Gel Terms and Techniques

Gel "Tail" Technique

When building arches with thin gels: Use a "tail" or "ribbon" technique with the gel (With thin viscosity gels): A "tail" is when you dip the tip of your gel brush into the gel and let it drip off the brush slightly, so that you have a "tail" of gel streaming down. You keep the brush completely off the nail (up to an inch above the nail) and let the end of the tail make contact with the nail. Now you move the brush (still not touching the nail with the brush) in the direction of your arch (from cuticle toward free edge, or proximal to distal points) vertically down the center of the nail.

The tail will keep streaming off the brush and onto the nail. It will lay down a line of gel that will "self level". If you have used too much gel it will run into the cuticles and sidewalls. Too little and you won't have enough strength. You must also develop an instinct for how fast or slow your gel will level it self to help you determine how quickly you need to get it into the lights before it has completely flattened out!

It may be necessary in the beginning to "set" a nail before proceeding to the next until you perfect this technique. Put the nail in the light for approximately 15 or 20 second. This will harden the gel enough (but not cure it yet), so that it will stop moving and allow you to continue working on other nails. NEVER apply more gel to a nail that has only been set. Only apply additional coats of gel to other CURED layers of gel. After arching and setting each nail, do not forget to go back and then CURE the entire hand.

As time goes on you will be able to build arches in such a way that a "set" between each arch you build won't be necessary, you will be able to build each nail so that by time you have finished the 5th on a hand the other 4 are "magically" exactly where you want them to be from the gels leveling perspective. Again, this comes with much time, practice and patience!!!! The educational videos I sell in my store, or an in person class with me when I come to an area near you can be very helpful with understanding these instructions and concepts.

Gel and Tacky or Rough Surface

(In regards to arch building): Gel will only MOVE (Self level) when you are working on WET gel (a slip layer). Arching with thin gels requires that you be putting the arches (TAILS) into a wet layer of gel (do NOT "set" or cure this working layer of gel). If you attempt to put down arches on a cured layer of gel without laying down a "slip" layer, the gel will not move. It will be like putting gel down on the sticky side of tape. The dispersion layer of cured gels is very "tacky", that is why we remove it with cleanser or alcohol before filing it.

Building arches with thicker builder gels does not require a "slip" layer in most cases, but also, builder gels will NOT self level and can be sticky and not move or flow the precise way you intend them to (much the same way acrylic didn’t do exactly what you wanted it to do the first times you used it in school either :). For some techs a stiff gel is a good point (like those very accustomed to acrylic only---especially those who worked with fast setting acrylics that required them to put them exactly where they wanted them and not some of the slower acrylics that will actually self-level a bit on there own at first), for other techs, this is not so good... it's all a matter of preference and style and your learning curve.

Remember, in my instructions, our "slip" (sliding, movement)layer under the arches is also part of the structure of the nail (in gel layers #2 and 3 in a full-set for instance), so do not make it too thin; it is a normal coat of gel with extra added to give 3 dimensions to the nail (think almond shaped in 3D). IF you need to go back and add just arches though, then make the "slip" layer very thin!

Gel and Shiny Surfaces

Gel will only stick to "rough", "dull" or "tacky" surfaces. gel will not adhere to glossy surfaces. If you ever accidentally REMOVE the tacky surface during application, e.g. for some reason you wipe the nails with alcohol (or any solvent, even acetone) you will have to file them out (or buff) to remove ALL shine everywhere in order to apply the rest of your gel. You cannot apply gel over shiny or glossy gel, only over DULLED (buffed out) gel! So do not use the cleanser/alcohol until you are completely finished applying gel!!!

Ribboning Gel

Keeping the brush flat and parallel to the nail, you very gently put the brush down in the gel on the nail. Now pick it up and get a "tail" to pull over to another section. Set the brush down to complete the tail on the other side, and now repeat. Pick up more gel and move it vis the tail method, so now you are ribboning the gel back and forth to fill in an area; such as in "drawing the box" on a form for extensions (see FS over forms lessons above), to fill in the box, or correcting a low spot on a nail during application.

Shiny Top Coat Application

One of best and unique features to Gel nails is the incredible shine. The durability and crystal clear appearance is virtually indestructible. There is not a traditional top coat that can hold up in comparison. Gel “Shiny” top coats can be used on gel nails, colored gels, pink and white acrylics, colored acrylic, airbrushing, hand painted nail art, and polish when having the patience to allow the polish to dry completely before application.

Gel, Acrylic, Colored Acrylic

  • After completing filing and buffing remove all dust and carefully clean the nail with gel cleaner and a lint free cotton wipe. BE SURE ALL NAILS ARE DUST FREE!
  • Apply top coat in thin straight strokes, be sure there are no streaks and the entire nail is covered and free from bubbles.
  • Some top coats will leave a tacky top coat and some will not. Using a lint free cotton wipe and nail cleanser remove the tacky layer if needed.
  • For MINOR imperfections in shiny top coat use a 3 or 4 way buffer and gently buff the area of the imperfection. For MAJOR imperfections buff the entire nail and reapply to the affected nails.
Airbrushing and Hand Painted Nail Art

  • When paint is completely dry apply the top coat carefully using a very wet brush and a light touch.
  • Be sure to pull the top coat over the free edge.
  • Cure
  • Some top coats will leave a tacky top coat and some will not. Using a lint free cotton wipe and nail cleanser remove the tacky layer if needed.
  • With all gel products there is shrinkage which means that as the top coat cures it shrinks slightly so always experiments with this technique to be sure it doesn’t effect details and clarity of your nail art.
  • To remove simply file off gel and paint.