What Is the Difference Between Soak-Off Gel Color & Gel Color?


A great manicure can lift low spirits, but once your mood changes, your manicure may not reflect your new state of mind. Gel color is great because it’s long lasting and chip-resistant. The biggest difference between soak-off gel color and traditional gel color is in how they’re removed. Changeable girls need to make sure they have the right kind of gel color so that changing your polish is as easy as changing your mind.

Fingernail Facts

Your nails grow slowly -- only about 1/8 inch every month. Fingernails are made mostly of a protein called keratin. They grow from the cuticle -- the place where your fingernail and your skin meet. Whether your nails are talon strong or paper thin is programmed at birth, but a healthy diet and a little tender loving care can help. Nail enhancements like gel colors may damage your nails a little, but not because nails can’t breathe. Fingernails don’t need to; the damage occurs because the chemicals in most nail colors are drying.

Soak-off Gel Color

The main attraction of gel color is that a manicure can last a month or more with no peeling or chipping. Gel nail color goes on just like regular polish. Your nail tech usually applies a base coat, two coats of color and a top coat. Each coat is dried for three to five minutes under an ultraviolet light. Removing soak-off gel color involves placing pads soaked with acetone or other chemicals on your nails and letting them sit for between 10 and 25 minutes. This is best done in a salon.

Gel Color Info

One advantage to both gel color and soak-off gel color is that you leave the salon with perfectly dried and cured nails -- no more ruining fresh polish when you open the car door or drop your keys. Because they are so hard, old-school gel colors have to be filed or peeled off, which can damage your nails. Most salons use soak-off gel colors because they are easier to remove and healthier for your fingernails.

Tips and Hints

Ask your manicurist whether she’s using soak-off gel color before you let her apply the base coat. Once it’s cured by the UV lights, it’s set. Push your cuticles back with a soft, orange stick or cuticle pusher before you go to get gel color applied. This gives your nail tech more nail to work with and can help add a few days between color changes or fills.

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