Can You Paint Gel-X Nails Before Applying Them?

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Gel-X nails, also known as Apres Nails, are becoming increasingly popular, but many are still confused as to how they work.

For example, can you paint Gel-X nails before applying them?

The answer is sorta. You can paint Gel-X Nails transparent before you apply them, but colors won’t work.

Here are the basics:

  • Gel-X nails can be painted with transparent nail polish before applying them.
  • Using opaque nail polish will inhibit the curing process.
  • When Gel X nails aren’t properly cured, they won’t last long and may even break off after a few hours.

In this guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about Gel X nails, including when and how to paint them. 


Gel-X 101 

In purely technical terms, Gel-X nails (or Gel-X extensions) are artificial nail extensions made from gel polish applied directly to your natural nails.

Because of the malleability of this gel polish, these extensions can be shaped and cut to your preference. Additionally, the tips are often filed, so they blend seamlessly with your natural nails. 

Gel-X nails (or Gel-X extensions) are artificial nail extensions made from gel polish applied directly to your natural nails.

Unlike acrylics or press-ons, Gel-X nails cover your nails, from the cuticles to the tips. This tends to give them more permanence, though their longevity largely depends on how well you treat them.

Although they can be customized, Gel-X nails are typically offered in various shapes and sizes.

Additionally, they are usually much thinner than acrylics, giving them a more natural look and not prone to lifting over time. 

Can You Paint Gel-X Nails Before Applying Them? 

Apres Gel X Gel

One of the main draws of a set of Gel-X nails is their customizability. They can be cut, shaped, and painted to suit your preference. 

Some people prefer to get a head-start on customizing their nails so they can be applied later without dolling them up afterward. Unfortunately, unless you’re using a transparent color, the Gel X nails will not be able to stick to your natural nails properly.

Unfortunately, unless you’re using a transparent color, the Gel X nails will not be able to stick to your natural nails properly.

The reason for this lies in the process of applying them. After the primer gel has been applied to your nails, they need to be placed under a UV light for two minutes or more to cure. Opaque nail polish inhibits this process, which leads to the nails not lasting as long as they should.

You can still use transparent nail polish on Gel-X nails before applying them. 

Are Gel X Nails Safe? 

Apres Nails Box

When it comes to enhancing your nails, most of the methods you may try put your natural nails at risk, and wearing Gel X extensions is no different.

Most damage is caused by prolonged use and improper or unsafe removal. Specifically, carelessly picking off the extensions can severely impact your natural nails, which is why having the extensions removed by a professional is so important.

However, as long as you treat your nails and their extensions with care, you should be able to avoid any serious damage. Once your extensions have been removed, strictly use non-toxic nail polish and gel.

You might also consider leaving your nails bare for a while to allow them time to rehydrate and repair if necessary. It’s always a good idea to give the nails a break from time to time!

When your nails are bare, treat them with a nourishing oil or strengthening treatment to prevent them from breaking or being damaged. Cuticle Oil Pens are a great, easy way to pamper your nails.

How Long Do Gel-X Nails Last? 

With most nail extensions, there is always some concern over their durability and longevity. Acrylics are prone to lifting after a week or two, while press-ons often only are able to make it to the weekend.

On the other hand, Gel-X nails are far more durable and – when applied correctly – can last you anywhere between three to four weeks without lifting or chipping!

After your fourth week, you may notice your Gel X extensions begin to lift and should be removed.

However, you can extend their lifespan by cutting and shaping them to your liking as they grow out, and you won’t need to worry about having them filled (so long as you use regular nail polish). 

How Do You Apply Gel To Your Tips? 

Once you’ve applied your nail extensions, add some nail gel as soon as possible. However, this process isn’t exactly common knowledge, and most people usually seek the services of a nail technician. 

Luckily, the process is quite simple once you know it. Here’s a short video showing how it’s done, and then a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Apply Some Primer Gel

First, you’ll want to add some primer gel to your nails. Use a flat, narrow brush to apply a thin layer to each nail, from the cuticle to the edge. 

Step 2: Allow The Primer Gel To Cure

Once the primer gel has been applied, allow it to cure underneath an LED or UV lamp (the former tends to work much quicker). Follow the instructions that come with your primer gel for reference on how long you should allow them to cure. 

Step 3: Apply The First Layer Of Gel

Now it’s time to start adding some gel. You’ll want this layer of gel to be thicker than the layer of primer you added. 

Step 4: Allow The Gel To Cure

Place your nails underneath your LED or UV lamp once more and allow the gel to cure. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for how much time you should allow them.

Step 5: Apply A Second Layer Of Gel And Allow It To Cure

You can now add a second, thinner layer of gel and allow it some time to cure. 

Step 6: Wipe Away Any Dispersion

Once both layers have cured, your nails may be left with some sticky dispersion on top. To remove this, add some gel cleanser to a cotton ball and use it to wipe the tops of your nails gently.

Step 7: Smooth Out Imperfections

If you notice any bumps on your nails, use a file to smooth them out, then dust off the shavings.

Step 8: Add The Final Layer

Finally, you can add one last layer of gel and allow it some time to cure.


Apres nails are becoming more and more popular, so it’s a good idea to understand how they work. Remember, if you want to paint your Gel-X nails before you apply them, you need to stick to transparent paints. Otherwise, the gel will not cure under the UV light.

Once you’ve got them attached, you can paint them whatever color you want.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).