Curing Gel Nail Polish

How to tell if gel nails are cured? and why it's a must in perfecting look.

Smudging a newly applied coat of gel nail polish can be a huge nightmare for us gal's. Especially when we're rushed off our feet trying to get to an event or a party. That's why we've decided to put this guide together discussing some of the possible reasons why this may happen and what you can do to help tell if your nails are cured.

Now let's face it. There's a big difference between ‘cured’ and ‘properly cured’ and distinguishing between the two can be tough for even experienced nail techs - let alone those looking to get started at home. 

Let's start by providing a few tips for how you might be able to tell if your nails are cured. 

How can I recognise if my nails are under cured?

A key indication of under curing will be ‘bubbling’ or peeling of the gel. You'll likely be able to see small holes or air pockets underneath the gel and that indicates that the coat hasn't cured properly. Strangely, this often may happen more commonly on the thumbs but it's worth checking on all nails especially when you're new to at-home gel nails.

Other signs of under curing may be: loss of clarity; cloudy finish; thicker than normal sticky dispersion layer; dulling, soft surfaces; areas where the colour was too easily wiped or filed away.

Curing Check Top Tip - #1

One easy way to tell if gel colour polish is under cured is that after curing, the gel colour polish will stick on the gel topcoat brush when a topcoat is applied. This colour-stained clear gel topcoat brush is an indication of under cured colour gel polish.

Curing Check Top Tip - #2

Under cured gel top coats will look dull. Under cured gel top coats will be wiped away as alcohol-based cleaners come in contact with it.

Ok so, we know this is great but how can we take this a step forward towards getting the perfect cure. Well don't worry, we have you covered there too. In the next section we will discuss some ways in which you can get a better cure and closer to the luxe look you’re looking for. 

The Perfect Cure Tip #1 - More thin layers will cure better.

Applying gel polish in thin layers will help to make sure your nails cure properly. The top layer of gel will absorb the majority of the UVA meaning that if you slap it on it may not reach all the gel if your layers are too thick.

Of course though, the gel will look lovely and cured on top and hence could give you false hope.  Our advice is simple. Keep the layers of new gel polish really thin, and if necessary add further coats to get that beautiful shine.  Sometimes with paler colours we can get tempted to slap on thicker colours - its only natural but try not to.

The Perfect Cure Tip #2 - Find a good lamp and you'll notice the difference.   

Well.. we might be biased here but clearly we are big fans of our lamps. That said, we often get asked whether you can use other gel nail polishes with our lamps and visa versa. Truly, the answer is yes. 

That said, we do think that having a good lamp is key to the perfect finish. In our experience the smaller watt lamps - between less than 20W lead to slower curing and more problems with smudging. That's why Luxe Co only sells lamps that we've tested and that will provide the optimum curing. 

The Perfect Cure Tip #3 - Change your lamp bulbs or upgrade your lamp every couple of years.

We all do it - forgetting to change the lamp bulbs and before you know it you’ll only using about half of the power. It’s no wonder the curing timer no longer works in the ay that it did before. 

We recommend you should change the bulbs on your UV gel nail lamp every two to six months. If you start to have worries that your gel’s are not curing then it may be time to change your bulbs. 

It’s also worth checking that all the bulbs are clean. Something we knock against the bulbs while we are curing and accidentally paint over the bulb. This can affect the strength and mean that you don’t get such a great curing as well. 

What will happen if gel polish is under cured?

Let's work on the basis you are applying at least a couple of colours of gel polish. If the two layers of gel polish colour are under cured, they will not form a good bond between themselves and to the base coat. This will weaken the whole gel polish and it will be more likely to chip, peel or fall off the nail much sooner. We know that feeling of losing a nail and we wouldn’t wish it on anybody!! 

You also can run into problems if you under cure the top coat. 

  1. Firstly, and most importantly the upper uncured gel topcoat will not reach get its mirror-like shine and the gel nail be left with a dull finish - yep, not what we are after. 
  2. Also, the lower uncured gel topcoat will not form a good bond to the gel colour polish below it and this may cause the gel topcoat to peel, chip, or lift away from the gel colour sooner that you had wanted. 

To avoid uncured gel topcoat, apply thin coats and cure it for 30 to 45 seconds.

If the gel topcoat needs to be cleaned with an alcohol-based cleanser, do that so the tacky layer or inhibition layer is removed to reveal the shine.

What will happen if you over cure gel polish? 

If the gel base coat, gel colour or gel top coat are cured under a LED lamp for too long, they will become overly hardened. This makes the gel polish loose its flexible characteristic that is similar to that of natural nails. Given the harder finish we'll become more susceptible to chipping! 

More importantly, overly cured gel polish will become so dry and will form a very hard layer that will take up as much as one hour of soaking before it becomes loose enough to be removed. 

So do not cure the gel polish for too long thinking that it will help it stay longer on the nails! 

We hope that helps with all your questions and concerns about how to get the perfect cure. 

Amy D x