Gel Overlay Vs Gel Polish – What’s the difference?

Repainting your nails habitually is time-consuming and baffling. Similarly, your perfectly painted nails are ruined as soon as you leave the salon. You don’t want to lose all your time. What should you do?

Try out gel nails! They’re much more resistant than regular nail polish, and they last a lot longer too. There are a number of different gel types to choose from.

Before you rush to your favorite salon, do your homework to find out which gel nail type is best for you!

What is Gel Overlay?

A clear or tinted gel applied to your nails produces a hard overlay that increases their strength. It can be filled just as like a nail extension. It consists of a gel base and top coat that are cured under a UV light or by using special LED nail lamps for at least a duration of 3 minutes.

The gel overlays can last for two weeks and their best benefit is the glossy natural look it produces. They are also more adaptable and less toxic compared to acrylic nails, but they are generally more expensive and physically challenging to fix at home.

gel nails

Gel overlay can offer additional protection for your nails than an artificial nail extension. It’s a nice way to provide extra protection for your nails.

What Are the Different Types of Gel Nails?

Hard and soft gel require two distinct approaches when gel overlay is used.

Hard gel

Hard gel is mostly utilized to give nails more length. It can be applied to any desired shape before you provide it a smooth finish.

For long nails, hard gel is incredibly popular. Thus, hard gel is mainly used for designing nails.

Hard gel may also be used to fix shattered nails. So don’t worry if you break a nail before your visit to the hair salon. A professional nail technician can repair your old nail if the rest of them match it well.

Compared to other kinds of gels, hard gel is the most durable. It can handle a great deal of wear and tear, and then provides a strong barrier between the natural nails.

Hard gel is lightweight, but strong and durable. It has a tightly woven construction which means that it should not be soaked off with acetone.

It’s also safe for those who are pregnant, hypoallergenic, and will not cause odors.

Hard gel is the right selection for someone looking for an artificial nail that last for a long time.

Soft gel

Soft gel, on the other hand, is created from a mixture of monomers, acrylics, and gel. It is then cured under a UV light to create a softer, more flexible nail. Soft gel is well-suited for those who want a natural looking artificial nail.

gel polish

Soft gel is called soak-off gel since it can be taken off with acetone. It is semi-solid in between hard gel and gel polish. It is used with a brush and quickly evaporates when exposed to ultraviolet light or a special lamp for 30 to 60 seconds.

It can be used by itself and also with, or over, gel polish (to strengthen it).

How Long do Gel Overlay Nails Last?

Gel overlays last approximately 3 to 4 weeks, depending on the amount of activity you do and whether or not they were properly applied.

How do you handle your nails and how caring you are with them will depend on how they last between 2 and four weeks. In case you take great care of them, your nails will rival trim.

Rather than following this strategy, it’s crucial to pay special attention to your nails when dealing with them to ensure their optimal longevity.

  • Ensure you stay away from hot water.
  • You should avoid chemicals should at all costs.
  • Apply an additional topcoat over the nails.

How Is Gel Overlay Done On Natural Nails?

  1. Wash, prep, trim, file, and buff your nails to your desired style.
  2. Apply a thin coat of primer to the surface.
  3. Apply a relatively thin layer of base coat and cure it for one minute under UV light.
  4. Take your time when applying the gel coat, which is the main coat. Make sure the gel is evenly spread over the entire surface of the nails. Place it under the UV lamp for another minute.
  5. The gel overlay, which is spread on the nail, can be shaped to your liking using fine tools. After that comes the polishing stage for an even smoother nail.
  6. To use a topcoat to securely cauterize the gel overlay, apply a thin, thin layer. Cure it by placing it under exposure to a UV light.

How To Remove Gel Overlay

Gel overlay can be removed using a gel removal solution, or by applying a nail file on it. Available gel removers are available for purchase at your local beauty supply store.

To remove the gel overlay with a gel removing solution, first soak your nails in the solution for a few minutes. One can soak a cotton ball in the sulfuric acid solution and then apply the nails to the cotton ball. To protect your fingers and nails, wrap them in tin foil.

Then, file your gel nails from the bottom up with a cuticle pusher or a nail file. If you choose to file off your gel overlay, use a coarse nail file to gently scrape away the top layer.

remove gel overlay

Be careful to undertake task movements in single file, rather than scissoring back and forth. This can chip your nails.

After the gel overlay has been removed, you may need to use a buffer to smooth your nails and remove the residual gel. Finally, wash your hands with soap and water to wash off any remaining traces of gel removal solution.

Gel Polish

Gel polish is a kind of liquid polish that is thick and not quite as thin as conventional nail polish. Gel polish can be applied to the nails using a base coat, a color coat, and a top coat, all cured underneath it using an LED or UV light.

gel polish

Gel polishes are available in a variety of shades, allowing you to create natural-looking and nail art. A gel polish manicure provides a wide array of options for you.


  • Long lasting
  • Looks natural
  • Gel polish is much thinner than gel overlay, which makes it more comfortable to wear


  • Doesn’t provide strength
  • Doesn’t last as long as other gels

Gel Polish Vs. Gel Overlay

Following the gel overlay has been peeled away, you may need to use a buffer to groom your nails and remove any remaining gel. Finally, wash your hands with soap and water to thoroughly cleanse any remaining traces of gel removal solution.

Gel polish lasts longer than a regular polish, but it doesn’t enable you to shape your nails as well as an overlay would. In most cases, Gel polishes use a soft gel. Thus, it’s more porous and will not last as long.

Gel Polish Removal

Acetone is the easiest way to remove gel polish from home, so refrain from removing the polish from your nails.

I know from experience that if you ever do this, your nails are likely to become damaged, and you will have a rather long process towards healing them.

Conclusion. What’s the difference: Gel Polish vs Gel Overlay?

Gel nails cost more, take longer to apply, but they are durable and last much longer. Also, the advantage of gel nails is that you can add length and essentially create the nails you didn’t have.

gel overlay_vs gel polish

If you’re looking to improve nail health and attain stronger nails, a gel overlay is a better choice than any form of gel polish.

The application layer of the gel overlay offers durable protection, which can help nails stay healthy.

Gel coatings are much thinner than conventional nail polish, so they offer hardly any strength.

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Written by Wendy Grass

I'm a lifestyle blogger and I love sharing tips and tricks on how to live a happy, healthy life! I'm all about balance and I believe that living a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be boring. I hope to inspire others to live their best lives and enjoy the journey!

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