No lie, my nails have not been bare since I was 13. Painting my nails has always been something I find joy in as it’s a great way to relax (for some people) and it’s also my favorite way to express my personality or mood. Lately, I’ve been doing my nails 3-4 times a week, which is a lot, I know. This is because of the current COVID-19 pandemic (have you heard of it?) and I have more time on my hands. I was also doing them more often because they have been chipping so much lately. Sometimes a whole nail would peel completely off! It was getting annoying so I started to do research on ways I can make my nail polish last. That’s when I came across some articles on polygel and how to do polygel nails at home. And let me tell you, if you’re a nail polish fanatic like me, then this is going to change your life. Mine didn’t turn out perfect, but with practice, I’m confident they’ll be salon quality in no time.
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Also, I am not a professional nail tech. I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about and neither do you, which is why you’re here. So this advice and experiences are my own, as a nail polish addict since 13.
A little about my nail history
I have never had fake nails (acrylics, gel, whatever) in my life, with the exception of the occasional drugstore glue-on in high school. I’ve always wanted to get my nails done professionally, but I figured it could become an addictive, expensive habit. And since my nails are extremely fragile, I’ve also never had long nails. So polygel was definitely very new territory for me to explore. I’m telling you this because you also might be a fake nail beginner, like me! And I’m here to tell you that polygel is a great option to try for us newbies.
What is polygel?
According to makeup.com, polygel is a nail enhancement that is more flexible and lightweight than acrylics and is harder than gel. Polygel nails are perfect for those people who have a desire for longer nails but aren’t able to grow theirs for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because you bite your nails or they’re not strong enough to grow long. For me, it’s because my nails are super fragile like I mentioned above.
What do you need to do polygel nails?
You will need a polygel nail kit, duh! Make sure you buy one with the light (see below). And you will also want an e-file. Okay, you don’t necessarily need an e-file but it will make your life a lot easier. Here are the products bought from Amazon to make my polygel nails happen.
what does the process look like?
Before I started my polygel, I did a lot of research about the process because I didn’t want to mess it up. I recommend you do the same (which is probably why you’re here reading this article so good for you!).
1. Prep your nails
Prep your nails by filing them down so there are no jagged edges. A circular shape is best for this process, in my opinion. Then, push down your cuticles and make sure they are moisturized. This is KEY for making your polygel nails look flawless.
Next, buff and dehydrate your nails with rubbing alcohol or a nail dehydrator. This is a very important step if you want to prevent your nails from lifting.
2. Add the necessary layers of protection
First, add the base coat and cure with the light for 60 seconds. Then, add nail strengthener and cure for another 30 second. It will be tacky, so be careful! No petting your dog or running your fingers through your hair. This step is so important for the health of your nails. Polygel nails can be super damaging if you don’t take the proper steps to avoid injury.
3. start the polygel process
This is the fun part! Squeeze your desired color into the plastic nail form. Don’t worry, if they don’t have a color you like, you can paint them with regular nail polish! After this, you want to take rubbing alcohol as your “slip solution” and spread the polygel out (note, the slip solution in the kit above is no good). This part is important because you don’t want to make it too thin or too thick. I actually recommend making the nail bed portion of the form thinner and the tip slightly thicker. Then, stick that bad boy on your nail!
4. cure and file
Once the polygel form is on your nail, make sure you flip your nail over and flatten the pushed out polygel from placing it on your nail. Trust me, this part is super important. If you’re lazy, it will backfire. Then cure the underside! Cure it like it’s the last thing you’ll do. I cured the top for 60 seconds and then I flip my nail to cure underneath my nail for another 60.
After, wiggle the form off (it’s soooooo satisfying) and then file the nail to your desired shape. I’ve been a big fan of the coffin shape lately! But here’s a helpful article on different nail shapes you can do. After this, you can paint your nail with any color (it doesn’t have to be gel). Top it with a gel top coat and boom, you’re done!
how long do they last?
After taking all the proper precautions mentioned above, my nails lasted about two weeks before I decided to take them off and put a new set on. I also painted them two different colors over that time (one right over the other). They eventually they grew out too much for my liking but my nails grow pretty fast. So I would say on average, if you’re not too hard on your hands, they will last two to three weeks!
Please note that during those two weeks, I did have three nails break. But it wasn’t a big deal because I taught myself how to properly fix them! Just beware that might happen. I recommend buying some nail glue to leave in your bag when you go out. If it breaks and is a clean-cut, it should be an easy fix.
how do you get polygel off?
Now, this is where it gets a little tedious, but don’t let it scare you. Just make sure you set aside some time to take your nails off. This definitely isn’t something you want to do if you have to leave for work in 30 minutes! The first time I took my nails off, it took me about an hour. Yup, just to take them off.
I first started by cutting the excess tips off. DON’T cut straight across the tip, do it at an angle. Then I took the e-file and filed off the rest of my nail, as close to the nail bed as possible. But please please please be careful when doing this! It’s so easy to damage your natural nail bed. It’s better to play it safe and use a hand file to gently file off the excess polygel if you’re a beginner. Seriously, the lighter the hand the better.
There are also videos out there that show you how to soak your polygel nails in acetone once you only have a thin layer left. But polygel is a file-off product, not a soak off one. So you need to have a super-thin layer of polygel left in order to soak it off. I’m too impatient for that though and would rather just learn how to file them off myself.
Update 12/8/2020: Quick update on how to get polygel nails off. I learned that taking them all the way off and putting them all the way back on every few weeks is super damaging to your nails and it takes FOREVER. I highly suggest filling them instead.
First, file off your nail polish (have a very light hand, this should be gentle so you don’t file the nail too fair). Then, grab some polygel on your spatula, put it on the base of your nail, and use a flip solution to shape and then cure it. This will prevent you from being too tough on your nails and takes less time.
The Final Verdict
Overall, I highly recommend polygel nails if you’re a nail fanatic like me. There are definitely some pros and cons though. Although It’s pretty time-consuming, the results are worth it. Plus, it saves you a ton of money by not going to the nail salon.
If you have any further questions about polygel nails please reach out to me here or comment below! Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope you enjoy your new nails xx
Catch you next week!