What are Gels?

What is the difference between gel and shellac? This has to be the most common question I am asked in the salon; and rightfully so. There are many different types of gel products and the technology advances quickly. So how can you tell the difference?

UV/LED Gel is a type of nail enhancement product that hardens when exposed to a UV or LED light source. As a client, you will generally see two types of gel services on a salon menu; gel manicure and gel full set.

  • Gel polish replaces traditional lacquer resulting in your two week gel manicure. There are many different brands of gel polish, such as Gelish, OPI GelColor and CND Shellac. Because CND Shellac was the first gel polish released, gel manicures are often referred to as Shellac manicures, regardless of the brand being used.
  • Building gel allows the nail technician to build an arch, curve and length to the fingernail. This type of gel is used for a full set and the result would be similar to that of an acrylic full set.
  • Pigmented gel is a building gel that includes color pigment. This type of gel can be used for a french manicure without needing polish or for endless nail art possibilities.

I’ve only listed a few types of gels here. There are many more, but these are the most common. It’s always good to consult with your technician when deciding which type of gel is best for your nails. There are many options available!


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