Nail tips overlaid with ultraviolet light (UV) reactive gel may be polished, hand painted or air brushed just like acrylic nails while the gels promote polish adhesion for durability. Gel overlays offer the flexibility of applicability to both natural and artificial nail tips. In addition, chemical polymers in UV gels strengthen the natural nail over time so as nails grow, artificial tips can be removed, revealing strong nails that are resistant to chipping and breaking. More costly than acrylic overlays, the cost of UV gel nail services varies according to the location of the salon and can range from $30 to $80.
Nails tips overlaid with UV gel are hardly distinguishable from manicured natural nails without polish. The gel goes on odorless and smooth because it is non-porous. It dries on hard, clear and glossy. Unlike acrylic overlays, which are often a nail salon option, UV gel nail tips are not subject to discoloration over time, resulting in a yellowed appearance. After they are applied properly, the gels are resistant to lifting for long-lasting wear and durability.
Nails are live extensions of the human body. Diseases of the nail are treated by dermatologists and podiatrists. UV gel overlays are a healthier alternative to acrylic overlays. Liquid monomers used in acrylic powders, known as ethyl methacrylate and methyl methacrylate, require that the natural nail bed be roughened with files for the chemicals to adhere to the nail bed. Roughening causes severe nail damage and allows chemicals to seep under the nail plate while acrylic overlays are being removed. Polymer and monomer combinations in gel overlays do not require this pre-application step.
Ultraviolet reactive gel tip overlays cure or set under ultraviolet light in under three minutes, whether or not nail polish is applied. This is the fastest drying time currently available in nail salons. Before the advent of gel polish, where gel is manufactured with polish added to it, polish was traditionally applied over the gel. In both instances, the gel protects the polish from chipping. In the event that consumers choose to change their nail polish, the gel underneath will retain its glossy finish and is resistant to acetone found in regular nail polish remover.
Ultraviolet reactive gel top coats are available for sale by themselves. These top coats may be applied as overlays to acrylic powder applications in addition to base gels and nail polishes. It is important that salon customers inquire as to what base products are being used on their nails, as some salons will use acrylic powders with UV gel topcoats. Gel topcoats still requires UV light curing which can fool some customers into thinking they are receiving complete UV gel nails. Unscrupulous salons will charge the same price for the top coat as they would for a complete gel nail service.