How To Tell If Gel Nails Are Cured

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Gel nails are durable and beautiful. Many prefer to use them over the regular nail lacquer. The secret to durable nails is the curing process.

Once the gel nails are cured, they develop into a tough shell that doesn’t easily chip or peel. However, if they are not fully cured, they are just going to be sticky and frustrating. 

Do you want to do your own gel nails at home? In that case, you also need to know how to tell if gel nails are cured

Visual inspection can be done but sometimes that is not enough. Another alternative is to touch it and feel whether it is sticky or not. 

If you follow the process of properly curing your gel nails, the more likely it is to cure and harden fully. In this article, we’ll tell you how to know if gel polish is cured.


What Does Curing Nails Mean?


Gel nails are only great if they last as long as they are designed to. In order for them to last, they need to be properly cured. Unlike acrylic nails that harden on their own, gel nails need UV light (and now more frequently LED light) for them to cure and harden.

Gel nails or gel polishes are made of materials that react to UV light from a Nail Lamp. When exposed to UV light, a photochemical reaction occurs. The UV light initiates the reaction and hardens the gel nails.

Lots of people love to use gel nails because they are easy to use. You apply them as you would usually apply regular nail lacquer.

They are liquid in form and can be painted on the nails. 

Gel Nail Polish Kit

After painting on the nails, gel nails only need to be exposed to UV light for around a minute. Be sure to check the instructions on your specific polish as a guide, as the timing varies from brand to brand.

This starts the curing process and hardens the nails.

With this, you get to have hardened nails instantly because you don’t have to wait for them to dry up and harden. 

How To Tell If Gel Nails Are Cured

Although the process seems pretty simple enough to do, there is still a chance for your gel nails to not cure properly. To know whether your nails are cured or not, there are a few things you can do to test them. 

Visual Inspection

One of the first things you can do is to look at the gel nails. Tilt it to the side and take a closer look.

Try to see whether any polish is dripping down or sliding down. If it is, then it isn’t properly cured yet. Cured gel polish looks shiny and solid. 

The presence of air bubbles or uneven texture also tells you that the gel polish isn’t’ cured yet. Aside from the dripping appearance, your gel nails could also appear cloudy or dull. 

Visual signs may be difficult to see but you’ll get used to them as you use them more and more.

Feel The Gel Nails

It’s definitely best to start with a visual inspection and avoid touching if you can. But if you still can’t tell if they’re dry, gently touch the nails.

Cured gel polish generally shouldn’t be sticky or shouldn’t stick to your fingers and come off when you touch it. If it does, it is most likely not properly cured. But that can depend on the polish! See here for more information.

Sometimes, the gel polish may not come off, but you’ll see your fingerprint on the polish when you press it. That is also a sign that your gel polish isn’t properly cured. 

How To Properly Cure Your Gel Polish

Exposing the gel polish to UV light starts the curing process. However, there are times when the gel polish is still sticky even when you’ve already used a UV lamp. 

There are different reasons for this but it can be avoided if you follow the proper way of curing your gel polish. Here’s how to do that. 

Cure Each Layer 

In order to build your gel nails, there are several layers that need to be made. They are the base coat, the color coat, and the topcoat.

Whenever you apply a layer, it should always be followed by exposure under the UV lamp . If you stack on layers before curing them, the deeper layers wouldn’t be cured and only the top layer would be cured. 

Apply Thin Layers

Another trick to proper gel nail color is to apply thin layers. This makes it much easier for the UV to initiate the photochemical reaction. 

In some cases, you might want to add another color layer because the color you want isn’t achieved yet. You may use multiple layers but you have to cure each layer to ensure they properly harden.

Take Note Of Curing Time

Although the photochemical reaction starts upon exposure to UV light, the gel nail  still needs time under the light to cure them. Usually, the shortest time spent should be at around 30 seconds. 

For color gel polish, it could take about 45 seconds. Some even extend it for a minute. 

Make Sure Your UV Lamp Is Not Faulty

No matter how thin you make your layers and no matter how long you use them, if your UV lamp is busted, then you won’t be able to properly cure your nails. 

If the color of your UV lamp has already changed in color, that could mean that the UV lamp is already faulty. Take note of any changes that you observe in your UV lamp.

Final Thoughts

Gel nails are known to be durable. However, that is only true if it is properly cured. That’s why you should know how to tell when your gel nails are cured or not. 

You can do a visual test or you can also try touching your gel nails. Cured gel nails shouldn’t be cloudy or dull. They also shouldn’t look like they are dripping. 

If you touch them, they should not feel sticky nor should they keep your fingerprint if you press hard on them. If they do, you need to make sure you properly cure them so they won’t be easily removed. 

Properly curing them involves applying thin layers and curing each layer. Additionally, you should also make sure that your UV light is properly working. 

See also:

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).