mixing different gel systems could do that, or even possibly the uv lamp. I have learned from another site to apply a thin layer of vaseline to the surrounding areas of my nails to prevent absorption before soaking off and this really seems to help keep the acetone from drying your skin. Just wondering if I’m going nuts and just imagining this or not!!
    I love your site. Very informative!

  82. Vegan Beauty says:

    G’day Andrea,
    How often do you change your gel polish just out of curiosity (I do mine weekly).

  83. Lea says:

    Hi! I love your blog! I have a Gelish collection and it’s because of your influence. Now I really want to try the “one step gel polish” for those days where I don’t have the luxury of time. Can you please give me your thoughts on which one you’ll recommend. Thank you so much!!!

  84. sadavia says:

    Hi Andrea do you have a manufacturer for gelibilty if someone wanted to take the gel polish into another level.

  85. Emma says:

    Hi Andrea I just love your blog. I started using sensationail and when I used the remover using the wrap method and over a bowl of hot water under a towel. After a few minutes they started feeling uncomfortable. When I took them off I found that my nails had curled in at the sides, it did only last a few minutes, but I don’t understand why this happened. I have had gel nails at the salon for many years and followed the exact same removal procedure, the only difference is I used sensationails remover and not pure acetone. Could this be why? Have you ever heard of this happening?


    • Andrea says:

      I’ve had that happen a couple of times with really hard-to-remove polishes. I don’t use Sensationail, but I have heard that it’s one of the more difficult products to remove. I recommend using a nail file to file off as much of the polish as possible before soaking (without hitting your nail plate). I don’t think it’s an issue with the remover, but likely the polish itself.

      • shelby says:

        i have a question, so i got my nails done,and instead of using acrylic powder over the plastic tips they used gel powder then applied gel nail polish on top of it i was wondering if there is a way i can take the gel color off and keep the tips on?

  86. Annalisa says:

    Hello, I love your blog. I was wondering if you could help me with something. I find when I use an acrylic powder to strengthen a nail (acrygel method), that the c curve of the nail is flattened. Just gel polish doesn’t do it. Putting acrylic powder on the gel base does it. I’ve tried googling the question but I can’t seem to find anything online about it. Have you ever heard of this or has it happened to you? Thanks for all the work you put into your blog, Annalisa.

    • Andrea says:

      Yes, my C-curve flattens out as well with acrygel. I like the effect because my curve is naturally very strong. I don’t know technically why it does that though.

  87. Anita says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I really enjoy your page – I’m always looking on there for new colors and different techniques!! Very informative :)

    I was wondering if you knew how to take shellac off acrylic nails. I know that some places offer shellac on acrylic nails but confused as to how to take it off without taking off the acrylic in the process?

    Thanks so much :)

  88. Gianna says:

    You have such a great and knowledgable blog! I’m not sure if you covered this question because there is soooo much great information your blog i haven’t gotten a chance to finish reading all of it. So my problem… For work I have to use earth tones, these are obviously some of the lighter tones like nide and soft pinks I used often. I use all gelish colors for top coat bottom coat all that stuff. I find that the colors don’t necessarily fade but they tend to look dirty after a few days up to about a week they start looking unattractive. Especially with the lighter pink colors I find that the whole top coat changes colors to someone’s a yellowish color or brownish. This would also happen when I would get my nails done at a salon. Is there anything you may recommend to be done. It’s just annoying because a few days after I do my nails I feel like I have to do them over again due to the color change!!! Please let me know what you think! Thank you!!!

    • Andrea says:

      It sounds like your top coat or color may be having a chemical reaction with another product that you use. Do you use lotions with self-tanners possibly? It can be a skin care product, hair product or household cleaner that’s causing the issue.

  89. Leanna says:

    I have a question. I bought Gelish high voltage and a UV curing light. Was wondering what would happen if I used the nail polish without the foundation ??

  90. Olie Drewes says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I had recently purchased the Gelish 5 45. I was curious as to why every time I chose a darker color when i got to the top coat, the color will bleed into the clear. Is that normal? Am I supposed to be curing the nails more than 45 seconds between the coats? Also do i have to use the gelish base and top coat Or can i mix and match brands for my base, color, and top coat?

    • Sarah says:

      It will bleed a tiny bit bc of the tacky layer, but if its bleeding a lot the polish underneath isn’t cured enough. Curing time is based on your lamp power. She answered all this in the above post if you read it.

  91. Cassie says:

    Hi! Have you tried GelMoment gel polish? If so, what do you think?

  92. Sarah says:

    Hi Andrea!

    I hate to bug you but google isn’t being helpful!

    I recently bought a set of palette/swatch things from amazon. (these: I got them to have swatches of all of my polishes, but when i try to put gel on them it refuses to cure! I cure the palette for as long on the same lamp as my nails, which cure absolutely fine. Once i go to wipe off the tacky layer, everything comes off. I’ve tried with and without a base coat, i’ve tried curing for twice the time. I’m out of ideas.

    Any thoughts? Thanks in advance, i’m sure you get a ton of silly questions like this.

    • Andrea says:

      That’s very strange. I’ve never had an issue with polish curing on clear swatch sticks… I have hundreds of them. Did you try cleansing the stick before application? Maybe there’s some kind of residue on them?

  93. shauna says:

    Hi, I had a manicure a while ago and they used a gelish colour I have been looking for ever since, many people have called it 1325 forever beauty, ‘a cream peach nude’ BUT in your swatches it looks transparent and shimmery, so my colour is a creamy light peachy orange, I have a photo as well, plz help as I want to buy the colour and don’t have any idea as to what collection its from. or what it’s called, the number 1325 turns up all matter of shimmery or cream swatches and it’s confusing.

  94. Shelly says:

    Hi Andrea! I LOVE your blog, your nail art skillz are phenomenal.. And I just have to say Wow, this post and comment thread are amazingly helpful. Thank you for keeping up with questions and answers after all this time. You rock!
    I have an odd question maybe. Sorry. But when you swatch gels do you do all of the steps- foundation, color, topcoat? I received some gel to swatch on my blog and am wondering/hoping I can use a peel-off base like Elmers glue or a latex type base to make the process of removing each polish easier. Do I HAVE TO use a gel specific base coat and do i need to topcoat for my gel swatches or is a color layer swatch enough?

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Shelly – if you are just swatching and intend to remove the gel instantly, it doesn’t matter what type of base you use. You can use a peel-off base for swatching purposes. I always use a gel top coat for optimal shine. :)

  95. Jo says:

    Hiya. Bless you for such detailed and patient responses!! I was wondering if you have any advice re gel manicure techniques with nail guides? I am trying to achieve the half moon vintage effect but no matter how careful and firm i am the guides either lift or appear not to have lifted but the colour has bled. I have attempted ‘clear up’ after but some of the bleeding has cured under the guide so is unremovable. Any tips greatly appreciated! Thank you!x

  96. Rebecca Kenyon says:

    Hello, wondering if you can help, am playing with RNP gel sandwiches, I did one two days ago with a pale pink RNP, I topped it with seche vite quick dry, left if for two hours then applied gel base, then gel top coat. It looked fab and seems cured but I have noticed that the colour seems to have faded on the main section of the nail. The outer of the nail colour is fine. I can’t figure out the cause, I’m thinking over cure, nail polish not fully dried or perhaps I should have just used top coat over the top. If you could let me know your thoughts I would really appreciate. Thanks for your awesome blog :)

  97. Rebecca Kenyon says:

    Hi Andrea, thanks so much for your reply, for update, I did another nail without the seche vite and base coat and I left the nail polish to dry over night. This time it lasted much longer but still faded over 5 days and this time faded evenly. If I find a way to overcome this I will post it here, thanks so much for your help.

  98. charlotte says:

    Hi Andrea, My ladies are all asking for light lilac / grey / nude colours, I use gelish but as you’ve previously said they mainly fade :( I bought an ibd one but it wasn’t as good and lifted after about 8 days whereas gelish does last on my ladies for 2-3 wks. any suggestions for best products to use for these colours I need? x

  99. Charlotte Daysh-barbour says:

    Hi Andrea, do you know when/if you will be getting the new gelish collections ‘ urban cowgirl’ and ‘ red matters’ to swatch? Xx

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Charlotte. I will have the new Gelish collections as they come out.

      • charlotte daysh-barbour says:

        Thanks Andrea. Also, am I able to purchase the pink gellac products in UK? I love the colours they are exactly what is missing from my gelish range I own as the nude/mauve/light pinks tend to really fade :( I have looked on your chickettes boutique site but cant see if you deliver to UK? X

  100. Jaye says:

    I have looked through many of your blogs (great job on them all), but I would love to know when colors are opalescent/pearlescent, even if it is slightly so. I prefer colors that are very matte and in some of the images it is difficult to tell if there is a shimmer to them.


    • Andrea says:

      When I write about the colors I always say whether they are cream, pearl, shimmer, etc and do mention even if there is a slight shimmer.

  101. Isabella Andersen says:

    I recently bought a gel polish kit and a few colors. I’m wanting to recreate a look I got in the salon. The nail tech used CND Cerulean Sea and a little tub of glitter. The glitter color’s name was Appletini. I have googled like crazy and can’t find any gel glitter polish called appletini. Do you happen to know what brand most salons use? I am dying to find it!

  102. Mariana says:

    Hi Andrea!
    If I bought some top it off gelish from your website and my brushes hardened up (I was doing my nails in the front of the window on a sunny day:) where can I find replacement brush heads? Do you sell them?
    Thank you very much, always love reading your blogs!

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t sell Gelish, so I don’t think they were purchased from me. ;) You can try contacting the seller or Gelish directly for replacement brushes.

  103. claire says:

    Hi Andrea,

    Thank you for sharing all the information on gel polishes. I saw your gel removal video on youtube and your gel polish came off so easily. Can you share some information on the various gel removers / acetone that you have used to remove your gel polish and which you would recommend / feel is best & not recommend?

    Thank you so much

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Claire. I haven’t tried a lot of removers. I usually use 100% pure acetone for removal. Some brands of gel polish soak off faster/easier than others – the brand that I was wearing in the video is INK and it’s one that soaks off easier.

  104. Natalia says:

    Hi, Andrea,

    Is it possible to use your swatches for demonstration of gel-polishes?

  105. Ha says:


    Thank you for the FAQ. It was very thorough and informative. The one piece that I’m looking for I can’t find anywhere on the web and was hopeful with your FAQ but I was not lucky enough. I’m trying to figure out how to thicken a gel color. I have some nice gelcolor neons but they’re to thin and light.When you have a moment I would appreciate your response to my quest/question. Thank you in advance! :-)

  106. Rosalia says:

    Hi, Andrea. i love my SOG , but recently have a bit of problem . I just bought a new Shellac top coat and it looses sheen and becomes matt after wiping it with Isopropyl alcohol . It never happened before with other brand of soak off . Please advise what to do ?

  107. Christine says:

    I applied my top coat and cured it, but I forgot to put on my sparkle polish. Can I put the sparkle on top of the top coat and then do another top coat? Or will it not cure properly? Thanks!

  108. Jennifer says:

    Have you worked with the CND Shellac Xpress5 top coat? My understanding is that it is an LED cure AND it is an easier/faster removal. I would like to know if you can speak to the truth of these claims. Also, do you just use the regular Shellac colors and Base Coat under this new top coat? Can you use any other brands under this new top coat?

    • Andrea says:

      I haven’t used it, but my understanding of it is the same. Shellac is meant to be used with Shellac, though I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with other brands.

  109. Chantelle says:

    Hi Andrea
    Have you had any experiences with ILuv brand of gelish soak off polish? Would it work with Gelish soak off brand? Thanks

  110. Moni x says:

    Hi Andrea, i wanted to ask for some advice regarding 2 topics. Firstly, i want to purchase a Gelish kit and i saw that the foundation and top it off bottles vary. Some have the titles for example ‘foundation’ written in grey and others in colour. I was wondering if there was a fake version or they had just changed their bottles. And if this is the case which one is the newest version to purchase (with or without colour).
    Secondly, i have watched your youtube Gelish tutorials (which are amazing) and i also watched some other Gelish tutorials and i have seen that in the others they use a brush to ‘de-glaze’ the foundation coat. However i saw that you didn’t do that, does it make a difference? & Why do they do that.
    Sorry i had so many questions, i just wanted to make sure that I’m doing the right thing before i purchase anything.
    Thank you so much for your help. I’m a big fan xx

    • Andrea says:

      The Gelish Foundation and Top It Off bottles have a colored box on the front (pink for the Foundation and blue for the Top It Off). I don’t know whether the bottles changed at some point, but that’s what they are now. Some of the pictures that I’ve seen on Amazon showed grey and white bottles, but the bottles I received were legit with the correct labels. I tried the deglazing that you mention on the Foundation gel and it didn’t make a difference to me, so I don’t do that step. I believe some claim that it helps prevent shrinkage when you apply the color. I find that you can usually eliminate shrinkage by giving the color a really good shake before use. I hope that helps :)

  111. Rachel says:

    Hi Andrea, I have a question I was hoping you might be able to help answer. I have the Gelish Mini PRO 45 LED Lamp. It’s the portable lamp. It’s has 3 2 watt bulbs believe. My nails are somewhat weak, always have been and they bend somewhat easily, but I’ve seen more damaged and weaker nails that have been polished with Gelish and they seem to last longer. I am following all the right steps same as at the salon and same as you listed, but I can literally just peel the polish off my nails after a day or so. I guess my question is would the gelish be less likely to peel with the 18G Gelish LED lamp, which has 18 2 watt bulbs, or does watt amounts
    have zero effect on bondage? The 18 G lamp is highly costly here in Canada and I don’t want to spend more money on the 18G LED lamp if it won’t help with the peeling issue. Thanks

    • Andrea says:

      Have you had a gel manicure done at a salon, and if so did the polish last? It’s hard to say whether the issue is the lamp without doing some trials. Generally the low powered lamps take longer to completely cure gel polish, and that’s especially true for darker colors. Perhaps you can try doubling the curing time to see if that makes a difference. Wattage isn’t the only factor in the effectiveness of a nail lamp, but the 36 watt and higher lamps that I’ve tried cured all colors without issue.

      • Rachel says:

        No I have never had soft gel at the nail salon. I’ve only had hard gel and that lasted much longer but I don’t want that on my nails. I have tried doubling up the time. That doesn’t make help. I guess I’ll have to go and test that out. Thanks!

  112. Seka says:

    Hi there!
    I actually tried to send this as an email but unfortunately it says it’s invalid and the “chickettes” part just disappears. Is there another one I can try? As I was hoping to attach a picture with my question

  113. Angela says:

    Hi. Love your blog. I have Sensational gel starter kit and I’m ordering the gelish structure gel off Amazon. My question is do I have to buy the gelish foundation coat and top it off or will the base and top coat in the sensational gel kit work for me. I need to know asap in order to cancel my order of the gelish foundation and top it off within 24-48 hours on Amazon.

  114. melanie says:

    hi there Andrea, I have a couple of questions I couldn’t find the answer in FAQ’s I have the shellac range and am using their new LED LAMP, so far its a brilliant system, a couple of colours need tic though anyway my express top coat however seems thicker than it was when first started to use, is there a thinner recommended to use for shellac polishes, base and top coat? also now I have the new lamp can the lamp be used for gelish? me fancy trying gelish! lol I know in one of your blogs for shellac someone mention the thickening of the top coat and you had said there is a link at the top I couldn’t see so apologies for sounding naive. I have tried asking sweet squared and my distributor but I feel they are being briefed on the important of my using shellac exclusively. thank you ahead

    • Andrea says:

      You can try gel polish thinner for the top coat, but I can’t guarantee it will work. You can cure other brands in your CND lamp.

  115. Moni says:

    Hi Andrea, I use gelish and was wondering if it would be possible if when I cured my foundation coat and then just put my top coat on top it would still have that gel nail feel to it and would it last the two weeks. Or does it have to be colour in between.
    Thanks xxx?

  116. Hi! I’ve always been obsessed with nail products but just recently decided to save money and do it from home instead of visiting the salon. I’ve got a nailstars led lamp and the gelish bond base and top coats. I’ve also ordered ibd builder gel along with nail forms and a nail gel flat bush to attempt gel extensions on my own. Would you be happy to upload a video of yourself doing sculpted French gels if you have the correct products?! I LOVE your work and think you are one of the best in the business, it would mean a lot! Also, is it possible to use gelish ph bond before the application of ibd builder gel? thank you

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Danielle. Thank you! I am a natural nail tech and don’t do enhancements. Look for Shannon Underwood on YouTube, she has some good gel videos.

  117. Audrey says:

    Thank you so much for this detailed list!
    My father bought me the Gelish LED 18G lamp as a Cosmetology school graduation gift, and I had some concerns when I used it for the first time, but this article helped me a lot! Thank you so much. There wasn’t anywhere else online that had this amount of detail with gel polish applications.

  118. Marian says:

    So I read your “Gelish Supply List – What You Need to Get Started” but was wondering I don’t need any type of brush? How I would apply the gel that comes in a jar? with my finger? well think I can’t consider your website as a good one as the most important thing to start a gel nail polish after the gel of course are the brushes!!!!

    • Mal Timmons . UK says:

      You cheeky bitch! Marian. Andreas blog is one of the best in the world! If you new what the f…you were talking about in the first place, you wouldn’t be asking this question! All gel polishes have brushes! You are obviously not a nail professional, so go get your information elsewhere! Sorry Andrea, rant over!

      • Alma says:

        Haha!! I can’t believe Marian’s post! Someone was drinking a little too much Lol. I just want to say I agree with Mal and probable the rest of the world that things Andrea’s blogs are the best ever. So professional, friendly, and knowledgeable!

    • Andrea says:

      That post was about Gelish, which is a brand of gel polish that comes with brushes. Obviously if you buy a polish that comes in a jar you also need a brush. Moving on. LOL

    • Jill Bonn says:

      That was out of line if you ask me! This blog is awesome!

  119. mrs dalton says:

    Hi. Have do i look buff gelish. Its the 2nd time ive used it and both timesits wrinkled and become a pain. Ive used everything base and top gelish. Help?.

  120. Sand says:

    I have yet to find whether you can use SOG polish on acrylics. Will it work?

    • Andrea says:

      Yes it works, but you can’t soak off the gel polish because it will also take off your acrylic nails. You have to file it off.

  121. Jill Bonn says:

    Hi – Everyone seems to do gel nails a little differently. I’m mostly curious about the primer. You show the Harmony Probond but when I click on it and enter Amazon, it’s not Probond. I can’t find this primer anywhere. Also, some say to dry brush the primer and some say to cure it. It’s so confusing at times. I just want gel overlay (simple) step-by-step instructions, both hard and soft gel. I’ve been experimenting for a couple of months now, so I don’t need a detailed description, just simple. For example, Sanitize, clean cuticles, dehydrate etc. So far I’ve been prepping the nails, then I use Foundation (all Gelish) cure 20 seconds, dry brush, and start applying Structure Gel in thin layers curing each layer 30 seconds, clean off sticky layer, file until smooth and seal with a Non-Wipe topcoat. Right now I am NOT using a Primer.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Jill – primer/bonder usually just needs to air dry for about 15 seconds. It doesn’t need to be cured or dry brushed. I have posted step-by-step instructions for gel polish on the blog, but unfortunately I can’t help with hard gel instructions as I don’t use it. Thank you.

  122. Rebecca Kenyon says:

    Hi Andrea,

    How do you manage to keep your nails in tact whilst working on others every day? I always damage mine with the file or remover but I think it looks good to advertise what you sell. Rebecca :)

    • Andrea says:

      My left index finger is always getting scuffed from files. I always keep them polished and I change my gel polish about once a week since repeated contact with acetone can make them wear faster than normal. I don’t have any tips other than to just be careful.

      • Rebecca Kenyon says:

        That’s really helpful and interesting, thank you and thanks for replying so quickly! :)

  123. Mish says:

    I have a CND LED lamp – do you know if I can mix and match Gelish colors with my CND base/top coat and if it will be cured in my CND LED lamp? Afraid to spend money before I know. Thank you

  124. Jeanne says:

    Hey ! I have. Question I’ve been using the gelish base , colors, and top coat. And it seems on every single one of the lighter colors. They look “dirty” well when I started looking closer it looks like the top coat is pulling away from any of the edges ? I’ve tried doing 2 coats of top coat and 1 and it’s the same result ? Any ideas?

  125. Bev says:

    How can I stop structure gel from peeling away from my natural nails wat am I doing wrong ?

  126. Sally Meyer says:

    Sometimes when I apply the foundation (gelish) it separates before I get it cured. That is the best way I can describe it. I hope you know what I am referring to.