These days, if you want to extend, color, strengthen, or generally spruce up your nails, there are a lot of options to choose from.
Between gel nails, acrylics, shellac resin, and all of the other cosmetic nail procedures available through salons and in the form of DIY kits, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to have the nails of your dreams (or your Pinterest boards).
With that being said, the potential for misconception and misinformation regarding the wide range of nail enhancements available on the market is pretty significant.
Many prospective salon clients remain confused as to the function of acrylic nails versus gel nails, for example. Whether or not you can apply gel nails to shorter nails is a common question, as well as how thick gel nails should be.
If you’re working to a budget, you may even be wondering whether it’s possible to do gel nail extensions yourself at home.
We’ll be covering all of these queries and more in today’s article, so stay tuned to become a gel nail expert!
Do Gel Overlays Add Length?
One of the most commonly asked questions regarding gel nail overlays is whether they can add length to your existing nails.
It’s important not to conflate gel overlays with gel nail extensions because the two treatments serve different purposes.
While gel nail extensions use plastic plates to physically elongate each nail before applying the gel coat, getting gel overlays simply means having a coat of gel polish applied to your natural nails.
So, the bottom line is, if you want to lengthen your nails through a gel procedure, you will need to opt for gel extensions as opposed to gel overlays.
However, it’s important to remember that gel overlays can help to lengthen your nails in the future. This is because the gel provides a protective barrier on top of your nails, which minimizes the risk of breakage or other forms of damage. This will help you to grow longer, stronger nails moving forward.
So, if you want instantly longer gel nails, extensions are the best choice for you. However, gel overlays can still be a budget-friendly strengthening option if you have the patience to grow out your nails over time.
Can You Get Gel Extensions on Short Nails?
So, you’ve decided that you want longer nails straight away and are thinking about getting your first set of gel nail extensions. Great! But if you have particularly short nails, you may be wondering if it’s even possible to apply extensions at this point.
The answer to whether or not you can get gel extensions on short nails ultimately depends on just how short your nails are.
Your nails don’t have to be long by any means in order to get nail extensions. However, there does need to be a little bit of length upwards from the quick of your nail beds. The quick is the part of your nail bed that supplies blood and nutrients to your nails.
If your nails are short enough to expose the quick, then they are too short to get gel extensions. This is because the plastic plate simply won’t have anything to adhere to if your nails are this short. Even if the nails can be applied in this situation, they won’t stick around for long.
Don’t worry if your nails are currently too short to get gel nail extensions, though. As we said earlier, your nails really don’t have to be very long at all to qualify for gel extensions. This means that it shouldn’t take too long for you to grow your nails to the point where they’re ready for extensions.
Can You Do Your Own Gel Nail Extensions?
Because your nails are quite a sensitive part of your body and can be easily damaged, we would recommend getting your gel nail extensions professionally applied (and removed!) at a salon. This will help to ensure that the application and removal processes are done correctly and cause minimal damage to your nails.
However, if you’re sticking to a budget, doing your own gel nail extensions at home is likely to be the most financially suitable option for you.
The good news is that you can absolutely do your gel nail extensions yourself if you want to. The only restriction is that you’ll need to make sure that you’re investing in high-quality products to compensate for the fact that the procedure won’t be professionally done.
To do your gel extensions at home, you will need a gel polish, a gel nail primer, plastic nail plates, a buffer, a nail file, rubbing alcohol, a UV light to help your nails set, and other standard manicure tools such as a cuticle pusher, cotton balls or Q-tips, and some cuticle oil.
If you don’t already have these tools and products, the initial purchase might be expensive, but it will certainly save you money on salon trips in the long term.
Start by cleaning, buffing, and priming your nails before applying the nail plates. Once you’ve done that, clean the cured nails and file them to your desired shape. You can now apply the polish.
How Thick Should Gel Nails Be?
Gel nail polish is thicker than standard polish formulae, which can lead to some confusion as to exactly how thick gel nails should be.
Gel nails will not be as thick are acrylic nails, but they should still have a decent thickness to them. Think approximately 0.3 inches when measured at the free edge of the nail. That’s roughly the same thickness as a credit card.
However, your gel nails should not feel hard to the touch. Despite their thickness, gel nails should remain flexible, unlike acrylic nails, which are much firmer.
If your gel nail polish is coming out too thick, this could be because you’re applying too much or simply due to the formula of the polish changing over time after exposure to air. Once you open a bottle of gel polish, it will start to thicken, and eventually, it will become too thick to apply effectively.
How Can I Extend My Nails Without Acrylics?
If you want to extend your nails without applying acrylics, gel nail extensions are definitely your best bet in terms of cosmetic procedures. Gel extensions are the most long-lasting and instantly lengthening option for extending your nails.
However, if duration and longevity aren’t of the utmost importance to you (for example, if you just want longer nails for a specific event), you could always opt for press-on nails.
Press-on nails can be a bit of a gamble in the sense that they vary quite a lot in terms of quality from brand to brand. Press-on nails can last for up to 2 weeks if you choose a high-quality brand and take care applying them. However, in most cases, you can expect your press-on nails to last for up to a week.
The other option is to grow your nails out naturally. This is definitely a time-consuming process, so if you have an engagement in the next few days and are looking for a quick fix, natural growth isn’t it. However, the benefit of this method is that you can strengthen and lengthen your natural nails over time, which may save you money in extensions in the long run.
To grow your nails out naturally, there are a few routes you can take. The best method for you is likely to depend on the reason why your nails are short in the first place.
If you keep your nails short for convenience but don’t have any existing problems with the health of your nails, you should be able to simply wait out the growing process without any additional treatments or strategies.
However, if you are a nail biter or have brittle nails due to dietary reasons or health conditions, the process of growing your nails might be more difficult for you.
One of the most effective strategies to stop biting your nails for natural growth is using a preventative polish. Typically, these polish products deliver an unpleasant taste that acts as a deterrent for nail-biting. We recommend this Mavala Stop Deterrent Nail Polish.
Growing your nails is much easier if your nails are strong and resistant to breakage. In order to make sure that this is the case, you should make a conscious effort to introduce foods into your diet that are high in protein, fatty acids, antioxidants, and collagen-producing vitamins. Such foods include lean meats like poultry, eggs, oily fish, berries, nuts and seeds, spinach, and beans.
When growing out your nails, make sure to keep them regular and filed so that any sharp edges don’t catch on surfaces and lead to breakage.
From nails to skin and hair to makeup and even waxing and eye care, Steph loves it all. A firm believer in personal expression and style she’s rarely ready on time herself but loves helping others look their best.