Why won’t my gel nail polish stay on?

Isn’t it frustrating when you do a gorgeous gel manicure, only to have the polish peel off hours later?

If you’re wondering, why won’t my gel nail polish stay on? Here are two possible reasons why. Either there is too much moisture in your nails, or your nails are too oily.

Let’s look at some common problems with applying gel nail polish and their solutions.
Your gel nail polish won’t stay on if there is too much moisture in your nails. You could try a Nail Prep Dehydrate and Xtra Bond Primer like this one (click to check the price on Amazon)

To apply gel nail polish successfully, so that it stays on, your natural nails need to be quite dry. Your nails are a bit like a sponge, they can take on water, and this causes them to expand.

If you paint your nails too soon after having a bath or shower or immersing your nails in water by swimming or washing up, for example, you are probably painting them while they are still expanded.

What happens is your nails expand, you paint them, then they dry out and shrink back to their original size. This shrinkage could be what is causing your gel polish to slide or peel off.

What’s the solution?

Don’t do your gel manicure shortly after a bath or shower. Make sure that your nails are completely dry. You could use a hairdryer for this, but if you do, make sure you let your nails cool down fully before you begin your manicure as heat can also expand your nails.

Another way to dry out your nails is to apply acetone to them after you have wiped them down with rubbing alcohol, this should dry them out a little.

Your gel polish won’t stay on if your nails are too oily.

The reason your gel polish isn’t staying on could be due to the fact that you have too much oil in your nails.

If your nails are naturally very oily then you may have problems getting gel nail polishes to stick. But don’t worry, there are some simple things you can do to deal with this issue and help get your gel nail polish to stick.

What’s the solution?

Preparation is so important when applying gel nail polish. Before you begin a gel manicure, you should wipe your nails down with either a nail prep wipe solution or rubbing alcohol. This will remove any oily residue from the surface of your nails.

Also, you should avoid touching your nails with your fingers once you have wiped them with the rubbing alcohol as there are oils on your fingertips that will transfer onto your nail.

Is rubbing alcohol isn’t working for you, you can actually buy a product called a nail dehydrator. Nail dehydrators come in a little nail polish style bottle, and you apply them in the same way that you would apply a nail polish. You can also get gel nail primers which should help with chipping.

Before you apply your gel base coat, you can apply a primer to the whole of your nail or just to the tips where the chips occur. If you just put the primer it on the tips, it will be easier to remove.

Applying a nail dehydrator and primer, before you put on your base coat, may help you if you have oily nail plates.

Because gel nail curing uses UV light, a lot of people apply sunscreen before they cure their nails. You really don’t need to do this as most lamps cure your nails in a matter of seconds, so you are not leaving your hands under the lamp long enough to cause any damage.

If you put any product on your nails or hands besides rubbing alcohol or a special nail prep solution, then there could be conditioners in that product which are adding moisture or oil to your nails.

So, If you are having problems with your nail polish staying on because your nails are oily. Then make sure that you don’t apply any cuticle oil, hand cream or sunscreen before you paint your nails.

If you want to apply cuticle oil or hand cream then the best time to do this is after you’ve done your nails.

Your gel polish won’t stay on if you have skipped using a base coat.

This one’s for the lazy girls and boys, you know who you are! Gel base coats are specifically designed to bond to your natural nails, whereas coloured gel polishes are designed to stick to the gel base coat. So, if you skip this important first step you might have problems keeping your polish on for very long.

Why does my gel nail polish chip?

A lot of people seem to think that gel nail polish shouldn’t chip at all. It’s true that gel nail polish when applied correctly, chips much less than regular nail polish. However, it can and does still chip occasionally, even if you are doing everything right.

Because of how hard gel nail polish is when it dries, it can be tempting to think that nothing will chip them. To avoid chipping your gel nails you need to be careful with them. Whatever you do don’t use your nails as tools!

If you are worried about your gel nails chipping then you might want to try using a very pale colour. If you use a light colour then any chips will be much less noticeable.

Another reason your gel nails might be chipping is because of how you’ve applied the polish. Have you heard of capping? It’s a simple technique you can use when painting your nails that will lessen the number of chips.

Basically, all you do to cap is run the nail polish brush across the tips of your nails before you cure.

Mastering the capping technique using gel nail polish can be a little bit difficult, but it’s definitely worth the effort. You might find that you get uneven tips at first or tips that are a little bit jagged If this happens you just need to file them down a bit and then apply a top coat as normal to seal the nail. Your nails will definitely last a lot longer once you have mastered the capping technique.

What’s the solution?

The solution to this one is simple. Just use a base coat! I recommend that you always use a gel base coat. Using a gel base coat is non-negotiable if you want your nails to stay on longer and to last.

How long does it take to apply gel nail polish?

The process for gel nail polish is a lot quicker than applying regular polish. Once you get used to doing it, you should be able to get your nails done in around an hour or an hour and a half. That includes the time it takes to prepare your nails as well as paint them. Obviously the faster your lamp cures the quicker the process will be.

Why do my gel nails look dull?

If your gel nails look dull then chances are something has gone wrong during the curing process. If gel nails are not cured properly they can discolour or lose their shine. Loss of shine on gel nails is usually due to over curing.

What’s the solution?

Try curing your gel nails for a shorter amount of time. Experiment and see what works. Also, you could try using a different lamp. Some polishes and lamps are just not compatible and this could be what’s causing the problem.

Try not to touch the nail at all during the application process as this can lead to the transfer of oils from your fingertips which can result in a dull finish.

Why does my gel polish peel off?

There are a number of reasons that could be causing your gel nail polish to peel.

The first reason that your nail polish might be peeling, could be because you haven’t pushed the cuticle back fully and correctly. This is an easy mistake to make. It can be very difficult to tell when you have properly pushed back all of the layers of the cuticle.

The almost invisible thin layers of cuticle skin that can get left on the nail plate are highly water absorbent. What this means is that any bits of cuticle left underneath the nail polish will take on water and expand, causing the Polish to lift or peel.

Try paying extra attention to this task next time you are prepping your nails and see if it makes any difference for you.

The second reason your nails could be peeling is because you are not filing the free edge. This is understandable if you are trying to grow your nails and keep them as long as possible. But don’t expect your gel polish to stay on for long if you don’t file the free edge!
The reason for this is because oils can accumulate on the free edge of the nail, so the edges need to be filed and cleaned before you begin your gel manicure. If you don’t do this then moisture and oil can get underneath the nails and this can lead to peeling.

The third reason your gel nails could be peeling is because you have applied the coats too thickly. This applies to base coat and top coat as well as to the colour. When you cure gel nail polish only the very top layer absorbs all of the light. This means that if the coat is too thick, the underneath layers will remain soft and this can also lead to peeling.

Ok so now you know everything there is to know about how to get your gel nail polish to stay on for longer!

Happy painting and rock those nails!

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