Gel Overlay Vs Gel Polish: What’s The Difference?

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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between gel overlay vs gel polish? If so, you’re in luck as we dive deep into the differences in this article.

Gel overlay and gel polish are both popular nail services, but there is a slight difference between them that you may want to know about. In this article, we’ll cover what makes each unique so you can choose the right option for your needs and preferences!

What is A Gel Polish Manicure?

Gel polish is a type of nail polish that is cured with UV light. Gel polish doesn’t chip as easily as regular nail polish, which means you can enjoy your nails for longer, often up to 3 weeks when applied by a professional.

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The application process includes a base coat, a color coat, and a top coat, which are cured under UV or LED light after every coat. While gel polish is thicker than regular nail polish, your manicure will be equally smooth and even throughout.

Gel manicures are one of the most popular types of nail service in the industry today.

Gel polishes are available in a very large range of colors, and they can be used to create natural-looking nails as well as intricate nail art designs.

What Is Gel Overlay?

Gel overlay is a type of service created with a gel polish that involves adding structure and added protection to it. As with regular gel manicures, this process involves a base coat, a color coat and a top coat; however, there is one extra layer that goes into the manicure: builder gel.

Builder gel is generously applied immediately after the base coat, strengthening your own nails and enabling them to grow longer. If your tips need extra protection against chipping and slitting due to brittle nails, this manicure is definitely one to try.

Depending on how well you take proper care of your nails, gel overlay can last anywhere from 3-4 weeks.

types of gel Used in overlays

Hard gel

Hard gel is the strongest, most long-lasting type of gel, which makes it ideal for adding nail extensions and nail tips. However, in the case of a gel overlay, it’s simply used to add a harder gel layer on top of your natural nails.

One of the downsides you may want to consider is that due to its chemical structure, this type of gel can only be removed with a nail file, which can make the removal process more tedious.

Soft gel

Soft gel, also called soak-off gel, is a more flexible form of gel that can be removed with acetone. As it’s more flexible, it’s generally better for people looking to enhance their natural nails, as it bends easier without breaking, and also generally holds on to the natural nail better.

Removal Process For Gel Overlay Vs Gel Polish

There are two removal methods for gel polish: filing and removing them with acetone. As we mentioned above, if you are using hard gel in your gel overlay manicure, you’ll need to file your nails to get rid of the gel.

Otherwise, you can use acetone to remove a soft gel overlay manicure as well as a gel polish manicure. While acetone is cheap and readily available to buy, we would still recommend going to a nail salon to get your gel manicure removed – they are professionals and know what they are doing.

Of course, if you’re on a budget, you may want to order a bottle of acetone and DIY the process at home. We love the small soak-off clips used in the video below – very handy! You can find similar ones from Walmart.

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The other option for removing gel nail polish is by visiting the salon where you got your manicure or pedicure done; this is what they’ll do when they want to remove your gel overlays, too! Your technician will soak cotton balls in acetone before applying them to each individual finger; once all of them are covered with cotton balls soaked in acetone, she’ll wrap each fist tightly with foil so the chemicals can work their magic. 

Don’t ever pick the polish off without the proper removal process, even though it’s super tempting. This will thin out your nails and cause damage.

So, What Really Is The Difference Between The Two?

In conclusion, the key difference between a gel polish manicure and gel overlay is that gel polish manucires refer to a treatment that uses a gel base coat, color coat and a top coat, while gel overlay is a more substantial treatment that includes a builder gel to add strength and durability to natural nails.

We hope you enjoyed our analysis of gel polish manicures vs gel overlay treatments! For more similar articles, make sure to check out the posts below.

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