Gel extensions and acrylic nails aren’t identical, but they are similar. Acrylic is a two-step process that involves liquid and powder which air dries. Gel extensions use hard gel or structure gel and are cured with a UV or LED light. Both techniques have a similar look and feel.
Hard gel, the more durable of the two, is also the most common type of gel used for extensions, but takes a little more work to remove. Structure gel can be easily soaked off and is good for people with natural nails who want to improve durability, without the extreme hardness and heaviness of hard gel. It creates a solid capping on the natural nail, but isn’t as tough as the hard gel. Hard gel, on the other hand, is the toughest form of gel polish out there and creates a sturdier, longer-lasting exterior.
Liquid Gel Full Set$60
Liquid Gel Filling$50
Gel Powder Set$37
Gel Powder Filling$27
Like acrylics, gel extensions require an overlay to lengthen your nail. Using a form under the nail helps to create the length and shape you are trying to achieve. Most of the time, a form is applied underneath the natural nail. Once that adheres, hard or structure gel is applied all over the nail from the tip to the cuticle and then cured under a lamp. The rest of your process will flow like a regular gel mani: your color is applied with standard soft gel polish and cured layer by layer. If you’re getting nail art, your artist will decorate your tips, and then your nails are sealed with a gel top coat.
If you’re looking to get a fresh set of extensions by a pro or on your own, prepare to spend at least one hour in the chair. It’s a process that shouldn’t be rushed, so depending on the length and shape of the nail you are going for, you should dedicate 1-2 hours. If you’re getting nail art, that takes up some time, too.